Wednesday, August 17, 2016

THE CROCODILE TEARS







Pic.: Avinash Mantri



Years ago, when I had decided to do something about my poor English, one of the things I did – and found it very useful – was telling a nice story in two tenses… Past and Present. Over the years, I have helped hundreds of people who were earnest to improve their English with the same method… Yes, write a nice story down in both the tenses… and tell it to someone.


The English phrase ‘Crocodile tears’ (false tears/ insincere display of emotion) derives from an ancient belief that crocodiles shed tears while consuming their prey. But, then, I would love to believe that our own popular Panchatantra-story has something to do with it…




  CROCODILE TEARS


PAST:


On the banks of a river stood a huge mango tree. On the tree lived a monkey. A crocodile often came near the tree to eat the mangoes dropped by the monkey. The monkey and the crocodile became good friends.

One day, the crocodile took a mango home for his wife. “What a delicious fruit this is!” exclaimed the lady crocodile, “Who gave you this?”

“My friend, monkey, who lives atop the mango tree on the other side of the river.”

“If your friend eats these delicious fruits every day, his heart must be even more delicious,” said crocodile’s wife, “I want to eat his heart!”

“What?” reacted the husband, “Have you gone crazy? He is my friend.”

“If you love me, my darling, you must bring your friend’s heart to me,” concluded the wife shedding buckets of tears.

The crocodile tried to reason out before his wife… but in vain. Distressed, he could not sleep that night. The next day morning, he went near the tree looking worried.

“What is wrong with you, my dear friend?” the monkey enquired looking at the crocodile.

The crocodile couldn’t tell the truth. So, he lied, “My wife is badly ill, my friend. Can you please come home to cheer her up?”

“Why not?” replied the monkey, ‘A friend in need is a friend in deed… Let’s not waste any time… Lets’ go.”

Thus, the monkey sat on the crocodile’s back and they began to proceed to the other side of the river. When they reached the middle of the river, the crocodile couldn’t hold back the truth anymore. “Actually my friend, I have told you a lie,” he confessed, “I am taking you home because my wife wants to eat your delicious heart.”

The monkey was clever. “Why didn’t you tell that before, my friend?” he responded without showing any fear, “You know what… I have this habit of leaving my heart on the tree before I leave home. So, let’s go back… Hurry, hurry!”

The crocodile made a quick about turn.  The moment they reached the river bank, the monkey jumped off, climbed the top of the tree and, sitting there pretty, declared, “My friend, you are a fool to believe me. Now go back home and tell your darling wife not to shed those crocodile tears!”


PRESENT:


On the banks of a river stands a huge mango tree. On the tree lives a monkey. A crocodile often comes near the tree to eat the mangoes dropped by the monkey. The monkey and the crocodile become good friends.

One day, the crocodile takes a mango home for his wife. “What a delicious fruit this is!” exclaims the lady crocodile, “Who gave you this?”

“My friend, monkey, who lives atop the mango tree on the other side of the river,” tells the husband proudly to his wife.

“If your friend eats these delicious fruits every day, his heart must be even more delicious,” says crocodile’s wife, “I want to eat his heart!”

“What?” reacts the husband, “Have you gone crazy? He is my friend.”

“If you love me, my darling, you must bring your friend’s heart to me,” concludes the wife shedding buckets of tears.

The crocodile tries to reason out before his wife… but in vain. Distressed, he cannot sleep that night. The next day morning, he goes near the tree looking worried.

“What is wrong with you, my dear friend?” the monkey enquires looking at the crocodile.

The crocodile cannot tell the truth. So, he lies, “My wife is badly ill, my friend. Can you please come home to cheer her up?”

“Why not?” replies the monkey, ‘A friend in need is a friend in deed… Let’s not waste any time… Lets’ go.”

Thus, the monkey sits on the crocodile’s back and they begin to proceed to the other side of the river. When they reach the middle of the river, the crocodile cannot hold back the truth anymore. “Actually my friend, I have told you a lie,” he confesses, “I am taking you home because my wife wants to eat your delicious heart.”

The monkey is clever. “Why didn’t you tell that before, my friend?” he responds without showing any fear, “You know what… I have this habit of leaving my heart on the tree before I leave home. So, let’s go back… Hurry, hurry!”

The crocodile makes a quick about turn.  The moment they reach the river bank, the monkey jumps off, climbs the top of the tree and, sitting there pretty, declares, “My friend, you are a fool to believe me. Now go back home and tell your darling wife not to shed those crocodile tears!”



GERALD D’CUNHA

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