Following in OG storyteller Aesop’s footsteps, this contemporary fable series reinterprets morals for adults
Meiko Kawakami. Pic courtesy/Getty Images
We have all been through times when connecting with our inner child has filled us with hope and shine. A gentle hello to the child within makes a good pillow, especially on days wrought with doubt. Despite this being a common human experience, at some point, we involuntarily decided that fables build worlds inhabited by children alone. And yet we enjoy reading aloud with children and tell them simple stories. Is admitting the need for moral-based stories — the kind we are introduced to at our mother’s knee — difficult for adults?
Future Fables, an engrossing podcast presented by Aesop and Literary Hub, lets adults enjoy bedtime with remodelled fables. Each of the stories dish out morals suited for the modern times, and has been written by noteworthy authors including Mieko Kawakami, Rivers Solomon, Akwaeke Emezi, Amelia Abraham and Lydia Millet. We begin listening to Abraham’s story, The Rat and The Hamster. The concept of frenemies and the oft-visited trap of pitting one’s achievements against that of another, draw us in.
A rat and a hamster are friends; they go to a pub because the rat needs to speak. We learn that the rodent doesn’t have enough money to see a counsellor and is drained by the never-ending house hunt to lodge herself and her babies in a better place. The hamster, on the other hand, resides in a plush apartment owned by a young couple. She invites the rat over to live with her as the homeowners will soon leave for a vacation. Before relocating, the rat ponders if her friend’s living conditions would make her insecure. On arriving at the location with her kids, she scans the place — for cats, and her friend, too.
She soon finds the hamster sitting in a cage in a big bathroom. They exchange a few words and the rat leaves learning a lesson in kindness. With their focus on modern dilemmas, the other tales discuss the ability to accept help, the nature and inevitability of change, the importance of community-building and true friendship. We really like the pace and duration of each audio narrative, but find the introductory music a little too grim for bedtime. Our favourite story from the series is Kawakami’s Sleep is All Hers for their humane treatment of our common fears.
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