Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Crocodile and The Monkey

This poem was chosen after reading all the titles of the works in Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets. "The Crocodile and The Monkey"is written by Vikram Seth found on page 137. After I saw how long the poem was, I was kind of hesitant about finishing it since poetry is definitely not my favourite pass-time. After I read the first few verses, I felt that this might be a very enjoyable poem. I loved the rhyme scheme as it made it an easier read due to the flow. It wasn't like a typical poem in that it was descriptive with little action. When I read it, it was as if I was reading a mini children's story. It brought back childhood memories of reading fables with morals. About a big bad creature and the intelligent victim.



The poem began with a colourful description of the crocodile and its surroundings. It incorporated alliteration and a rhyme scheme such as "Greeny-brown with gentle grin,/stubby legs and scaly skin..." As I read more into the poem, a smile lit my face. The relationship between the crocodile and the monkey was so adorable and not what we normally find in stories. They were friends living in a mutualistic relationship. The monkey would kindly provide the crocodile and his wife with fruits from the tree while the crocodile would not...I guess, eat him.


The crocodile, Kuroop (I love this name and find it very entertaining to say), had a wife. I happily read the loving relationship between Kuroop and his wife as the "prime pleasure of his life" was to "drag the carcass to his wife" while she endearingly called him, "Scalykins." Vikram Seth gave this poem a romantic sense in that even animals can have such a relationship with one another, even animals that are classically classified as vicious. However, my romantic cloud was broken when I found out she was the witch of the story. She started to yearn for the heart of the monkey. I was horrified at the turn of events as it was so happy and light in the beginning. Suddenly it was not only wanting to eat the monkey, but wanting "something sweeter still than fruit/sugar-cane or sugar-root: I must eat that monkey's heart." The fable that I thought I was reading, suddenly turned into a horror story. 

There are many morals in this story, but I think a main moral that I was able to depict was that one should not trust those who are normally untrustworthy. When I read the first few verses, I mentioned that I was surprised at the friendly relationship between the crocodile and the monkey that would in other fables be shown with hostility. Seth develops our prejudice just like how Mukherjee developed our prejudices in "The Tenant." However, in the end, Seth proves that our prejudice may have reason. Afterall, stereotypes and prejudices must have developed from past experiences and have some substance. Even when we are walking towards our death, if our 'friend' backstabs us, we should not give up. We still have hope at the last moment as long as we do not give up. This is a great story with edge for both children and adults!

This is a must read poem if you want to read an Aesop-like fable in poetry format. It was an easy read using simple words with much action. It made me experience a wide range of emotions such as appreciation of the wit of the monkey, humour, fear, contempt, anger, and moments that made me say "Awww..." inside my head. I definitely did not regret reading this and would like to read more poetry similar to this. 

No comments:

Post a Comment