The Magic TreeJamil Momand
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a magic fruit tree. It was tall and had different kinds of fruit: bananas, oranges, grapes, apples, pineapples and many more. The fruit would ripen each year in the middle of the summer when all the other trees were dry and sickly; but the magic tree would never let any of its fruit fall unless the magic words were spoken to it.One summer there was a famine throughout the jungle. The animals began to get hungry and thirsty because all the regular trees had dried up early that year. The magic tree had fruits that looked ripe and succulent but none of the animals could get them, not even the giraffe. "What shall we do?" cried the hippopotamus, "We shall all starve unless one of us gets the magic words from the wise old eagle." The wise old eagle lived on top of a steep mountain many miles away. The stag then jumped onto a big rock and said, "I will get the magic words. I am fast and strong and I will be back before you know it." The animals all cheered with excitement as the stag headed out of the little camp.
The stag bounded off toward the mountain and climbed the rocky rifts as fast as lightning. When he got to the top he saw the eagle. "Eagle!" gasped the stag trying to recover his breath, "Eagle . . . (gasp) . . . I need the magic words for the tree . . . (gasp). We're very hungry; please tell me." The eagle said sternly, "Allah-hu-Akbar (God is great)." "Is that all? Is that it?" said the stag. "That's easy. Allah-hu-Akbar, Allah-hu-Akbar." The stag thanked the eagle and as he started his descent down the mountain he repeated the magic words to himself so as not to forget them. When he got near the bottom of the mountain he began to gallop very fast and not look where he was going. On the path in front of him there was a low tree branch. The stag's antlers caught the branch and, with a mighty crash, the stag found himself flying through the air and fell hard on the ground. He shook his head, stood up, and tried to remember the magic words. "Abra Cada Bra; no that's not right," he muttered, "Open Sesame. No that's not right either." He began to mumble to himself trying to remember the lost words and as he did so, he walked very slowly with his head down, for he was very discouraged. As he made his way toward the tree the animals cheered and gathered around him asking him, "What are the magic words?" He replied with a hurt look on his face, "I forgot." "What! You forgot!" screamed the hippo, "How could you forget?" The stag, almost whispering, said, "I forgot." Everyone was sad, they were sure they were going to starve. The mothers and children began to cry.
Then a loud roar sounded through the jungle. Everyone hushed as the lion came forward. "Who's the king of the jungle?!!!" he roared. "You are," quivered the animals. "Right! And I'm going up to that mountain and bring those magic words down." Saying that, he took off toward the mountain. The lion paced himself well and when he got to the top he roared, "Eagle, give me those words to that magic tree or I'll slice you in two!" The Eagle, undisturbed by the lion's threat, said simply, "Allah-hu-Akbar!" "That's it?" laughed the lion, "That numskull stag couldn't remember that?" And the lion climbed down the mountain. The sun began to get hot and the lion knew he was more than half way back to the magic tree. His eyes caught a flat, comfortable rock nearby and all the sudden, the lion felt sleepy. "I might as well get some shut-eye for a couple of minutes," he said yawning. He stretched himself out on the warm rock and promptly fell to a deep sleep.When he woke up; the sun was near the horizon. He got up on all fours and was a little worried. "Hey, I better get back. Now, what were those magic words? Oh yeah, Ala Kazam. No, that isn't right. Maybe Ala Kazoo. No, that isn't right either." After talking to himself for an hour the lion realized he forgot the words. He meandered slowly home, his head down, dragging his tail, in shame. It was dark when he came back to the magic tree, but all the animals were up waiting for him. They started to get excited and began to cheer and shout. "Quiet!" roared the lion, "I have something to say." The animals hushed, but they were still excited. Their leader, their hero, the king of the jungle had brought the magic words and was going to save them from starvation. "I forgot the magic words," he said. The words had scarcely left his mouth when the animals burst out in a wailing that was never seen before. Mothers and children bawled while the fathers wept a tear at a time trying to restrain themselves. Then, the turtle came forward and said softly, "I'll bring the words." At first, nobody heard him so he had to repeat himself many times. After the third announcement the hippo finally said, "Please, don't joke with us. We are all going to die and you're talking nonsense. How can you bring the words when the lion and the stag could not? Leave us."
So, while all the animals were crying and wailing, the turtle crawled out of the camp toward the mountain. He kept going steadily, not stopping for rest or water. When he got to the top of the mountain he asked the eagle, "Excuse me, could you tell me what the magic words are?" "Allah-hu-Akbar," said the eagle. The turtle thanked the eagle and started his long journey home repeating the word every few steps. The sun was hot and the turtle was very tired. When he passed the flat rock where the lion had slept the turtle said to himself, "Allah-hu-Akbar," and moved on. When he came to the low branch where the stag had fallen, the turtle said to himself, "Allah-hu-Akbar," and crawled on. When the animals spotted him slowly crawling toward camp, some of them ran to met him. Most, however, were too weak and couldn't move. The zebra asked the turtle, "What are the magic words? Tell us tell us. "The turtle did not stop or raise his head but kept on crawling toward the tree. Every step took a lot of effort. His head was aching, and there was so much dust in his eyes he could barely see. Now, all the animals were asking, "What are the words, the magic words, tell us." The turtle kept on mumbling the magic words just to himself until he got to the foot of the tree. He now raised his head and saw the fruit all ripe and succulent. He looked around and all the animals had their eyes fixed on him. These were the same animals who laughed at him several days ago. He then turned his head back to the magic tree and shouted, "Allah-hu-Akbar." Nothing happened at first. Then, gradually, a low rumbling below the tree could be heard. It grew louder, and louder and then the ground started to shake. All the animals were frightened and huddled close together. Then the tree started to shake and the fruit started falling: bananas, oranges, grapes, apples, and much much more. After a minute the vibrations stopped and the rumbling went away. The hungry animals fell upon the fruit that now lay on the ground. They all had great feast, and at the end of the celebration the turtle was crowned king of the jungle.