Turtle evolution

A children’s poem.

Twenty million years ago
Give or take a million more
There lived a turtle called Troilus
Who with all his ilk was hairless
That’s not strange, you might infer
Even now turtles have no fur
But that is not all, dear reader
Nature hadn’t spared this slow treader
She had made him without his leathery shell
How turtles felt then, I just can’t tell.

So little Troilus to the eagle went
And pleaded with one knee bent,
“O king of birds, see my plight
I am every predator’s delight,
In the Nile, I swim with fear
For at least a croc is always near.
And the killer sharks, they say
We turtles are all easy prey.

“So your majesty, to you I plead
Listen to this earthling’s need,
All I ask is a pair of wings
To escape from this deadly ring.”

The eagle, solemn and astute,
Was among all birds, one of repute
He stared at the bare body of Troilus
And thought, “Why, he’s truly hairless!”
Then to our young hero, said he
“Your tale, I admit has touched me,
I’d love to have you in our tribe,
But the owl, the parrot and the kite
Will never accept you as their brother
For dear turtle, you have no feather.
Even our weary balding vulture
Would despise your naked culture.”

Poor Troilus, dejected for his clan
Had yet another master plan
Walked halfway across the savannah
Dodging the lion and the hyena
Till he met Elsa, the elephant
And told her of his predicament
“Please help me, O mighty mother
To save the skin of my brothers!”

Elsa heard, and wept a lonely tear
Moved by the plea so sincere
Grabbed Troilus with her trunk
And tossed him back without a plunk
Soon a new alliance was formed
Elephants and turtles a unique bond
One riding atop the other
Who’s who, I dare not bother,
The turtles felt safe in the height
And comfort of jumbos’ might.

But the lions soon eyed the strange herd
Ambushed the elephants on a night blurred
While the huge creatures were escaping
The turtles up there lost their footing
And fell in front of the drooling beasts
Who rejoiced at the turtle feast.
Yet Troilus and three of his mates
Were lucky to survive that tragic date
As their guardians were getting away
They fell on rocks that paved the way
Battered, they lay there through the night
Unnoticed by the gorging felines
Then with the next sunrise
When Troilus opened his eyes
And stretched his stubby lazy limbs
He felt some weight upon his skin
He looked at his comrades
Saw on their backs were stony plates
And from that day the turtle race
Is endowed with a carapace.


One thought on “Turtle evolution

  1. Kerubino says:

    Hey!!! this is wonderful!!! i love it.
    On a personal note, do read the igbo version of why the Turtle’s shell is cracked- its a wonderful tale- if you ever find a copy of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart,  youll find the story there. This is an African writer, by the way.
    Am back in Bombay. yay.

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