Poetale: The Musk Rat


There was this tale my old granny told the children
She will always say “Listen my children, listen.”
And we; little, full of curiosity will look up patiently
Then it was usual before each tale to play about
In the strong moon light which swept the garden
In between the plays, we wrestled and danced
And played hide and seek near the yam barn
We also played on the soft sand beneath the mango tree on a windy night
Now I retell this story, but not as granny did…

OkeChukwu Iroegbu
West Africa


Once upon a time
In a land far, far away
Where the forests were untamed
And animals had clans and kingdoms
There lived a young musk rat
Who loved his mother so much
And took good care of her
He would go hunting for fruits
And exotic vegetables from the forests
And brought them home to feed
The mother and himself

A particular day came
And he found a bed of vegetables
Growing by the side of a pool
He gathered them
And in all he brought home nine baskets
He was overjoyed that the vegetables would last
Longer than he expected
And so he handled it to his mother

But when the mother cooked the vegetables
The nine baskets shrunk to two baskets
When the musk rat discovered that he had only two baskets
Of warm vegetables he questioned
His mother and wasn’t satisfied with her answers
So he killed her out of his rage

Another day he went to the poolside
And lo, fresh vegetables blossomed
And he picked to his fill once again
Carrying the nine baskets home
He boiled the vegetables and it all shrunk again
To two baskets and it dawned on him
That vegetables are lighter when boiled
And that he had killed his mother in vain
And again out of anger
He killed himself too…

Well, anger can cause a lot of things
Anger can spoil a lot of things
And anger can be man’s greatest undoing