The noisy flea – An African fairy tale

Note:  I was going to post this last week but read this story and experienced a bit of an existential crisis as I wondered if this blog would, one day, be referred to as my ‘manifesto’.  Thankfully, I eventually recovered, realized the origins for this post were nothing more than a bad day and am completely confident that I’m just as sane as any of you. Take whatever comfort from that you feel is deserved…

Once upon a time there was herd of water buffalo grazing on the African plains.  Upon one of the buffaloes was a group of fleas.  One of the fleas enjoyed looking over the savanna and one day he saw a pride of lions stalking the herd and getting uncomfortably close to his buffalo.

‘Hey!’ the flea shouted.  ‘You better move it.  Those lions might eat you!’

The buffalo kept eating his grass, not moving.

‘I’m not kidding you blockhead!  Those lions are getting close and looking hungry!’

Still the buffalo kept eating, ignoring the flea.

Most of the other fleas would occasionally look at the noisy flea and say:  ‘Hey, what are you bothering looking around for?  Everything you need is here.  We’ve got plenty of food and a warm place to sleep.  Stop making trouble!’

Some fleas on nearby buffaloes liked to look around as well and saw the lions stalking the noisy flea’s buffalo.  ‘Wow!’  They said.  ‘Look at that flea!  He’s speaking truth to power.  The buffalo is ignoring him because he doesn’t want to face the truth that he might get eaten so he’s in denial.’

Both sets of fleas yelled to the noisy flea.  ‘Look out!  If you keep making trouble the buffalo might get angry and throw you off!  Don’t get the buffalo mad.’

But the flea kept yelling.  Sometimes by himself and sometimes he’d try to get all the fleas to yell together but he was never very successful.

The buffalo kept chewing his grass.  He loved eating grass.  He never remembered a time when he didn’t chew grass and couldn’t imagine doing anything other than chewing grass.  Occasionally when he had to stop chewing, to move to a nicer patch of grass, for example, he’d occasionally hear a faint buzzing.  Almost like voices but very quiet.  He didn’t like that sound so he’d quickly start eating grass again where the satisfying sound of his chewing would drown out that pesky noise.  He would chew grass forever.

He had no idea he even had fleas.

And he never heard the flea’s final warning…

That night, as the lions lay amongst their pride, bellies full of fresh buffalo they thought about where they’d hunt next.  After many kills, the buffaloes were finally getting skittish when the lions came near.  That was fine.  They were getting tired of water buffalo anyway.  It had been awhile since they hunted zebra, maybe they’d try them next.  Or some gnu.  It didn’t matter.  There was always fresh prey animals and they were always so fixated on their grass that they never saw the lions until it was too late.  And even when they learned to look out for the lions they soon forgot, lured back to fixate on their precious grass.

Yes, the lions loved the grass almost as much as the animals that ate it.  Maybe more.

And the noisy flea?  He hated having to change homes all the time but the lions kept coming and no one would listen to his warning.  Still, what could he do?  He was only a flea.

And the lions lived happily ever after.


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