In the Kanha forest in India, lived a little bunny rabbit called Golu. He was called Golu because of his small round ball of a tail.
Golu lived with his mother Molu in a deep burrow under the tall grass of the forest. The burrow had large rooms and many doorways and Golu loved to run from room to room hoppity-skip.
Every morning Molu went out into the forest and nearby farms to hunt for carrots and radishes.
Golu loved juicy red carrots and Molu used to bring him the fattest, largest ones. When Golu bit into them, the juice would run down his chin.
Before leaving she would tell Golu, “Golu! Do not come out of the burrow. Make no noise and lie very still no matter what you hear. You are a baby rabbit and you will get lost in the woods if you wander about.”
And Golu would. After his mother was gone he would lie very still at the mouth of the burrow and look through the tall grass at the forest.
He could see what was going on around his forest. Little sparrow chicks on the trees would chirp down to Golu and talk to him as they waited for their mother to bring them food.
In the afternoon he could see his friend Cooty the large mongoose nosing about. Cooty had his burrow close by, but he was a little bully and Molu always warned little Golu to stay away from him.
Cooty would fight with everybody. On seeing him, Golu would not even twitch his nose nor wave his paws. He would lie very still.
But Golu was very curious to know what lay beyond the oak tree in which the sparrows nested. He was interested in playing with Cooty and chasing squirrels. He wanted to go hop, hop hop all over — just like his mother.
“Bah,” said Golu, “I’m not a baby rabbit any more, I am five weeks old. I should be allowed to go out and play.”
So one day, after his mother left the burrow, Golu decided to sneak off. He told himself he would just go up to the oak tree and peek beyond it.
So he took small hops and reached the tree. He sniffed about. The green grass smelled fresh after the morning dew. He cocked his head and listened. He could hear the birds chirping.
He hopped beyond the oak tree. And the view was even more beautiful than what he imagined. He could see a herd of deer grazing in the distance. He saw an open grassland. Swallows flew about swooping low catching insects in the air. Monkeys chattered in the trees and threw fruit at each other as they played dancing from tree to tree.
Golu decided to investigate further. He hopped further into the forest. He cocked his head. Suddenly Golu heard a little sound not far away. It sounded like “Swish, swish”. He had never heard such a sound and this was different from the way the grass moved.
The sound came nearer as the grass moved, “rustle . . .rustle . . .rustle”. Golu was interested. The noise seemed to move this way and that. Then the sound came nearer, “rustle . . .rustle . . .rustle”.
The sound came nearer, nearer and nearer. Golu wondered what animal could move so smoothly and moved forward a hop.
The swishing noise had stopped all together. Now he could hear the chattering of the monkeys and birds screaming in shrill fear. But Golu was not afraid. You see, he had never been hunted by any animal.
Just as Golu took the hop, the grass parted and Golu looked up . . . directly into the unblinking eyes of a cobra.
“Mummy, Mummy!” screamed Golu. “Oh, Mummy . . .!” But the words did not come out. He was terrified. And he couldn’t run either. The snake had hypnotised him. His paws felt like they were cemented. Just as the snake reached forward to grab Golu, Cooty sprang forward.
Cooty was searching for food nearby and had heard the rustling noise. He knew what it was that could move so silently. It could only be his old enemy, the cobra.
Cooty had also seen that naughty Golu had stepped out of his burrow and gone into the forest. So straight over the tall grass he leaped.
He sprang right between Golu and the snake. He snarled and took a swipe at the snake with his paws. The snake was taken aback at this new intrusion. He quickly moved back to bite this new animal.
Unluckily for her it was Cooty. She was scared of Cooty for she knew Cooty would kill her. She hissed in rage and tried to dodge Cooty and bite her.
“Run, Golu!” screamed Cooty, keeping the snake busy and snapping at the snake. And Gollu ran. And how! He hopped in great leaps and bounds out of reach of the fearful eyes.
Cooty now looked at her enemy scornfully. The mongoose sprang and struck at the snake tearing the snake’s back with her sharp claws. He quickly jumped away just as those poison teeth came to bite.
The wounded snake seized the moment to try and slither away, but fell down dead.
Cooty came back and scolded Golu. He accompanied the baby rabbit till his burrow. Golu was trembling like a leaf when he reached his home.
And when Molu came home, he hugged her tightly and cried. He promised her that he would listen to everything she said.
And he kept his word.