The Ant and the Antelope

by Daniel Dela Dunoo

          Many years ago, the Ant travelled a long distance into the jungle all by himself in search of food. This was during a season of famine. In the course of that search, he met the antelope. After exchanging a few pleasantries, they went their separate ways. A few days later, their paths crossed again. This time they were excited about seeing each other again and talked some more. Soon, the Ant and the Antelope became very close friends; they were the best of friends and were envied by many other animals. Their friendship was a very interesting one indeed. They obviously were very different; different animals, different sizes and different habits. Yet they managed to build a beautiful friendship that was the envy of many. On a normal day, it was not difficult to find the ant and the antelope playing heartily together, eating together and doing many other things together.

          The antelope always protected the ant from other animals. However, the antelope was very lazy, especially when it came to searching for food. The antelope would play, eat or sleep rather than work. The ant, on the other hand, was industrious and did the right thing at the right time. He will walk long distances in search of food. He would carry, bit by bit, the food he found in the forest to his hide-out, a narrow hole where he would store the food he had gathered. The ant worked for long hours without any assistance from his friend the antelope.

          After a while, the ant noticed a trend. While he worked very hard to gather and store some food, his friend, the antelope always consumed whatever food he found. He never for once stored any food. As a result, whenever he went in search of food and did not find any, he would make his way to his friend, the ant. The ant was always generous and would give his friend, the antelope, as much food as he wanted.

          As the days ran into months, the antelope kept coming to his friend, the ant, for food. As a result, the ant ran out of food more frequently. No matter how hard he worked and how much he stored food, he would run out a few days afterwards. This was because he shared large quantities of his food with his friend, the antelope.

     The ant began to feel the pressure of the frequent food shortage. This gave him a lot of cause for concern. He had said nothing to his friend the antelope because he did not want to hurt their friendship; he cherished his friendship with the antelope.

     One early morning, while the ant was still in bed, he awoke from sleep suddenly. So many thoughts came rushing through his mind. The ant reflected on the behaviour of his friend the antelope and thought to himself, I have had enough of this. Why should I continue to give this lazy friend of mine food so often? He lazes around and sleeps when I am busily working. Why must I go hungry when I work so hard to store some food which should last me for a whole month? The ant thought to himself, I will master some courage and for once refuse to assist my friend. I won`t give him any more food. He must learn to also work hard.

          That same day, the antelope visited his friend, the ant. The ant wore a cheerful face and welcomed his friend, the antelope, warmly. They exchanged pleasantries. Soon afterwards, the antelope blurted out, I am very hungry. Can you please give me some of your store of food? The ant remained silent. He said no word. He was still considering what to tell his friend, the antelope. The antelope repeated the same question but got no response from the ant. The ant finally turned, looking into the eyes of the antelope. He slowly but firmly replied, My dear friend, I am sorry I can not be of help to you this time around. I have also run out of food. The antelope was quite certain his friend, the ant, had some food hidden somewhere and so he stated, I know you are not being frank with me. You are lying through your teeth. The ant flared up, responding, Yes, you are right. I lied; I have some food available but have decided not to give you any. For a long while, you have been consistent in at least one thing, that is, your lazy attitude; your refusal to work as much as I do and your refusal to store food when ever you have more than enough. Even though you are bigger and stronger than I am, you are extremely lazy. I will not take any of this humiliation from you any longer, shouted the antelope, fuming with anger. The ant replied, Over my dead body will I shut up. For a long while you have robbed me of much of the food I stored for future use. You are very lazy and self centred.

          While the ant was still speaking, his friend the antelope who was fuming with anger, rushed towards the ant as though to smash him under foot; he wanted to teach his friend the little ant a bitter lesson. The ant was faster on this occasion; he quickly made his way into his hole. The antelope waited by the little hole, wanting to harm the ant as soon as he came out of his hideout. He waited for hours without seeing any sign of the ant. By this time, the ant who had created many exit routes out of his hideout, unknown to the antelope, had already escaped from the hole through one of those exits. The antelope on the other hand was by this time starving; he dashed hurriedly into the jungle in search of food. Their paths never crossed again. The ant travelled a long distance to reunite with his family and friends who were fellow ants. A few weeks later, the antelope also made a new friend; however, this time round it was a female antelope. They shared many good times and lived happily ever after.

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