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  The Chota Hathi Story  

Namaste! [ Hello! ]

A long time ago, when all the world was new, the animals were not like they are to-day.

For instance, the elephants, they had grey leathery skin, just like to-day; they had big flappy ears, just like to-day; but their noses were no bigger than ours!

Now, living in India, was a herd of elephants, big ones, medium ones and small ones.

The smallest one of all was known as "Chota Hathi", little elephant. Chota Hathi was always asking questions, every day he would think of a different question to ask.

He would ask his Uncle Rhinoceros: "Oh Genda Chacha, why have you got that tooth on the end of your nose?" And Genda Chacha didn’t know, so he spanked Chota Hathi with his hard, hard hoof.

Another day Chota Hathi asked his Auntie Leopard "Chhita Chachi, why are you covered in spots?" And Chhita Chachi didn’t know, so she spanked him with her graciously waving tail!

One day he met his Uncle Peacock, "Mora Chacha why is your tail such beautiful colours?" And Mora Chacha didn’t know and he spanked Chota Hathi with his sharp, sharp claw! But all this spanking did not stop Chota Hathi asking questions.

One morning Chota Hathi woke up with a brand new question, he wanted to know what the Crocodile had for dinner.

He asked all his friends and relations "Please do you know what Shriman Muggr Mach has for dinner?" He asked his cousins the Deer "Oh Hiran Bhai do you know what Shriman Muggr Mach has for dinner?" But they just ran away, they were very shy. At last Chota Hathi remembered his Great Grandmother Elephant.

She was the oldest and wisest of the herd, surely she would know what Shriman Muggr Mach had for dinner. "Oh Vadanani Hathi please can you tell me what Shriman Muggr Mach has for dinner? "

Now Great Grandmother Hathi was very wise, she said to Chota Hathi "I don’t know what the Crocodile has for dinner, but I can tell you how to find him.

You will have to go on a long journey across a grassy plain, through the jungle, over a high mountain, until you come to the Great Grey Green Greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees.

There you will find Shriman Muggr Mach and you can ask him what he has for dinner."

So Chota Hathi set off. He went across the grassy plain, until he came to the jungle.

As he went through the jungle, the Monkeys in the trees called to him and asked him where he was going. He told them he was going to find Shriman Muggr Mach, to ask him what he had for dinner.

He asked the Monkeys if they knew, but they just laughed and threw coconuts and bananas at him!

Next he came to the mountain, and up, up, up he climbed.

From the top he could see a river in the distance. That must be the Great grey green greasy Limpopo river, he thought.

Down he went and came to some trees on the river bank.

He saw a large snake wound around one of the trees. "Namaste, Naga Chachi," said Chota Hathi, "I am looking for Shriman Muggr Mach, I don’t suppose you know where he is, I want to ask him a question." Naga Chachi said "See that brown log in the water, that is Shriman Muggr Mach, you can ask him now, but be careful." "Thankyou, Naga Chachi " said Chota Hathi.

He called out politely "Namaste, Shriman Muggr Mach, I’ve come to ask you what you have for dinner."

The brown log opened two eyes, and said "Come a little closer, I can’t hear you."

So Chota Hathi took a step closer, and said "I’ve come to ask you what you have for dinner, Shriman Muggr Mach." "Come a little closer, I still can’t hear you." said Shriman Muggr Mach.

So Chota Hathi took another step closer and said, "I’ve come to ask you what you have for dinner, Shriman Muggr Mach." "Come a little closer, I must have got some water in my ears!"

So Chota Hathi took another step closer ... and Shriman Muggr Mach opened his wide mouth and said ... "To-day I’m having Chota Hathi!"

He grabbed Chota Hathi by his little nose and began to pull him into the river. "Helb, helb, you’re hurtig be!" said Chota Hathi "Leggo of my dose!"

But Shriman Muggr Mach kept pulling Chota Hathi into the river.

Luckily, Naga Chachi heard Chota Hathi’s calls for help, and unwound half of her long body from the tree and wound the other half around Chota Hathi’s back legs. "Now, pull, Chota Hathi!" she said.

So Chota Hathi and Naga Chachi pulled up the bank, and Shriman Muggr Mach pulled into the river.

There was a tremendous tug of war, but with one last great heave, Naga Chachi pulled Chota Hathi up the bank and safe from Shriman Muggr Mach.

"Oh thankyou very, very much." said Chota Hathi "But oh dear, what has happened to my nose?" Chota Hathi’s nose had been stretched into a long trunk. "I wonder what my friends and relations will say? I expect they will spank me! Namaste Naga Chachi, and thankyou again for saving me." Chota Hathi set off back home.

He went over the high mountain.

He came to the jungle.

The monkeys saw him coming and they laughed and laughed when they saw his long nose. Without even thinking about it, Chota Hathi picked a coconut off a tree and threw it at the Bandar, using his long nose! This trunk was going to be quite useful after all!

Through the jungle he went and across the grassy plain, until he met his friends and relations.

They all got ready to spank him, but Chota Hathi was too quick, he picked up some mud and dust from the ground and threw it!

What a surprise his family got. They saw how useful a long nose was.

One by one, they all decided to go and ask Shriman Muggr Mach what he has for dinner ... and one by one, they all came back with long noses ... just like all the elephants have to-day.

Namaste! [ Goodbye! ]

Animals in the story

English Hindi
animals janwar
elephant hathi
little elephant chota hathi
grandmother/ great grandmother elephant vadanani hathi
grandfather/ great grandfather elephant vadanana hathi
rhinoceros genda
uncle chacha
uncle rhinoceros genda chacha
leopard chhita
auntie chachi
auntie leopard chhita chachi
deer hiran
cousin deer hiran bhai
monkey/s bandar
bird/s pakshi
snake naga
auntie snake naga chachi
Mr crocodile Shriman muggr mach
jungle jungle

Text © Joy Foxley 1999, from one of the "Just So" stories by Rudyard Kipling
Music © Atul Desai 1997, Kadamb Centre for Dance & Music, Ahmedabad
See also the Kathak dance page
Comments by email to Joy Foxley
See also the German version
 Material © copyright Joy Foxley                Email Joy Foxley