By popular request, here is the story that earned me honors in immunology class:
In a far away kingdom, not much different from other kingdoms you may have heard of, there lived a people, happy, strong, and peaceful. Day after day, year after year, citizens tended their fields and their animals, came together to celebrate the seasons, and they were thankful.
Then, early one spring, it happened. They had known it would happen eventually, and they were prepared.
Crickets! One was seen in a tree, then others came, no one knew where they had come from. They multiplied and multiplied and developed a taste for their crops, especially their staple crop, beets.
The people started swatting at the crickets, beating wildly in the air, even throwing stones. They tried to keep everything under control but they knew it wasn’t enough, they knew they needed professional help.
Thankfully, some of the villagers were known as guardians, one of whom by the name of Sir Phageus. An agitated group was gathered near a swarm of crickets devouring the swiss chard when Sir Phageus rode by on his horse. He dismounted and struggled to squeeze himself through the inflamed crowd to see what the matter was. Struck by the vision of a lost crop of swiss chard, he took a deep breath and let out a long sigh.
“There is a town over the seven hills, I hear they have wise ones that can help. I must now follow the path, farewell.” He snatched a cricket out of mid air before mounting his horse and riding off into the hills.
After a long journey that seemed to perpetually take him uphill, Sir Phageus arrived in the magical town. There he met a young child.
“Can you help us?” he asked the child in desperation. It looked as if it had been expecting him, as if it had known he would come some day. “Shhh” it hushed, “hold my hands,… both of them.” Closing its eyes it held out its hands. When he reached for them, the child turned into a beautiful tall woman, and when she opened her eyes, they sparkled.
“What can I do for you?” “We have had tragedy strike our village, we don’t know how to help ourselves, please help us!” He handed her the dead cricket and that’s when he knew everything would be okay.
The woman turned around and walked a little into the distance. Whenever she came across a child just like she had been, she gently touched their heads and they would also grow into beautiful tall women. And they flocked towards the path into the hills.
As Sir Phageus mounted his horse to follow the women, he turned around to catch a last glimpse of the magical place. He struggled to understand what he saw. The tall woman was tying little bundles to small birds and sent them flying into the sky.
Meanwhile, a sense of fatigue had spread over the landscape. The fields remained untended and the animals were hungry. Even the sun seemed to be shining less brightly. People from nearby villages had heard about the tragedy and they came on the rivers, they came on the paths, and they came across the fields to offer their help.
When the women arrived, they taught some of the wise villagers how to catch the cricktets more effectively. They gave them the proper tools, swatters and nets. They even taught some of the villagers how to prepare crickets as food. Unfortunately some of the villagers passed away, they had eaten too many crickets.
Many years did the villagers struggle to contain the cricket infestation and save their crops and their lives. They had almost given up hope when finally things seemed to turn around. Then, one morning, as some of the villagers were frying crickets for breakfast, cries of children were heard coming from the fields. Where they cries of pain? No, they were cries of joy. The chirping that had colored their lives for what seemed like an eternity had finally ceased. When the cries of joy subsided an exhausted, yet
relieved silence spread over the land.
Slowly the weary people returned to tending their fields, and when the crops came in that fall, you could hear laughter and joy once again from the cottages and meadows.
Many hung the swatters and nets in their homes, and vowed never to forget what came to be known the Tragedy of Crickets. The memory of the event faded into the background, but was never truly forgotten as stories of it were told to the children as I am telling you now.