Some centuries ago, there was a hunter who used to make traps by digging pits in the ground. He had a blind wife and had three children with her. One day, when he went to see his traps, he met a lion:
– “Good morning, sir! What are you doing here in my territory?” the lion asked.
– “I’m here to see if my traps have caught anything,” the man replied.
– “You have to pay a tribute, because this area is mine. The first animal you catch is yours and the second is mine, and so on,” the lion said.
The man agreed and invited the lion to go with him to see the traps. Soon they saw that one of the traps had a prey, a gazelle. As agreed, the animal remained with the owner of the traps.
However, after a while, the hunter went to visit his relatives and did not return in the same day. As the husband was taking long, led by hunger, his wife decided to see if any of the traps had a prey. When she was trying to find the traps, she fell into one of them with the baby tied on her back with a Capulana.
The lion was lurking among the bushes and saw that the prey was a person and a baby; so it waited for the hunter to come and deliver the prey, just like agreed.
On the following day, the man came to his house and found neither his wife nor his youngest son. The hunter got preoccupied with the situation. He decided to follow his wife’s footsteps, which led him until the trap zone. When he arrived, he realized that the prey of the day was his wife and son. As the man was approaching the trap, the lion murmured:
– “Good morning, my friend! It’s my turn today! The trap caught two animals at the same time. My teeth are sharp enough to eat them!”
– “Lion friend, let’s sit and talk! The preys are my wife and my son…” the man said.
– “I don’t care! Today the hunt is mine, just like we agreed,” the lion argued.
Suddenly, the rat appeared:
– “Good morning, guys! What’s up?” the little animal said.
– “This man is refusing to pay his tribute according to the agreement,” the lion replied.
– “Hey pal, if you have agreed, why are you refusing? It may be your wife or your son, but you must give them. Leave it and go away,” the rat said to the man.
Very upset, the hunter left, remaining only the rat, the woman, the son, and the lion.
– “Listen, Uncle Lion, we’ve already convinced the man to give you the preys. Now you must explain me how the woman got caught. We have to try out how this woman fell into the trap,” the rat said.
They both went to another trap for an experiment. However, during the experiment, the lion fell into the trap and got caught.
Then, the rat saved the woman and the son and sent them home. The woman seeing herself safe from danger, invited the rat to come and live in her house, eating everything the family ate. Therefore, nowadays, the rats are living in the man’s house, gnawing everything that exists …
This African tale was written down by Amerácio Domingos Samuel Machava. Amerácio is an English teacher at ISPG (Instituto Superior Politécnico de Gaza), in Gaza Province, Mozambique.