There lived a wolf called Lalu in the Himalayan forests. Lalu was very mean and selfish. He thought only about himself and none of the other animals liked him.

The rest of the wolf pack also avoided meeting him. At most, they would say a polite ‘Hello’ and then go their own way. After all, when they were hungry, Lalu never offered to share his meal. So the wolves avoided him, as they did not want to be impolite.

One day, Lalu was very hungry and went out hunting. After roaming around for nearly an hour, he found a wild hen and greedily tore it to pieces. Suddenly, a small bone got stuck in his throat.

Lalu coughed and coughed and his face went red with all that coughing. He tried to get the bone out, but in vain. He ran up and down groaning and moaning, seeking something to relieve his pain.

Then it became difficult for him to breathe. He pleaded with all the other animals to help him get the bone out. “Help! Someone please help me get this bone out…” said Lalu. But no one stepped forward.

He even offered them a reward for removing the bone. “Oh Pleeeease. I can’t breathe. I would give anything if you would take it out!” he said. But still no one helped him – because he was so mean.

Then at last mother crane, Rani, took pity on the wolf and offered to help him. But she was unsure – would Lalu really give her anything? All Rani wanted to ask him was to be a better wolf.

The Favour [Illustration by Shinod AP]
The Favour [Illustration by Shinod AP]

But she decided that she should just do it. So Rani told Lalu to lie on his side and open his jaws as wide as he could. She put her long neck down his throat and “Pluck!!", her beak had loosened the bone. And slowly, she pulled the bone out.

“Ah, ah!! That’s better,” said Lalu, taking long deep breaths. “Will you kindly give me the reward you promised?” asked Rani.

Lalu grinned wide, showing all his teeth. He said, “Be content. You have put your head inside a wolf’s mouth and taken it out again safely; that ought to be reward enough for you.”

Poor Rani was very disappointed, while the other animals looked at Lalu angrily.

But did Lalu understand or care?

399 words | 4 minutes
Readability: Grade 4 (9-10 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales
Tags: #throat

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