A long long time ago, elephants had small, shiny and beautiful noses. Vain that they were, they would always turn their noses up in the air when they passed by any other animal. They were plain show-offs.

Naturally, the other animals did not like this very much. Finally, one clever monkey decided to do something about it.

He went up to the wise hermit who lived on the mountain and asked him if there was some way to make the elephants’ noses long and ugly.

The Elephants who Showed Off
The Elephants who Showed Off [Illsutrations by Anup Singh]

“I do have some Magic Pepper with me. It can do just that,” said the hermit. But he refused to give it to the monkey saying that it would not be a very nice thing to do to the elephants, even though they always turned their noses up at everyone else.

But the monkey was extremely clever. He waited till the hermit went to sleep and went into his hut. He looked around and finally found the Magic Pepper. He quickly took a handful of it and ran away from the mountain back to the forest.

There he saw the elephants drinking water from the lake. He sneaked up to the lake and emptied all the Magic Pepper into the water. The elephants continued drinking, blissfully unaware that they were drinking in the Magic Pepper along with the water.

What the monkey didn’t know was that he had put too much of that Magic Pepper in the lake.

Suddenly all at once, the elephants started sneezing. And what sneezes! Every time they sneezed their noses grew a little longer! Atishhoooooo! Atishooooo! The whole jungle could hear them.

The elephants tried their best to stop sneezing but the Magic Pepper was too strong. And they continued sneezing endlessly. Their noses grew longer and longer until they touched the earth.

After a while the effect of the Magic Pepper wore off and their sneezing stopped. Looking at them, the monkey nearly burst his stomach laughing.

The elephants looked at their long noses in despair and wondered what would happen to them now.

Meanwhile, the hermit heard all the commotion and came down to the lake. When he saw the elephants he understood what had happened.

He scolded the monkey for stealing the Magic Pepper and explained the whole thing to the elephants. He tried to make them see something good in their long noses.

“The effects of the Magic Pepper cannot wear off so you are stuck with these noses forever,” the hermit said.

“But, look at it this way. You now have another limb, because you can move your nose about, and these noses are strong as tree trunks. Henceforth, they shall be called trunks,” concluded the hermit.

On hearing this the elephants felt very happy. Yes! They were the only animals with noses that could move!

They lifted their trunks and trumpeted in joy. They forgave the monkey for after all, they now had beautiful trunks!

And that is how the elephants came to have trunks.