There was a time, when the elephant’s nose was no bigger than a boot that he could wriggle from side to side. But an elephant’s child changed all that.
He was a curious fellow who asked ever so many questions.
He asked the ostrich why her tail feathers grew just so.
He asked the giraffe what made his skin spotty.
He asked the hippo why his eyes were red, and the baboon
why melons tasted as they did.
“What does a crocodile have for dinner?” he asked one day.
“Shushh” said all the animals in a scared voice.
But he would not shushh.
By and by he met the Kolokolo bird. She told him where he could find an answer.
“Go to the grey, green, greasy Limpopo river,” said she.
So off he went, carrying a load of bananas and sugarcane and melons. He’d be hungry on the way, you see.
After a week of trudging and budging he reached where he had to reach.
At the edge of the river he stepped on what he thought was a log of wood. It winked one eye.
“Excuse me, but have you seen a crocodile in these parts?” asked the elephant’s child politely.
The creature winked the other eye and half lifted his tail out of the mud.
“I am the crocodile,” he said.
The elephant’s child grew excited and kneeled down.
“I have been looking for you all these days,” he said. “Will you please tell me what you have for dinner.”
SPLATH! Went the crocodile’s tail back into the oozy mud.
“Come nearer little one, come nearer and I’ll whisper,” said the crocodile.
The elephant’s child put his head down close to the crocodile’s musky tusky mouth.
And the crocodile caught him by his little nose.
The elephant’s child knew he was in BIG trouble. He sat back on his haunches. And he pulled and pulled.
The crocodile splashed in the water and pulled and pulled.
They both pulled and pulled. And the elephant’s nose kept stretching and stretching. At last the crocodile let go.
Bfuddudd!! Fell the elephant, right on his big broad back.
He looked at his nose. He could not see where it ended! It was loooong! So long, he could swish it around. But it hurt him awfully.
So he wrapped the nose in cool banana leaves and waited for it to shrink.
He waited and waited. But nothing happened. He could still swish it all around.
And so it remains to this day.
[Adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Elephant’s Child’ by Meera Joshi]