I can remember the sickle-shaped jamun tree. Rain fresh. And lush green. I remember staring at it from the opposite bank of the river. Fearing the brown flood waters of the river that kept me away from the jamun tree, I wondered if there was actually a crocodile that lived underneath. And the clever monkey on the jamun tree. And whether the clever monkey had ever asked the crocodile to ferry him across to the other side. And whether the crocodile had asked for the monkey’s heart in return for the ride.
I had been told that the heart of the clever monkey who devoured bunch after bunch of purple ripe jamun was supposed to have a heart with all the coagulated sweetness in it. Or so the crocodile thought. And was hence greedy to eat the monkey’s heart once and for all.
And in the middle of the swirling waters when the crocodile paused for a moment, looked at the monkey on his back and asked for his heart. The monkey stayed mum. The crocodile threatened him.
Then monkey, clever that he was, said that he had left his heart back on the jamun tree. He would hand it over as soon as they reach the bank.
The crocodile readily agreed.
Upon reaching the other bank, the clever monkey shot up the branches and khee-khee-d from up there at the crocodile.
‘How can anyone live without his heart? You foolish crocodile.’