December 21, 2020

#08-025: The Monkey and the Crocodile

Manuscript of another tale in the Panchatantra

Note: India has its own collection of fables, similar to those attributed to Aesop in Greece. The Panchatantra stories seem to have been written down sometime between 200 BCE and 300 CE. One of best known is "The Monkey and the Crocodile."

Get Ready: Can you ever trust a crocodile?

This is the story of "The Monkey and the Crocodile."

A Monkey lived in a fruit tree next to a river bank. One day a Crocodile rested under the tree, and the Monkey offered him some fruit, picking the berries and tossing them into the Crocodile's mouth. The Croc thanked his host for his generosity and came back every day for more. They became friends, and the Monkey even sent some fruit home for the Croc's wife.

Mrs. Croc loved them, but said, "If the Monkey eats such sweet fruit, won't his flesh also be sweet? Please bring me his heart for a treat!"

The husband was dumbfounded! "The Monkey is my friend, Dear! I could never do such a thing!" But the wife was stubborn, refusing to eat anything else, and at last her husband agreed to her request.

When next he saw the Monkey, he said, "My wife loved the fruit so much that she would like to meet you and thank you personally! Please come to our place for dinner." The Monkey agreed; as he could not swim, the Crocodile offered to carry him on his back. As they reached the deep water, the Monkey asked the Crocodile to be careful. Thinking he had the Monkey trapped now, the Croc told him the truth: "Actually, I'm taking you home to please my wife by giving her your heart!"

The Monkey didn't panic. Instead, he said, "Why didn't you say so? No need for subterfuge! You are such a good friend, I would gladly offer your wife my heart if it will make you happy. Unfortunately, I left it at home, in a hollow of the tree. Let's go back and get it!"

The Crocodile, not being as smart as the Monkey, believed him, and immediately turned around. When they reached the tree, the Monkey sprang from the Croc's back, and climbed to the highest branches of the tree. After a while, the Crocodile called out, "What's taking so long? My wife will be waiting!"

But the Monkey replied, "Silly Croc! One cannot remove one's heart--and live! You tried to fool me, but instead I have fooled you!" And the Crocodile slunk away ashamed.


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Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. ashamed
  2. attributed to
  3. dumbfounded
  4. fables
  5. flesh
  6. generosity
  7. panic
  8. slunk
  9. stubborn
  10. subterfuge

  1. a deception; a ruse
  2. muscles; meat
  3. not easily swayed
  4. credited to
  5. embarrassed; feeling guilty
  6. kindness; willingness to give something
  7. amazed; stunned
  8. crept; moved with head hanging low
  9. stories with talking animals and a lesson
  10. become frantic with fear

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 21, 2020

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. d; 3. g; 4. i; 5. b; 6. f; 7. j; 8. h; 9. c; 10. a