Tham and Sambu
Two brothers began a long journey across a rainforest in darkest Africa. Safe from the sun’s rays they traveled with skin of the blackest ebony hue.
On the first night of their crossing, as one slept and the other kept watch, a lion approached and encircled the camp, letting loose a ferocious roar!
Both were awake now and faced the lion, whose eyes fiercely blazed by the firelight. Drool fell from his fanged mouth for he was famished, and soon would dine.
“Run and climb that tree,” Sambu said. “I shall fend him off from here. If I fail, then you will at least keep safe up there.”
“No, you climb!” shouted his brother Tham.
Both brothers refused to leave the other behind and a great argument ensued. “You leave! Run now!”
“No, you! Go!” With loud tones, the two assailed each other.
The lion grew confused by the spirited brawl. Never had he seen this! These two were not shouting at him, the lion. For this, the jungle king was ill-prepared!
Turning in fear and running away, the lion gave a parting roar. The brothers scolded each other fiercely, “You are a fool! Why did you not leave?”
On the second night of their encampment, a mighty storm arose. Spotting a nearby cave, Tham said to Sambu, “Go sit in the cave. There’s room for one.”
Sambu said, “No, you go. No lightning can harm you there and you will stay dry.” A great dispute erupted.
“Go into the cave now!”
“I will not. You go!”
The brothers continued to debate, and neither would go into the dry cave. Fighting as only brothers can, neither relented nor won as both stood there in the rain.
Soon lightning struck a tree that grew above the mouth of the cave. The bolt traveled into the cave and burned the grass that lay inside its fringes.
By now, the brothers were both asleep and startled awake by a thunderous crash. “If I had gone into the cave,” shouted Sambu, “I would have died! What a fool you are!”
Tham replied, “And you would have sent me into destruction! You must really hate me too!”
Another argument escalated into shouting until at last the two grew tired, and each slept.
Upon waking, the two beheld a mighty python. Eyeing them both, it could not decide
which would make the tastier meal.
“If you do not move,” whispered Sambu, “It will not attack you. I’ll run and get a spear.”
“No, I’ll run. You stay here,” retorted Tham. Bickering and shouting followed.
Unlike the lion, the snake was not stunned by the commotion and attacked, striking Tham. Sambu grabbed his neck as he leaped. Tham rolled over, grabbed the spear, and pierced the giant snake.
Tham shouted “You idiot! Why did you not do as I asked?”
“You are the fool!” cried Sambu. “You should have done as I asked!”
The quarreling continued throughout the day as the two traveled on their way. At last, they reached a desert, dry and parched with no oasis in sight.
The two trekked across the wide desert not finding a source of water. Tham handed Sambu their last canteen. “You drink it, Sambu.”
“No, you drink it, Tham,” Sambu said, and they had a great feud as the brothers wandered across the desert, both thirsty and neither drinking. After arguing all the while, they agreed to split the last drink.
The next day, they happened upon a spring. “You were a fool to fight about the water!” Tham yelled.
Sambu responded, “No, you were the fool!”
As they stood on the dry bank shouting, a wall of water rushed towards them where the mighty river sometimes flowed.
Frightened, Sambu pushed Tham out of harm’s way. In the middle of the ruckus, they both fell!
“You are ever the fool!” Sambu cried.
“No, you are the fool!” retorted Tham, as the water carried them down the river.
By good fortune they found a log to grasp, keeping their foolish heads above the flood. They traveled down the river safely and arrived surprisingly at their destination.
They had been on a pilgrimage to the temple of Mother Kali. As they approached, Tham said to Sambu, “You enter first!”
Sambu said, “No, you go first. It is your right!” A disagreement followed with many shouts, and neither would go as each stubbornly stated their case.
Disturbed by all the discordant bickering outside her peaceful temple, Mother Kali appeared to the startled brothers.
“Who dares to disturb my quiet temple and distract me from my pastime of reaping human heads?” Mother Kali emerged in her blackest form with many arms. From her belt dangled a sword of destruction and the hands of a thousand men.
“We are two brothers from the West. I am Tham, and this is Sambu. He is the one who causes all the trouble. I asked him to go before me and he will not.”
“No, this one is the dolt!” cried Sambu. “I entreated him to go first, and he won’t. He is the most stubborn man alive!”
“No, he is the most stubborn!” Tham said.
Momentarily the brothers met by Kali forgot their fear in mutual anger, and Mother Kali hid a smile for these two were of her kind!
“Quiet, both of you!” shouted Kali. “May your anger by mine be diminished. I have watched your entire voyage and I must say I am amused.”
“I was going to save you from the lion when you both stupidly forgot to fight him. He left your sight in great confusion and I never tread to lift a finger!”
“I intended to direct the lightning away from the cave. At least one of you should have stayed dry! Instead, I let the bolt fall where it would while the both of you stood in the rain!”
“The snake I would have sent away for it is seldom that pythons do men attack. I let him leap, out of my own curiosity, for two such as you I have never beheld. It was by your own actions you saved yourselves. If you had prayed, I would have granted it!”
“In the desert, you both would have died had I not livened that spring before you arrived. Then I sent the onrushing water and watched you argue as you were swept down the river. Watching you was hilarious as you each fell trying to save the other. I later sent a log for each of you to grasp onto.”
“In truth, you are two idiots, but I like you. You forget yourselves in thinking of each other and fight like little children over nothing. You really are most entertaining!”
“Now I grant you just one boon, ask me anything you like but be careful as you make your choice. For me to grant a boon is rare.”
“I know just what I want,” said Tham. “Give Sambu whatever he wants.”
“No, give Tham his wish!” Sambu cried.
A fierce debate arose as each demanded a boon for the other. In the meantime, Mother Kali disappeared.
“See what you did?” Tham said. “She is gone, leaving us both without a wish!”
“No, it’s your fault!” shouted Sambu.