The Crocodile and the Gorilla

 

                          

 

           Once upon a time, deep in the middle of a forest in the Himalayas, there lived a gorilla who was as strong as an elephant.  Hi shug ebody was covered with soft, silky fur.  All day long, he romped about, swinging from tree to tree and eating ripe, juicy fruits.

           Near this forest was a river where a crocodile lived with her mate.  One fine day, the crocodile was basking in the sun.  As she laid on the warm sand, her eyes fell on the gorilla, who was sitting on the branch of a guava tree.  He was nibbling on plumb guavas and dangling his legs.

           “What a handsome animal!” she thought.  “I wish I could be strong like him!” Then she had an idea – “Well, perhaps I could be as strong as he is if I ate his heart!”

           The crocodile told her mate about her wish.  Day after day, she talked to him about how much she wanted to be strong like the gorilla.  Finally, one day he said, “It is not an easy task to get a gorilla’s heart.  He lives on land while you live in water.  But if you must have his heart to eat you must find a way to get it!”

           The crocodile made up her mind to get the gorilla’s heart.  She thought hard.  At last, she had a plan ready, and she set up to meet the gorilla. As she raised her head above the waters, she saw the gorilla just a few across from her, drinking water from the river.

          “Hello, Mr. Gorilla,” she said, “How are you this morning?”

          “Oh, just fine, I suppose,” said the gorilla.

          “Are you sure?  You look pretty bored.  Well, I can think of something fun for you to do.”

          “Really?” said the gorilla, suspiciously.

          “Sure.  Do you see the blue line on the other side of the river?  That line is a forest of fruit trees.  Mangoes and jackfruits, bananas, and guavas grow there in abundance.  The fruits are ripe and juicy, like the color of the sun.  How happily the birds sing as they can eat those fruits!”

          “Is that so?” The gorilla was starting to dream.

          “You know something?” said the crocodile.  “I’ve never seen gorillas in that forest.  I’ve seen little monkeys, but – gorillas?  None at all.  You will be the lord of that forest.  Youc an eat the fruits and chase the birds and the monkeys as much as you like.”

          “But I don’t swim.  I can’t cross the river to go to that lovely forest,’ sighed the gorilla.

          “Well, if you climb on my back, I can carry you across the river.  After all, what are friends for?’  said the crocodile.

           The gorilla agreed.  Soon he was sailing across the river on the crocodile’s back, heading towards the bank on the other side.  When they were halfway across the river, the crocodile suddenly dived under the water.

           “Hey, what are you trying to do, drown me?”  cried the gorilla.

           At this, the crocodile burst out laughing, “Ha ha! My friend, did you really think that I cared for you so much that I would carry you on my back all the way across this enormous river, just so you can enjoy some fruits?  I brought you here so that I can have your heart to eat,”  said the crocodile.

           The gorilla saw hat he had been tricked.  Quickly he thought of a way to escape.

           “Well, my friend, in that ase you should have told me before about your plans.  You will be very disappointed when you find there is no heart inside me.  We gorillas do not carry our hearts around all the time. We jump around so much that we afraid we will break our hearts, so we always hide our hearts in  a safe place.”

           “Oh dear!”  said the alarmed crocodile.  ‘Now I am in trouble.’  The crocodile thought for a while and then said to the gorilla, “Look, let’s make a deal.  If you give me your heart, I’ll let you go.  Now where is your heart?”

            “That sounds like a fair deal to me,” said the gorilla.  “My heart is hidden in a yellow fruit.  It hangs from the fig tree by the riverside.  If you take me there I’ll be glad to give you my heart.”

           The crocodile turned around and took the gorilla back to the riverbank.  Quickly the gorilla climbed up the tree and looked down at the crocodile from between the clustering leaves of the fig tree.  This time it was his turn to laugh.

           “You stupid crocodile!  You didn’t really believe I would give you my heart, did you?  Ha ha! If you are so greedy, eat your own heart out!”

           Sadly, the crocodile lay down on the sand.  Big tears trickled down from her eyes.  The gorilla felt sorry for the unhappy crocodile.

           “Why do you desire the heart of a gorilla?”  he asked.

           “Because I want to be strong like you, swinging from tree to tree, plucking fruit from the branches,’  she confessed.

           “To be strong you need only feel content within your own heart.  Wanting to be someone else will only bring you unhappiness.  If you recognize the truth in what I am saying, you can go back home with confidence and learn to accept your own nature.”

           The crocodile recognized the truth in the gorilla’s advice and went back home to put this advice to use.

           “From now on,” she said to her mate, ‘I will find the strength I need within my own heart.”

 

                                                                          Hằng Tâm