Feature, Storytelling by Storytellers

Manjaneel -short story

by Indeyah Todman

Why the Manjaneel Tree is Poisonous

The tree was mighty. The gigantic, godly tree with bright green leaves shaped like ovals stood 50 feet tall in the island sand. Its fruit was circular like an orange but was a light green color. On the island of St. Croix, everyone loved the tree because it had a special gift. Villagers who suffered from any ailment, whether it was a headache, a cold, or their arms and legs were cut off, came to the tree to soothe their troubles. Everyone loved the tree, and the tree loved everyone until it met the crooked, the wicked, the trickster Ananse!

Anansi tricker spider, no copyright infringement intended

Ananse was a spider with two spider sons. Zareik, the oldest, could not see a thing. Blind as a bat, he could not see the world and feared he never would. Trey, the youngest, was caught in a terrible fire that left blisters, boils, and burns that irritated his skin. It was hard for him to walk. His sons begged Ananse to take them to the tree to fix their ailments. The sons cried and cried and cried until they were up to their necks in a pool of tears. “Alright, alright! I’ll take you to the tree.” Ananse yelled. The following morning, Ananse and his two sons went up to the tree.

“Manjaneel tree! Help me!” yelled Ananse. “But what is this? You’re not even going to say good morning?” the tree bellowed back. “Oh, my bad, my bad. Morning.” Ananse replied, annoyed. “I see your sons need some help.” The children nodded enthusiastically. “I will help you, my children. You know what to do.” The children kneeled before the tree with smiles as wide as can be, and they yelled in unison: “Manjaneel! Manjaneel! Hear my plea! Heal my soul and set me free!” The ground rumbled and shook with loud thumps and thuds

until two juicy green fruits fell from the tree to the ground. “Eat my fruit, children, and you will be free.”

The children scarfed down the fruit. Zariek and Trey licked their lips, rubbed their bellies, and jumped for joy. The fruit was so ripe, juicy, and delicious they immediately wanted more! Like magic, Zariek regained his vision! He could finally see the world and couldn’t be happier. Trey’s blisters and boils and burns disappeared! The two brothers hugged, thanked the tree, and ran off to experience St. Croix from a new perspective.

“Ananse, it’s the best fruit I ever had, and I feel terrible for anyone who hasn’t tried it!”

On Ananse’s walk back home, people healed by the tree’s fruit talked about how amazing the fruit tasted.“Ananse, it’s so good!” “Ananse, it’s amazing!” “Ananse, it’s the best fruit I ever had, and I feel terrible for anyone who hasn’t tried it!” Ananse’s curiosity grew more and more as everyone gushed over the fruit’s delectable taste. Almost every day, he heard people chanting, “Manjaneel! Manjaneel! Hear my plea! Heal my soul and set me free!” He saw them devouring the fruit with gusto, saving their lives. “I need to get sick!” thought Ananse. But days and days and days went by, and Ananse was as healthy as can be. “Fine, if I can’t get sick, I’ll just have to pretend to be.”

Ananse wrapped up his head in bandages, colored his nose red as if he had a fever, and put a cast on each of his eight legs. He put on shades to pretend he couldn’t see and used markers on his skin to make it look as if he was scorched. Using crutches, he limped and hobbled up to the tree. It was now or never. “Manjaneel tree! Help- um, I mean, good morning!” Ananse yelled to the tree. “Looks like you gained some manners, Ananse. Good morning!” Ananse coughs dramatically. “I am very *cough cough* sick.” Ananse pretended. “Oh my! It looks like you have many ailments! Poor thing! I will help you, my child. You know what to do.” Ananse kneeled before the tree with a smile as wide as can be and yelled, “Manjaneel! Manjaneel! Hear my plea! Heal my soul and set me free!”

The ground rumbled and shook with loud thumps and thuds until four juicy green fruits fell from the tree to the ground. “Eat my fruit, child, and you will be free.” Before Ananse ate the fruit, he licked his lips, rubbed his belly, and jumped for joy. The tree noticed something. “No! No No! You tricked me! You can’t jump with eight broken legs!” screeched the tree, full of anger. “You took my fruits for nothing! You used me!” A storm swarmed above the tree. Hurricane-force winds howled and moaned with rage. “Never! Never again will I be taken for a fool!” Ananse quickly ate the fruits and tried to run away. But he tripped on his crutches and fell to the ground.

The tree began to change. Rain poured down from the sky and onto the tree’s leaves. The water that fell from the leaves landed on Ananse’s skin! It caused blisters, boils, and burns to ravage his skin. He screamed in pain and looked up at the tree. “Manjaneel! Stop this now!” he demanded. But as he looked up, the water from the leaves went into his eyes! He yelled and screamed as his sight disappeared, and he could no longer see.

Now and forever, the Manjaneel tree and its fruit are a toxic menace that uses its power to bring death instead of life. Never eat the fruit, never touch the leaves or bark, and never stand under the tree when it rains.

And the Wheel Bend, And the Story End.

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