Rajah and the Snake

Young Rajah and His Journey of Wisdom

A Fable

V L. Verdéaux


Long ago in a far-away kingdom, a wise Old Rajah lived with his devoted family.

Old Rajah was elderly and knew his time, his life, was drawing to a close.

He summoned his son Young Rajah, who would become the next Rajah of the Kingdom.

Young Rajah also knew he would soon be the next Rajah of the Kingdom. Over many years, Old Rajah had been passing on his kindness, compassion and understanding but most of all, his wisdom to the soon-to-be young head of the Kingdom, his son.

Young Rajah looked forward to gaining deeper wisdom that age can provide. He was also looking forward to sharing his own compassion and kindness throughout the realm.

Young Rajah had learned much from his father as he shared some of his life lessons. One lesson was: ‘Wisdom, is better learned if it is experienced. Experience must be lived’.

Old Rajah asserted it was time for his progeny to journey into the larger, more wild areas of the Kingdom, from coastal to mountain villages and forests populated with people, animals and nature. Young Rajah must learn by listening, observing and offering assistance to all those in need. However, to ensure he experienced the true, honest messages being offered, Young Rajah had to travel in disguise as a poor man of little means.

Young Rajah journeyed from the city, through villages, farms, lowlands, mountains, plains and jungle forests. It took him a very long time. He was learning how people live, their struggles, achievements, worries, fears and things that made them happy.

Young Rajah felt he was missing something. He did not know what was missing and it bothered him. He pondered, agitated by not knowing or understanding what was missing. He felt time was wasting. In his bones he could feel his father’s strength and health fading. Yet, he was hesitant to return home until he learnt the most important lesson his father, Old Rajah intended. But, what is the lesson?

Early one evening in the forest as the sun was low on the horizon, Young Rajah was settling into his blanket for the night. His thoughts whether awake or in slumber, constantly plagued him. Certainly, he had valued lessons taught from people from all walks of life in the Kingdom, yet he knew the most important lesson of all continued to elude him. Inside himself, he knew he had not yet identified, let alone began to understand, the lesson he sought. He could not return home until he discovered and learnt the extremely important lesson. Without that knowledge, his journey would be in vain. He refused to disappoint his father.

Feeling the warmth of his meagre blanket, he rolled over to welcome sleep. He heard, he saw, an unknown ‘something’ move through leaf litter. Normally Young Rajah, when feeling a threat, would remain very still quietly waiting for the threat to pass. This time, he was not fearful.

“Are you a snake?” he whispered.

“Yessss…I am,” hissed the snake as it glid towards Young Rajah.

“Snake…what am I missing…what does my father wants me to learn?”

“I don’t know…why learn things anywayssss?” The snake, with tongue flicking, was belligerent.

Young Rajah replied: “Because in learning things we can understand and improve our lives.”

Snake, now motionless, peered at Rajah and asked: “And if I know how my life can be improved, what good will it be if I can’t change things?”

“Well Snake, how do you think your life can be improved?”

“Legs would be good.” Snake quickly, crossly, hiss-pissedly replied.

Rajah was surprised, a snake wanting legs…this is a new one.

Snake continued: “Yes, legs!  Do you know how it feels to slide along on your belly all the time?”

Snake was not happy. “Look at it from my lowly point of view. Us snakes spend all our time on our bellies, eating stuff on the ground. Slithering around, down holes looking for a feed. Then, to see any distance, we slowly climb saplings and trees. The worse thing is, we look creepy. A lot of us snakes are safe creatures yet, humans and other animals are terrified of us. We need legs. If we had legs we could walk and get to places faster. We could move rapidly over tall rocks and logs and things instead of the long way around. Yessss…life could be much easier if us snakes had very long legs.”

As an afterthought Snake added; “Besides, it would make us look more friendly.”

Snake had obviously thought it through.

Both Young Rajah and Snake had nothing else to say. So, Snake slithered away.

“This could be it,” thought Young Rajah. “My lesson could be to learn the difficulties that animals and plants experience, and understand how I may help them.”

Dear reader, what is unknown to others, is that both Old and Young Rajah have supernatural powers.

That night, before Young Rajah went to sleep, he performed his magical powerful deed and gave the snake long legs.

In the morning, Young Rajah packed up his meagre belongings and continued his journey through the forests and mountains far beyond the tree line until the only visible thing present was snow, rock and moss.

He spent much time sitting in the open atop the mountain, the pinnacle, enjoying solitude and contemplation.

The seasons changed from winter to spring and Young Rajah knew as the seasons passed, lives shorten and some terminate. The time for his father to pass was closer. It was imperative Young Rajah return to the palace as quickly as possible.

Moving rapidly on the most direct route, he wasted little time. In a matter of days, he reached the place where he met the snake that wanted long legs.

Rajah placed his pack at the base of a rock. He sat.

‘Snake, Snake…you here?  Hey Snake…are you here?”

The response came very quickly with anger.

“Yes.. I’m bloody here…did you do thissss to me?”

Snake was accusively, pissedly, hissedly and sissingly aggravated as he revealed himself from behind a tree.

Rajah laughed and laughed and laughed so hard he fell off the rock.

“Well…did you do this to me?” Snake indicated his very long legs. He was behaving angrily in a most threatening manner.

“Look at these…things!” He continually hissed and sissed with disgust. Snake was physically challenged and struggling whilst continually falling off and over logs and rocks. That is, when he was not lying flat on his back with his legs dangling over his head.

Young Rajah was trying to be serious but it was difficult because Snake had four of the longest legs he had ever seen on a forest creature. Hilarious, a snake four feet long had six feet long articulated legs. No wonder he was angry! Though to be fair, he did ask for long legs.

Snake tried to calm himself down and explained the situation to Young Rajah.

“I don’t know who you are but, I know it was you who gave me these bloody legs!” Snake began his not quite contained rage.

“I know I said having legs for snakes would be a good idea. But, you have no idea of the difficulty! No longer can I slither up trees, go down animal holes, slide through logs or even sneak up on prey. No longer can I slither and slide! That is an awful thing for snakes.”

Snake continued. “To make matters worse, people attack me with sticks because I can’t run away…legs are impossible to use! I have no shoulders or hips, and no muscles to support them anyway. All I do is wobble around and fall over all the time.”

Sadly, snake was becoming upset. He explained, “I thought having legs would be good, but I can’t hunt and have been starving all winter. You can see how much skinnier I am, can’t you?”

Young Rajah couldn’t see Snake was thinner, not really, he looked the same. He remained a skinny snake no longer able to slither because of his unmanageable long legs.

Snake would not stop whining. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to back out of a rabbit hole with these darned long things?’ He said indicating wildly waving an ungainly leg in the air. Young Rajah felt compassion for Snake who was becoming teary. Snake, in an impassioned plea asked: “Can you please return me to how I was, long and skinny…with NO legs please?”

It was in that moment young Rajah realised he had found the Old Rajah’s wisdom.

In a few days when Young Rajah had returned to the palace, he was gratefully holding his frail father’s hand at his bedside.

“So…” began the Old Rajah, “My son, before I go, what wisdom have you learnt on your travels. What did you learn about people, nature and the kingdom?” he asked.

Young Rajah, still holding his father’s weak hand, shared his experiences with the wise old man.

“Father, thank you for encouraging me to explore our kingdom and learn. I journeyed far, saw many people and experienced many new things. To answer your question, there is much to wisdom; the first is that wisdom has no limits, it takes many lifetimes and experiences. The second is that all people and beings, have opinions on what can be improved upon but, improvements need to be tested. The third is folly. Nature cannot be improved upon. Snakes are happier and exist better without legs.”

Old Rajah’s laughing eyes lit up.

Young Rajah continued. “The fourth is to recognize the limits of power. It is futile to use our power unwisely. Using power unwisely can produce poor results. The sixth and biggest lesson of all Father, is to accept yourself as the being you are…oh…and be careful what you wish for.”

The old Rajah smiled, chuckled and kissed his son’s hand.

Young Rajah had learned well.

© V L. Verdeaux (2019)