Tears can be deceptive
Another story from Panchatantram of Vishnu Sharma
In a jungle area there was a huge pond which housed lots and lots of aquatic creatures. There were Fish of all hues, frogs, and crabs.
One fine day an old wizened crane landed up on the banks of the pond. Due to old age, his eyes were clouded with cataracts, and he found it difficult to move his neck at reasonable speed to catch even a slow fish. Besides, his once sharp and hammer- like beak had now become almost a liability for him. In desperation he began to shed tears..
Tears are the the most potent deceivers you know. The tears of this grandfather crane flooded down in abundance and even seeped into the pond. The fish and other creatures, though utterly foolish, were of golden heart. They were themselves moved to tears when they saw the grandfather crane shedding tears. It was a galore of tears, a symphony in mukhari ragam.
Finally, a small fish asked, " Uncle, uncle, why are you crying? You are sighing also. What happened to you, uncle"
" Nothing has happened to me, child", replied the crane.
I was only thinking of my bloodstained past. How many of your elders and siblings have been eaten away by me in my long career? Now it is time for me to think of my welfare in the next world. With huge amount of sin already credited to my account, how can I face my Maker? So, to expiate my sins, I have decided to shed tears of remorse in your presence, and also sit here without any movement and without eating anything, and in the process, I would wriggle out of my mortal coils as an expiated and purified being."
"However.." he continued, “I have a bad news to convey to you all. I have heard that there will not be any rain in this area for the coming twelve years. You all know I was also born and brought up around here. When I hear that my pond and my dearest friends living in the pond are all going to disappear due to failure of rains, my heart is so heavy and is reaching almost the point of a huge and sudden explosion. I really do not know what to do. I have nothing to gain or lose for myself.. But when I think of you all, my beloved children... " the grandfather crane's voice failed and he broke into a loud wail.
The tidings spread like wildfire. The tortoises, fish and crabs were all worried. Someone approached the crane and asked. " Uncle, you are wise, can you find a way out for us.?" .
" I am very old and lack physical prowess. My brain is also not as active as it used to be. Still let me think. Is it not the duty of an old Uncle to save his children?"
He posed himself as if sitting in a very contemplative mood for a long time. Then he jumped up suddenly as if great gyan had dawned upon him .
He said. " About twelve miles away from here, there is a huge pond which has huge natural springs of water from the earth itself and that pond can never go dry . I can do one thing. You children can come to me one by one. I will carry you on my beak and fly at least once for twelve miles and back every day and deliver you one by one in that beautiful pond.”
The fish, crabs and tortoises were jubilant. One fish volunteered for the first flight.. He was taken on the beak of the crane, carried straight to the nearby huge rock, killed and made supper of by the crane. The crane came back and described at great length the jubilation of the fish which had reached safely, the heaven-like safety, of the new pond.
Day by day, the fish and the tortoises ascended the beak of the crane and were sent to the abode of death with the huge rock standing mute witness to the cruel deed. The bones of the hapless creatures were bleaching white on the surface of the black rock.
Sure, there were doubting Thomases in the pond and one tiny crab was especially so. He was not exactly taken in by the tears of the pious crane.
One day, it was the turn of our clever and inquisitive crab. The crab preferred to hold on to the neck of the crane with its four strong hands. The crane started the flight with the crab clutching his long neck, and when the crab looked down, he saw the black rock with huge number of white shining bones of his colleagues lying all around . He was quick and sharp enough to grasp the ominous significance.
Quietly he asked the crafty crane " Uncle, how are my cousins doing in the new pond? Are they happy?"..
Now that the crane felt that the crab was going to be his feast, he replied teasingly, " Happy in the other pond? You fool, you can see whatever that is left of them over the rock there, You are also going there in a jiffy. Enjoy yourself"
The sharp clutches of the forearms of the crab started plunging into the long neck of the crane. The crab said. " I was smelling something foul from the day one. Now I know what a cruel hypocrite you are, you my dirty Uncle crane. This is the end of you".
Saying this he pressed his sharp nails on the neck of the crane and ensured that the uncle fell dead on the ground. The crab walked back to his old pond and informed the remaining inhabitants about the great deeds and sacrifice of their great uncle crane.
Tears can be deceptive. Indeed, very deceptive.