Table of Contents
This chapter tells the story of two villages as the narrator runs from his own village to a village called Pambupatti. Within this story is another story narrated by an old man. The old man’s story about the jungle of the reptiles teaches Prem an important lesson.
Prem lived in a village which was full of violence and hatred. The cause of this chaos was the burning down of a temple or a mosque in some distant place far away from his own village. But the news had spread like fire and the whole village was now divided. One day, as his own house was put to fire, Prem grabbed some of his belongings and escaped.
He climbed into a train that took him to a village named Pambupatti. As soon as he stepped in village, he fainted due to exhaustion. Prem was nursed back to health by an old man whom he called Grandfather. Prem narrated the sad story of his village to the old man and asked how Pambupatti was such a peaceful place.
The Grandfather told Prem a story about the jungle of the reptiles. The events dated back to a time in the remote past when humans lived in caves. The jungle of Pambupatti was inhabited by reptiles including snakes, crocodiles, turtles and lizards. Everything in the jungle was fine until Makara, the President of the monthly meetings, began to oust other reptiles out of the jungle.
Since crocodiles were the strongest of the reptiles and since Makara was the oldest of the crocodiles, he was powerful. The others feared him and dared not raise their voices against him. So Makara devised a plan to send all the tortoises away. The snakes were the next to go and then finally the lizards too were forced to leave their home.
The happy jungle soon became a home of serious problems. A terrible smell of rotten fruits and dead animals took over the village because there were no tortoises to eat them. The menace of rats increased as there were no snakes to eat them. The insects filled the jungle and troubled the crocodiles. It was then that all the crocodiles united against Makara and the other reptiles were called back.
Happiness and peace returned to the jungle as all the reptiles came back to their homes. Through this story, Prem understands that it is important for all people to coexist peacefully. He resolves to head back with the hope of retelling the story of the reptiles to the people of his village.