Still on the subject of Anansi. One thing you, dear reader would have to know is that Anansi was totally without regard for the rules of society. Being a sort of deity, in the stories he’s often found operating whatever way he likes.
Sometimes he could be kind. Sometimes not. Sometimes he had a conscience. Most times he just did not care.
In this particular story… He just didn’t care.
Anansi had a wife, a beautiful hardworking woman with a farm at the back of their mud hut. Together they had borne several kids, each as wily a trickster as their father. But I digress.
Anansi’s wife had planted a lot of corn on her farm during the planting season and now the corn was ripe for harvest… Big and juicy and all tempting. Anansi wanted the corn.
Now he didn’t just want a part of it. No no no. He wanted all of it. Every last grain. So he sat on a stool in his little room and hatched himself a plan.
He called his wife and kids together and lay in his bed as though ill.
“Wife, sons and daughters. I am I’ll and I can feel the land of my ancestors calling to me. Soon I would be dead. Hush your tears, I’m not quite done. I know you’re crying but see you must do something for me. To show your love for me, bury me in the shade of the banyan tree not too far from the farm and leave a pot of water boiling beside my grave. Be sure to make sure its always boiling, add wood and keep it roaring, the fire. And I will be happy with you from beyond.” With these words he groaned and went limp. To all present, Anansi was dead.
With a lot of wailing and crying, the trickster was buried. And as was his last wish, a pot of water was kept boiling beside his grave.
That night, when everyone was asleep, Anansi arose from his grave, shook off the dirt and went into the farm. He took a lot of corn and boiled it in the water. He feasted till dawn and then threw the cobs in the refuse heap, set them alight and went back into his grave to sleep.
Things went on like this, till Anansi had almost finished what was left on the farm. His wife and children grew lean, but the trickster grew fat and shiny. For he ate all the corn and all they had was the little he left behind which they rationed in an attempt to make it last.
Eventually the family came together to talk. Anansi had taken enough for the owner to know, it seemed and they were determined to catch this thief. But he came at night and they were often so tired from the day’s work and they couldn’t possibly stay up as long as required. But then the last born child was a fantastic carver. So on his own he went into the bush and cut down a good chunk of wood, as tall as a man. He sat in his shop, and abandoning all projects for the day he carved. And carved. And carved. When he was done, he had the resemblance of a man, who stood with his hands on his hips, watching carved out from wood. Then he took some sticky tar and rubbed it all over the man. He put it in the middle of the farm, where he was sure to be seen, and left for bed.
That night Anansi got out of his grave and went into the farm for his usual. After picking a few corn cobs he came across the wooden man.
“Hey!” He challenged. “This is my farm. What are you doing here?”
The carved man didn’t answer so Anansi went up to him and gave him a solid slap. His hand stuck fast.
“Now look here,” he warned. “You have a hold of one hand and that’s alright. But if you don’t leave it I’ll lay into you with the remaining seven limbs and you’ll be in deep trouble.”
The carved man, of course did not answer and this seemed very arrogant to Anansi who then made good on his threat.
But all eight limbs were stuck fast and the tar hardened around them. He was trapped.
That morning the last born came out and found Anansi hanging on the carved man, so he called on his siblings and they lifted the tar man with sticks, all the way to the refuse heap where they left him. They farmed a bit more and had enough to eat, and Anansi was stuck to the tar for weeks till he grew lean and the tar grew brittle and he was able to break free.
But for a time, there was a pause to his mischief.