Translated from Arabic by Ameen Fayaz
Once upon a time, there lived in a jungle three friends: a monkey, a dog and a khirteet. They knew each other since childhood and would play and enjoy together. They would share their food and would help each other in gathering and collecting food of their individual choices. The monkey would collect walnuts, the dog would collect bones, and the khirteet would collect grass and other such stuff. And then they would sit and enjoy the food of their choice together.
They loved each other and would help and support each other. When, for example, the monkey would fine a piece of bone anywhere in the jungle, he would pick it and present it to the dog, his friend; when the dog would pass by a walnut tree, he would use the opportunity to collect some walnuts so that he could present them to the monkey, his friend; and when the khirteet would be tired, his friends, monkey and dog, would go out and collect grass and other food stuff for him.This is how they supported each other.
One day the three friends went out for a picnic. After enjoying their food, they as usual started to play. After playing for a while, the three friends sat on the green carpet of grass so that they could have some rest and also enjoy conversation with each other. While they were enjoying their conversation, a lion appeared from behind a tree. The lion wanted to catch any of the three and eat him up.
Upon seeing the lion, the monkey shouted, “lion,lion!”
The movement and minds of the three friends became frozen upon seeing the lion. Then, of a sudden, the monkey jumped upon a nearby tree and the dog also ran away till he was far away from the place of danger.
The two friends then thought that their friend, khirteet, was slow of movement and so his life was in danger.
The monkey stayed on the tree keeping a close eye on his friend who was very close to death. As for the dog, when he stopped running away and was at a safer place, he looked behind and saw his friend, khirteet, all alone in front of the lion and very close to death.
The monkey wanted to jump off the tree so that he could defend his friend but then he said to himself , “What can I do? If I appear in the battle field in front of the lion, he will eat me up in a jiffy and then as my meat would not suffice for him, he will kill and eat khirteet as well. So, Khirteet is fated to be killed by the lion and, therefore, it would not be rational in any way to come down the tree until the danger goes away.”
In the meanwhile, the lion had now come very close to the khirteet and his mouth was watering for him.The lion was circling around the khirteet and the khirteet was summoning all of his available strength for his defence.
Upon seeing the khirteet gearing up for self-defence, the monkey on the tree was feeling happy and he wished the lion would fear the khirteet’s potential of defence and thus return without harming him. But the lion did not return and his eyes were burning bright and his roaring was becoming fiercer as he was readying to pounce upon the khirteet and kill him.
The monkey imagined his friend being killed by the lion and the lion enjoying his meat. He dropped some twigs and branches of the tree upon the lion, but the lion did not pay any heed as he was busy circling around khirteet and getting closer to him.
In the meanwhile, the monkey was getting restless on the tree and he realised that the khirteet was too afraid. He also realised that the khirteet may not be able to offer any resistance.The khirteet cast one glance at the monkey. Their eyes met. The monkey felt that this was a farewell glance from his friend and he would not be able to see him after this except in the form of some bones left by the lion.
The monkey fell into a reflective mood and told himself, “How would this be possible for me to see my friend being killed and eaten and then consigned to nothingness by the lion? Is there any meaning of life after that?”
He now started feeling the teeth of the lion piercing the body of khirteet and felt as if they were entering his own heart. At the moment of this very realisation, the monkey decided to jump off the tree and fight in defence of his friend against the lion.
The monkey came down the tree and distracted the attention of the lion from one side. Upon seeing the monkey having engaged the lion from one side, the dog also came running fast and distracted the attention of the lion from another side.
Having been distracted by the two friends, the lion could not pounce upon khirteet.
In the meanwhile, the khirteet ran away. Upon seeing khirteet safe now, the monkey once again climbed a tree and then to another tree and thus ran away safe from the scene. Similarly, the dog also ran away fast among the trees of the jungle.
The lion, thus, could not catch any of the three friends. He was fuming with anger and left the place for hunting something else .In the meanwhile, the three friends met each other at a far-off valley.They hugged each other. While they were laughing over the adventure, tears of happiness rolled down their cheeks.
Khirteet said to their two friends, “You two risked your lives for me.” In response to this, the dog and the monkey said in one voice, “A friend is not known and recognised until you really need him.”