The Praying Baboon

At 5:00 in the morning the baboon was howling ohohoh, saying his prayer.

And this man was now on an early morning hunt when he saw the baboon up in the tree and a nice girl coming up.

She was coming for water. “Hey what you’re doing there?” she said to the man.

I came to find something to shoot, I heard that baboon howling and I am going to shoot he,” the man answered.

No, you can’t do that,” she said, “that is my father and he is praying, he always says his pray at 5:00.”

You want to follow me?” she asked him.

No man, I come to shoot that baboon, cause I don’t have anything to eat,” he said.

She pleaded again the boy not to shoot her father.

Wait here and I will come back. You must stay here!” And so she went up this big kumaka ye tree, as we call it in Makushi.

When she came down she touched his feet with a bina tree and she blew upon his foot.

She said “you just follow me!

The man replied “but I can’t climb that tree!

No!” she said, “don’t say so, you just follow me,” and up they went.

And there was the baboon high up in the tree.

After the man got his bina, he saw the baboon as people and became just like them.

The baboon father told his daughter “strain the drink, you bring a strange man.

Offer he food, offer he some drink!

The man drank and ate, but he didn’t get to see what was going on.

A couple of mornings later, the baboon told his daughter that they were going out to find some bullet wood tree.

When they were gone, the man walked around in the baboon’s apartment and found big calabashes and saw that this is where they messed in.

Though he decided to keep what he saw as a secret.

When the family came back they cooked and ate.

The man was now trying to understand where the baboons made their drinks because he didn’t see anything in the kitchen.

Then they went to sleep. In the night the father howled “man, get up and bring your calabash.” The man woke up too, and he saw them mess in the calabash. “Nasty mess,” he thought disgustedly, “oh Lord!

Come and strain yours now,” the father said.

What is this mess that we’re drinking?” the man asked the girl.

Wait, I going to strain a drink for you just now,” she replied.

Me not want, I feeling sick! I don’t want no drink.

How come?” And the man replied “I tell you I feeling sick this morning.

Then the old man asked his daughter “you carry any drink for the boy?

She said “no he won’t eat nothing he won’t drink nothing, because he feeling sick!

His father told her “now careful, when you go to strange places all kinds of things follow you and all kinds of things make you get sick. He should go to the piasan.

The piasan or piaiman is the other white monkey. So the girl and her brother went with the man.

Uncle, uncle, daddy sent we to you. My sister carry up some man and he is taken sick. We don’t want he dead!” said her brother.

I see. For this one I ain’t shake bush. He na sick, he scorned your food,” said the piaiman wisely, lying in his hammock.

That made the baboon get vexed now.

And so the angry father talked to his daughter in the night “I don’t know what you brought this man for! For scorn me drink scorn my food?! Tomorrow we are moving from here to the bullet tree where plenty fruit is bearing.”

The next morning they left.

So the daughter said to the man “I going along too.” And he said “how am I going to get down that tree? The tree high you know!

But she left without him and in this moment all the bina she had used on him went with her too and the man was left alone on the tree.

Now there was a big marabanta – kamaiwa in Makushi.

He was sitting on the tree in the hot sun. The big marabanta approached the man and said, “hey, what you’re doing here?

Man, them baboon left me,” he responded sadly.

Alright, I’m going to help you. If I shoot the tree, you’re going to get enough branches to hold yourself on to,” said the marabanta. And he made one shot.

The tree grew and got enough branches. And the man managed to climb down.

So the marabanta said.

I know where them baboons went. Let’s go behind them!

And they went.

He said “you must shoot your girl first and I will shoot she father.

The man wanted to shoot all of them because they punished him.

But he didn’t want to shoot his girl. The marabanta insisted that she be punished too.

When they found the baboons, they were eating on the bullet wood tree.

With the blow pipe and the poison they shot at them, until everyone was dead.

Afterwards the marabanta and the man went home.

Let’s go, where are you really at home then? I’m going to lead you back.”

Yeah, this is the landing,” the man said, “thank you.

And they went home.

Story: Abigail

Photo: Matthew Simpson