Mongolian tale: “Why The Bats Lives in The Dark”
Once, a long time ago, a terrible battle broke out between the Birds and the Beasts of this Earth. No one remembers any more what caused this battle to start, but the fighting was so furious that the whole earth shook and the land was covered with broken feathers, bloody hair, and the bodies of fallen creatures.
On one side of the battle swarmed the animals of the air. All the birds, great and small, were massed in the heavens, from the most powerful eagle, sharp-eyed hawk, and swift falcon to the tiniest finch and fragile sparrow. Opposing the birds were formidable adversaries: The kingly lion, menacing tiger, mighty stag, massive bear, and all the other beasts of the land.The only animal in the whole world that did not choose sides in this war was the Bat. As a mouse with wings or a birdy beast, the Bat gambled on its dual nature, waiting to see which side would win. In this way when the time came, it could claim victory with the conquering army. When it looked as though the birds of the air were gaining the advantage, the Bat would become like a bird, flap its wings and screech: “I’m a bird, too! I’ll peck at the beasts below, pierce their skins, and dig my sharp talons into their flesh! Forward to battle, birds!” But when the tide of the great battle shifted, and suddenly it seemed as though the beasts would win, the Bat would hide its wings and flash its mouselike grin. Baring its sharp teeth, it would bark: “Beware! I am a dangerous beast! Come on beasts! Let’s attack the birds and bite them till they fall from the sky! Hooray for the beasts!”
As the battle raged on and on, both the birds and the beasts displayed courage in their terrible fight, never ceasing for a moment to give their best for the sake of their cause. After many weeks of struggle, however, it became clear to everyone that both sides were evenly matched, that neither side would ever be able to overcome the other. And so the birds and the beasts agreed to cease fighting. They declared a truce.
In the quiet that followed, both armies counted their dead, collected their wounded, and called out the names of their brothers, sisters, and friends who might not have perished on the battlefield.
No one called the name of the Bat. No one wanted the one who had darted from one camp to the other throughout the long war, not knowing where it belonged, telling false things to each army in turn.
The animals had seen it fighting like this, first on one side, then on the other side of the battlefield. They were angry. Neither the birds nor the beasts would now, or ever, agree to claim the Bat as one of their own. Instead, for its disloyalty, they banished the Bat from their midst.
The sorry Bat, a traitor to both birds and beasts, was now ashamed of its behavior during the feud. It curled up its mousy body and took flight. Seeking out a remote corner of the world, it entered the recesses of Mother Earth and concealed itself in her black and silent caves, venturing out only at night in search of food.
From that day, the Bat has made its home in the dark, wrapped against the dampness in its leathery cloak, living out the life of a lonely outcast.