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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

The Farmer, The Crocodile and the Jackal



In a village near the wild shores of a great river, there lived a cunning old crocodile. His home was a serene pond, and his reputation was nothing short of terrifying. For the crocodile was known to lurk in the waters, waiting for unsuspecting children who came to fetch water. With a swift, cruel strike, he would seize them, drag them under, and make them his prey.


Years passed, and his name sent shivers down the spines of the villagers. He was the undying fear, the guardian of the dark waters.


But destiny has its ways, and one year, a relentless drought swept across the land, drying up the once-abundant pond. The mighty crocodile was now stranded, basking in the cruel sun, a prisoner of his own making.


Desperation led him to cry out for help, and as the villagers passed by, he begged, "Please, show me where I can find water! This heat is unbearable, and I'm withering away."


The villagers, their memories still haunted by the crocodile's past atrocities, responded coldly, "You've terrorized us for far too long. We won't lift a finger to help you."


But then, an old man walked by, his heart moved by the crocodile's pitiful cries. He relented, saying, "If you follow me, I'll show you a pond that never dries up." And so, the crocodile followed the old man to a distant pond, shimmering with life-giving water.


The old man, with a hint of mischief in his eyes, ventured into the pond, calling back to the crocodile, "Look, see how deep and refreshing it is!"


As the crocodile gulped down the life-sustaining water, his appetite was awakened. He snapped his jaws at the old man's leg. "What are you doing?" the old man cried.


The crocodile, ungrateful and ruthless, replied, "I've quenched my thirst, thanks to you. I've gone without food for too long, and now I shall feast on you."


"You ungrateful creature!" the old man exclaimed. "Is this how you repay kindness?"


Just then, a clever jackal appeared on the scene, a creature known for its sharp wit. The old man, with hope in his eyes, said, "I'll let the jackal be the judge. If he decides you may eat me, then so be it."


The old man beckoned the jackal over, and, with solemnity, he recounted the tale of the crocodile's treachery. The jackal, always a fair judge, responded, "You must show me the place where you found the crocodile."


And so, the three of them returned to the dried-up pond near the village. The jackal insisted, "Show me precisely where you discovered the crocodile."


They reached the very spot, and the jackal announced his judgment, "You foolish crocodile! You thought you had caught the old man, didn't you? But in truth, you only caught a root of the tree."


The crocodile, chastened and embarrassed, released the old man, and the jackal slipped away into the night.


Realizing that he couldn't outwit the jackal, the crocodile hatched a different scheme. He observed the jackal's fondness for a certain fruit tree, and he gathered the small fruits, piling them up as bait. He hid beneath the heap, with only his eyes peeking out.


When the jackal approached, drawn by the aroma of the fruits, the crocodile intended to make his move. But the jackal was sly as ever, and he stopped short, saying, "I see you lurking there!"


With a triumphant grin, the jackal retreated, leaving the crocodile frustrated.


Dejected by his inability to outsmart the jackal, the crocodile sought help from a farmer. He promised the farmer priceless jewels, long lost in the pond, if he could capture the cunning jackal.


The farmer agreed and crafted a wax doll resembling a child. He buried it under leaves and mud, then concealed himself, ready to ensnare the jackal.


The jackal, unaware of the trap, approached the grave. But his wisdom prevailed. He inspected the scene and declared, "If this were truly a buried child, it would shake its leg when I touch it."


Startled, the farmer's nerves got the best of him, and he hastily moved the wax leg. The jackal, with a mocking laugh, made his escape.


Defeated once more, the farmer was consumed by his greed. He devised another plan, this time using a sticky wax to trap the jackal's legs. He created a fake grave, disguising the wax with earth and leaves.


When the jackal fell into the trap, the farmer emerged, gloating at his victory. The jackal, however, remained as clever as ever, proposing a deal. He promised the farmer he could multiply the number of jewels in the pond and share them if he helped him escape.


The farmer, blinded by avarice, agreed, and he set the jackal free. But the jackal's promise was a cunning ruse, and he disappeared into the night, leaving the greedy farmer empty-handed.


The crocodile, having failed time and time again to outsmart the jackal, came to a humbling realization. The jackal's wisdom and cleverness were unrivaled, and there was no scheme that could ensnare him.


In the end, the villagers lived free from the crocodile's reign of terror, and the jackal's reputation for wit and wisdom grew, for he was the true master of outwitting even the most cunning of adversaries.

 

Source: Oral Tradition from the Indus

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