19. The Naughty Baboon

Rumaana peered through the car window as they entered a park near the Drakensburg. “Look mummy! How cruel!” she exclaimed. She pointed to a sign that read: [Don’t feed the animals! You feed them and we shoot them.] Her mother explained that when we feed the animals with tidbits we spoil them. They then become a nuisance to visitors at the park when they steal their food. She also informed Rumaana that wild animals thrived on raw, natural food and probably got sick eating cooked food.

Not long thereafter, Rumaana’s father discovered a secluded area near a rocky stream and parked the car. Rumaana helped carry their stuff to a chosen spot. She closed the trunk leaving behind the bag that contained their towels and an open box packed with snacks. She then went to help set out their stuff. By then her two brothers and father were already performing their salaah with jamaah. “Make your wudu at the stream and perform Qasr salaah,” her mother commanded.

“Mummy! How can I perform Asr, when it’s time for Zuhr,” she asked, looking confused. “I said Qasr, not Asr,” replied her mother, smiling at her confusion.

Her mother then explained that since they had travelled more than 78 km, they were musaafirs (travellers). That meant that they had to perform Qasr salaah. In Qasr salaah the four rakaah of fard, were reduced to two rakaah for Zuhr, Asr and Esha prayers. Her mother also informed her that it was allowed for a musaafir to omit their sunnah rakaats, if they were in a hurry. [They were however not to omit the two sunnah rakaat of Fajr salaat though, when musaafirs.] Rumaana felt impressed by all she had learnt.

After performing salaah, her mother asked her to bring the towel bag from the car. She received a huge shock a few minutes later when a baboon jumped onto the open trunk, alongside her. She watched in awe as it grabbed the packet of chevda. “Go away,” she shouted, holding the towel bag in front of her. The baboon dropped the chevda and grabbed at a packet of chocolate biscuits instead, before fleeing. More baboons appeared but they soon ran off, when her father and brothers chased them away.

Rumaana was still recovering from this unexpected encounter when her mother enquired if they had closed all the car windows, as the baboons were back. Rumaana glanced towards the car to check but before she could answer, she saw a naughty baboon clamber out of an open window in their car. Sure enough the packet of chevda that had been dropped back earlier, was now clutched in its grasp. It scurried away before anyone could catch it. The family rushed to close all the windows securely and complained to one of the park guards. He came and stood guard for them with a sling, shooting at the baboons whenever they came near, so that the family was not bothered again for the duration of their stay.

Rumaana now understood that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. It was better not to feed the baboons, for it was certainly not good to allow them to become thieves and pests.

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