The Tortoise Who Stole From His In-Law


Once upon a time, in a very far away country, so far from yours, there was a tortoise who married the daughter of a hare.

Such was the strong love between them that they bred so fast and produced seven kids in less than nine months.

It happened that a great famine later occurred in the land and a lot of animals started to die off. The tortoise, together with his family, soon exhausted the remaining food they managed to harvest from their farm.
They were so hungry and they had no energy again to survive. It seemed the only next and reasonable thing for them to do was to die.

But the tortoise remembered something. He remembered that while he and his family wallowed in great hunger and suffering, his father-in-law, the hare had so much stored away in his barn.

The tortoise decided he was going to do something about that. So that night, without telling anyone or even alerting his wife, he quietly stole away and started heading to his father-in-law’s house, the very long distance involved notwithstanding.

On reaching there, he quietly went behind to the backyard and silently stole into the hare’s barn.

He was shocked by the large number of yams and coco yams, and cocoa, and corn, and millet, and so many other farm products that the store contained. He wondered why such things could be wasting here while his family was dying of great hunger.

Quickly, he brought out the sack he came with and started putting away some yams into the bag. He was audacious and greedy. He wanted to take away as many food items as possible as he could lay his dirty paws on. He was also calculating on how and when he will be coming back to the barn again to steal some more.

But he forgot not to make any noise.

The hare heard the noise coming from his barn and suspected that something fishy was going on there. He brought out a machete and surreptitiously moved closer to the barn.

Someone was inside quite alright. He knew he will have to use surprise strategy to catch the thief so he quickly dashed into the barn with his machete raised in readiness to cut the thief or whatever it was into two pieces.

To his greatest shock and surprise, the thief turned out to be his own son-in-law who was carrying the sack of food items on his head and trying to escape through another door.

He quickly alerted the rest of his household and everyone came out to behold the shocking sight before them.

Who would have imagined that their son-in-law, the tortoise, was a thief?
So, the hare, in anger decided to punish the tortoise. He dragged the tortoise to the path that leads to the market square to display him and what he stole to the people, as customary with how thieves are treated, so as to make people to scorn and curse him as his own duly deserved punishment.

The next morning, the people who came to market saw him holding the yam on his head and they spat at him and scorned him for his wickedness, foolishness, and shamelessness in robbing his in-law of all people in the world.

The tortoise stayed there and silently endured the pains, the abuse and the insults thrown his way.

His father-in-law left him there throughout the whole morning in the cold wind, the whole afternoon under the piercing heat from the hot sun and now it the evening and the people who went to the market were now returning back to their homes.

When they came to the spot where the tortoise was tied, they became shocked that he was still there. So, they started abusing, believe it or not, not him again but his father-in-law this time.

The called the hare all sorts of names. They said he was a wicked person. They called him a sadist. They called his a greedy, selfish and heartless father-in-law who was so myopic and unable to realize that the tortoise was even stealing those things to feed his daughter and grandchildren.

They quickly went to untie the tortoise and freed him from his suffering. They unanimously agreed to report the hare to their king to be ostracized. So many of them contributed some of the foodstuffs they bought from the market to give to the tortoise. It was so much to the extent that the tortoise even got more than he stole from his father-in-law.

So that is the story. Now listen to what my father will say if you ask him the moral or point of the whole story.

He will sound like this: be wary of what you do with respect to how you treat others when it comes to delivering justice because the same people who once praised you when you did something great will not hesitate to abuse you when you do otherwise.

He will also tell you to know when to quit most especially when the ovation is loudest because any other thing after that, you might shocking find yourself facing a lot of embarrassment and backlash from the same people who were clapping, hailing and cheering you some few moments ago.

Wise words. My father. So true.

But wait a minute, do you know why I don’t want to believe this story or that anything could be learnt from it in the first case?

Of course, just like so many other similar stories my father had told me in the past, this one is also full of holes.

I cannot imagine how on earth the tortoise and hare could find love in each other that will even make them to marry each other. I mean, it's absurd. What type of kids will they even produce?

Just picture it, long eared, hard shelled, slowly crawling but occasionally up and down hopping little monsters!

God forbid!

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