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Monkeys and Bananas

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I had just asked my Australian boss, Keith, for a budget increase, showing him solid numbers and laying out my flawless logic. After a moment, he looked up from the summary sheet and asked, “Do you know how aborigines find water in a bad drought?”

I was a bit confused by the non sequiter, but Keith always had great stories, so I said, “No. Tell me.”

“Well,” says Keith, “they find a tree full of monkeys. It’s amazing, but somehow monkeys always have a source of water even in the worst drought. Maybe they can smell it or see other signs that we don’t. But it’s true. They always know where the water is.

“Even when there is a source though, it never has a lot of water in a drought. And monkeys are cunning about hoarding it for themselves. They know how to keep the bushmen from following when one of the animals goes to drink.”

Don't even think about finding my water!

“So what do the tribesmen do?” I ask.

“One of the hunters finds a tree within sight of the monkey tree. Then, he carves a hole in it at just about waist height. While this goes on, every monkey in the other tree is watching and chattering and screeching and jumping from branch to branch with curiosity.

“When the man is done, he has a hole that’s small at its opening, and larger inside. Finally, he pulls a banana out of his kit. Making sure the monkeys can see, he feeds it into the hole lengthwise. And off he walks until he’s well clear of the smaller tree. Over in the shade, he sits down with his mates to wait.

“The monkeys are fascinated, but afraid to get too close, sensing a trap. After awhile, one edges a little way toward the food, but then goes back. Later, another skitters out a little further. Then more try. Each one comes a little closer to the banana hole while the bushmen sit very still. The whole tree full of monkeys is now fixated on that banana, screeching encouragement to each other. Within a short time, one of them makes it to the hole.

“This one, the bravest of the monkeys, leans in, sniffing at the hole while keeping the distant bushmen in view. None of the hunters moves a muscle, even to flick away the clouds of blood-hungry bugs. The monkey waits a bit more, still eying his enemies. Then, with a lighning move, he grabs for the fruit and bolts back toward his tree.

“But he can’t! The monkey’s arm yanks him back like a dog brought up short by a chain. You see, the monkey has closed his hand around the banana. His fist is too big. The hole has him like a set of handcuffs.

“The bushmen rise and walk toward the bravest of the monkeys. He goes crazy, howling and screeching and pulling and jerking. But he can’t escape! As his enemies get closer, the animal gets more frantic, but to no avail. Amidst his crazed flailings, he just never thinks to let go of the banana.

“Soon, one of the hunters gets close enough to swing his club and knock the shrieking animal unconscious.

“A little over two days later, the caged monkey is now dying of thirst. His mind is gone but for one thought: water. The hunters open the cage door and the monkey streaks away. Running behind, the men follow him straight to water, club him to death, cook him and enjoy dinner with a cool drink.”

“Wow! Smart hunters,” I say.

“No.” Kieth says. “Dumb monkey.

“When it was time, he should have let go of the bleeding banana!

“Now, about your budget… .”

  1. mary
    February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    nice story.

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