Long-long ago there lived a small boy in a village.
It was so long ago that the moon was much bigger and closer. It was so close that one could climb on a rainbow and touch the moon. During those days animals understood each otherâs language.
One day the little boy was walking beside a stream in his village. He suddenly heard a crying sound. When he walked towards the source he found a large crocodile caught in a fishermanâs net.
âMy little friend please free me from this net,â the crocodile said to the boy while crying.
âBut if I go near you, you will catch and eat me. My father told me to stay away from crocodilesâ the little boy replied.
âIf you free me I will always be grateful to you and we will become friends,â the crocodile said while crying even more.
The boyâs heart was softened. He decided to set the crocodile free. As soon as he walked closer to the net the animal caught the boyâs leg with its jaws.
âIs this what you call âbeing gratefulââ the boy said in a state of shock.
âEverybody does that,â the crocodile said opening a corner of his mouth.
âNobody is as ungrateful as you are. You are the most ungrateful animal I have ever seenâ the boy said while his leg was still caught between the jaws of the animal.
âI will be fare with you. I will not eat you till we hear from three animals. If they say I am the only ungrateful animal I will set you freeâ the crocodile said.
Soon they saw an old donkey walking slowly towards the stream. But as soon as the donkey saw a small boy caught in a crocodileâs jaw it slowly walked towards them. The boy narrated to the donkey how he was caught by the crocodile and asked the donkeyâs opinion.
âMen are the most ungrateful of all animals. I served my master all my life but when I became too old my master kicked me out of his house. Why should I blame the crocodile aloneâ, the donkey said and again started walking towards the stream.
Soon they saw a horse walking towards the stream. Like the donkey, the horse also walked towards the boy and the crocodile. The boy narrated the incidence again and like the donkey, the horse also mentioned how he had suffered in the hand of his human master and when he became old he was also kicked out of his masterâs house.
Through the corner of his mouth, the crocodile was smiling. Suddenly they saw a monkey walking towards them. The boy narrated the whole incidence once again. The monkey appeared very thoughtful.
âI would like to see everything from the beginning. How you were crying. How the small boy walked near you while you were caught in the net and repeat before me what exactly you said to each other. I want to see and hear everything with my own eyes and ears. Only after seeing and hearing I will be able to give my opinionâ the monkey said in a very thoughtful manner.
âThat makes senseâ, the crocodile said and it released its jaws.
The little boy immediately jumped few steps back.
âThis stupid animal is still caught in the net. Today you and your family can have lunch with crocodile meatâ the monkey said to the boy and left.
[Adapted from an African folklore]