Mother vs. Kipling

Mother read Kipling, and she took requests.

How many times did I ask for “the story of the great war that Rikki-tikki-tavi fought single-handed, through the bathrooms of the big bungalow”? So many times that, when I learned to read, it felt right to reach for The Jungle Books.

Yet not until ten years after Mother was gone did I notice that Kipling puts only three syllables in Chu-chun-dra, the name of the muskrat who “never comes out into the middle of the floor, but always creeps round by the wall.”

Mother gave it four beats– “Chu-chu-RUN-dra.”

I tried Kipling’s version, but it didn’t feel right, so for 70 years I have been giving that famous muskrat’s name the proper beat of four.

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