Saturday, July 7, 2012
The Barking Mouse
A unique retelling of a Cuban folktale
Once upon a time there was a family of mice, la Familia Raton.
There was Mamá Ratón, who was Mama Mouse. And there was Papa Raton, who was Papa Mouse. And there were Hermano y Hermano Raton, who were brother and sister mouse.
La Familia Raton, lived in el Casa Grande, the big house. Actually they lived in a very little small tiny hole in the corner of el Casa Grande.
Mama’s, job was to do the cooking and the cleaning and laundry and ironing and sewing and to take care of Papa, Hermano, y Hermana. Papa’s job was to be the Papa. But also, every night when it was dark Papa Raton would creep out silently to la Cucina, the kitchen. Papa would gather up bits of bread pan and fruit, fruta, and cheese, queso that had dropped to ground. Sometimes Papa snuck into the cabinets through a hole he had chewed with his big front teeth and he would bring back seeds, semillas, crackers, galletas, cereal, cereales, or if la Familia Raton was especially lucky, peanut butter, manteca de maní. Papa Raton would then sneak back very silently to the little small tiny hole in the corner of la Casa Grande and Mama Raton would prepare the food and set the table.
One day Mama Raton said, “Did you know that there is a beautiful garden, el jardin bonita, in the back of el Casa Grande. It is a beautiful sunny day and I think that we should go on a picnic, ir de merienda. Everyone agreed and they were all excited. Mama packed a lunch and everyone went outside to la jardin and had a wonderful lunch.
It really was a quite beautiful and sunny day and after everyone had finished lunch Hermano y Hermana asked, “Can we go and play, jugar?” Mama y Papa said, “Yes, you may go and play, but whatever you do, stay away from the wall, la tapia, because on the other side lives el gato the cat, and he will eat you!”
Hermano y Hermana promised not go near la tapia and off they went to play. But you know how children sometimes are … they forget the things that they promise. And anyways, Hermano wasn’t even sure there really was an el gato. He had always heard stories about el gato but he’d never seen el gato. So, very slowly, gradually Hermano y Hermana got closer and closer and closer to la tapia until Hermano was looking right through a crack in la tapia. Hermano crept up slowly to the crack in la tapia and he looked through trying to see if there really was an el gato on the other side. All of a sudden a paw, pata, with sharp claws, las uñas, popped out.
Hermano jumped back as fast as he could. He was breathing hard and his face was all red. Hermano’s heart, la corazón, was beating so hard he held his hand to his chest. La pata del gato was reaching through the crack in la tapia but el gato could not reach Hermano y Hermana.
When Hermano y Hermana realized that el gato could not reach them they started laughing risueño and making fun of el gato. El gato is estúpido. El gato is muy feo. El gato is so lento, lento, lento. El gato is just afraid, asustado, of us. El gato is just a big coward, cobarde. Hermano y Hermana were laughing so hard that they didn’t see when la pata del gato disappeared back through the crack in la tapia.
Then hermano y hermana heard a sound. A very frightening sound. They looked up. Way, way up to the top of la tapia and there sat el gato smiling at them with his big yellow eyes, ojos amarillos, and his big sharp teeth, los dientes afilado. Hermano y hermana started running. They were screaming at the top of their lungs, “Save us, save us, el gato is going to eat us!!”
Papa Raton heard hermano y hermana and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not afraid of any old el gato.” Hermano y hermana ran behind Papa and hid. El gato was running right towards them. Los dientes afilado del gato were smiling and los ojos amarillos were shining. When Papa saw el gato Papa said, “Aye, protoger me” and Papa jumped behind Mama Raton.
Mama Raton said, “Don’t worry, I know just what to do.”
El gato was running straight towards la familia Raton. Los dientes afilado del gato were drooling and las uñas del gato were pouncing towards them and el gato was staring at la familia Raton with his ojos amarillos. Right when el gato got to Mama Raton, face to face, cara a cara, Mama Raton stared into los ojos amarillos and said, “GUF GUF GUF GUF!!!” (in English we might say bark, bark, bark – apparently Latino dogs speak Spanish as well as the humans)
El gato stopped in his tracks, turned around, ran all the way back to la tapia, jumped over to the other side and they never saw el gato again.
Mama Raton turned around and said, “See its always good to know a second language, lenguaje segundo.”