Why The Elephant Has A Long Nose ?
In the far-off times the elephant had no trunk. He only had a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot with which he could wriggle about from side to side: but he couldn’t pick up things with it.
Sometimes later, a rebellious Elephant Child with an insatiable curiosity was born in the land of Kuntala (now called Karnataka in India ). He asked his tall aunt, the Ostrich, why her tail feathers grew just so and the tall Ostrich aunt spanked him with her hard claw. He asked his tall uncle, the Giraffe, what made his skin spotty, and the tall uncle, the Giraffe, spanked him with his hard hoof. He asked his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, why her eyes were red, and the broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, spanked him with her broad hoof. Despite being spanked again and again, the Elephant Child kept asking questions because of his insatiable curiosity.
So one day the Elephant Child left his forest and went from town to town till he reached another forest. There on the banks of the Kaveri river sat a crocodile.
The Elephant Child was thrilled and asked the crocodile: “Please Sir, tell me what you eat for dinner?” Saying this the Elephant Child put his head close to the crocodile’s musky, tusky mouth and the Crocodile muttering between his teeth’ let me begin with the Child Elephant’ caught the little one by his little nose.
At this the little one was much annoyed and speaking through his nose said: “Let go! You are hurting me”
The Crocodiles shed some Crocodile tears and said: “My young friend ,if you do not immediately pull hard on your nose from which you speak, I will make mince meat of you.”
Completely shaken, the Elephant Child sat back on his haunches and began pulling his nose till it began to stretch. As he was doing so, the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail.
And the Elephant Child kept pulling his nose till he could pull no longer.
“Ah this is too big for me,” he said at last.
“No,” said the Crocodile. “Pull more.” So now both the Elephant Child and the Crocodile pulled the nose till it could be pulled no longer and the Crocodile let go the nose with a plop that could be heard all the way up and down the Kaveri river.
When all was over the Elephant Child snorted and was shocked to see that his nose was over five feet long..
“My nose has gone out of shape,” he said in despair. “I will wait till it shrinks.’
“Then you will have to wait a long time”, said the Crocodile, “Some people do not know what is good for them.”
The Elephant Child sat there for three days waiting for his nose to shrink. But it did not grow any shorter.
At the end of the third day a fly came and stung him on the shoulder, and before he knew what he was doing he lifted up his trunk and hit the fly dead with the end of his trunk.
“Advantage number one!” said the Crocodile. “You couldn’t have done that with a small bulgy nose. Try and eat a little now.”
Before he thought what he was doing the Elephant Child put out his trunk and plucked a large bundle of grass, dusted it clean against his forelegs, and stuffed it into his mouth.
“Advantage number two,” said the Crocodile. “You couldn’t have done that with a small bulgy nose. Don’t you think the sun is very hot here?”
“It is,” said the Elephant Child, and before he thought what he was doing he scooped up some of mud from the banks of Kaveri river, and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool -sloshy mud-cap all tickly behind his ears..
“Advantage number three,” said the Crocodile. “You couldn’t have done that with a small bulgy nose. Now how do you feel about being spanked again?”
“Excuse me,” said the Elephant Child, “but I should not like it at all.”
“How would you like to spank somebody?” asked the Crocodile.
“I should like it very much indeed,” said the Elephant Child.
“Well,” said the Crocodile, “you will find that new nose of yours very useful to spank people with.”
“Thank you,” said the Elephant Child, “I’ll remember that; and now I think I’ll go home to all my dear families and try.”
So the Elephant Child went home across Karnataka frisking and whisking his trunk. When he wanted fruit to eat he pulled fruit down from the tree, instead of waiting for it to fall as he used to do. When he wanted grass he plucked grass from the ground instead of going down on his knees. When the flies bit him he broke off the branch of a tree and used it as a fly whisk; and he made himself a new cool, slushy-squashy mud-cup whenever the sun was hot.
One dark evening he came back to all his dear families, and he coiled up his trunk and said, “how do you do?” They were glad to see him, and immediately said, “Come here and be spanked for your having gone away without our permission.”
“Pooh,” said the Elephant Child. “I don’t think you people know anything about spanking; but I do, and I’ll show you.”
Then he uncurled his trunk and knocked two of his brothers head over heels.
“O bananas!” they said, “Where did you learn that trick and what have you done to your nose?’
“I pulled my short bulgy nose with the help of the Crocodile on the banks of the Kaveri river,” said the Elephant Child. “And while I was doing so the Crocodile floundered into the water making it all creamy with great sweeps of his tail. This can only be done on the banks of the Kaveri river.”
“It looks very ugly,” said the tall Ostrich aunt.
Then the bad Elephant Child spanked all his dear families for a long time, till they were very warm and greatly astonished. He pulled out his tall Ostrich aunt’s tail feathers: and he caught his tall uncle, the Giraffe, by his hind leg, and dragged him through a thorn bush, and he shouted at his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and blew bubbles into her ear when she was sleeping in the water after her meals.
At last things grew so exciting that his dear families went one by one in a hurry to the banks of the Kaveri river to have their noses pulled with the help of the Crocodile. When they came back nobody spanked anybody anymore; and ever since that day all the Elephants have trunks, precisely like the trunk of the Elephant Child.
So now you know why Elephants have trunks. It all happened long back in the land of Kuntala (now called Karnataka) on the banks of the Kaveri river.
Why The Leopard Has Spots ?
In the yonder times in Africa , the Leopard, the Giraffe and the Zebra along with various other animals lived not in forests but in an open ,thinly- forested , hot, grass land. Their skins were sandy-yellow brownish and matched the colour of the land in which they lived. This was very bad for the Giraffe, the Zebra and the other animals because the Leopard would lie down beside a yellowish brown stone or clump of grass and surprise his prey whenever they came by.
Now along with the Leopard there was another hunter, an African , whose skin was as fair as the skin of an Englishman or a European. He too hunted along with the Leopard. The difference was that the African hunted with bows and arrows whereas the Leopard did his job with teeth and claws.
After a long time the Giraffe, the Zebra and the other animals realised that they were living in unfriendly terrain and moved away from this open grassland. They scuttled for weeks till they came to a great forest, full of trees and bushes. They made this their abode and what with the shadows of trees falling on them, the Giraffe grew blotchy , the Zebra stripy, and the other animals darker. They all started having a lovely time in this forest while the Leopard and the African became miserable with no prey and got reduced to eating rats, beetles and rabbits.. Unable to bear their hunger no longer, they approached their friend, the Baboon, to inquire where all their prey had vanished.
The wise Baboon told the twosome that their prey had migrated to a thick forest and also changed the colours of their skins to escape detection. He advised them to likewise by going to this forest and changing the colours of their skins so that they can too can hide themselves properly and get their prey.
So the two reached the thick forest but refused to change the colour of their bodies. This resulted in their not getting their food because they were easily distinguishable from their back ground. Wherever they went they were seen and their prey fled.
Unable to take it any longer, the African decided to change the colour of his skin to a blackish-brownish colour so that he could hide, without being noticed, behind the trees. He did this by rubbing himself with a special blackish-brown herb which he found in the forest. This herb had the magical property of permanence i.e. it changed the colour permanently
“But what about me?” said the Leopard, when the African had worked his last little finger into his fine new black skin.
“I’ll help you,” said the African. Then the African put his five fingers close together (there was plenty of black left on his new skin till then) and pressed all over the Leopard, and wherever the five fingers touched they left little black marks, all close together. Sometimes the fingers slipped and the marks grew a little blurred
“Now you look a beauty,” said the African. “You can now lie bare on the ground and look like a heap of pebbles or you can lie on a leafy branch and look like sunshine sifting through the leaves; and you can lie right through the path and look like nothing in particular. Think of that and purr!”
The Leopard walked a short distance and watched his reflection in a river. He was pleased. The two lived happily thereafter.
And this is why the African is black and the Leopard has spots on his skin.
The Bhutua Horse (From Bangladesh)
Once there was a rich businessman. His business was expanding every day and he had to travel to distant places. He felt the need for a good, strong horse.
He went to several marketplaces where horses were sold. But he did not like any horse that he saw. People advised, “If you want a really good horse, you should go in for a bhutua. It can cover in one day the distance for which an ordinary horse would take seven days.”
The businessman set his heart on getting a bhutua horse. He went to the biggest horse market. As he was looking around, a trickster sighted him and knew immediately that he would be an easy and good catch. The man, who was selling pumpkins, waited for the rich man to pass by. As he approached his stall, he asked him, “Sir, what are you looking for? I have been watching you going round and round. Maybe I can be of help?”
Touched by the man’s politeness, the businessman said, “I have been looking for a bhutua horse, friend. Can you tell me where I could get one?”
“You have come to the right place, sir. A bhutua horse will cost you the earth if you get one at all, which is highly unlikely. I have bhutua eggs. Buy one. It will hatch soon and you will get a beautiful strong colt.”
“How much do you want for an egg?” asked the rich man.
“Only one thousand taka for you sir.”
The rich man readily bought a huge yellow pumpkin and paid a thousand taka.
As he counted the silver coins, the young trickster cautioned him, “Please carry the egg on your shoulders. If you ever put it down the colt will escape and run away. Good luck with your horse, sir.”
The businessman carried the pumpkin on his shoulders and started walking back towards his village.
The sun had set and it was getting dark. The rich man, however, kept walking until he could walk no longer.
He set the pumpkin down under a banyan tree and leaned against the trunk of the tree, wiped the sweat of his face and body and closed his eyes to rest. Just then a fox came running by. It saw the pumpkin and, perhaps out of curiosity, hit it hard. The pumpkin broke open. Frightened, the fox ran.
All the hustle and the sound of the dry leaves as the fox ran made the man open his eyes. He was amazed to see the animal running. He ran after it, presuming that it was the colt which had come out of the broken egg. He ran after it, saying, “If it can run that fast soon after birth, I can’t imagine how it will gallop when it grows up.”
The fox had never been chased by a man like this. It hid in a haystack. The man started beating the haystack with a stick.
Now it so happened that a tiger was in that haystack too. The stick hit the tiger. It came out and ran. The man was even more surprised. He thought, “How could the colt grow that much within minutes?” He was immensely pleased with his buy. He was sure the horse would be his most prized possession. Now all that he had to do was to run after the animal and catch it.
At last the tiger slowed down, as it was very tired. The man caught up with it and mounted its back. He patted the tiger on the back and said, “No more hanky-panky, son. Take me home fast like a good boy.” Carrying the man on his back, the tiger ran.
The night was over. It was dawn. The eastern sky was a brilliant red as the sun rose like a gold disc. What the man saw now in the daylight almost killed him with a shock. He was actually riding a tiger.
But the tiger continued to run. The man, now desperate to save his life somehow, jumped and held on to a low branch of a tree. The animal, unaware of this, continued to run.
After a while, the man fell off the tree and hurt his legs. Some passers-by helped him to reach home.
Now if someone even mentioned the word bhutua, the businessman would fly into a rage. That was one word he wanted to forget for the rest of his life.
The Elephant And The Rabbit
There lived in the forest a mighty elephant called Four Tusk, who was the leader of a herd of elephants.
Once there was a great drought which lasted for many years. Because of it all the lakes, pools, brooks and springs became dry. Then all the elephants told Four Tusk, “Lord, our calves are almost dead with thirst. Some have already died. So, we must search for some water for them to drink and regain their health.”
After thinking for long, Four Tusk said: “There is a deep pool in the middle of some land in a lonely place. Fed by the river Ganga, it is always full. Let us go there.”
Having so decided, they reached the pool after having journeyed five nights. There they plunged into the river at will, coming out only at sunset.
Around the pool there were countless rabbit warrens located in the soft earth. They were all damaged by the elephants, wandering here and there. Many rabbits were hurt. Some suffered broken heads, necks and limbs, some were killed and some were left barely alive.
When the elephant herd had gone, the rabbits gathered quickly. They began to lament: “Alas! We are lost. This elephant herd will come here everyday as there is no water elsewhere. So, all will be destroyed.”
Then one exclaimed; “We must quit this place. What else can we do?”
But the others said: “ Oh, the land of our fathers and grandfathers cannot be abandoned suddenly. Let us do something to scare them away, so that they do not come here again.”
All the rabbits then became silent and started wagging their tails to think. At last one said: “Our king, the rabbit Vijay Dutta, lives in the moon. Let us send to the leader of the elephant herd, a make believe ambassador who will say that the moon king forbids your coming to this pool because his subjects live around it. Thus addressed, if he is convinced, he may go away.”
“In that case,” said the others, “there is a rabbit called Long Ears. He is clever with words and knows diplomacy. Let us send him.”
Thus appointed, Long Ears went to the elephants path and climbing to an inaccessible place, addressed the elephants: “O ye good creatures of the earth, why is it that you come so carelessly to the lake of the moon? Entry here is forbidden. Go away.”
Hearing this the elephants were bewildered. “Who are you?” many said in unison.
The other replied: “ I, the rabbit Vijaya Dutta, live in the lunar world. At present I have been sent as a messenger to you by the moon god. You know, sir, that no blame should be attached to the messenger in speaking the truth. All kings speak through envoys.”
Then Four Tusk said: “O rabbit, then speak out the moon god’s message which must be quickly executed.” Long Ears replied: “Sir, many rabbits were killed by your coming here the other day with you herd.. Do you know, sir, they are my subjects? So, if you are interested to live, then you must not come to this lake for whatever reasons. This is the message.”
After some thought Four Tusk said: “Well, where is the moon god?”
“At present,” replied the rabbit Long Ears, “The god is in the lake, where he has come to console the rabbits who survived the depredations of your herd.”
“Then show me your master,” said Four Tusk, “so that I may salute him before going elsewhere.” Then the rabbit took him to the lakeshore in the night, and showing him the moon’s reflection in the water said: “Behold, this is our master. He sits in deep meditation in the water. Salute him silently so that he is not disturbed, and then quickly go your way. For, if his meditation is disturbed, he will be very angry.”
Completely overawed, the king of elephants, Four Tusk, then raised his trunk in salutation to the reflection and he went away along with his herd. From that day the rabbits lived happily in their own homes with their families.
Why the Camel Has A Hump ?
There once lived in the middle of the great Sahara desert a lazy Camel who did not want to work. Whenever anybody spoke to him he said ‘Humph!’ Just ‘Humph’ and nothing more.
Presently a horse came to him and said to him, ‘Camel, O Camel, come and trot like the rest of us.’
‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Horse went away and told the Man.
Presently the Dog came to him and said, ‘Camel, O Camel,’ come and fetch and carry like the rest of us.
‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Dog went away and told the Man.
Presently the Ox came to him and said, ‘Camel, O camel. Come and plough like the rest of us.
‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Ox went away and told Man.
At the end of the day the Man called all three-the Horse, the Dog and the Ox and told them, “I’m very sorry for you; but since that Hump thing in the Desert can’t work, you have to work double time to make up for him.”
The three worked double time for three days and at the end of it were very angry. They decided to complain to the Jinn (a spirit of the Islamic mythology, formed of fire, which encircles the earth and assumes various shapes) , whenever it visits the great Sahara desert. Presently the Jinn in charge of All Deserts, rolling in a cloud of dusk, came and the three complained of the Camel’s idleness.
“What does he do when you ask him to work?” asked the Jinn
“He only says Humph!” said the three in unison.
“Very well, “ said the Jinn, “I’ll teach him what Humph means, if you will wait a minute.”
Saying this the Jinn rolled himself in his dust- cloak and flew towards the centre of the great Sahara desert where he found the Camel sitting idly.
“My friend,” said the Jinn, “what is this I hear of your doing no work?”
“Humph!” said the camel.
“It is not fair on your part to sit idle while others have to wok double to make up for you.”
“Humph!” said the Camel and swung his tail.
“If you say that once again, “ said the angry Jinn, ‘I’ll do something which will make you regret all life long.”
“Humph!’ said the Camel again; but no sooner had he said it than he saw his back, that he was so proud of, puffing up and puffing up into a big lolloping hump
“Do you see that?” said the Jinn. “That’s your very own humph that you have brought upon yourself for not working. Now go to Man and start working.”
“How can I,” said the Camel, “with this humph on my back.”
“That’s made on purpose,” said the Jinn, “all because you have missed three days of work. You will now be able to work for three days without eating anything because you can live on your humph. This is a punishment for your laziness.”
And the Camel reluctantly went to work. But to this day he wears a humph (we call it hump now) as he has never been able to catch up with the three days work he missed in the beginning ; and to this day he has not learnt to be agile and active.
Isn’t this a cute story Iyra? So now you know why the African is black, why the elephant has a trunk, and why the Leopard has spots on his skin. And today you have come to know why the Camel has a hump. One day I will tell you a story of a Whale.