Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tibungco tale



Having already wasted some of my invaluable life making a Photoshop collage of a sparsely populated farmyard to illustrate an off-hand remark about how few animal names I know in the local language, I was somehow inspired to waste even more of my dwindling span writing a children's folk story based entirely around it.

This story is set in and around the ramshackle 'house' I spent one of the worst months in my recent memory, and stars some of the creatures that infested it. Some foreign terms have usurped their English equivalents in my lexicon when it comes to everyday things that are more common over here, so here's a glossary for your reference:
butiki: Common house gecko (the little one)
iring: Domestic cat
lamok: Mosquito
ok-ok: Cockroach
toko: Tokay gecko (the bigger one)
If you can spot any morals in this fable, please explain them to me as I was left confused. Have you strung up your mosquito nets? Then I'll begin.


The Hungry Butiki




Once upon a time there was a hungry butiki. He lived in the roof of a family house where he slept all day, and at night time he climbed up the walls looking for insects to eat.

One night it was raining and all the insects stayed at home, so the butiki didn't have anything to eat. But then he saw a lamok flying in a circle around the porch light.

'Such a small snack,' the butiki grumbled. 'Hardly worth my energy. But I am so hungry, what choice do I have?'

So the butiki listened to his rumbling tummy and pounced on the tiny lamok. Its little legs wriggled in his strong jaws.

'Please, don't eat me!' the little lamok cried. 'I am such a small morsel, let me live in peace.'

'I'm sorry,' the butiki apologised. 'But the rain has scared all the other insects away. If I don't eat soon, I will surely die.'

'Then let's make a deal,' said the lamok. 'Who is your enemy?'

The butiki thought about it. 'The old iring,' he replied. 'Every night she hisses at me when I climb the walls, and she chases me away when I try to steal food from the kitchen. The iring is surely my enemy.'

The lamok said, 'If I promise to make this enemy go away, would that be worth my small life?'

The butiki thought about it. 'Yes, that would be a fair deal,' he answered.

'Then let me live in peace and I promise to make your enemy go away,' said the lamok.

The butiki was hungry and did not know if he could trust the insect. But he had never heard stories of a lamok tricking a butiki before, so he decided to let her go free. He opened his mouth and the insect flew away into the night.

'Salamat, butiki,' the lamok cheered. 'I will not let you down. You will see.'

Later that evening, the butiki had still not eaten and felt very foolish for letting his one snack get away. The rain didn't stop, and when it was morning he climbed back into the roof and went to sleep.





The next day, the butiki woke up from his dreams by the sound of the old iring howling in pain. A doctor came from the town and told the family that the iring had dengue fever and would not live to see another day. The children cried and the iring was buried in the garden. The butiki slept very peacefully after that.

When night came, it was still raining and the insects still stayed at home. The butiki was very hungry by now and waited for hours for something to fly past, until he finally saw the lamok again, flying in a circle around the porch light the same as before.

'Such a small snack,' the butiki grumbled. 'Hardly worth my energy. But I am so hungry, what choice do I have?'

So the butiki listened to his rumbling tummy and pounced on the tiny lamok. Its little legs wriggled in his strong jaws.

'Please, don't eat me!' the little lamok cried. 'I was true to my promise. Did you hear? I gave my fever to the old iring and she died. Now she will not trouble you any more. Isn't that worth my small life?'

'I am grateful for what you did for me,' the butiki said. 'But the rain is still scaring all the other insects away. If I don't eat soon, I will surely die. I know we had a promise and I let you live in peace, but that was yesterday and I've caught you again fair and square.'

'Then let's make another deal,' said the lamok. 'Who is your other enemy?'

The butiki thought about it. 'The loud toko,' he replied. 'He is bigger and stronger than me and he gets all the tasty ok-ok. When I'm waiting to pounce on my prey, he makes his loud sound and scares them all away. The toko is surely my enemy.'

The lamok said, 'If I promise to make this enemy go away, would that be worth my small life?'

The butiki thought about it. 'Yes, that would be a fair deal,' he answered.

'Then let me live in peace and I promise to make your other enemy go away,' said the lamok.

The butiki was hungry, but he knew he could trust the insect, so he decided to let her go free. He opened his mouth and the insect flew into the night.

'Salamat, butiki,' the lamok cheered. 'I will not let you down. You will see.'

Later that evening, the butiki had still not eaten and felt very foolish for letting his one snack get away a second time. The rain didn't stop, and when it was morning he climbed back into the roof and went to sleep.





The next day, the butiki woke up at the sound of one of the children screaming. She had seen a toko lying on its back in the path, covered in flies that were having their revenge and devouring the fallen tyrant. The toko was buried in the garden and the butiki slept very peacefully after that.

When night came, it was still raining and the insects still stayed at home. The butiki was very, very hungry by now and he waited for hours for something to fly past, until he finally saw the lamok again again, flying in a circle around the porch light, like it had done the other two times.

'Such a small snack,' the butiki grumbled. 'Hardly worth my energy. But I am so hungry, what choice do I have?'

So the butiki listened to his rumbling tummy and pounced on the tiny lamok. Its little legs wriggled in his strong jaws.

'Please, don't eat me!' the little lamok cried. 'I was true to both of my promises. Did you hear? I gave my fever to the loud toko and he died, just like the old iring. Now he will not steal your food any more. Isn't that worth my small life?'

'I am grateful for what you did for me, both times,' the butiki said. 'But the rain is still scaring all the other insects away. If I don't eat tonight, I will surely die. I know we had a promise and I let you live in peace, but that was yesterday and the day before, and I've caught you a third time fair and square.'

'Then let's make another deal,' said the lamok. 'Who is your other other enemy?'

The butiki thought about it, but he could think of none. 'I don't have any enemies left,' he replied. 'You've already killed them all. I am king of the animals, I can hunt all the insects I want without fear.'

'Except when it's raining,' the lamok pointed out. 'And even if you do eat me, will that be enough to satisfy your stomach and keep you alive another day? And who can say if the storm will go away or continue another day, or another two? My small life will not be enough to save yours.'

'So what do you suggest?' asked the butiki.

'I will tell your story to the ok-ok, who will live forever, long after the people, the animals and all the other insects have been wiped out by nuclear bombs. The ok-ok fear butiki, but they will know that there was once a clever and brave butiki, and they will tell their children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren the story of the butiki who had a heart as well as a brain, who allowed a lamok to live in pea-EEEAAAAAAAKKHHH!!!!'

The butiki was tired of the lamok's excuses and closed its jaws on the talkative insect. It was only a small snack, but it would be enough to keep him alive for one more day.

'If the rain stops tomorrow, I will surely be king of the animals!' the butiki exclaimed. 'But if the rain doesn't stop, I will surely die tomorrow.' He climbed back into the roof and went to sleep.

The next day, the rain finally stopped. The sun rose and made the ground dry again, and the insects went outside to play. But the butiki could not enjoy this sumptuous banquet, because he'd eaten a lamok carrying dengue fever and had died in his sleep.



The End



Dave Warburton
Davao, Philippines
August 2013

Influences: My house in Tibungco; the few animal names I know in Cebuano; the fairy tale tradition.

1 comment:

  1. The moral of the story is, if you are going to kill the cat in order to steal food in the kitchen, do that.

    ReplyDelete