The following is a traditional Timorese folk tale, from Fernando Sylvan's Cantolenda Maubere.
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"I heard it said that there was once a crocodile who had lived for many hundreds of years in a swamp and whose great dream was to grow and reach a phenomenal size.
But not only was he a small crocodile, he also lived in a very confined space. Only his dream was large.
A swamp, of course, is the worst possible place to live.
Shallow, stagnant water, hemmed in by strange, ill-defined banks, and above all lacking in food to tempt a crocodile.
For all these reasons, the crocodile was sick and tired of the swamp. But he had nowhere else to live.
Over the years - thousands of years it would seem - it was the crocodile's love of talking that kept him going. Whenever he was awake, he would talk and talk... he would ask himself questions and then, as if he were somebody else, would answer them.
Even so, when you talk to yourself like this for centuries, you begin to run out of topics of conversation. Not only this, but the crocodile was also getting hungry, first because there weren't enough fish or other creatures in the swamp to provide him with suitable meals, and second because although they were tasty, tender animals to be caught, like goats, piglets and dogs, they all lived a long way off.
"I'm sick of living on so little, in a place like this!" he would exclaim in exasperation.
"Be patient, be patient..." replied his imaginary companion.
"But a crocodile can't live on patience!" he would grumble.
There is of course a limit to everything, including resistance to hunger. The crocodile's body grew weak and his spirits sank. He eyes became dull and he could hardly lift his head or open his mouth.
"I must get out of here and look for food further afield."
TO BE CONTINUED