Thursday, August 2, 2012

Anansi Story, aka "Making S**t Up as I go Along"

 visit Smurf 3 in the hospital at night.  My wife spends most of the day with him, getting all the information, asking questions, following up, etc.  We then spend the evenings and nights with the other two Smurfs, and after everyone has gone to sleep (and i've done some work), then I go visit Smurf 3 until about 1 a.m.  It makes for a crazy schedule, but as long as i'm not sick (which I have been the past few days), then I don't miss a night.
One of the things that i like to do (which i've probably mentioned before) is that I like to tell him stories.  The simple fact is I can't sit still for long and my mind wanders rather quickly.  Therefore, I've found that if I'm telling him stories while holding him, then I have an easier time of sitting there and not just staring at the clock and looking around the NICU room being nosy.  I don't tell the traditional type stories either (little red riding hood, mother goose nursery rhymes, etc.) because I can sleepwalk through those.  Rather I tell him stories about Anansi the spider or Tabu and the Dancing Elephants, or I will make something up along those lines.  Here is one story that i've adapted from an Anansi story about his meeting with Death

A long time ago, Anansi was taking a walk outside of his village.  He had heard of an old man who lived outside of the village who didn't do anything but sit and stare.  He decided to see if he could play one of his tricks on him.  Soon he came to a house with a very, very, VERY old man sitting outside the door. The old man looked like skin and dry bones. Anansi walked up to him and said : 
"Good day sir! I have been walking all morning and would love to have a cool drink of ice water."

However, the old man said nothing.

Anansi, who thought that the old man might have been deaf, walked closer to the seated figure and repeated in a loud voice.


Nevertheless, the old man said nothing.

Anansi scratched his head and said, "Oh, you said to go inside the house and help myself?"

The old man still said nothing to Anansi.

Anansi walked past the old man and went into his house and not only helped himself to ice cold water but to as much food as he could eat. When he had finished eating, Anansi went outside to see the old man who was sitting in the same spot by the door. Anansi thanked him for his hospitality and returned home.

The next day Anansi went to the house of the old man and again ate his fill. Still, the old man said nothing to Anansi. On the third day, Anansi the spider went to the old man's house again to eat his fill of food.  However, when he went inside he noticed that all the food was rotting or old.  He went back outside to the old man and said:

"What happened to your food? What kind of hospitality is this?"

Finally, the old man spoke in a deep raspy voice. “Do… you …know… who… I… am?”

“Yes.” Anansi said. “You are the old man outside of the village who does nothing!"

"Hah!” The old man rasped. “My name is Death and you came looking for me. I did not invite you into my house. Now I am going to have you for lunch," Brother Death said as he grabbed Anansi by the shirt.

Anansi tore the buttons from his shirt, slipped out of it and ran for his life. He ran as fast as he could in the belief that he could easily outdistance an old man like Brother Death. However, wherever Anansi turned, Death was right behind him. Finally, out of desperation, Anansi lunged for a tree limb and climbed as high as he could. To his surprise, Brother Death did not follow Anansi up the tree. Death could not climb!

Brother Death picked up a rock, an old shoe, anything that he could find, and threw them at Anansi. They all missed. Death could not throw either. He soon ran out of things to throw. Death finally sat down facing the tree and said to Anansi:

"I am Death and no one gets away from me.  I will sit here until you get tired and have to come down; then you will be mine!"

Anansi, holding onto a tree branch, thought to himself:  "He's right. I have no food, water, and no place to sleep.  My arms will get tired soon and then he will eat me up!"

Just then, Anansi noticed that the tree had silkworms hanging off the branches.  He thought "Aha!  I can use the silk from the silkworms to make myself a little nest or bed on the branches and leaves"

So, while hanging onto the branches with 4 of his legs, Anansi used his other 4 legs to collect all the discarded silk left by the silkworms.  He then tried to make a bed of them, but they just lumped together into a ball. However, it was better than him hanging onto the branch, so he settled into his little ball.  He looked down and Death and said "Ha! Now I won't get tired and can outlast you up here!"

Death just stared at him and said "You may have a place to stay, but you don't have any food or water.  Eventually you will get hungry and have to leave to eat or pass out and fall to the ground.  Either way, you are mine!"

Anansi thought about how he was going to get some food.  He couldn't eat leaves because they made him sick, and the tree he was in didn't have any fruit!  Just then, several insects came flying by, taunting Anansi about his predicament.  

"Aw, poor Anansi!"

"Look at him, stuck in a tree and no place to go but down!"

"Shouldn't have messed with old man Death!"
He turned to them and said "I will make a meal out of you if you don't leave me alone!"  But they kept buzzing around him, laughing at him.  He swatted at them, but they flew too far out of his range.  He then thought "If only I had a net, I could catch them easily and then I would have something to eat!"   

As he sat in his ball of silk, he realized that part of it was sticky.  He decided to make a fishing net out of the silk and began trying to throw it at the insects.  However, they saw what he was doing and simply moved out of the way.  Anansi then remembered that the most successful fishermen in his village would set up a net and wait for the fish to come to them, so he took his net and placed it between several leaves of the tree, making a web out of it.  He then chewed on several strands, making them sticky in certain places.  He then sat on one spot of his web and waited.  Eventually he caught two of the insects, ran to them, and used the remaining silk to tie them up.  He then looked down at Death and said "HA!  Now I have a way to get food in this tree.  So I have a place to stay and food to eat, and all I have to do is wait for it to rain for water.  You can never get me down from this tree!

Death continued to watch Anansi and said "Some day you will have to come out of that tree. I will sit here and wait for you until that day comes; I have all the time in the world.  And then, I will get every spider I can find in the world."

And because of this, all spiders continue to make webs in high places so they can stay away from Death.

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