“Of course it’s me”, said Bernie the deer.
“No, it’s only me,” said Fanny the zebra.
“How can that be? I am the king of the desert and I can run so fast that none of you can beat me whatsoever?” said Carmy the Camel with a wide grin.
Jerry the horse and Kito the giraffe were walking towards them wondering what their friends were discussing loudly. They realized it was about who was the fastest of them all.
Everyone had assembled at their regular meeting point, by the pond.
They met there every evening, talked a lot and felt very good when they would disperse later for dinner.
The argument now became too loud after Jerry and Kito joined in. Cindy the crane was standing on one leg with eyes closed, waiting for a fish to come near.
When it became just too much for her, she spoke up “Why don’t you have a race to judge who is the fastest?”
The idea was an excellent one, but soon they were all arguing about who would be the judge to declare the winner.
“You should approach Gabru the elephant. He is the wisest and would make a fine judge” Cindy told them.
The friends agreed as they had already heard about Gabru and knew he was respected for his wisdom and guidance by everyone in the jungle.
They approached Gabru to convince him to be the judge. There they met Sheru the lioness with her cub Peach. Sheru looked worried and she was taking Gabru’s advice to help make her son roar. He could only say “AR…or OO. Some animals in the jungle made fun of him which made her terribly sad.
The animals visiting Gabru knew about this too and felt bad they could not help. They all knew Peach and often spent time playing with him. Peach would imitate each one of them but would never roar.
As they conversed with Gabru, Peach looked on with wide eyes. A race..that would be fun. He nudged his mom and whispered to her that he would love to watch too. Yes, they would go, she said.
Gabru agreed to be the judge and they decided that they would have the race the very next morning. The group went back so excited about the next day.
Before leaving, they turned to Sheru, and nuzzling Peach said “Don’t worry. Give the little hero some time. He will eventually roar”.
Sheru smiled affectionately. These animals were all so awesome and she hoped that they would stay around to protect her little son and be his friends always.
The next morning, Gabru took 25 elephant strides to fix the length of the race in the coconut grove, his favourite spot and the venue. Dana the monkey plucked a lot of coconuts and placed them for the finish line. Their friends in the jungle watched as the runners assembled at the starting line.
Cindy read out the rules of the game and the runners took their places.
Gabru was supposed to trumpet as a signal for the race to begin. He took his position and got ready but at the same time, a loud roar sounded.
Jerry and his friends were so startled and had to stop running abruptly and avoid bumping into each other.
Gabru wondered what happened to his voice and tried trumpeting again, when he noticed the animals surrounding Peach excitedly.
The animals clapped with joy and congratulated Sheru and Peach. The little one had finally roared, out of excitement.
The race did happen later but the animals were more in a mood for celebration. Soon Peach would grow to be their king with a splendid roar.
While the jungle celebrates, I am sure you would have guessed by now who the winner of the race was.
Originally published at http://charukriti.org.