Once upon a time, Ananse was walking far into the bush. Soon he came to a house with a very, very, VERY old man sitting inside the mouth of the front door. The old man looked like skin and dry bones. Ananse gathered up his courage and said.
“Good day sir! I have been walking all morning and would love to have a cool drink of ice water.” However, the old man said nothing. Ananse, who thought that the old man might have been deaf, walked closer to the seated figure and repeated in a loud voice.
” I said… GOOD MORNING SIR! MAY I HAVE A DRINK OF WATER?”
Nevertheless, the old man said nothing. Ananse scratched his head and said, “Oh, you said to go inside the house and help myself?” The old man still said nothing to Ananse.
Ananse walked past the old man and went into his house and not only helped himself to ice cold water but to as much food as he could eat. When he had finished eating, Ananse went outside to see the old man who was sitting in the same spot by the door. Ananse thanked him for his hospitality and returned home.
The next day Ananse went to the house of the old man and again ate his fill. Still, the old man said nothing to Ananse. On the third day, Ananse the spider brought his eldest daughter to the old man’s house.
“Good morning sir,” Ananse greeted. “Since you have been so kind to me I have brought my beautiful daughter who wants to be a cook. I will give her to you as your wife,” said Ananse. Then he turned to his daughter. “Here is a wedding ring. Now go into the house and fix your father a nice plate of food.”
The old man still said nothing.
The next day Ananse got up early. He headed for the old man’s house. The old man had not moved and was still sitting by his door. Ananse said his good morning and entered the house. He called for his daughter but she did not answer. He knew that she liked Hide-and-Seek so he looked in every closet. He then checked under the bed. Although he knew that it was a dangerous hiding place, he looked into the icebox, but he could not find her. Ananse searched all over the house but he was not able to find his daughter.
He thought of one place that he had not looked. “I know where she is. She is hiding in the oven! ” He said as he opened the door to the stove’s oven. Anansi jumped back. For in the oven lay his daughter’s wedding ring. Ananse rushed outside the house and grabbed the old man by the collar.
“Where is my daughter?” he shouted.
Finally, the old man spoke in a deep raspy voice. “Do… you …know… who I… am?” He said slowly, chewing on every word that escaped his throat.
“Yes.” Ananse said. “You are my son-in-law.”
“Hah! Your son-in-law!” The old man rasped. “My name is Death and you came looking for me. I did not invite you into my house. To add insult to injury, you brought me your ugly daughter… so I ate her. Now I am going to have you for lunch,” Brother Death said as he grabbed Ananse by the shirt.
Ananse tore the buttons from his shirt, slipped out of it and ran for his life. He ran as fast as he could in the belief that he could easily outdistance an old man like Brother Death. However, wherever Ananse turned, Death was right behind him. Finally, out of desperation, Ananse lunged for a tree limb and climbed as high as he could. To his surprise, Brother Death did not follow Ananse up the tree. Death could not climb!
Brother Death picked up a rock, an old shoe, anything that he could find, and threw them at Ananse. They all missed. Death could not throw either. He soon ran out of things to throw. Therefore, he ran around under the tree in search of any missile. Once when he took his eyes off Ananse, the frightened spider jumped off the tree and bolted for his home.
As he neared his house Ananse shouted out to his wife.
“Aso! Grab the children and climb up into the ceiling! Death is after me!”
“What did you say, Ananse?” His wife asked.
” I SAID… GRAB THE CHILDREN AND CLIMB UP TO THE CEILING!” Ananse cried.
“You said do what with the potato peelings?” His wife asked.
“I said… Oh, Never mind!” Ananse cried in frustration.
He quickly rushed into his house, grabbed his wife and children, and climbed up into the ceiling with them. “Grab hold of a wooden beam and hold on tight!” He shouted.
As Brother Death rushed in the door, Ananse and his family were safely clinging to a beam in the ceiling. Brother Death calmly picked up a burlap bag, pulled up a chair, sat down under the dangling spider family and crossed his legs.
Half an hour passed and Ananse’s youngest son said to his father.
“Oh, Paapa, my hands are hurting me. I can’t hold on any longer.”
“Hold on son, for if you fall Death is going to get you,” Ananse said to his child. However, the boy could not hold on any longer. Therefore, he fell.
Death caught the boy and opened the burlap bag. “It is your father I want… not you.” Then he placed the child into the burlap bag.
Soon, another of Ananse’s daughters cried out to her father.
“Paapa, please…my hands are tired. I am going to fall”.
“Fall and Death is going to get you!” Ananse answered.
His daughter fell and Death placed her in the burlap bag with her brother.
“I don’t want you. I want your father,” said Death.
Soon Ananse’s other daughter and son fell. So did his wife, Aso. Finally, Ananse’s own hands became tired. First, the left hand froze and lost its grip. However, Ananse held on tight with only his right hand. He exercised the frozen left hand in the hope of using it to relieve the right hand. Ananse’s mind began to race.
“Brother Death.” He called. “I am so fat from eating all your food that if I fall I will just splatter into pieces. There will not be enough of me left to put in that bag. You will only have enough meat to make spider-burgers. However, if you go into the kitchen you will find a barrel of flour. Get the barrel and set it under me so that the flour will cushion the fall. I won’t splatter. I will just be battered.”
“Mmmhh…” Death exhaled, rubbed his chin and smiled, showing all his 37-and-a-half teeth. “Apapransa & Fried Spider for dinner, heh? Or, maybe I can make delicious, spicy Apapransa from Ananse and his family!”
Ananse figured that the flour barrel was so heavy that it would take four men to lift it. This would give him time to escape. As Brother Death went into the kitchen Ananse was about to let go and drop from the ceiling. However, in a
flash Death was back under Ananse with the flour barrel. Ananse had underestimated Brother Death’s strength. As Brother Death wobbled the barrel from side to side, he bent over the barrel to make sure that it was exactly under Ananse. The cunning spider dropped on top of the old man’s head, dunking his face into the flour. The flour bath temporarily blinded Death.
Ananse jumped off Death’s head, released his family and they ran for their lives. Death has never caught Ananse the Spider. That is why there are Ananse Stories to this day. When you see spider webs on the ceiling it belongs to Ananse. HE IS STILL TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM DEATH