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The Gharial and the Monkey
"A folk tale from India. Adapted from a Kannada
Tamil folk story by Linda Brookover."

The Ganges River, the greatest and longest river in India is a home to many animals. Beside the river lived a monkey in a tree that bore sweet and fragrant fruit. It smelled as sweet as a rose and tasted like an apple so the monkey called it a rose apple. While the monkey was eating the plentiful fruit of that beautiful tree, a gharial came out of the river.

On his long thin snout was a round bump that looked like a ball. The gharial is a crocodile that got its name from his nose."Ghara" means pot in the Indian language which is what the thing on his nose looked like. He used that bump to blow bubbles and make sounds that were very attractive to lady gharials, especially his wife.

The little monkey threw down his fruit, and said to the gharial, "These are the best rose apples in the world!" The gharial tried one and agreed, "they are wonderful!" The monkey and the gharial became good friends and the gharial visited every day.

Then one day the gharial took one of the rose apples to his wife and his wife asked where he had gotten the delicious fruit. She said, "You cannot climb the tree, did you pick them up from the river bank?" "No," replied the gharial, my new friend, the monkey, throws them down to me.

"Oh!" said the lady gharial, "that monkey who lives on such sweet fruit, must have a heart that tastes like heaven. Bring me the monkey's heart so that I may eat it!"

The gharial was horrified by his wife's desire. "He's my friend," he argued, "so he's my brother in-law to you." He tried to distract her by blowing bubbles and making sounds through his nose, but it was no use. Still the lady gharial wished to taste the monkey's heart and finally, though he argued as much as he could, the gharial agreed to bring the monkey home to his wife.

The next day the gharial invited the monkey home with him for dinner. Little did the monkey know that his poor heart would be the main course. The gharial told the monkey to ride on his back. The monkey said, "You are a gharial and live in the water. I cannot swim and will drown in your home. The crocodile reassured the monkey by saying, "We live on a dry, sunny island." The monkey was excited about visiting his friend's house, since the gharial always visited him at his tree and off they went.

The monkey brought many rose-apples as a gift to his friend's wife. The gharial felt so guilty that on the way to his home he told the monkey the truth about his wife and the monkey's heart. "Oh my heart is what you want!" said the monkey, "Well, I left it in the tree where I live. You must take me back there and I will get it for you." The gharial turned around and took the monkey back to his tree and never even saw him go up he went so fast. He told his wife that the monkey had drowned on the way and they never tasted rose-apples again.

In real life, crocodilians take their prey to their homes for dinner just like in the story. They usually drag large animals into their nest or lair and feed off of the catch for a few days. Gharials, however, are not capable of eating large animals because their jaws are too slim. They have been found with jewelry in their stomachs, but only because throwing jewelry in the river is a part of the traditional burial ceremony in India. Gharials probably eat jewelry, as ballast, to add weight to help them stay under water longer.

Dino Days-Crocs Rule | Crocodile Smiles | Smart Reptiles | The Gharial and the Monkey | A Crocodile Hunter | Cinderella Crocodile | Croc Speak


Pacific Mythology Excerpts © 1992 Jan Knappert - All Rights Reserved
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