Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Something Fishy! - An adaptation of the story of a wily Heron, as told by Sri Buddha

I know you will judge me! I also know that you will do it on your own perspectives and standards.

But there is nothing that I can do about your judgement or your perspectives. All my defence will fall on deaf ears, for you will subdue my voice with counter-questions like; “Which madman has ever admitted that he is mad?” or “All criminals say that they are innocent”!

After all, I am a simple fish who lived until recently, in a small dirty pond. Like any other creature in that pond, I too had lived a life that you will not even consider worth the name. But, should I remain silent, even when I can’t defend myself against your judgement?

No; I think it is my duty to speak out my rationale, at the top of my voice. Never ever give up the fight... that is what I learned from my friend, the frog, who kept holding on to the neck of a crane, trying to strangulate him, while the crane was swallowing him, even when more than half of his body was already inside its beaks! He fought till he was completely swallowed and I am sure would have continued with the fight, till he lost his life.

So, here is my story... just to set the record straight, from my end...

My only fault, if I may call it so, was that other creatures – fishes, crabs, frogs et al- thought I am the wisest among them. Some of them were even jealous of me, though there was nothing that stopped them becoming wiser too. It is that they chose to play when I spent my time with the elders in the pond, learning the wisdom of generations.

I don’t know if it was a way to get back at me, for all those who were jealous of me, or it was a genuine concern that the wisest one should undertake this task that was very important for the survival of all of us. To cut it short, I was chosen by almost all (the only exception being my beloved), to be carried by the Heron, to learn all about the new lake that he promised to us.

Ah... Heron; I don’t know where he came from. He just appeared on a sunny day, standing by the side of our pond, looking very sad. We all moved away from him; but the curiosity got the better of some of us who ventured to find out what made him so sad. He then explained to us about what he learned on the way; how the drought is approaching our pond, how our pond will soon end up with no water at all and how we will all die!

My poor brothers..., such innocent creatures, panicked on hearing this story of Heron. They all cried to him. “Heron Sir, you are so much experienced and have seen so much of the world that only you can save us from this danger. If you don’t find a way for us, we will all die here”.

Heron, appearing even sadder thought for some time and said “If you believe me and are willing to follow what I say, I can save you all, though it is a difficult task even for me”. My poor friends agreed to do whatever he suggests. He then suggested that he will carry us one by one, to a nearby lake that was full of water and very rich, that compared to our pond it would be like heaven.

I tried to caution them, for I have heard from our elders about a very old story where a heron had similarly suggested helping the inhabitants of a pond by shifting them one by one to a larger pond and then ate them all, until one day a crab finished him off with his claws.

But, alas; no one was willing to even listen to me. To make it worse, the Heron helpfully suggested carrying one of us to the lake and back, so that we can be sure of his words. That is when I realised, it is sometimes dangerous to speak out what you believe is right, for all others, as I said before, chose me, the doubting Tom, to go and see it for myself. At least some of them must have thought, if the heron is indeed lying, then let us get rid of this smartass!

I had no choice but to let the heron carry me. I remembered the old story, while trembling with fear, as Heron took to flight into the sky. Believe me; I was so scared for my life that I even forgot to look at the sights as we went up into the sky! But, it didn’t last so long. We came near a very large lake. I was surprised to see such a large body of water.

Heron flew very near to the water and then sat down on the bank. He held me with his claws and asked me, “Now do u believe my words? Let us go back now. You can tell them how good the life here will be and then I can carry each one of them to here”.

I replied. “Mr Heron, my apologies for not believing in your sincerity. Now I know how good you are and how nice it will be for all of us to come and live in this lake. Thank you so much. But you know what? I still can’t believe there can be so much water. Can you let me swim in this water, so that when my friends ask me about this place, I can tell them what a heaven it is”.

Heron thought for some time and then reluctantly released me into the water. Indeed it was heaven; and to be out of the clutches of the Heron!

Heron was in a hurry. He asked me to come back, so that we don’t delay the shifting of others. But then I wasn’t so sure- what if Heron is just another repetition of the old story? What if he will carry me safely to the pond so that all others will believe him? What if then he carries and eats each one of us? We will never know the truth.

“Thank you for letting me into this lake, Heron. But I have no plan to come back with you; for I know you will take me back to pond, but will start eating each of the poor ones who will come with you, when they know about this lake from me” I said.

“You are a cheat. You are selfish. Deceiving your own as soon as you got a fortune” Heron shouted; now trembling with anger. He knew he could not go back to the pond without me and convince others. They will all think that he had eaten me up.

There is a slight chance that the Heron was genuine and he wanted to help us all. But the cost of believing him would have been very huge; the life of an entire pond! I would rather be a cheat than to put the life of my brothers and neighbours into danger.

It is always better to put one’s faith in the Mother Nature than to depend on one’s natural enemies. Pond may indeed dry up; but there is also a chance that we might get a rain or two sooner and it will be life as ever. If we depend on the Heron, we might end up dead even faster, with no choice to escape at all.

That is my story. You can make your own judgement. It wouldn’t affect me, for my conscious is clear; it was not my love for the lake but my concern for the life of my brethren that made me stay back in the lake.

But I must confess, I am enjoying the life in this lake... It is indeed heaven here!


  1. Just loved this piece of story..Really a good one..
    My Grandparents and parents always used to say it is not a Lie..if it is
    Lies that harm no one and that save someone's life
    Lies that harm no one and that save someone's "purity"
    Lies that harm no one and that help someone
    No not that the character in this story lied but he definitely saved many lives by being thoughtful, by having or showing concern for the well-being of others and in turn giving a safe passage to ownself..Well not a bad idea sirji !
    Good Read !

  2. i think i have heard this story couple of times as a child.. perhaps with different endings too..
    but my take on this ie..trusting people with ur life etc.. is trust no one unless they prove themselves otherwise.

    i know its a very bad pessimistic view, but life time and again teaches u , that u have to guard ur back.

    Man by nature is selfish, he always thinks for his own good, so looking after ur own needs is just part of "survival of the fittest" it need not be condemned as a selfish act.