Poor Gol Matolu’s always sad. Why? I don’t know. She looks like the most perfect elephant. Tall, broad big ears, long strong trunk. No one likes to be sad. So why don’t you come with me to find out what the matter is with Gol Matolu?
Ah! Here comes Hornbill, let’s ask him. “Hello, do you know why the elephant’s so sad?”

“Of course I know.
Just look at her if you will.
Would you call her nose a nose or a bill?
That snake which hangs in front of her face Makes her feel shy and out of place.”

Elephants Don’t Diet!.... [Illustrations by Priya Nagarajan]
Elephants Don’t Diet!…. [Illustrations by Priya Nagarajan]

“Ah!” say you and “Oh!” say I. And we go to Golu to tell her how lucky she is to have such a wonderful trunk. “Huh?” says Golu surprised. “I love my nose. Look at all the things I can do with it…everything.”

“Langur, can you tell us why the elephant’s sad?”

“Her silly tail’s a sorry tale
Surely you can see
She can’t hang from branch of tree
Like I can, look at me!”

But – “No, my tail’s no problem. It’s small but it doesn’t get in the way like the peacock’s does!”

“If you ask my opinion,” said the Deer,
“It’s her legs which cause her shame and fear
Wrinkled, ugly, grey and thick
Legs more like mine would do the trick!”

But Golu’s happy with her legs too. “They may not be pretty, but they are pretty good to me.”

But you and I can see that sadness still dances in her eyes. We wonder who can help.

Peacock thinks,
“It’s her colour, after all
Dull grey, mud brown make her feel small
If she were shot with emerald blue
She’d dance with happiness too!”

But, “I make no complaint about being grey. It may not be exciting, but it helps me hide from hunters.”

“Oh dear! You and I are getting quite tired and muddled now. So we decide to try and cheer Golu even if we don’t know why she needs cheering up at all.

“Golu! Come on out, come play with us.”


“I’ve a ball we could play with.”

But Golu just sticks her trunk out and feels her ball lovingly. But she won’t come out. “Why not, Golu?”

“I c-c-c-can’t t-tell you…” She’s crying where she’s hiding.

“Oh”, you say, “You’re so beautiful, Golu.”

“Oh”, I say, “look at all this yummy sugarcane. Can we have some?”

Soon you and I are stripping a sugarcane each while the sweet, sticky juice trickles down our chins. “You have one too, Golu”, we say in between chews. “No”, says Golu sadly turning away, “No thank you”.

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“Hungry? I am hungry. Very, very, very hungry”.

“Then what’s the problem?”


“But Golu, what’s the matter? You’re hungry, there’s plenty to eat, but you won’t, why?”

“I’m so – I’m so – FAT!” and she burst into tears.

“But Golu, you’re an elephant. And elephants are meant to be… you know… healthy. Besides you’re big, you’re not fat.”

“Not fat? Of course I’m fat. Very fat!!”

We look at her carefully and notice that, in fact, she’s very thin. Her bones stick out.

“I haven’t eaten for three days,” sobs Golu, “but I’m still fat!”

“Three days? Golu, you’ll die if you don’t eat.”

“At least I’ll die thin!”

“But Golu, a few sticks of sugarcane can’t do much harm.”

“Oh don’t you understand? I’m on a diet!”

“Elephants are meant to be big and strong!”

“But not FAT!”

Just then we heard a CRASH! a SCREAM! a cry for HELP!!

“What’s that? Come quick. Someone’s in trouble. Come on, Golu.’’

‘’No, I’m too shy to show my fat to anyone.’’

So you and I run in the direction of the sound. A tigress is caught under a fallen tree. She yowls in pain. Although you and I are a bit frightened of her, we still try to roll the big tree off her. Oooof it’s heavy!

Ah! Here’s Hornbill, “Please can you help?”

“Yes, come on now – listen to me
Push, push this big old fallen tree
That’s right, alright,
Push now with all your might.’’

He was no help really. He just kept giving us endless instructions. The langur said :
“I’ll take this branch with my tail,
you lift the rest, now don’t fail
Oh, you are just too weak, you fool,
‘bye, I’m for a dip in the pool”

The peacock was just as bad, saying,
“I’m too lovely to waste my time
My feathers don’t like to slip in slime.’’

The deer ran off, saying,
‘’I’m too, too slender,
My muscles are too tender,
Besides the tiger will eat me
As soon as she gets free.’’

We tried to push again, but it was no good. There was only one thing to do, so we ran back to where Gol Matolu hid.

“Come on, Golu, you’ve got to help.’’

“No! I’m not coming out of hiding.’’

Golu, a life depends on you. You’ve got to think of more than your shape and size.’’

‘’Why me? Ask someone else.’’

‘’We tried, we honestly did try, But no one else can do the job. We need your strength, your broad back, your clever trunk.’’


‘’There’s no time for ifs and buts. You’ve got to come – Now!”

It took some effort. It took some courage. But Golu came out at last. The three of us rushed back to where the tigress lay trapped. She lay quiet now. Quiet and still. Oh dear. She’s badly hurt. “Tigress, don’t worry, we’ll get you out now.’’

But there was no reply. “I hope we are not too late. Hurry, Golu, hurry!”

Golu began to pull and push. We pulled and pushed too. Golu huffs and puffs, puffs and huffs. But the tree won’t move. Golu is weak from starving herself. So you run off and get some sugarcane. At last Golu ate and smilingly said, “Sugarcane is the secret of my energy!”

“Our energy!” We shout as we push and pull. The log starts to roll until…

YIPEE! The tigress is free! She thanks us with a lick each and runs off.

“Oh Golu, we love you just as you are. Strong and dependable. Don’t try to change. And remember, ELEPHANTS DON’T DIET!!”

So it’s time to get back to your real world. Goodbye for now, and thanks for your help. Hope you will join Golu and me for other adventures yet to come.


1092 words | 16 minutes
Readability: Grade 3 (8-9 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: stories
Tags: #matter, #peacocks, #sugarcane, #trunk, #langur

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