A quick change in attire, a brownish green vest with a tail and the crocodiles enter the scene, feasting on the mangoes the friendly monkey provides them. When the crocdile’s wife wants more …which is the monkey’s heart. Read on to know what finally became of the monkey.
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Since I thoroughly enjoyed reading the verse from the book Beastly tales from here and there by Vikram Seth, thought I might as well add it here.
On the Ganga’s greenest isle
Lived Kuroop the Crocodie:
Greeny-brown with gentle grin,
Stubby legs and scaly skin,
He would view with tepid eyes,
Prey below a certain size
But when substantial dish
Dolphin, turtle, fatter fish
Swam accross his field of view,
He would test the water too.
Out he’d glide, a floting log,
Silent as a polliwog
Nearer, nearer, till his prey
Swam single length away;
Then he’d lunge with smiling head,
Grab, and snap, and rip it dead
Then (prime pleasure of his life)
Drags the carcass to his wife,
Lay it humbly at her feet,
Eat a bit, and watch her eat.
All along the river-bank
Mango trees stood rank on rank,
And his monkey friend would throw
To him as he swam below
Mangoes gold and ripe and sweet
As a special summer treat
“Crocodile, your wife I know
Hungers after mangoes so
That she’dpine and weep swoon,
Mangoes-less in burning June.”
The Kuroop the crocodile,
Gazing upwards wih smile,
Thus the addressed his monkey friend:
“Dearest monkey, in the end,
Not the fruit, but your sweet love,
Showered on us from above,
Constant through the changing years,
Slakes her griefs and dries her tears.”
(This was only partly true
She liked love, and mangoes too.)
One day Mrs. Crocodile,
Gorged on mangoes, with smile
Sad, yet tender- turned and said:
“Scalykins, since we’ve been wed,
You’ve fulfilled my every wish
Dolphins, turtles, mangoes, fish
But I now desire to eat,
As an anniversary treat,
Something sweeter still than fruit,
Sugar-cane or sugar-root:
I must eat that monkey’s heart.”
“What?” “Well, darling, for a start,
He has been so kind to me;
Think how sweet his heart must be:
Then, the mango pulp he’s eaten
Year on year must serve to sweeten
Further yet each pore and part,
Concentrating in his heart.”
“Darling, he’s my friend.” I know;
And he trusts you. Therefore go-
Go at once and fetch him here
Oh, my breath grows faint, I fear…”
“Let me fan you- it’s the heat”
“No- I long for something sweet.
Every fruit tastes bitter now.
I must eat his heart somehow.
Get him here, my love, or I,
Filled with bitterness, will die.”
When the money saw Kuroop
He let out a joyful whoop,
Jumped from branch to branch with pleasure,
Flinging down the golden treasure:
“Eat, my friend, and take your wife
Nectar from the tree of life
Mangoes ripe and mangoes rare,
Mangoes, mangoes everywhere.”
Then Kuroop the crocodile
Gazed up with gentle smile:
“Monkey, you are far too kind,
But today, if you don’t mind,
Dine with both of us, and meet
Her whose life you’ve made so sweet.
when you meet her you will see
Why she mean so much to me.
When she takes you by paw
Something at your heart will gnaw.
When you gaze into her eyes
You will enter paradise
Let us show your gratitude:
Share our friendship and our food.”
“Dear Kuroop, dear crocodile,
You can swim from isle to isle.
I can leap from limb to limb,
But, my friend, I cannot swim.
And your island’s far away.
If I get a boat some day…”
“Nonsense; jump upon my back.
You’re no heavier than my sack
Filled with mangoes to the crown.”
So the monkey clambered down,
Bearing mangoes, and delighted
With such warmth to be invited.
They were just halfway across
When the crocodile said: “Toss
All the mangoes in the water.”
“But these fruit are all I’ve brought her.”
“You yourself are the gift enough,”
Said Kuroop in accents gruff.
“Ah, my friend, that’s very gracious.”
“Well, my wife’s not so voracious-
And I’m certain that today
She won’t eat fruit. By the way.
Tell me what your breast contains.
Mango nectar fills your veins.
Does it also fill your hear?”
Said the monkey with the start:
“What a very curious question.”
“Well, she might get indigestion
If it’s too rich, I suspect.”
“What?” “Your heart.” “My heart?” “Corect.”
“Now,” Kuroop said with a frown,
“Which would you prefer- todrown
In the Ganga or to be
Gutted by my wife and me?
I will let you choose your end.
After all, you are my friend.”
Then he slowly started sinking.
“Wait” the monkey said, “I’m thinking.
Death by drowning, death by slaughter
Deat by land or death by water
I’d face either with smile
For your sake, O crocodile!
But your wife felicity
That’s what means the most to me.
Noble lady! How she’ll freeze,
Dumb with sorrow, when she sees,
Havig prised my ribs apart,
That my breast contains no heart.
If you had not rushed me so,
I’d have found the time to go
To the hollow where I keep
Heart and liver when I sleep,
Half my brain, and fingernail,
Cufflinks, chutney and spare tail.
I had scarcely woken up
When you asked me here to sup.
Why did you not speak before?
I’d have fetched them from the shore.”
Now Kuroop the crocodile
Lost, then quickly found, his smile.
“How my sweetheart will upbraid me!
Monkey, monkey you must aid me.”
“Well ” the monkey placed his paw
Thoughtfully upon his jaw
“Well, although the day is hot
And I’d really rather not
We could go back, fetch my heart,
Check its sweetness, and depart.”
So the crocodile once more
Swam the monkey back to shore,
And, with tears of thankfullness
Mingled with concern and stress,
Worried what his wife would say
With regard to his delay,
Begged his friend : “Come back at once.”
“I’m not such a double-dunce,”
Yelled the monkey from the high;
“Tell your scaly wife to try
Eating her own wicked heart
If she has one for a start
Mine’s been beating in my breast
Night and day without rest.
Tell her that and for you,
Here’s my parting gift” He threw
Mangoes squishy, rotten, dead
Down upon the reptile’s head,
Who, with a regretful smile,
Sat and eyed him for a while.