In the eastern wild forest of Africa lived a pack of monkeys. They lived and moved together with the forest offering a bounty of fresh wild fruit, flowers and leaves for them to feed on. As they fluidly moved on the tree tops of the dense forest, they gave the appearance of an invisible wave gushing through the green.
With the golden orange light of the sunset pouring down the forest, the monkeys huddled around their habitat to relax from the day’s huddle and prepare for the nightfall. Aler, the head of the pack did the routine with his lieutenants to secure the perimeter and ensure that no predators are lurking around. There were monkeys put on vigil at specific tree tops to sound off an alarm if there was any sign of danger.
Two restless young monkeys played around their mother and made shrieking noises. “Notty, Misky, it’s time to rest for the day, stop running around”, said their mother. “If Aler finds you making noise, you will be in trouble”, she warned them as she caught hold of Notty and cuddled him gently. Misky jumped in for a share of his mom’s attention. “You should quickly learn to observe the pack, we make different types of sound to alert others and get attention to delicious food. And you should learn to make these sounds too. This forest, our home is beautiful, but we need to stick together as a group to keep it that way and keep away from danger”, Tooty was a good teacher.
Misky and Notty paid attention and one of them suddenly asked fearfully, “what danger mama?”. “We have several predators – pythons, leopards and most dangerous of all the sky-bird”, said Tooty. “But we didn’t see any sky-bird till now”, Notty asked. “If it comes, I will jump and run and dive”, he jumped in place and showed his mother how quick he can be. “Okay, who wants to hear the story of the sky-bird, it’s a scary story though”, said Tooty with an eery voice. “We are not scared, we are strong”, said the young ones and biting each other’s tail. “Okay listen up, sit quietly now, this story is real and happened an year before you were born”, Tooty positioned the young ones firmly around her on the sturdy tree branch and started her story.
“Our group is the longest surviving one in this huge forest. Aler has been leading this pack for the past 5 years. We have always dodged the predators by discipline and watching each other’s back. Aler gives a simple message every day when we start out for food, which is?”, paused Tooty. “Wait wait, I know, stay alert…”, Misky started scratching his head. “…sense…”, Tooty tried to help. “..stay alert, sense and shout…”, Notty jumped in. “…share, share, share…”, Misky shrieked. “Yes, stay alert, sense and share quickly. And?”, Tooty asked. “Mama, story, we don’t pay attention to Aler”, Misky got distracted. “I know that you don’t. The other rule of the pack is – “respect every monkey, no false alarms, as you might trigger a wrong behavior”, Tooty looked at her confused children. “Okay let me tell the story you will understand”.
“In the group there were two mischievous ones like you two. One was a strong monkey by name Listno and another by name Jokey. Listno was as strong as Aler and didn’t bother breaking the rules of the pack. He didn’t pay attention and ignored the sounds made by others. Once he was almost caught by a young leopard, but he managed to jump in time and kicked the leopard on his face, sending him scrambling down the tree. This made him even more arrogant in the pack. Aler warned him severely after this, ‘you have insulted the leopard, they will come back to hunt us down’. And we moved from that location and came far East into the forest. The other one, Jokey is the most mischievous of the lot. He is very good at making sounds and used to create panic by giving false alarms. Once he gave a shrill cry, the one usually given when a sky-bird is approaching. It made the entire pack move and run like crazy while Jokey & Listno had a good laugh”, Tooty paused to see if Misky and Notty were still listening.
“Then what happened mama? Did Aler get very angry?”, Misky asked. “Yes he did! He wanted to banish them both from the pack, but they were also agile and strong and every monkey is needed to keep the pack strong. So he let them be”, she looked at the beautiful sight of the orange disk sliding under the horizon. “I will be stronger than Listno and faster than Jokey”, Notty tried to jump but Tooty held him fast.
“Stay with the pack Listno”, Aler said sternly one day. “You both will risk the safety of the group. You could be the next leader with your strength and Jokey could be your best lieutenant, he is great at sensing and signaling danger, both of you should act up”, said Aler. “Don’t venture to the edge of the forest or too high up the tree where a sky-bird can see you”.
“What do you say mate, next adventure time?”, Jokey smirked as Aler left them both to join the rest of the pack. “To the edge of the forest, I heard the old man Sanoa spoke about untouched fresh fruit, because no one goes there”, said Listno. “For a reason! It is too daring to go there alone”, warned Jokey. “Yeah yeah! All that crap about stay alert-sense-share, we don’t need it Joke! I am strong and you are fast. If you see something give a shout and we will dash for the tree cover”, Listno was in no mood to listen.
Both of them drifted away from the pack without being watched and very quickly reached the edge of the forest, where there was a bounty of fresh fruit and flowers bursting with nectar. “This is amazing!”, said Listno. Jokey spoke munching on a mouthful of fruit lazily, “Hey List, I have a suspicion that Aler sent us here on purpose and put this thought in our head, why should he mention it today…”, but before he could finish a giant martial eagle swooped in from no where and picked up Listno in a flash.
As Jokey watched in utter terror, the dreaded sky-bird was carrying a struggling Listno high up into the sky with tremendous speed. Jokey instinctively made the highest noise he could, the one that is made when a sky-bird approaches the pack. But alas, no one was around, Jokey’s shrills continued for a long time, until he gave up and rushed to join the pack.
Tooty watched both the young monkeys watching her with fear and sadness. “Did Listno come back?”, Notty asked. “But you said he was strong, did he die?”, asked Misky. ”Now it’s your turn Listno”, winked Tooty as the father of the young ones approached the branch after his vigil along with Aler. “You told them the story?”, he asked smiling. “Papa what happened to Listno, did you know him?”, Misky asked. “Yes, his real name is Musko, your mom made up that name, because I didn’t listen to anyone that time, she calls me Listno when she gets upset with me. I am Listno from your mom’s story”, he laughed.
“It was you? Did the sky-bird bring you back? Did you fight?”, asked Notty.
“This was a trick by Aler. The sky-bird is his friend. He made me go to the edge of the forest to teach me a lesson. The sky-bird took me to its nest on one of the hills over there…”, he pointed towards the hill. “But after a few hours, when I gave up fighting and struggling, he flew me back and dropped me with Aler”, Musko said.
“This is a good lesson to me and to the entire pack. The strength of the pack is not with one or two strong monkeys, but the two rules that kept our pack safe and protected all along, which are?”, he asked. “Ok stop fighting now and each of you say one rule”, Tooty intervened to calm down her young ones who were beginning to compete. “Misky you go first”, said Tooty. “Stay alert, sense and share”, said Misky. “Very good, Notty?”, asked Tooty. “Respect every monkey and no false alarms”, Notty said quickly and continued, “I am sleepy now”.
As the sun finally set for the day, Tooty and Musko felt proud that their kids will turn out alright and be a part of the pack truly.
A technical prelude to the story above on LinkedIn here