Omir the Storyteller

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Arrogant Elephant


One day in late summer in India, a donkey was trotting down the road, pulling its cart behind it, when it heard a great commotion to the rear. It stopped, and with great difficulty turned itself and the cart around, and saw the most amazing sight. An elephant was coming up the road in the same direction the donkey had been traveling. But what an elephant! Its sides were decked out with a richly embroidered blanket dotted with jewels and pearls that gleamed in the sun. On its back it carried a massive howdah, with a driver and two soldiers armed with spears. A curtain obviously concealed a Great Personage within. Its tusks were tipped with a padded balls made from a golden cloth. In fact the elephant was perfect in every way, with perhaps one small exception. As it approached, the donkey could see a notch cut out of the elephant's right ear.

"Hello, friend," the donkey said as the elephant approached. "How are you this fine day?"

The elephant snorted and perhaps lifted its trunk just a bit as it continued down the path. "Can't talk to the likes of you," it said as it got closer to the donkey. "I have important work to do."

"Really!" the donkey exclaimed. "What kind of important work would that be?"

"Well, if you must know, I'm off to the mouth of the river. The levee has failed, the city there is under water, and I am taking the rajah there to tell the people that help is on its way. Now move aside!"

The donkey had to scramble to avoid being trampled by the elephant as it marched along. By the time the donkey got itself and the cart turned around again, the elephant was rapidly advancing into the distance.

The donkey sighed and resumed its journey as well.

As fate would have it, a week or so later the donkey found itself at the city at the mouth of the river. The effects of the flood were still visible, but the people there were working hard to clean up and dry out so they could rebuild. They had also put their animals to work, and the donkey was amazed to see the elephant who had passed him on the road there as well. But if it had not been for the great notch in its ear, the donkey would never have recognized it. The howdah and fancy trappings were gone, replaced by a great harness made of rope, and the elephant was hard at work moving logs and other heavy material.

"Well, friend," the donkey called out, "I'm certainly surprised to see you here. What happened to you?"

The elephant looked up, then lowered its head. "I arrived here and the rajah told the people that help was on its way. However, it seems that the people had been promised help one too many times, and help had never arrived, so in their anger they tore down the howdah and put me to work." But before the elephant could tell the gruesme details of what had happened to the rajah and his guards, its new master spurred it on and it went back to its labors.

Be kind to those you meet on your way up, because you may well meet them again on your way down.


At 3:32 PM, Blogger FARfetched said...


I hoped you would weigh in. Good one, worth waiting for.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Omir the Storyteller said...

Thank you kindly. It's probably fortunate that decorum prevented me from saying what I really feel like saying at the moment.


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