From Marston Gregory:
Pepe the Monkey and the Potentate
By Marston Gregory May, 2020
(a Ramadan dream)
Long long ago, in a faraway kingdom, a proclamation went out to the citizen’s that all should assemble in the great square of the capitol to hear the yearly speech of the great king named Bethazar the Magnificent. To not attend meant imprisonment or death so every citizen of the realm set everything aside for the great moment.
This year a humble man named Joseph who made his living playing his little accordion and his pet monkey planned to make the long journey. Little Pepe, his monkey, would dance and entertain the crowds and gather coins to put in his master’s box. Joseph swore that little Pepe spoke and could understand and speak to him in the native language. He also was sure the little monkey was full of great wisdom only he could see and understand. The monkey had a connection with the angels.
Knowing that the ceremony to hear Bethazar the Magnificent would be an opportunity to collect many coins Joseph and Pepe made the long trip from his small village to the grand square where the hordes would gather for the great day of pageantry and Bethazar would make his yearly appearance and speech. Bethazar was a tyrant of a long line of tyrants that accepted his living in luxury while most of his subjects lived in poverty and were taxed heavily. His robes were always the finest and bejeweled to create spender and adoration from is lowly subjects. His military was always present to ensure his safety. Trumpets always heralded his lordship’s every entrance.
Joseph and Pepe wound their way through the throngs to be as close to the podium where the master would speak. As they made their way, a great carriage came rolling up the hill preceded by guards on horseback and many behind heralding the way crying? “Make way for Bethazar the Magnificent!” The 100 Trumpets sang. Due to sheep crossing the road the carriage had to come to a jolting stop.
The carriage door flew open for the king was upset at such a stop. This was a disgrace! The king saw little Pepe who thought he was being called and he jumped before Joseph could stop him into the carriage with the king. Joseph tried to call him back, but the sheep cleared and off the carriage went.
The king seeing little Pepe thought it was a gift and was delighted with little Pepe who danced his little dance on the seat across from the King and enchanted him in his little outfit. He decided to take the little Pepe upon the stage and show off his little gift to his adoring subjects.
The throngs were gathered and hushed, and Joseph pushed way through the crowd hoping to see where his little Pepe had gone and much to his surprise it sat on the shoulder of Bethazar the Magnificent. All subjects prostrated themselves on the ground in honor of the king; only Joseph, so stunned, stood in disbelief.
What the king did not know, was that little Pepe was full of magic and could speak.
Pepe whispered something in the king’s ear just before each sentence and the spell was put upon the king to repeat what Pepe, in his wisdom, dictated his message, not what the king would pronounce.
The king began his oration:
The king tried to say: “Dear Subjects of MY kingdom”
What came out of voice was Pepe’s words: “Dear Citizens of our Country.”
Bethazar choked… and thought “Who said that…”
Again new words came: “I am here today to ask forgiveness for my treatment of you as slaves…”
Bethazar’s ministers who stood next to him…tried to stop him. What was he saying! Stop him…!
More sentences came with “Sincere apologies for his grievous behavior…”
“Please stand before me and never bow to me again…since you are my equal…”
Each phrase little Pepe whispered in his ear and the king was charmed and could only say them as hard as he tried to stop.
All the wisdom of the little monkey poured from the king.
He ended by saying: “And I, from henceforth, shall be called: “Suliman the Benefactor”
Joseph was shocked as were thousands who now stood and with tears in their eyes cheered their new leader. They cried, “Long live ‘Suliman the Benefactor’!!! May his rule be forever!!!”
Little Pepe looked out to find his master and whispered one last word to Suliman:
“I ask that the owner of the little monkey, my brilliant assistant please come forward, since he will now be my Prime Minister who brings freedom and justice to our kingdom”.
Joseph rose his hand to be swept on the shoulders of this countrymen to join the new King.
And, the kingdom lived happily ever after since the new king truly became “Suliman and was indeed a benefactor”….
And 3 apples fell from heaven: One for the teller, one for the listener and one for he who heeds the teller’s words. (An Armenian tradition ending a tale.)