A Masai folktale
A rabbit returned to his burrow late one afternoon and found the sand in front of it disturbed. He became suspicious and called out in a loud voice, “Who dares to enter my house?”
“I do!” came a booming call from inside the burrow. That really scared the rabbit and he scurried into the deep jungle to ask for help. There he met a fox, who readily agreed to help.
Standing at the entrance to the hole, the clever fox yelled, “Who are you? Your booming voice does not scare me as I think you must be as small as a rabbit to hide in there!”
“Ha, Ha! You will be sorry when I come out! I am the one who tramples elephants, who trample little squirts like you!” mocked the creature from the inside.
The threat made the fox a little uneasy. What if that was a powerful creature inside? He did not wish to find out. He turned tail and ran away as fast as his legs could carry him.
The poor rabbit was quite disturbed. He went next to the much-feared leopard and asked for his help. But the big cat too shivered in fear when he heard the voice from within the burrow.
“I suggest you call in the elephants. I do think this fella, whoever he is, is lying about his strength!” With that the leopard slinked away.
When the rabbit explained the situation to a herd of elephants, they politely refused to help him. What if that monster comes out of that hole and tramples them all to death?
“We have an idea though… you could ask the ant to sneak into your house to find out who is actually there,” said the leader of the herd.
The rabbit thought that was a good idea and he scampered away in search of an ant. Luck was on his side when he found one hurrying past a tree near his burrow.
“No problem! I will not just find out who is inside but also chase him out! Wait and watch the fun!” he said with a big grin after the timid animal had narrated all that had happened.
The ant picked up a tiny but sharp blade of grass and walked in with his chest puffed out.
“Who dared to enter my friend’s house without permission? You coward, come out and fight me like a man!” cried the ant as he entered the hole.
There was a long silence after that. Oh dear, what had that creature done to the poor ant, wondered the rabbit. Then suddenly, he heard the ant laugh out loud and someone calling out in a squeaky voice, “Oh please, do not hurt me with that sharp grass! I am truly sorry for the trouble I have caused. I promise to run away if you do not hurt me!”
“Okay, okay, out you go! Remember not to come this way again!” ordered the little hero in a stern voice. The little rabbit trembled as he waited for that “horrible creature that trampled elephants to death” to come out.
Imagine his relief and of course, fury when a tiny caterpillar crawled out ahead of the weapon-wielding ant!
Published as part of a series titled ‘Folktales of the World (Retold) ’ in Deccan Herald, Student Edition, dt. February 1, 2013