The Meatballs’ Leader is a story from Tales of Afghanistan by Amina Shah (Octogon Press, London 1982)
Once upon a time, there was a dish of meatballs, sizzling in the oven.
‘Oh, oh oh, who will save us from this terrible scorching heat?’ cried the meatballs.
‘I will save you,’ said a large meatball in the middle of the tin. ‘Think of me as your leader, and I can promise you beds of fine white rice upon which to lie, and a cooling sauce to cover your sizzling sides.’
So all the meatballs with one voice agreed to follow the large meatball in word and deed, and unanimously they chose him as their leader.
No sooner had the vote been taken, than the Cook opened the oven door and laid the meatballs upon large plates of gleaming white rice.
‘O Excellent Meatball Leader,’ they cried, as the Cook poured a rich, red tomato sauce upon them. ‘You have indeed led us out of danger, into this cool, refreshing place of rice and sauce.’
But at that moment, several of the meatballs were forked onto plates, and felt themselves being swallowed by humans.
‘Perfidious Meatball,’ cried the remainder. ‘You have led us into acute danger. How can you explain this horror and degradation which now faces us. You have deluded and deceived us, who gave you all our loyalty and devotion!’
‘I knew that the next step in all our lives was from the oven onto cooling beds of rice,’ said the large meatball, ‘and look, even as I speak I go the way of all meatballs, for is it not our ultimate destiny to be eaten?’ And he slipped down a human throat as easily as a meatball which has been chewed usually does.