Another tale from Simbo.
It was time to harvest the yam. A time when all the women in the village must join in and work, even the young mothers with newborn babies.
One young mother lay her tiny baby in the shade of a large tree, and joined the others in the garden. She worked hard, digging up yams and putting them into baskets woven from coconut fronds.
After a while her baby grew hungry, and began to cry. The child’s mother heard the crying, and called out” Wait my child, I shall finish this row and then I shall come to feed you!”
She carried on digging up the row, and filling her basket with luzu. The baby wailed on. At the end of the row, the young woman thought to herself, ” I shall work back down the next row until I am near the child, and then I shall feed him”. To the baby she called out “Wait tuqu, soon I shall come and feed you”. She continued digging and harvesting, the child continued crying.
As she passed close to where the baby lay, once more she called out to him to wait just a little more, until she had finished the row she was digging. She carried on harvesting, and the child continued to wail.
As she reached the end of the row, a small bird alighted on her shoulder.
“Mother’, he said. “I cried and cried for you, but you would not come!”
“I am sorry I did not come to you” said the young mother. ” Here is my breast!”
“I will not take your breast” said her baby. ” I am a bird, now. I shall live in the forest”.
The woman wept for her baby and reached out to hold him, but he flew away into the forest and began to cry once more.
As you walk through the forest you may hear him still, crying for his mother’s breast. But you shall not see him. Always, he hides from sight.
His name is Kokunu.