Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Foolish Amba and Clever Pong

Once there were two friends named Amba and Pong. A monkey, Amba was shrewd and self-centered. a humble turtle, Pong looked after the Amba and himself. Both of them lived beside a river, in a forest.

One night, a storm hit their place. The river surged and a lot of trees fell down. The following morning, the storm had left and Pong looked around for food. He found a banana tree floating on the river, with some fruits still hanging on it. Hit by an idea, he grabbed the whole tree and searched for Amba.

Amba was lounging in one of the trees in the forest. He was waiting for Pong to bring him breakfast. He was whistling tunelessly, while enjoying the after scent of the storm.

"Amba! Look what I found!" called out Pong.

Amba loped his arm on a branch and dangled himself. "What is it?" he asked excitedly.

"I found a banana tree floating on the river. It must have fell from the storm. It still has its roots and even some fruits," Pong replied. "We could plant and take care of this. We don't have to look for food anymore because we have our own banana tree."

The monkey looked at the plant shrewdly. "Let's cut it into two. I'll get the part with leaves  and fruits while you get the one with roots." Inside, he thought that portion with leaves and fruits will grow fast and no chance of dying.

Though sad, Pong agreed. They cut the  tree and planted them separately. Pong took care of his portion of the tree. He cultivated the land around it, watered it and even placed some bat's dung around as fertilizer. After a few months, the tree grew and bore many fruits.

Amba's share died of course. It didn't take root and since he was lazy, the plant was not watered properly. He was angry and envious to Pong. But a wicked plan took root in his mind. Pong cannot climb the tree!

Pong realized his predicament so he asked Amba, "Can you climb the tree, my friend? I cannot do it myself. Once you are up there, please gather the fruits so we can enjoy eating them  for the coming days."

The shrewd monkey agreed. Amba climbed the tree as quickly as he could. Once up there, he settled on one of the strongest leaf and picked one fruit and gobbled it. He picked one more and off it went to his tummy.

Pong thought that his friend forgot about him and so he called, "Amba, can you give me some? I'm hungry."

Mindlessly, Amba threw him a banana peel and continued on consuming all the bananas from the bunch. Pong helplessly and tearfully watched all this from below.

Soon, Pong concocted a plan. No more goody Pong. He decided to avenge himself and thought, " Amba cannot stay there forever. He has to climb down."

Pong looked for thorns and tucked them on the trunk. From above, the thorns looked almost invisible. After surveying his work, Pong hid under his shell.

Still feeling languorous from the sumptious meal, Amba climbed down from the tree. Then, "WAAAAAAA!"
He slid down the trunk and each passing time, his scream grew louder.Once he reached the ground, he carefully removed the thorns. His butt was so red afterwards.

Realizing that Pong is the only one responsible for the thorns, Amba searched for his friend. He searched here and there, never realizing that the hump near the banana tree was his turtle-friend, until he sat on it.

The poor Pong had to bear Amba's weight. He held on until he had to scream. "Get off me!"

"Ah-ha! There you are, Pong!" Amba held Pong by the neck. "You put all those thorns. What kind of a friend you are! I'll whack you with a branch. I saw a branch from an acacia tree back there."

Clever, Pong replied, "You won't do that. See those lines on my shell? My mother used to whack my shell since I was a child so it would grow sturdy. You can hit it now, with wood or rocks, it won't break."

Amba thought for a moment. "I'll throw you to a fire. That's right! I'll build a fire and throw you into it."

Clever as always, Pong shook his head. "Bad idea. My back was forged on fire. See those colors on my shell? They were due to the number of times I walked through flame. I could sleep under my shell while on fire."

Then, Amba saw the rushing current. "Ah-ha! I'll throw you to the river!"

Feigning fear, Pong begged. "No, my friend. I am scared of the river. I will drown. I don't know how to swim."

Amba replied smugly. "It would please me. You have seen my butt. They are all red, thanks to you, my so-called friend. Off you go!" With all its might, Amba threw the turtle to the rushing river.


Pong went down then floated up. He kicked his leg and when, he started to move safely, away from the bank, he called out, "Thanks, Amba! You are so foolish, my friend."

Amba's face went blank.

"Hitting my back and throwing me to the fire will kill me. But swimming? This is the first thing I learned right after I was born," Pong gloated. "I am going home now. Thank you."

And the foolish monkey was left, open-mouthed in the riverbank.


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