Once upon a time, in a remote valley, there lived a troop of baboons.
The troop was fairly large, and considered itself fortunate, for the valley was well-watered and fertile, with plenty of fruit and grubs to eat; and the leopard, which they all feared, never visited it.
“We are so fortunate,” the baboons said, “that we must be Blessed. There must be a Great Baboon who is very pleased with us.”
“He must be sitting on top of that mountain in the distance,” some of the baboons replied. “From there he can see us, and everything we do. If we are to stay in his favour, we must keep pleasing him.”
“Yes,” the other baboons agreed. “Let us, therefore, take the best of the fruit and grubs we collect, and leave them at the foot of the mountain, so that he may be content and happy.” And so this was done.
Time passed, and the baboons grew increasingly curious as to the nature of the Great Baboon who had so blessed them.
“If he’s so powerful,” some of the baboons said, “he must be very large and strong, and more than us in every way. His fur must be thicker and more lustrous, his teeth longer and sharper, his eyes keener, and his rump even redder than ours.”
“No, no,” other baboons answered. “Red rumps are only for us ordinary baboons. For the Great Baboon, that could never do. No, the only possible colour for the rump of the Great Baboon is blue.”
“That is an insult to the Great Baboon,” the first group of baboons retorted. “The Great Baboon could never have a blue rump. Why, the very idea is ridiculous!”
“Look who’s talking,” some of the second group sneered. “They think they can set down rules for what the Great Baboon could be like. Why, they’re setting themselves up above the Great Baboon himself!”
“Heresy!” the rest of the second group agreed. “They are going to make the Great Baboon angry with their presumption, and he will punish us all. We must destroy them!”
So the blue party attacked the red party, who fought back. Great was the slaughter, and much blood flowed. The red party fought with teeth and claws, because they thought it was blasphemous to use sticks and stones. The blue party had no such inhibitions, and therefore, after a long and hard struggle, ultimately prevailed.
“We must destroy the remaining red heretics,” the blue party decided. And so it was done.
Then one day the lightning flashed continuously round the top of the mountain of the Great Baboon, and the thunder came rumbling across the sky, terrifying old and young baboon alike.
“The Great Baboon must be angry,” the baboons whispered.
“We have done nothing to make him so furious,” the baboons said. “We have given him the best of all the fruit and grub we found. We have destroyed the blasphemers who dared suggest he had a mere red butt. So he must be angry over something else.”
“Perhaps he is ill,” some of the baboons suggested.
“That must be it,” the others agreed. “He must be in agony.”
A peal of thunder sounded, so strong that the land seemed to shake.
“He must have a thorn in his paw,” suggested some of the baboons. “That is a cry of agony just as when one of us gets a thorn.”
“How can the Great Baboon have a thorn in his paw?” the others objected. “That is patently ridiculous. He must have a pain in his belly.”
“And who are you to say what he may have and may not have?” the first lot shot back. “Do you mean to say you know better than the Great Baboon himself?”
“Heretics!” shrieked the second group. “They must be eradicated, for the greater glory of the Great Baboon!”
And so there was slaughter. In the end the thorn-paw group prevailed, and killed all their stomach-ache opponents. And only moments afterwards, the thunder stopped and the sun came out.
“That proves it,” the thorn-paws said. “We were right, and the Great Baboon is pleased.”
And, three days later, the thunder came again.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2014