THE EEL AND THE COCONUT TREE
A very long time ago, there was a young girl named Tanaiya. She lived in a small hut by a beautiful lake. Tanaiya loved water and would swim in the lake all day long. "Ah, how lovely!" she would sigh with joy.
One day, while Tanaiya waded into the water, something unusual touched her body. "What was that?" she wondered.
Suddenly, she saw a snake-like creature. But its head was much larger than that of a snake. Though frightened,Tanaiya went closer and observed the creature. It was an eel, a kind of fish.
Tanaiya jumped out of the lake and ran towards her hut. The next day when she went for a swim, the eel was swimming around a rock, as if it was waiting for Tanaiya. As soon as the eel saw Tanaiya, it began to swim faster. Tanaiya was surprised. She swam towards the eel and gently touched it. It was smooth and cold. "What a wonderful creature!" she thought to herself and smiled.
From that day on, it became a regular practice. The eel would be waiting for Tanaiya every morning and both of them would swim side by side for hours together.
Tanaiya would gaze at the wonderful patterns on the eel's body, and before leaving, Tanaiya would gently pat the eel.
One day, after a long swim, when Tanaiya came out of the water and sat on the bank, the eel also swam out of the lake. "How can a fish swim out of water....and why?" thought Tanaiya,in wonder.
Suddenly, much to her surprise the eel transformed itself into a young man! And he was very handsome. She was wonder-struck and could not utter a word!
The young man spoke," I am Ambu, the God of Eels. I like you very much and would like to remain by your side forever, but the time has come for me to leave you." Hearing this, Tanaiya was perturbed. "What? Are you going away?" "Yes! I have to," replied Ambu, "but before leaving I wish to give you a gift that will always remind you of me. To get that gift you will have to do as I say." Tanaiya agreed.
"Tomorrow I shall come to your hut in the form of eel. You must cut off my head and burry it nears your hut," saying this Ambu dived into the lake. A shocked Tanaiya returned home. The next morning, she saw the eel lying at her doorstep, with its head placed upon the threshold. Tanaiya stared at it, surprised. "Why is the eel ready to die?" she wondered. But she had promised to do as the eel said, so she didn't say anything.
The eel looked at Tanaiya as if trying to say," Do as I said! Please don't hesitate!" Tanaiya gazed at the eel for a while, took a deep breath, raised her axe and hacked off the eel's head. Then she buried it behind her hut. From that day on, Tanaiya became sad and depressed.
Every day, she would sit near the place where she had buried the eel's head and cry. After few days, she noticed a sapling growing at the spot. Tanaiya was thrilled! She watered the sapling and nurtured it every day. Soon, it grew in to a tall and magnificent coconut tree. It swayed majestically; its long leaves singing the sweetest melody Tanaiya had ever heard. Its sweet milky water was refreshing and wonderful to taste. Tanaiya was now very happy; she danced around the tree. "Indeed, it’s the best gift I could get!" she thought.
It is therefore believed that the coconut palm, every part of which is useful, is a gift from the God of Eels. They say, when the fibrous shell of the fruit is removed, one can see the face and eyes of an eel on it.