The Swans and the Turtle

A Jataka tale adapted from  a version by Phra Inta Kaweewong from Roi-et
by Wajuppa Tossa and Prasong Saihong

Once a couple of swans, a husband and a wife, sighted a pond full of fish. 
So, they flew down to have some fish, not knowing that a turtle was guarding the pond.
"Why are you eating fish in my pond without asking for my permision?"   asked the turtle.
"Oh, does this pond belong to you?"  asked the swans.
"Yes, I have been guarding this pond for along time,"  said the turtle.
"We are so sorry; we thought nobody owned this pond," apologized the swans.
"Since, this pond belongs to you,
may we share some fish in your pond?"  politely asked the swans.
"Now that you asked, you may share some fish in this pond." said Turtle.

So, the swans and the turtle became friends.  One day the swans thought they could do something nice for the turtle in return for sharing fish with them.

"Friend Turtle, we appreciate your sharing the fish with us.   We would like to do something for you.   Is there anything we can do for you?"
The turtle always had a dream that he could travel in the air
and enjoy looking at scenery from a different angle. 
So he said, "Are you sure?"
"Yes," said the swans.
"I dream that I could fly and enjoy the scenery from the air," the turtle told his friends.
"Oh, that is not a problem for us.  We can help you fly."
"How?  I don't have wings like you; I have this heavy shell on my back with these four short legs."  said the turtle.
So, the swans explained, "Well, we can get a good size stick
and hold on to the two ends with our beaks. 
You could bite hard on the middle. 
Then, you can fly with us. "
The turtle could  hardly wait to fly with the swans. 
"Yes, let's go, let do that now"  he said.
The swans held on tight to the two ends of the stick
and the turtle bit hard in the middle.
Before the swans took off, they said to their friend.
"Friend Turtle, be sure to keep biting on the stick.
Don't ever open your mouth no matter what happens;
Or, you may fall onto the ground.  And we won't be able to help you."
"Yes, I promise not to open my mouth," said the turtle.
So, the swans flapped their wings and slowly
they lifted the turtle in the air. 
The turtle looked down and saw the pond getting smaller and smaller.
He was so happy, but he kept his mouth shut.
He saw the top of the trees for the first time in his life;
He was so happy but he kept his mouth shut.
"Oh, this is so much fun.
I can't wait to tell my other turtle friends that I CAN FLY."
He was so happy but he kept his mouth shut.
As they flew past  a ricefield, they saw a boy and a girl,
walking their buffaloes to graze on grass in the ricefield.
A boy looked up and saw . . . 
he pointed up and alerted his friend to look up.
"Look two swans are carrying a turtle," he said.
The girl looked up and said, "No, a turtle is carrying two swans."
"No, two swans are carrying a turtle,"  the boy insisted.
"Can't you see a turtle is carrying two swans!"  she said.
When the turtle heard clearly what the argument was about,
he thought, "Yes, the girl is right. TURTLE IS CARRYING TWO SWANS."
He was so proud of himself, but he kept his mouth shut. . . .
But then the boy's voice came loud and clear.
"No, two swans are carrying a turtle," said the boy, pointing up.
The turtle's pride was hurt
so he opened his mouth to argue with the boy . . .
"Turtle is carrying two swans . . ."  turtle's body was smashed onto the ground.
Turtle blood and juice went all over and it splashed on the boy's armpit as he was pointing.
"Oh, this smells bad."  The boy tried to wash and scrub his armpit, but . . .
no matter how hard he scrubbed and washed the smell was still there. 
The girl did not get it as badly as the boy.
Since then men's armpits smell
and the smell is called "'" khii tao." which means . . . turtle's excrement.  
Girls' or women's armpits don't smell as bad,
at least it is true in northeast Thailand and Laos.