Bhim the elephant and Hanoo the langur lived in the Brindavan Jungle. They were the best of friends. Their friendship had, however, started as a need-based one. You may well wonder what would an elephant and a langur need from each other!

Let me explain. Bhim who lived alone had grown quite old. He was extremely fond of fresh fruits. However, most of the time he was unable to get them. He was beaten by the more agile, younger and nimbler animals like Jeera the giraffe, Hiran the deer, Ghoda the horse and even Gadha the ass. He would get only leftovers which were hardly tasty.

Hanoo’s problem was quite similar. He too had grown old and also quite pudgy. He couldn’t climb the top branches where usually the tastiest fruits grew, ready to be plucked and eaten.

One day when he saw Bhim raise his trunk and trumpet he got an idea. He approached Bhim, who until then he only knew rather vaguely.

Greed Never Pays [Illustrations by Kusum Chamoli]
Greed Never Pays [Illustrations by Kusum Chamoli]

“Bhim bhai, I have been observing you. Like me you too are facing a problem in satisfying your hunger. I think if we get together we can help each other out.”

“How?” grunted Bhim. He was a gentle, lazy and peace loving creature who believed in taxing neither his body nor his brain.

“The solution to our problem is in reaching up to the top branches of the trees where the most delicious fruits grow. These fruits are also inaccessible to most of the other animals and hence remain untouched.”

“Yes,” Bhim gave another grunt.

“If you lift me up, using your trunk, I can balance on my hands, raise my bottom in the air and using my long tail reach the fruits hanging from the top most branches of the trees and pluck them. The two of us can then share the booty. How is my idea?” Hanoo said looking at Bhim.

Bhim thought for sometime and gave another grunt. And so the partnership of Bhim and Hanoo started in right earnest and very soon stabilised. Both of them found the association very rewarding.

Gradually the alliance developed into a close friendship with the elephant and the langur growing fond of each other.

One day Hanoo was surveying the trees sitting astride Bhim when he saw a real mouth-watering sight. A ripe and juicy mango was hanging from a branch on the top of a mango tree. It was the first mango Hanoo had seen this season and was probably the only ripe one in the entire forest.

Hanoo’s mouth started watering and he was about to jump with joy when he remembered. He would have to share it with Bhim. ‘Oh! How I wish I could have it on my own. Wouldn’t it taste really yummy?’

He had an idea.

“Hey Bhim, hoist me up. There is a ripe mango on top of this tree.”

“A ripe mango! Wow! I love mangoes and ripe mangoes even more. Come on Hanoo pluck it fast, I want to taste the yummy fruit.”

Hanoo had never seen Bhim this excited over anything. He was acting like a baby elephant being handed his first piece of sugar cane.

Bhim raised Hanoo and within a few minutes the juicy fruit was nestling in the langur’s hands.

Hanoo smelt it. ‘Aah! The aroma was exquisite.’

“Hey Bhim, I was meaning to tell you. I am suffering from stomach ache. Last evening I went to Dr. Bhola Bhaloo. He examined me thoroughly and advised me to eat a ripe and juicy mango.

“But in this season where will I get a ripe mango?” I asked him.

“Then you will have to wait for a few days. But that is the only cure,” he said and sent me away.

“See Bhim how lucky I am. I got a ripe mango today itself. I hope you don’t mind me eating it,” Hanoo asked his friend.

Bhim, who was kind hearted, said, “No of course not Hanoo. Your need is greater than mine. But please describe to me how it tastes.”

Hanoo ate the mango slowly, savouring every little bit. He spoke about its aroma, its sweetness and its juicy softness while poor Bhim satisfied himself with just listening to the description.

Next day Bhim asked Hanoo, “How is your stomach ache?”

“What stomach ache -?” Hanoo started to say when he suddenly remembered. Clutching his stomach he said, “Oooh! My stomach ache, it is better but not completely cured.”

As they were returning from their hunt after collecting a substantial bounty of fruits, Hanoo saw a ripe guava. This was surely the biggest he had ever seen. When he was a kid he loved the raw ones but now with his teeth old and weak he cherished only the ripe guavas.

“Bhim, there is a ripe guava up there. Come on lift me up”

Hanoo plucked the guava and started eating it.

“Hey Hanoo! What is this? You know I love guavas,” Bhim protested.

“Oh Bhim, my friend I forgot to tell you. Dr. Bhola Bhaloo had also told me that a mango followed by a guava was the surest way to get completely cured. I hope you don’t mind.”

“…Hanoo, if it is the doctor’s advice you have to take it,” Bhim said looking longingly at the guava which was rapidly disappearing into Hanoo’s mouth.

The same afternoon Bhim was taking a leisurely bath in the river. Filling his trunk with water he was spraying his body, enjoying the feel of the cool river water in the hot afternoon sun. He saw Dr. Bhola Bhaloo walking briskly by the river side. He was carrying his doctor’s bag and a stethoscope hung around his neck.

“Dr. Bhola Bhaloo,” Bhim shouted.

“What is it?” Dr. Bhola Bhaloo stopped in his tracks.

Bhim lumbered towards him, “Hanoo was telling me you had prescribed a ripe mango followed by a ripe guava as a sure fire cure for stomach ache, a couple of days back. I too am suffering from head ache. Can you please tell me as tasty a cure. Last time I came to you, you gave me bitter syrup to drink. I took a sip and vomited. It tasted awful. I just couldn’t take it. Please, I too would love having a medicine as delicious as the one you prescribed for Hanoo.”

“What are you taking about? I haven’t seen Hanoo for six months. And who has ever heard of a mango and a guava curing a stomach ache? He must have been pulling your leg, Bhim,” Dr. Bhola Bhaloo said and walked away.

Bhim sat down by the river side in deep thought. So Hanoo had played a trick on him. But why? If he wanted to have the mango and guava all by himself he could have just requested him. Why did he have to tell lies? For the last so many months the two friends had been hunting together and happily sharing everything equally. Now it looked as if Hanoo’s greed had raised its ugly head and come in between their friendship.

Next morning, as usual Bhim and Hanoo went on their hunt. Hanoo was very watchful. Last night he had run into Dr. Bhola Bhaloo and the doctor had taken him to task for fibbing to Bhim.

“That was a very mean thing to do Hanoo. You have no right to take advantage of Bhim’s simplicity and decency.”

Hanoo realised that Bhim had come to know of his cheating. He was scared the elephant might get back at him. He had wanted to avoid going hunting with Bhim but he knew that it would look suspicious.

They stopped under an apple tree and Bhim raised Hanoo in the air. Hanoo had plucked a couple of apples when Bhim sneezed. Hanoo almost fell off and not realising what had happened thought Bhim was trying to throw him down. He panicked and lunged at the nearest branch. He managed to catch hold of it but the branch, which was quite slender, could not take his weight and broke. Hanoo came crashing down and landed on his bottom.

“Wha..what happened?” Bhim said and lumbered towards Hanoo.

“Oooh…! Aah…!” groaned Hanoo. He felt as if every bone in his body had been broken. He looked up and seeing Bhim approaching assumed the elephant was coming to thrash him.

“P..please Bhim spare me. sorry. Please don’t hit me,” he whimpered trying to get up.

“What are you talking about, you fool. I was only rushing to help you? And tell me why should I bash up my best friend?”

“B..but then why did you hurl me down?”

“You silly fellow, I only sneezed. You thought I was trying to throw you down?”

“Last night Dr. Bhola Bhaloo told me that you had met him and found out about my lies and I thought…”

“You thought I wanted to teach you a lesson for your deceit?”

“Y..yes,” Hanoo said, hanging his head in shame.

“If I did that what would be the difference between you and me? You lied to me because of your greed and if I hit you back in anger will it not be the same thing? Isn’t anger as bad as greed? I only hope you have learnt a lesson and will not allow greed to come in between our friendship.

“You are right, Bhim, I am sorry.”

Bhim lifted Hanoo up and gently placed him on his back.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To Dr.Bhola Bhaloo where else? But you can be sure he will not offer you juicy mangoes and ripe guavas there?” Bhim said and the two friends burst out laughing.

1621 words | 16 minutes
Readability: Grade 4 (9-10 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: stories
Tags: #fruits, #stomach, #mango tree, #greed, #mango, #langur, #friendship

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