Vukani G. Nyirenda
2884 E Big Range Road
Ontario, CA 91764
Tel. 909-923-5764
Word Count: 906

Kalulu the Hare Dupes Lioness
By Vukani G. Nyirenda

A Lioness twitched as she lay on her side under the shade of a huge fig tree. Her six cubs bowled and fought among themselves for a chance to suck at her empty breasts. Since their birth seven days back, the Lioness hadn’t hunted and the cubs were hungrier by the day as they grew older. They craved fresh meat, not milk which was also in short supply.

"Why are your cubs growling and fighting?" Kalulu the hare asked the Lioness. He stood at a safe distance.

"They’re hungry," said the Lioness and yawned baring her long canines.

"Give them buffalo meat, bird meat … whatever," said Kalulu. "That should shut them up."

"I haven’t hunted since they were born seven days ago."

"Why’s that?" wondered Kalulu. "There’s plenty eland and bush bucks; even wild pigs, your favorites, in the woods across the stream."

"I can’t leave the cubs alone," replied the Lioness, "with hyenas lurking in the dark nights and bald eagles hovering above during the day."

"I’ll babysit for you," Kalulu offered and moved closer to the Lioness adding, "I’ll take good care of them so you can go hunting in peace."

"Can you handle them?" asked the Lioness. "They’re a bit rough, you know."

"That’s baby stuff for me."

Kalulu said this knowing he didn’t like baby lions. They were naughty and he would have loved to discipline them but there was no way he could have gotten near the cubs with their ferocious mother around.

The first evening the Lioness returned from her hunt tugging the carcass of a warthog. The cubs attacked the meat with all their energy; lapping the blood like sweet honey. Kalulu sat by grimly. The Lioness had given him no meat arguing, "You’re vegetarian, fresh elephant grass and matondo fruit are best for you."

Kalulu scowled.

Before the lioness left for her hunt the next morning she brought down the carcass of a bush buck she had stashed away in a thicket on an anthill nearby. "Here," said the Lioness pointing at the carcass. "Make sure every cub has enough to eat. Bytheway, there’s also sweet matondo fruit (the only fruit lions are known to eat and enjoy), it will quench their thirst."

"Trust me, I will," Kalulu assured the Lioness.

Kalulu waited until the Lioness disappeared into the woods. Sitting on a tree stump that he fashioned as his throne, Kalulu ordered the cubs to gather around him and told them "I am your chief, not babysitter. You must obey my orders or else…no food for you." Then he invited his friends the squirrels and meerkats to join him in the feast of matondo fruit. Hyenas, the traditional enemies of the lions, were summoned to come enjoy the meat they so love. The cubs huddled together and watched in silence from a distance, saliva dripping from their mouths. They were ordered not to tell their mother what they saw.

When Kalulu sensed the Lioness was about to return, he quickly smeared matondo fruit juice on the cubs’ mouths so they didn’t look hungry. But as soon as Mother Lioness showed up dragging the carcass of a kudu between her legs, the cubs howled so loudly she asked Kalulu, "Why are the cubs crying? Didn’t they eat enough?"

"Oh sure they did; lots of meat and matondo," replied Kalulu. "Look at their mouths. The cubs are crying tears of joy. They’re so happy Mother Lioness is back; with more meat."

The Lioness believed Kalulu’s word.

For the next two days the story was the same. Each time the Lioness went out to hunt Kalulu became "King" of the lion cubs, bossed them, and bullied them; invited his guests to the daily feasts, while the cubs remained hungry and grumpy.

On the fourth-day the Lioness gave Kalulu the usual instructions as she prepared to leave for her morning hunt: "Be sure every cub has enough to eat, entertain them, no fighting, no scratching…" and left. Except this time she only went a short distance, then returned and hid in a bush on top of a nearby anthill to watch and listen.

The Lioness had hardly laid down when Kalulu began gathering the cubs and giving orders: "I’m your boss, remember? You, the lazy one, go fetch meat for my guests, you, the thin one, go tell my friends lunch is ready, you…you…"

In a minute Kalulu’s guests swarmed the camp and the partying started. The cubs swallowed their saliva.

The Lioness sprang from her hideout, pounced on Kalulu and held him tight by his long ears. Kalulu struggled like a wounded leopard but the Lioness tightened her grip. Pandemonium, chaos, broke out and Kalulu’s guests scampered in all directions in panic.

"I caught you," said the Lioness still holding on to Kalulu’s long ears. "You’re a fake and you conned me. For that I will teach you a lesson you won’t forget. I’m going to bash your bottom on THAT stone.

"Go ahead," said Kalulu, "with my thick coat of hair, I will bounce like a rubber ball. I only fear tree stumps ‘cause they’re jagged."

Whereupon the Lioness stomped Kalulu on a tree stump, and … he BOUNCED and hopped off to his warren wearing a smile all over his face!