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Fly me to the moon - on a banyan tree!

September 18, 2018

The big day is approaching; the moon is getting ever brighter and closer. The Mid-Autumn Festival is only a few days away. It is time for another tale of the Mid-Autumn legends. Let me introduce to you: The Man on the Moon. No, not the award-winning Jim Carrey movie. The Vietnamese legend of the man on the moon or Chu Cuoi is a story of a man who is, like Chang’e, trapped on the moon, destined to forever sit alone looking down with longing at the mortal Earth life that they can never get back.

 

The story below has been translated by Vietnam.com website.

Long time ago, in a tiny bamboo hut beside the jungle, there lived a poor woodcutter named Chú Cuội. He had lived every day of his life cutting small trees in the woods and gathering dry sticks to sell as fuel in the market. He then would tie the woods and sticks up in bundles and carry them home with a long wooden pole he uses to hold the bundles on both ends, which he would balance on his shoulder. Because Chú Cuội is poor and had no money to buy himself an ox and wood cart, he carries the bundles all the way to town and to the market by himself. 

One morning, as he was gathering stick in the woods, he spotted three tigers playing among each other. He looked around and learned that the three cubs were left alone by their mother to hunt for food. Desperate to make some money to buy himself an ox, Chú Cuội planned on catching one of the cubs and sell it in the market. Slowly, he laid down his bundle of sticks and crept behind a fallen log. While waiting for a chance to grab one of the playing cubs, the youngest one accidentally rolled right next to him. Quickly, Chú Cuội grabbed it by the back of its neck, careful not to be bitten and scratched as the cub kept on squirming. The two other cubs saw what happened to their brother and scampered away in fear.

 

 



Thinking it was safe to go, Chú Cuội started to head out of the jungle. But before he was even able to take a few steps, he heard a great, loud roar from behind. When Chú Cuội turned around, he was startled to see the mother tiger. As quickly as he can, Chú Cuội climbed the closest tree he could find, still, with the cub in his hands. But as he was making his way up to the tree, the cub managed to struggle free from his grasp, fell, and landed hard on the ground. 

From atop, Chú Cuội watched as the mother tiger as she approached an old, twisted Banyan tree growing near a bubbling stream. She tore off a few leaves from the tree, chewed them up, and placed the leaves on the cub’s head. To his amazement, the baby tiger jumped off from his feet and started playing with his brothers as if nothing happened. The mother, then, led his cubs to a dear she hunte