Monday, 18 May 2009

The Man Who Eats Little is Strong.

The first in a series of tales from or set, in Malawi:

There was once a man without a stomach. He was motivated and achieved great things, but he saw how others took joy in eating such things as fried meat parcels and shelled monkey nuts, and he was saddened.

Each year he made pilgrimage to a great shrine, asking the spirits to bless his family, and, if they should see fit, to give him the gift of a belly so that he too may taste these pleasures.

On one such journey, the man happened upon a stomach with no body. The spirits have smiled upon me! thought the man, as he welcomed the stomach with open arms. The stomach leapt into him, becoming a part of his body.
"I must give thanks!" the man cried, and he continued on his way to the shrine.

He had not gone far, when the stomach grew restless.
"feed me!" it cried.

The man stopped at a roadside stall and bought some roasted nuts. When he was rested and his stomach placated, the man stood and once again began to walk.

"feed me!" the cry soon came again, and again the man stopped, this time for fried fish and beans.

At first, the man enjoyed this rest, and he marvelled at all the flavours and textures of different foods, but after several days he grew frustrated with this new reliance on food.
"feed me!" his stomach cried as he trudged beneath the high-set sun.
"not yet; we must reach the shrine."
"Feed me!" it moaned, clenching and clawing at him until he cried out in anguish.
"I will not!" he snapped, "before you came along I would walk for days without rest; I was never tired and always content. You must learn to wait or I shall banish you!"

The stomach was mortally offended. It leapt from the man's body and scurried off away from the path.

The man continued on his way, reached the shrine and gave thanks, apologising for his foolishness. And from then on, although he still sampled a pine-nut every now and then to remind himself of his ordeal, he never truly ate, and he was strong.

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