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Deep in the jungle, a herd of elephants had just finished their afternoon meal.

Now, they were

gathered together at the riverside to drink and wallow in the river water.

Elena, a teenage elephant, stood alone a little way away from all the other elephants. She

looked down into the river and studied herself. Deeply unhappy about her looks, she sighed.

“Just look at these fat legs. How ugly they look!” she said to herself. “How I wish I had legs as

dainty as a deer’s …. slim and pretty. Mine are so bulky and solid. Urgh! They aren’t graceful at

all.”

Her best friend, Gajali walked over to her. Looking at Elena’s sulky face, she knew what the

problem was. “Elena, Elena…please believe me. You’re a very pretty elephant. You’re sweet,

smart and you look wonderful. What else do you want?”

“Oh! Gajali. I wish I could be happy like you but I hate this ugly long trunk we call a nose. Who

can call it pretty? It’s so horrible and it makes me look so much older! And these ears…urgh!

Just look at them….so big and they flap too! I hate their size! Why can’t we have small, lovely

ears like the tiger? Wouldn’t we look so much better?”

Gajali looked helplessly at Elena. She liked her friend very much but there were times when

Elena could be so tiresome. It was very difficult to convince Elena that she was indeed a very

beautiful animal.

Elena walked away to seek shade under a huge tree. Feeling very depressed, Elena sighed and

closed her eyes. Sometime later, a muted cry from atop a nearby tree attracted her attention.

Looking up, she saw Billy, a male rhinoceros hornbill. Billy was perching on the branch of the

tree. Looking at the beautiful colours of Billy’s feathers, Elena kept thinking of her own look

again. Elena made a deep, grumbling sound in her throat.


The sound startled Billy. He hadn’t been aware of Elena’s presence. Caught by surprise, he flew

down to a lower branch quickly. “Good day to you. Hot, isn’t it? You look very tired. Don’t you

want to enjoy the cool, running water with the others?”

Elena felt miserable. Did she look so old and tired, even to Billy? He must think her very ugly. At

the thought of that, tears began to gather in her eyes. Billy was shocked to see that she was

crying.

“It’s all very well for you, Billy. Look at the beautiful colours of your feathers. I would love to be

as pretty as you. Instead I’m grey and wrinkled, with this ugly long nose and fat legs. I’d rather

die than see myself go on living with these kind of looks. How I wish I could change it all!”

Moved by her tears, Billy said, “Are you really sure you want to change the way you look?”

“I know the place where the magic dragon lives. According to the legend, it could fulfill an

animal’s innermost desires. If you want, I can show you the secret place,”

Elena could hardly believe her ears. Her stomach churned with excitement. Here was the

chance she had been waiting for!

“Please! Please…Billy, take me there.” pleaded Elena.

Without any delay, Elena followed Billy eagerly as he flew off ahead of her. Deep, deep into the

jungle they went. Finally, they reached a part of jungle Elena had never been to before. Billy

had stopped flying and was perched on a branch. He pointed the way ahead with one of his

wings. Elena saw a moss-covered cave. She shivered. She could feel something strange here.

Elena saw that there were words engraved on an old, crumbling block of stone. With mounting

trepidation, she read its message,

“Zora, the magic dragon lives here,


Call out his name and he will appear,

Three wishes will he grant you,

If these encircling leaves you can chew.”

Using her trunk, she plucked a vine of dark leaves spiraled around the stone and put them in

her mouth. They were terribly bitter. With determination, she continued to chew them until

they were fine.

Then, she called out, “Zora! Zora!”. Almost immediately, a wisp of smoke began to curl out

from the opening of the cave. It rose slowly up to form a dragon like creature with fierce, red

eyes and a lashing tail. “Congratulations! You have succeeded in chewing the leaves. Well then,

what is your first wish?’ asked the dragon.

Immediately, she wished for a smaller nose and a set of smaller ears. “Make them like the

tiger’s, if you don’t mind!” she added with emphasis.

The dragon then looked at her, “And your second wish?” Before she could reply, a bolt of

lightning split the sky into two. The sound of thunder filled the air. The dragon trembled. Elena

spoke quickly, “I would like slim legs. Like those of the deer. And…..” Another loud roar of

thunder boomed out. Big drops of water began to fall from the sky. To her surprise…the dragon

was no longer there!

“Hey! Zora!” trumpeted Elena loudly. “Where are you? What about my third wish?” Then she

heard the dragon’s voice from deep within the cave.

“Come another time for your third wish. I can’t grant it today. The rain….I can’t work my magic

in the rain! If you can’t find me, send the bird which brought you here on your behalf. I will……”
Elena couldn’t hear him anymore. It was raining very heavily. She turned away from the cave.

She walked aimlessly about in the rain for a long time. Her body felt very different. Walking

slowly to a tree, she sank down and her eyes began to close.

Many hours later, she felt someone nudging her awake. “Elena, Elena! Are you alright? Where

have you been? I’ve been searching all over the jungle for you.”

It was Gajali. Elena reached out to touch Gajali’s face with her trunk but she couldn’t. Suddenly,

she remembered that she no longer had a trunk. But before she could say anything, Gajali cried

out in alarm.

“Elena…your trunk! What’s happened to it? And your legs…I can’t believe it! What have you

done to yourself?”

“Oh, Gajali! I’m so happy! You’ll never believe what happened to me yesterday but here, see

for yourself….I’m a completely new elephant now. And here’s the best part. I’ve got a set of

new legs too. Just see…how dainty and lady-like they are! Elena tried to heave herself up. It

wasn’t easy. Finally, she was up. She swayed to and fro on her dainty legs.

Suddenly a loud, cracking sound filled the air. “Cra..a..cck!” Elena fell down with a heavy

thump. A sharp pain shot through one of her legs. She let out a piercing cry that rang out

through the jungle.

“Elena, tell me how did all this happen?” Gajali asked. Despite her pain, Elena told Gajali what

had happened. When she had finished, Gajali roared out in anger.

“Elena! Have you gone crazy? How are you going to move about? Do you really think these

dainty legs can support the weight of the largest animal on land? As for your nose…have you

forgotten how important our trunk is to us? As for your ears…. Have you forgotten that we
elephants don’t sweat? We lose heat through our ears? Elena, Elena…what have you done?

You’ll die of the heat!”

As the meaning of Gajali’s words sank in, Elena wailed loudly. How foolish she had been!

“Gajali, wait. I just remembered. I still have one more wish. The dragon only granted me two

wishes. He still owe me another wish. With that, I can still wish for my old body again…my

trunk, my ears and my stout legs. Yes! Yes! That’s what I have to do! Help me Gajali.”

As Elena could not walk, so Gajali looked for Billy and asked for his help. Billy had a kind heart

and when he heard of Elena’s troubles, he was ready to help her. With Billy’s kind help, Elena

finally got her last wish and her old body back.

So, my dear friends, we should always be grateful with what we have and never feel unhappy

with our own look. That’s the end of my story. Thank you.