My weight and height are very impressive. I can reach up to 10 feet and walk on water when required. Please don’t ask about my chest measurements.

SHOBHAA DE  23 May, 2021 9:30 am IST

Dear fellow Indians,

I am a ‘mugger’ – an Indian crocodile. I am very good at mugging. I was born to mug. The reason I am writing this letter is because I am getting a very bad name these days. All of you are calling me this thing and that thing, without understanding a thing, accusing me of shedding crocodile tears and whatnot. Do you even know the meaning of ‘crocodile tears’? Let me explain: The Voyage and Travels of Sir John Mandeville was published in 1400 – he is the original mischief maker! It is he who started all this nonsense without any scientific basis. In the book, he wrote, “In that country be a general plenty of crocodiles. These serpents slay men and they eat them weeping.” Dekho! All jhoot!

First of all, I am not sure which country Mandeville was referring to – it cannot possibly be India. I am a ‘mugger’ – a self-respecting, freshwater, marsh crocodile with a broad snout (crocodylus palustris). And I don’t shed tears for nothing! We crocs are not cry babies. Please understand, we are very powerful — on many, many levels. Powerful swimmers, who can also walk on land when required. Why are all of you making me ‘badnam’ by going on and on about my tears? Especially mediawalas, who have no other kaam dhanda. Pick some other target, na? Silly to make cheap jokes at my expense and put me on the front page doing ‘rona dhona’. My dear followers, repeat after me: I feel your pain.

Know thy crocodile, don’t be a juvenile

A little research will show you who and what I am. As an adult male, my weight and height are very impressive! I can reach up to 10 feet and weigh 200 kilos. Please don’t ask about my chest measurements and other such nonsense. Just take my word for it that I am dangerous enough to handle any and every enemy with one whip of my tail. I can also take on Bengal tigers and tigresses. Don’t believe me? Just see the videos. Because of my acute sense of smell, hearing and vision – I can vanquish my enemies with strategic precision, helped by my natural survival instinct. My ability to ‘belly walk’ in extreme conditions makes me hard to ensnare. I can also walk on water when required. But if I am threatened, or I sense competition – baap re – nobody stands a chance. My jaws can, in one gulp, eat up enemies who may be cleverer or swifter. In a reptile-to-reptile contest, I can demolish a python comfortably. Dogs, rodents and monkeys – child’s play!

Researchers say we crocs ‘bawl while banqueting.’ That is an accurate description. We do! Crying those croc tears is not easy. We cry when we consume prey – it takes effort and time to chew on enemies. Our breathing gets affected. Right now, even your breathing is seriously affected, so you will understand my difficulty. When a tricky situation arises, I know exactly what to do – I disappear from sight! I dig a burrow and hide till the environment improves and becomes less hostile. This is how crocs thrive and prosper. Retreating into a safe zone is a smart way to wait it out. Even crocs have to deal with unexpected crises they can’t handle. Why expose yourself to unfriendly elements? We also get upset with the nets cast by fishermen out to trap us – but we use every trick in the book to disentangle ourselves.

Me mugger can make a monkey out of you

Muggers are deeply misunderstood creatures. Especially these days. People don’t realise that not all crocs are the same. There are 23 crocodile species in this great, big world of ours. We have to learn how to ‘manage’ one another and the others. In normal times, this is not too difficult. But these are not normal times! Just as leopards cannot change their spots, crocodiles can’t behave like harmless garden snakes and slither away quietly. This sort of an attitude can damage our image! We have to show we are not scared; at the same time, we aren’t completely heartless, either. As a self-respecting crocodile, I also have a lot at stake, and there is nobody competent enough to help with a good toolkit without the risk of getting caught.

In the Jataka tales, there is a story about a monkey sitting on a mugger’s back and outwitting the croc. In Sanskrit, there is a mythical croc-like creature called ‘Makara’. Don’t go by all these ancient stories. Look at me. The 21st-century croc! A mugger to beat all muggers! I can make a monkey out of all you 1.4 billion people just like that. Remember, crocs can cry, saala! So, please do not mock my tears and say I am doing a lousy job during a crisis. I am doing what I do best as a mugger – mugging. Now, you do yours. And please contribute generously to the #CrocsCareCrocsCry fund.

The author is a columnist, social commentator, journalist and opinion-shaper. She has written 20 books. Views are personal.

(courtesy The Print