Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Week 2 Story: Tiny Jatakas

Author's Note. What are tiny jatakas? They are jatakas that are just 100 words long! As you might remember from the assignments-assignment back in Week 1, there is a new "microfiction" option in the class this semester, experimenting with tiny stories that are very short, such as these 100-word stories. In the past, I would pretty much always write stories for this class that were the maximum of 1000 words long; writing short is very new for me! So, instead of one 800-word story here, there are eight 100-word stories. What I did was to read through the Anthology and find the stories that I could tell in this short form. I am curious what you think! If you could let me know which stories you think are working well and/or the stories not working so well, that will help me learn to get better at this. I really want to get good at telling 100-word stories, and some of these were easy to write but some of them were seriously hard (I almost gave up on the monkey's heart for example).

Anyway, here are my tiny jatakas:

1. The Animals and the End of the World

Rabbit slept under a palm-tree, and a coconut fell on his head.
"The sky is falling!" Rabbit shouted. He jumped and ran.
"What's wrong?" Deer asked.
"End of the world! Sky is falling!" shrieked Rabbit, and Deer ran with him.
They met Fox. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Sky falling! End of world!" Rabbit panted.
Now Rabbit, Deer, and Fox were running.
Monkey, Leopard, Elephant... all running!
Lion stopped them. "Who says it's the end of the world?"
They pointed at Rabbit, and Rabbit took Lion to the tree.
"That's a coconut!" Lion roared. "It's not the end of the world."

2. The Princes and the Turtle

The princes shouted, "Father, we saw a lake monster!
The king's guards went and caught the monster. It was only a turtle, but the princes had never seen a turtle; it frightened them.
"How shall we kill it?" the king asked them.
"Crush it!" said the first.
"Burn it!" said the second.
The third prince feared the water, so he said, "Drown it!"
At this the turtle shrieked, "Please don't drown me, good people!"
"Let the turtle be drowned," commanded the king.
They threw the turtle into the lake.
Laughing, the turtle dove down into the water. "Home at last!"

3. The Turtle Who Flew

A turtle had befriended two birds, and they lived together at a lake.
The lake was drying up, so the birds offered to carry the turtle away. “You will hold onto the middle of this stick, and we will carry the ends in our beaks, but you have to keep your mouth closed tight shut. Can you do that?”
“Yes!” said the turtle.
But when they were flying, people on the ground laughed at the flying turtle. "That turtle looks ridiculous up there!" they said.
He opened his mouth to rebuke them, and thus plunged to his death.

4. The Crane and the Fish

The lake was drying up.
“Don’t worry, dear fish-friends!” said a crane. “I'll carry you to my home, a big lake nearby.”
The fish agreed, and the crane carried them off one by one. But the crane didn't relocate the fish; he devoured them.
Finally only a crab remained.
“Come on!” said the crane.
But as they were landing, the crab looked down and saw the fish bones, so he grabbed the crane's neck with his pincers.
“Let go!” the crane said, but the crab squeezed.
He then lived happily ever after in the big lake.

5. The Monkey's Heart

Craving Monkey's heart for supper, Crocodile swam to the riverbank where Monkey lived. "Let's go to Banana Island, Monkey!"
"But you know I can't swim."
"Don't worry! I'll carry you."
Greedy for bananas, Monkey jumped on.
Crocodile plunged deep under the water.
"What are you doing?" Monkey shrieked.
"I'm going to eat your heart for supper."
"But I left my heart in the tree!"
Monkey pointed to the fig tree on the riverbank.
"Well, go get it!" shouted Crocodile.
Crocodile swam back to shore, and Monkey leaped into the tree.
"You can fool me once," he cackled. "But not twice!"

6. Crocodile in the River

Crocodile noticed Monkey using a rock to cross the river; Monkey would jump from riverbank to rock, and from rock to riverbank.
"I'll make my back look like a rock," thought Crocodile. "He'll jump on me, and I'll catch him!"
Monkey saw a suspicious new rock in the river. Before he jumped, Monkey said, "Hello, Rock!'
Crocodile said nothing.
Monkey shouted, "Hey, Rock! Why don't you answer me like you usually do?"
Crocodile realized he had to answer. "Hello, Monkey…" he said cautiously.
"Hello to you, Crocodile," Monkey cackled, "and goodbye! I won't be jumping on you today… or ever!"

7. The Deer Who Wouldn't Listen

The Buddha was born as a deer.
His sister said to her son, "Go to your uncle and learn the tricks you need to stay safe from hunters."
But the young deer did not listen to his mother.
The Buddha said to him, "Nephew, there are things you must learn to stay safe. I will teach you."
But the young deer did not listen to his uncle.
He then fell into a hunter's trap and was killed.
"Brother," said the Buddha's sister, "why didn't you teach him?"
"I couldn't teach him," said the Buddha, "because he didn't want to learn."

8. Old Rooster, New Rooster

Every morning, a faithful old rooster woke the young brahmins at dawn to begin their studies.
That rooster finally died, so they needed a new one.
They found a rooster in the cemetery, but he crowed at odd hours. He crowed at dawn, but he also crowed all night and all day.
When he crowed at night, he disturbed the brahmins' sleep.
When he crowed during the day, he disturbed their studies.
The rooster didn't know how to crow properly, so they killed him.
A rooster needs to know how to be a rooster. Otherwise, what is he?

1. The Foolish, Timid Rabbit. From Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt.
2-3. Two Turtle Jatakas. From Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt.
4. The Cunning Crane and the Crab. From The Giant Crab, and Other Tales from Old India by W. H. D. Rouse.
5. The Crocodile and the Monkey's Heart. From Eastern Stories and Legends by Marie L. Shedlock. I had to leave out the crocodile's wife who was the one who wanted to eat the monkey's heart.
6. The Crocodile in the River. From The Jataka: Volume 1 translated by Robert Chalmers. I only did the first half of this story.
7-8. Unruly Monks. From The Jataka: Volume 1 translated by Robert Chalmers.


  1. Hey Laura,
    I really enjoyed all 8 of your stories. Like you I usually write stories that range form 300-1000 words. These microficitons are very interesting and they seem to be a lot easier to understand. My favorite story was The Princes and the Turtles. I really enjoyed how you made such long story seems short and fit together so well! I was able to easily understand the plot and get the jest of what you were saying.

  2. Hi Laura,
    I love these jatakas. I have definitely come across them during my readings, but I love how you simplified them down to the main idea but didn't lose any of the important details. My personal favorite was the monkey's heart story because I love how the monkey was able to get out even though at first he was greedy. Next semester, if you have time, you should experiment with even shorter stories! Can't wait to explore more of your blog posts!


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