A Simple Story of Make Believe
Standing side by side, the young elephant looked up at his mother and said, “Mama?” And the mother looked with love down at her young son of just a few years and said “Yes Jr, what’s on your mind?” And so the conversation went like this...
“Mama...how come every time we pass that herd of wildebeest there is a zebra with them? Did he forget he was a zebra? Did his Mama leave him with the wildebeest because she couldn’t take care of him? How come Mama...how come?”
“Now Jr., slow down....I’ll answer as best as I can. It’s been whispered throughout the bush, and never proven to be true, that when the little zebra was born, a little wildebeest was born just a few feet away. Both of the Mama’s had gone into the deep bush for safety, not realizing they were so close to each other until their little ones were welcomed into the world.”
“Which wildebeest Mama? Which one? Is it still in the herd? Are they best friends Mama?”
Mama elephant reached out with her trunk and touched her son’s head as if to tell him to be patient. The little one hushed and waited for more of the story.
“The story goes that the two Mama’s paths kept crossing as the little ones grew, with a friendship growing between the two mothers. The young ones were too busy growing and learning to pay much attention to each other, but the Mama’s were often seen standing by each other. A bond was formed, and with the danger of the bush all around them the mothers vowed that if something happened to either of them, the other mother would look out for the youngsters.”
“Oh no Mama...did something happen? That’s sad Mama...that’s so sad.”
“The way of the bush is strong and cautious my son, and there are many animals that sacrifice their lives to ensure that the world of nature keeps going. And so it was with the Mama zebra. A very hungry pride of lions that hadn’t eaten for many days took her down, quickly and mercifully. The young zebra had run as fast as his legs could take him...he ran and ran until he couldn’t run anymore...and ended up running right in the middle of the wildebeest herd.”
Seeing Jr’s eyes fill with tears, Mama Elephant put her trunk under his chin and lifted his head...
“The baby zebra’s eyes were wide and full of fear when the Mama wildebeest came to his side. The other wildebeest looked on with questions, but stood back and waited. The Mama wildebeest nuzzled the zebra just a little bit as if to tell him he was safe, and put her head back down to the grass to keep eating, as if nothing of great significance had occurred. The rest of the herd did the same, and as they grazed and moved on, the young zebra stayed with them. Time went on and the zebra grew into a fine stallion. Some think that when he has his own family, he will leave the herd of wildebeest. But for now he is still the odd looking one in the bunch, even though he’s really very special.”
And so it was told, a story, a myth, or just someone’s wild imagination. But for Jr, the story was enough to satisfy his curiosity, and so off he went to play with the other young elephants in the waterhole. Mama elephant sighed and scanned the horizon, making sure the young ones in the water were safe from any nearby predators.
Life in the bush can be harsh and hazardous for the young ones, but for a brief moment in time, Mama Elephant gave her son something irreplaceable...a story of imagination and wonder, something he’ll remember long after his Mama has gone.