March 21, 2008

Khmer folk tale : 3- The Crocodile and The Carter

In a certain pond once there lived a crocodile. As the rainy season passed, and the dry season advanced little by little, small ponds and lakes began to dry up and plants began to wither away. Because of this, the crocodile crawling out from the waterless ponds began to wander hither and thither in search of water.
An old man riding in his bullock cart came along the lonely road and discovered the crocodile. Being tired by that time, the crocodile said to the carter "May I go with you in your cart, grand father?"
"Where do you want to go?" asked the carter "I look for a pond where the water is abundant" replied the crocodile, "Would you mind carrying me to such apond?"
"Well" said the carter, "I'll gladly carry you in my cart."
Then the carter freeing his oxen from the yoke said the the crocodile, "Crawl up his front frame of the cart!"
But as the crocodile was not sure that its slippery body would not fall down from the front frame he said, "Please fasten me to the frame strongly so that I might not slide down" And so did the carter.
When this was done the carter started. After sometime, he saw a pond full of water and stopped his oxen and after untying the crocodile, he said, "Now, you have a good pond, go and live here happily!"
But the crocodile instead of thanking the man accused him, saying, "I have suffered a great deal from your tight bond, so I have to eat you one of your oxen!" And it also added, "If you refuse this, I take instead of this your head"
Being frightened, the carter said, "It is strange; I have brought your here to find out a good pond. Why do you speak like this?"
And he went on saying "Indeed, I am innocent and I think I am not to be eaten and our case should be judged by someone""
Find out a judge if you please!" said the crocodile.
The carter being depressed in mind went about to find out a judge who would solve the question.
Roaming about here and these with some ripe bananas in his hand, the carter met a rabbit near a small hill,
And the rabbit said to him from a distance, "Hey old man, why do you look so piteous?"
The carter went near the rabbit and told it what had happened to him unexpectedly.
Indifferently the rabbit said, "Never mind, old man!" I shall help you, but first, give me your bananas!"
The carter gave it the bananas. And the rabbit ate them up till it was satisfied.
Then they two started for the spot where the old man had been accused. There, they saw the crocodile waiting for them. Just then the rabbit said, "Oh crocodile! What's going on? I heard you had once lost the direction and you had been brought here to find the pond by this old man; why are you so rude and ungrateful that you claim to eat him?"
"Certainly", replied the crocodile, "he is kind to me, but his kindness hurts me even now; he bound me so tightly that I nearly lost my breath; I there for asked him to give me to eat only an ox!"
And the rabbit turned to the old man said, "Oh good old man, are the crocodile's words true?
"Shaking his head, the man replied, "No, I did not bind it so tightly as it has said, I tied it just to make it impossible for it to slide down"
When the rabbit got such different answers, it said, "Since each one of you has no eye-witness, you the crocodile have again to climb up the front frame of the cart!"
And so did the foolish crocodile. The rabbit went on saying,"And you the carter tie it as tightly as you have done!"
And so did the carter.
When this was done, the rabbit asked, "Was it as tight as this, crocodile?"
"Oh no, it was not like this" answered the crocodile.
"Tighten it a little more!" the rabbit said to the carter. And so he did.
"Was it as tight as this?" the rabbit asked again.
"No, why should I be angry if it was as tight as this?" it said.
As it was impossible to tighten with hands, the rabbit said to the carter, "Go, old man, to look for a stick so that we can make a tourniquet
"When a stick was brought, a device being made with that stick, the carter tightened the crocodile's bond with the front frame of the cart so much it became difficult for it to move any more.
The rabbit asked the crocodile again, "Was it as tight as this?"
"Yes it was!" uttered the crocodile with difficulty.
"Stick!" commanded the rabbit, "what's the use of stick, old man? Send it to yama!"
But insead of stick, the carter brought out his axe and chopped the ungrateful crocodile into pieces and then thanking the rabbit for its help and he returned home in peace.

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