Abdul, the crocodile, lay silently in the shallow water, along the shore
of the Nile River. The dark, olive brown color of his skin made him almost
invisible. The sun had barely risen over the horizon, spreading its
warming rays on all the animals of the river. Abdul looked over at one of
the little islands that dotted the Nile. A ray of sunshine was shining on
a few of the dark yellow bricks that had fallen off one of the ancient
temple ruins. They collapsed temple stood majestically amongst a thick
patch date palms and acacia trees. Abdul opened his mouth wide to yawn,
exposing his sharp teeth. Anxious to start a new day he waddled into the
river and sank deep below the surface.
He used his long tail to propel himself through the river water.
As he swam along he looked around. He saw all sorts of fish, which darted
away from him as he neared. As he looked up to the surface from under the
water, Abdul noticed something brown hooked onto a reed, off at the side
of the river. He swam over to see what it was. Out of curiosity, he
climbed out of the water and was surprised to see that it was a leather
bag. Its strap was wrapped tightly around a reed. He tugged at it with his
sharp teeth until the reed broke and the bag came loose.
Abdul couldn’t swim around with it hanging out of his mouth. How
would he ever eat? Not knowing what else to do with it, he placed it on
his back. This way he could swim around the river and keep the bag until
he went back to his place on the riverbank.
He continued swimming through the water,
passing a few hippos, and elephants that were bathing in the river. The
hippos looked at Abdul as he swam by. They wondered why there was a bag on
his back. Samba, one of the elephants, pointed at Abdul with his trunk and
started laughing. “What’s that crocodile doing swimming around with a
leather bag on his back. He looks silly.” But Abdul didn’t hear and swam
A little further upriver Abdul spotted something white poking
out of the sand, right next to the roots of a tamarisk tree. At first he
thought it was a piece of rock but as he swam closer, he saw that it was a
statue. He climbed out of the water onto the sand and waddled up to the
tamarisk tree. He used his snout to unearth it. The sand fell off and
Abdul saw that it was a small ivory doll, probably played with by a small
child long ago. He picked it up with his teeth and put it on his back next
to the leather bag.
Abdul slinked back into the river and
swam away. Two Nile perch, Faris, and Zein, happened to see Abdul. They
looked at each other and started laughing. “Look at the crocodile,
swimming around the Nile River with a leather bag, and an ivory doll on
his back. Have you ever seen anything so strange before?” Faris said.
Zein blew a few bubbles and the two fish swam away.
Abdul came to a place in the river where
there were several large boulders. He climbed on one and lay down to have
a looked around. On one of the nearby boulders he saw what looked like a
woven basket. “Hmmmmm,” he said. He sunk back into the river and swam to
it. It was a reed basket. He used his snout to open it. It was filled
with bottles of spices. He tipped the bottles out. There was a bottle of
yellow saffron, some cinnamon, ginger, a few dried oranges, some licorice
root, and some pepper. He opened the lids and sniffed each one. “This is
nice,” he said, taking a little lick of the licorice. He gathered the
bottles back up and put them in the basket. “I’ll take this home with
me,” Abdul uttered, placing the woven basket of spices on his back, next
to the leather bag and the ivory statue. He lay in the sun for a few
minutes and then swam away.
Abdul noticed that the water seemed to be
getting deeper. Instead of coming up to his mouth, the water now came up
to his eyes. It wasn’t flood season and it wasn’t raining. Still, he swam
along without a worry.
Zein and Faris, the Nile perch, happened
to swim by again. “There’s that crocodile. This time he’s got a basket on
his back too. I wonder if he realizes he’s sinking because of the weight?”
Zein laughed. She blew some air bubbles and swam away.
Abdul swished the water back and forth
with his tail. He swam past some ruins. There were huge red granite
pillars in front. “Hmmm, that looks like a nice place to rest,” he smiled.
He swam to the riverbank, climbed out and trudged up to the ruins. Lying
next to one of the pillars was a sack. Abdul, being a curious crocodile,
tugged at it until it came open. He peeked inside and saw that it was
filled with grain. He took a mouthful and chewed it up. “Tasty,” the
pleased crocodile said. He shut the bag with his teeth and placed it on
his back, next to the basket of spices, the ivory statue, and the leather
Abdul noticed that it was getting harder
for him to walk, as he was carrying so much on his back. He finally made
it to the river and sauntered into the water. He sank way down, almost to
the bottom. He swished his tail back and forth and barely was able to move
through the water. Zein and Faris swam by again and saw the sinking
crocodile. “Why are you carrying all that heavy weight?” Faris asked.
“Can’t you tell you are sinking?”
Abdul ignored him. He thought they just
wanted him to put the wonderful items he’d gathered down so they could
have them for themselves. He stuck his tongue out at the Nile perch and
swam away. He headed back towards his home. He was about half way there
and was feeling very tired. “This stuff is heavy,” he told himself. “I
think I’ll have a rest.”
Once more he climbed out of the water and
walked slowly up a hill. He saw some beautiful flowers up ahead - roses,
jasmine, lilies, and some bird of paradise. He lay down in the sand next
to a mimosa tree. It smelled fragrant and its bright orange-pink flowers
were gorgeous. Right next to the trunk of the mimosa was another bag. Not
being able to resist, Abdul opened the bag with his snout. “Dates!” he
cried in delight. He ate a few of them, licked his lips and put the rest
of the bag on his back, beside the bag of wheat, the basket of spices, the
ivory statue, and the leather bag.
The sun was beginning to set. The sky was
ablaze with colors from bright orange to deep purple. Abdul knew he needed
to get home. He went down to the water and sank right to the bottom. The
bag of dates floated up to the surface and then floated away down the
river. The bag of grain floated up to the top and bobbed up and down in
the river as it was swept away by the current. The basket of spices was
also picked up by the swift current and soon disappeared, along with the
ivory statue and the leather bag. Zein and Faris swam by, passing the
floating basket, bags, and statue. “The crocodile lost his things,” Zein
said. “He shouldn’t have tried to carry it all at once,” she added.
As the two fish neared Abdul, they could
see that he was feeling very sad. He was trying to catch everything before
they floated away, but couldn’t. Giving up, he swam back to his place in
the reeds on the riverbank and fell asleep.
The next morning, further down river
another crocodile spotted something in the mud on the riverbank, caught in
the reeds. It was a leather bag. Zein and Faris swam by and saw the
crocodile. Faris shouted, “Here we go again!”