Long long ago, there lived a cute little tortoise “aame” in the midst of the Arabian Sea. He was just 4 years old. His favorite hobby was to just roam around the endless sea! He neither had any aim nor any intentions. His only aim, if you can call it so, was to just enjoy the beauty of the sea! One day while he was floating across, he met a bunch of gold fishes playing hide ‘n’ seek at the depth of the sea. “Hey aame! Wanna join us?” one of the goldies called out. Aame gleefully accepted the offer. Because aame was extremely slow in his movements, he got caught even before he could hide himself behind any of those corals. And once he became the victim in the game, he could hardly catch hold of any of the hiding gold fishes. For, they were all swift and fast. As soon as aame finished counting and started searching the hiding goldies, some gold fish would have quickly gone to the home and shouted “ice pice! ice pice!”. This made aame very sad, sad that he can never beat the fishes in speed and they would always win in hide ‘n’ seek. As the game progressed, even the goldies felt that the game grew monotonous, with aame not able to catch even a single of them. “Aame! I think you are not upto it! You are too slow man! You can’t play this game! May be its better you continue your sea trip!”, Gilly, the head of the goldies said.
First time in his life, aame felt he was worthless. Sad and depressed at himself, he left home! Floating slowly, across the lonely sea.
‘The Hide ‘n’ Seek’ saga spread across the sea. The cunning cat fishes came to know of it and they decided to have some “fun” with aame. They saw him sailing around their colony. “Hey aame!” called out one of the cat fishes, ” We heard about your embarassment with the goldies! Very sorry about that!”. Aame was pleased that someone is sympathasing with him. “Its OK!” aame said. The cat fish continued ” Those goldies are very proud of thier beauty. You shouldn’t have gone to them. They’ve intentionally made you play a game where you cant be good at! Everyone knows tortoises are slow! YOu can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree!” The cat fish’s words made sense to aame and he was releived of some of his worthless feeling! “We aren’t like those bloody gold fishes. We’ll play a game where you are good at! We’ll play a game of racing! Shall we guys?” All the cat fishes nodded. Aame was terrifed. He fared so badly in hide ‘n’ seek, and racing would simply mock him, he thought. “Racing! No! I don’t wanna play! Thanks for your invite! But I need to go home early” aame tried to leave the scene. “Hey aame! Don’t worry man! We’re talking about Slow Racing!! Whoever reaches the finish line last will be the winner!”, the cat fish announced. Suddenly a sense of confidence returned into aame. “I can win this game! And prove that I am worthy!” aame thought!
The game was about to start. “But one catch! Aame and all of you! You need to close your eyes and race! Else there would be no fun!” the head of the cat fishes said. “That would hardly make any difference to me!” aame thought! “But there lies the difference!” the cat fishes thought. ” 1.. 2.. 3.. Go!”. The race started. “I’m the slowest! I’m the slowest!” aame started singing and swimmed lazily as he always did . Hours passed by! Aame was still swimming without knowing the cunning prank the cat fishes had played on him! “You fool!” aame heard someone calling upon him. He slowly opened his eyes and he could hardly see any catfish racing with him. Only one he could see was an old whale! “You are not just slow. You are a big fool too!” the old whale chided the tortoise, “Don’t you know that catfishes are cunning by their very nature? They played such a silly prank on you and you smilingly fell for it! They all zipped away in a flash and you are swimming alone!! God save you! Go home, now!”
Tears started rolling down aame’s cheek as he crawled home. He felt miserable. On the way he saw the cat fishes which had fooled him. They were all laughing out loud. “Ha ha ha! Slow Racing?! hu hu hu” “Racing and a tortoise!! What an irony!” The cat fishes ridiculed aame to no end! He dint utter a word and left. As his house approached, he saw a few snails out there. “Thank God! There’s someone who’s slower than us” one of them yelled at aame. Aame couldn’t take it anymore! It seemed as though the entire sea was laughing at him! The jeering and ridiculing was too much to take for the little aame. He decided! It was a painful decision but he had to take it. He decided to say Good Bye to the hostile sea!! He crawled to the shores of the sea and went into the thick jungles that lay across the shores.
As aame waded through the thick jungles, he saw all animals looking at him in surprise. They were suprised to see a sea based animal in the mid of the jungle! But aame was afraid that even they might make fun of him. Anxiously he trodded ahead. A few yards down the line, he heard a very friendly voice calling out! “Hey dude! What are you doing here?”. Aame looked around for the speaker and he saw a smart and handsome hare in front of him! “Eh… ehh… I just came out for a leisurely walk! Eh..” aame try to hide things. “Hmm… a leisurely walk from the shores into the mid of this jungle? Seems strange! Anyways! Myself mola! Nice to meet you!” the hare shook hands and aame too, introduced himself. “OK mate! Got to leave now!” mola said and jumped into a bush,” You are the 1000th friend in my friend list aame! I love making new friends!”
As days passed by, aame and mola grew into great friends! Mola introduced aame to all his friends-the monkeys, the squirrels, the deers and the like. Aame felt much much confortable in the jungle than in the sea, thanks to mola’s friendship. One fine day, they too were sitting on the banks of a river. Mola, eager to know aame’s background poked him “Dude! You came here for a walk right? Wont you go back into the sea?”. “Eh.. Ya.. I will. A few more days!” aame tried to slip away from the discussion. “Come on aame! Don’t hide things from me! You call me your best friend and things shouldn’t be hid from your best ones!” mola asked sympathetically. Aame finally broke down into tears. He narrated all his painful stories and why he came into the jungle. “I hate these races!” aame cryingly said. “Oops! Then, your gonna land in trouble soon!” mola murmered. “What?” aame asked suspiciously! “Eh.. nothing! I understand your pain aame! Don worry! I’ll make sure you have a pleasant experience in the jungle!” mola explained. While the two were discussing, in came a giant elephant and threw taunts at mola ” Hey mola! Heard about your new friend!! Ha ha. I hope you have the carnival dates in mind! And don’t forget to bring him there!! Newcomers ought to have fun! ha ha”. The changed expressions on mola’s face told aame that something’s wrong! But mola wouldn’t tell him!
Aame was very curious to know about the carnival that the elephant was talking about. He knew mola wouldn’t disclose anything about it! So he asked Koti, a monkey, he’d met during his early days in the jungle. “Carnival? You don’t know? There’s a lot of groupism in this jungle! You know these powerful animals, the elephants, the lions and the like don’t want new animals to enter this jungle and threaten their monopoly. So, during the carnival, they ask the new comers to compete against the fastest animal in the jungle in a race and defeat him. If you lose you’ll be thrown out of the jungle! They know for sure that the new comer cant beat the fastest guy of the jungle!!” Race!! The very word sent a chill down aame’s spine!! He sweated out imagining himself competing against a Cheetah, one of the fastest animals of the forest. “So… So.. I have to run against a Cheetah?!” aame’s tone was palpably low. “No! You need to compete against the only guy, who beat even the cheetah! And he is..”By the time koti could tell the name of the fastest animal who would be aame’s enemy in the carnival, mola came in “Hey koti! What fake stories are you burying in his head, man! Your dad is looking out for you in the Banana Park. Why dont you help him out there!”
Aame’s competitor in the carnival would be none other than the fastest hare of them all, his dearest friend, mola! He was so quick that he had left all the animals of the forest dumb founded when he defeated a cheetah in the last year’s carnival! This year he was supposed to race against his own friend. His best friend!
Mola was too much upset. He couldn’t imagine aame being thrown out of the jungle! Poor aame was damn scared of races and his very own friend defeating him in yet another race would leave him devastated. Mola knew this. But he hardly had any choice! He had to obey the seniors of the jungle!!
The Carnival day finally arrived. Aame reluctantly arrived. He was searching for his best friend but mola was hardly to be seen. All the animals were having a merry time! Monkeys boozed and danced around! The bears were the DJs and the peacocks were searching for their mates! And finally the anchor, the fox, who was the lion’s accomplice, announced,”Ladies and Gentle-animals! The time has come! Our newcomer aame is ready to race and prove his entry into the forest!! Applause! Applause!!” There was a loud cheer. A shivering aame tried to fake acknowledging the cheers. “And our aame’s dear competitor would be… none other than… M-O-L-A!! Cheers people, Cheers! Let the race begin!” Aame was shocked and dumb founded! Mola came out of the crowd and stood next to him! “You.. You..” aame could hardly muster any words! “Sorry mate! I couldn’t tell you!” mola confessed. Aame knew his fate! He couldn’t imagine defeating mola, who once defeated the cheetas! But in case he loses, he has to lose mola’s friendship too!! For, he would be rusticated from the forest! The sense of losing mola overwhelmed aame. He could afford to lose his life but not his best friend. “I’ll run! I’ll run hard!” aame said to himself.
The starting gun shot went off! All the animals cheered! Mola was off in a flash!! Even before aame could cross the starting line, mola was out of sight of the crowd! The crowd started jeering aame. All the previous memories of the sea came to haunt aame again! But he dint give up! He had to win this race! He had to win it for his friend! He went on! He went on!
Way ahead, where there was no crowd, mola stopped. He looked around to make sure no one was there and jumped into a bush by the road side. And laid down flat, as if he was sleeping, to avoid anyone from seeing him!Mola couldn’t imagine his friend going out of the jungle! So he had decided to lose this race! For his best friend! He knew that the entire jungle would jeer at him and insult his running prowess, but he was ready for it at the cost of his friendship. He waited there behind the bush, waiting for aame to cross him over. “Hey dude! Why are you sleeping here!!” a squirrel screamed out “Are you out of your brains? Are you nuts! You are in a race!! Go! Run!”. “Hey Alil! Its none of your business! Get going!” mola shot back. “Dude! Are you so sleepy? You can sleep after the race. You cant lose to a new comer! Run!”, Alil, the squirrel continued pestering mola. Mola grew angry, he held Alil by his collar and grunted, “I did a night out yesterday!! And I am damn SLEEPY! If you disturb me more, I’ll throw you into the river!!” The squirrel was scared to hell and scampered away!
Finally aame came to the place where mola was hiding. Mola could see the determination in aame’s eyes! He patiently waited aame to cross him over. And when aame was completely out of sight, mola came out of the bush and starting jogging ahead. Aaame steered towards the finish line. Slowly, but steadily. Mola made sure he always lagged aame. Finally the finish line was just a few yards from aame. The crowd was astonished. They were about to witness history!! A tortoise beating a hare in a race!! They started cheering out of excitement! 3 or 4 yards away from the finish line, aame turned around to see mola behind him. Mola acted as if he was trying his best! Aame felt bad that he was about to defeat his friend but he had to! For a bigger cause. Finally aame finished the race just meters ahead of mola!!
There were wild celebrations!! All the animals except the organisers, the lions, the elephants, were jumping with joy! Many animals started booing Mola. Many langurs and mokeys threw bananas at him! The giant elephant thumped mola with his trunk “You embarrased us in front of this big crowd!” But mola took it all!! The bears were throwing aame, the victor, up into the air! But aame came down and went straight to mola. “I am sorry man! I had to do it!!” aame cried. “I couldn’t lose you!!” Aame couldn’t control his emotions and broke down. “Hey aame! Come on man! The better man won! Winning and losing are part of the game!! May be I’ll beat you next year!!” Mola made sure that aame dint get even the slightest hint that he was made to win the race than actually winning it!!
Finally the anouncement came from nari, the anchor fox, “And the best new comer award goes to, the dashing little tortoise, A-A-M-E!!” Aame went on to the stage to receive his Life Time Forest Membership award from the same elephant which wanted aame to lose! The elephant gave away the prize grudgingly!
Mola’s eyes were filled with tears when told the entire crowd the reason behing his “hard earned victory”. “I dedicate this to you mola, MY BEST FRIEND!” aame said with tears even in his eyes!!
Aame came running down the stage and hugged mola!
Both Aame and mola showed the world what Friendship really meant! Friendship is winning and losing; and still remaining the best of friends!
So our fond childhood story “aame mattu mola” ( The tortoise and the hare ) comes to a happy end.
HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY!