THE WOLF AND SHRIMPS
September 20, 2007, 4:06 am
Filed under: Khmer Folktales

THE WOLF AND SHRIMPS

Translated from Khmer by Chhim Chan Bora

 

O

nce there lived a big wolf. When breeze started blowing, he roamed the areas to find ponds or lakes which had just dried up to catch fish for food.

When arriving at a pond which had completely dried up except a muddy hole full of a lot of fish, shrimps and crabs, the wolf was very glad and thought:” I’m very lucky today. It is an unusual luck.”

The shrimp was indeed clever. On hearing what the wolf had exclaimed, he pleaded with the wolf, saying: “We are all your food, brother wolf, but we are so muddy that we are not delicious for you to eat in such a state.”

The wolf then said:” What can I do to make you more delicious?” The shrimp said:” You should wash us clean first and eat. Then, it will be more delicious.” The wolf said:” How can I take all of you to wash clean as there are so many of you?”

The shrimp replied:” Don’t be worried. I assure you of that, but you have to follow my instructions.” The wolf said:” I’ll do whatever you tell me to.” “So you have to lie down in the mud,” the shrimp said, adding that: “and we bite and cling to your hair and then you can take us to wash in a pond or a lake where there is much and clear water. After that, you can enjoy eating us at your own will.

The wolf was so greedy and naive that he exactly did what he was told by the shrimp. All the shrimps and fish bit and clung to the wolf’s hair and the wolf walked away in search of water till he saw a large long lake with clear water.

He then walked into the water and all the shrimps and fish jumped into the water and said:” Brother Wolf! You go back and bring all the remaining shrimps, fish and crabs first and then you can eat your fill later. We are waiting for you here.” The wolf went back to bring the remaining shrimps, fish, crabs and snails.

As for the shrimps, fish, crabs and snails, once they learned that the wolf had already moved all of them from the other pond, they dived into deep water. It was too late when the wolf knew that he had been deceived.

He became so furious that he tried to coax such kinds of animals as elephants, rhinos, tigers and both small and big snakes, including boas into drying up the lake in order to catch fish and other animals in the lake for food. Boas were then assigned to act like a dam while other animals had to try to throw water to the other side to dry up the lake.

Knowing that the wolf and other animals were trying to dry up the lake, the shrimps, fish and other animals living in the lake were so frightened that they discussed among themselves: “What should we do to stop those animals drying up the lake?”

At that time, a climbing perch said: “Sophea Tonsay (a clever rabbit) is said to be so clever that he can help solve both animals’ and human beings’ problems. Therefore, I have to go to beg him to save us all.” Thinking things over, fish and shrimps decided to send the climbing perch to go in search of Sophea Tonsay for help. The climbing perch tried to crawl in the sunlight till his scales got dry.

When night fell and Sophea Tonsay came out to search for food, he saw the climbing perch crawling and said: “Where are you going, brother climbing perch?” The climbing perch, seeing Sophea Tonsay, was very glad and said: “Please have a pity on me, brother Sophea Tonsay! All the fish in the lake have ordered me to come to seek your help as you are said to be kind-hearted and wise enough in helping save both animals and human beings from trouble. Now, there are a lot of elephants, cows and buffalos, rhinos, deer, both small and big snakes and many kinds of water birds united together to dry up the lake so as to catch all the fish, tortoises and turtles living in the lake for food. Boas and other small and big snakes are assigned to lie across the lake like a dam.”

“Please help save us from this disaster, brother Sophea Tonsay,” the climbing perch begged, adding: “And we will repay your kind deeds and we will remember your kindness all our lives.”

            Hearing out the climbing perch’s begging, Sophea Tonsay said:” Go back first, brother climbing perch, and tell all the fish not to worry. I’ll go to help them out of that disaster.” The climbing perch then crawled back.

In the early morning, Sophea Tonsay came to the lake side and saw many kinds of animals throwing water to make the lake dry. He then picked a leaf with holes eaten by a worm and used it as a letter.

Then, he called those animals and said: “Please listen to me, brothers. The king of deities has ordered me to bring this letter to you all. The letter says that the king of deities will come to break the legs of herons and other water birds, break the necks of all wolves and pull out the tusks of white elephants.”

Upon hearing out the entire contents of the letter, those animals panicked and ran over one another. Elephants, buffalos, rhinos and deer rushed away, stomping on the boas lying like a dam, breaking them into pieces, thus causing the dam bursting and water flowing back into the lake, flooding those animals to death. Their carcasses eventually became food of all fish in the lake.

            Since that day on, all kind of animals had become afraid of and admired Sophea Tonsay for his wisdom and cleverness.

 

“Tongue May Incur Both Death and Life.”

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thank you for posting this folktale about the shrimp and wolf.
I am in Cambodia and would like to use it for a play. Can I find Chhim Chan Bora for the original Khmer version? Also, are these tales well-known or are they mostly forgotten in Cambodia now? Many thanks for your assistance.

Comment by Catherine Diamond

It would be good if it can be turned into a play. This Khmer folktale is pretty well-known here. You can go to any bookstore in town and ask for the Khmer version. Good luck! Nariddh

Comment by chhimborom




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