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The Creation Of Timor

An East Timor Legend



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.


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 of.

"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 cannot 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. His eyes became dull and he could hardly lift his head or open his mouth.

  The lad replied, "If that's all it is, I can help you."

With that he went up to the crocodile, picked him up and carried him to the edge of the swamp.

What the lad failed to notice as he carried him, however, was that the crocodile had perked up considerably: his eyes brightened and he opened his mouth and ran his tongue round hid saw-like teeth.

"That may be, but remember it is also shameful to betray a friend, and this is the first friend you have ever had."

  "So you expect me to do nothing and starve to death?"

"The lad rescued you when you needed him. Now, if you want to survive, it is up to you to look for food."

So when the lad placed him on the wet ground, the crocodile smiled, rolled his eyes, shook his tail and said, "Thank you. You are the first friend I have ever had. I cannot give you anything in return, but if you have never been further than this swamp we see all around us, and would like one day to travel abroad, to cross the sea, come and see me..."

"I would like that very much, because its my dream to see what lies out there across the sea."

  "Dream? Did you say dream? I too have a dream", replied the crocodile.

They went their separate ways, the lad little suspecting that the crocodile had been tempted to eat him, which was just as well.

Time passed, and one day the lad returned. He hardly recognised the crocodile, his burns has disappeared and he looked plump and well fed.

"Then me too. Let's be off."


They were both delighted with the arrangement. The lad settled himself on the crocodile's back, as if in a canoe, and they set off out to sea.

It was all so big and so beautiful! What astonished them most was the open space, the size of the vista that stretched away before and above them, endlessly. Day and night, night and day, they never rested. They saw islands big and small, with trees and mountains and clouds. They could not say which was more beautiful, the days or the nights, the islands or the stars. They went on and on, always following the sun, until the crocodile finally grew tired.

"Listen, lad. I cannot go on. My dream is over. We have been travelling for a long time, but now the time has come for me to die. In memory of your kindness, I will turn myself into a beautiful island, where you and your children can live until the sun sinks in the sea."

  Taken from Fernando Sylvan's Cantolenda Maubere

If you would like to know more about East Timor.

East Timor

If you would like to read more legends of Timor.

Legends of Timor
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