Manfred Kyber - The Pilgrim with the Dragging Hind Leg

A small beetle crawled arduously on a stony path.  There were many obstacles on his road.  Straws and other items, difficult to cope with.  It was quite exhausting.  He was not able to fly.  It was a crawling beetle.  Moreover, his left hind leg was crippled - already from birth.  He dragged it along.  It was a sad case.  Beetles do not go or wander.  They make a pilgrimage.  That is a big difference.

Go out of the way! a bumble-bee named Buzzer shouted at the pilgrim and buzzed angrily.  This something roams about the street and disturbs worthy ladies who betake themselves to the flower market.

Please excuse me, said the pilgrim with the dragging hind leg, I have to make a pilgrimage, I am a cripple. He pointed with the feeler to the crippled hind leg.

Oh, really, lady Buzzer said pitingly, then, of course, that is something different.  I did not notice.  I was so busy.  If one does not get at the flowers very early these days, everything is unavailable.  The competition is very strong.  But why do you have to make a pilgrimage?  With your leg, wouldn't it be better to stay at home? You should marry.  Then at least, you would have your regular meals.

No, I have to make a pilgrimage, said the pilgrim with the dragging hind leg.  An old beetle who I consulted because of my illness, told me.  He spoke of the religion of the Holy Scarab and said I had to look for the wheel of life.  That is an ancient faith and a big consolation for poor crawling beetles.

And what does one get out of it?, lady Buzzer asked. Certainly, it is much more reasonable to get to the market in time.

The little beetle pulled the crippled leg to his body with a twitching movement, so it could no more be seen.  One can become a rose beetle, he said mysteriously.

Is that a worthwile profession?, lady Buzzer asked.

She was an extremely practical housewife.  Her honeypots were unsurpassed and well-known within an insect flight's reach.

Then, one shines like liquid gold, and one can fly.  One rests in the roses and breathes their fragrance.

That reminded lady Buzzer of her market.  Now I really have to hurry, she said, the competition is a too strong one nowadays.  Anyhow, I wish you well.

The pilgrim with the dragging hind leg continued his pilgrimage.  A waggon came rolling over the path.

That is the wheel of life, thought the pilgrim with the dragging hind leg and hasted towards it.

The wheel passed over him.

On the path, nothing remained than a formless mass.


At the same hour, in the sunny south, a small rose beetle hatched from the egg.  At the very first, he felt his left hind leg with his feeler.  He did not really know why he did that.  The left hind leg was healthy and shone like liquid gold.  It was almost more beautiful and shinier than the other legs.

The roses were nice-smelling.

The wheel of life continued.


From: Das Manfred Kyber Buch, Rowohlt, December 1985
Translation: Ulrich Messerle, February 2003
Published on:

Text version: 2003-05-21 (a)