The Monkey and the Crocodile
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The Monkey and the Crocodile
An Indian story
Once upon a time a monkey lived in a tree by a river. The monkey was alone as he had no friends or family, but he was happy and content. The tree gave him plenty of sweet jamun fruit* to eat, shade from the sun and shelter from the rain.
One day a crocodile who was swimming up the river climbed on to the bank to rest under the monkey’s tree. ‘Hello’, called the monkey, who was a very friendly animal. ‘Hello’, replied the crocodile, surprised. ‘Do you know where I can get some food?’ he asked. ‘I haven’t had anything to eat all day and I am really hungry.’ Now you might think that the crocodile would want to eat the monkey, but this was a very kind and gentle crocodile and the thought never entered his head.
The monkey who was very kind said, ‘I have lots of fruit in my tree. Would you like to try some?’ He threw some down to the crocodile. The crocodile was so hungry that he ate up all the jamuns even though crocodiles don’t usually eat fruit. He loved the sweet tangy fruit and when he had eaten all he wanted, the monkey said. ‘Come back whenever you want more fruit’.
Soon the crocodile was visiting the monkey every day. The two animals became good friends – they would talk and tell each other stories, and eat lots of sweet jamuns together.
One day the crocodile told the monkey about his wife and family. The monkey said. ‘Please take some fruit for your wife as well when you go back today’.
The crocodile’s wife loved the jamuns. She had never eaten anything so sweet before. But she was not as kind and gentle as her husband and she said ‘Imagine how sweet the monkey would taste as he eats these jamuns every day.’
But the kind crocodile tried to explain to his wife that he could not possibly eat the monkey. ‘He is my best friend’, he said. But his greedy wife would not listen and to get her husband to do what she wanted she pretended to be ill. ‘I am dying and only a sweet monkey’s heart can cure me’, she cried to her husband. ‘If you love me you will get your friend the monkey and let me eat his heart.’
The poor crocodile did not know what to do – he did not want to eat his friend, but he could not let his wife die. At last he decided what he must do and the next time that he visited the monkey he asked him to come to meet his wife as she wanted to thank him in person for the lovely jamun fruit.
The monkey was very pleased, but said he could not possibly go because he did not know how to swim. ‘Don’t worry about that’, said the crocodile. ‘I’ll carry you on my back.’ The monkey agreed and jumped onto the crocodile’s back.
So the two friends swam out into the deep wide river. When they were far away from the bank and the jamun tree, the crocodile said, ‘I am so sorry but my wife is very ill and says that the only cure is a monkey’s heart. So I am afraid that I have to kill you although I will miss our talks.’ The monkey thought quickly and said ‘Dear friend, I am very sorry to hear of your wife’s illness and I am glad that I will be able to help her. But I have left my heart behind on the jamun tree. Do you think we could go back so that I can fetch it for your wife?’
The crocodile believed the monkey. He turned and swam quickly to the jamun tree. The monkey jumped off his back and climbed into the safety of his tree. ‘I thought you were my friend,’ he called. ‘Don’t you know that we carry our hearts within us? I will never trust you again or give you fruit from my tree. Go away and don’t come back again.’
The crocodile felt really foolish – he had lost a friend and a supply of good sweet fruit. The monkey had saved himself because he had thought quickly. But from that day on, he never trusted crocodiles again.
* jamun fruit look a bit like large grapes or small plums – when ripe, they are small and black with pink flesh which is sweet but with a slightly sour aftertaste. Jamuns makes your tongue go purple when you eat them.