Gopal and the Gajaraj

Gopal and the Gajaraj.

Once upon a time a prosperous village named Hastinapur was there near a dense forest. The villagers were happily living with farming and using forest products for their own needs. It was a big and neat and clean village.
As the forest was big,many species of animals were there. But the most wonderful thing was,  there lived  lots of elephants.Their trumpetsi were heard many times a day by the villagers.  Each child born in that village, witnessed the amazing  march of elephant herds going in a disciplined way to the river Sona for their water sports. They bathe, play and drink the water there.
The nine year old boy Gopal was blessed to live in that village. He lived along with his grand parents, his parents and uncles and aunts and their children. Gopal,along with his cousins, loved to watch  the passing of elephants in a distance of 20 feet away  from their house. The children along with their grand mother  watched it from the varandah. The elephants had never done any harm to the village people. The villagers and the elephants co-existed peacefully.
The children enjoyed the scene almost everyday. Their grand mother used to put a big basket filled with paddy and vegetables on the path, by which the elephants went. She loved the big elephant  and had named him Gajraj. While Gajraj with his herd ate her offerings, grandma with folded hands paid her homage to all of them. In return, the wise elephant Gajraj turned his trunk upwards to say thanks to the benevolent woman. The children wondered why their grandma did the same thing everyday.
“Grandma, why do you do namastey to the elephants while they eat your food? “,asked the curious children.
Granny replied with  a smile, “because they bring good luck to us. With their blessings we are living with happiness and affluence. They are strong and they are wise too. They never harm them who shower love to them. You all should fold your hands to them. Don’t  stand cross armed and go on  watching them. “
Early every morning, Gopal,his cousins and boys from nearby houses, went to the village pathsala.By forenoon, the school closed everyday. Coincidentally it was the time when Gajraj headed to the river with his herd.
On their return from school, the boys loved to play for sometime on the open field near the village tank.
That fateful day, Gopal was playing kho kho with some of his friends after school. That day there was little rain and the ground  was muddy and slippery. While playing, Gopal slipped and fell in the pond. He shouted from the water. He didn’t know  swimming. His friends were unable to save him. They also shouted for help. Gajraj heard the panic calls. Lo and behold, he ran to the spot and saved Gopal from drowning. By his trunk he took out Gopal from the water. He put the boy on his back and went to the boy’s.  house.
His family was speechless, when they saw the child sitting on Gajraj’s back all wet. When they came to know what had happened from the other boys, they all bowed down  to Gajraj for saving the child. Gopal‘s father went to his yard and cut a bunch of bananas and offered it to Gajraj. He showed his gratitude that way. Gajraj ate the bananas and resumed his journey to the river.
There were tears of joy in each one’s eyes. Gopal believed the greatness of the elephants, which his granny and his mother had told him several times.
Gopal loved to hear elephant stories at bed time. While his cousins loved stories about kings, demons and ghosts, he pestered his mother to tell an elephant  story.
That night his mother told the story about a tusker
“A huge tusker lived in the jungle. He had magnificent tusks. Some poachers came to know about it. “
“What are poachers Ma?”
, asked innocent Gopal.
“They are bad people my child. They kill tuskers for their tusks. “
“Why do they need tusks? ,asked Gopal.
“They need them  to make money. They sell them to werchants who deal in ivory business. “
“Can men kill the huge elephants? “,the child asked.
“Yes darling. With weapons they can kill.
 So one day three poachers came with their guns and fired the tusker. It fell to the ground  and died. The bad man started to cut the tusks. Gajraj heard the gun shots and came near the thieves. He killed the three of them. All the elephants came there and stood near the dead elephant. “
“Ah our Gajraj is no doubt a hero Ma. He comes to rescue. “
“Yes. Elephants have unity amongst them. “,replied mother.
“Elephants are an amazing boon for the earth. They preserve our nature and save us from climate change. As they are huge in size, they eat a lot of vegetation. By eating the branches of big trees, they prevent them to form canopies, thereby allowing sun light to fall to the ground. All other animals need sun light to rurvive. Elephants also help to make passages through  dense forests so that other animals and humans can roam  inside the jungle.”
“Remember son, protecting elephants and their habitat helps many other species as well. As they are the largest mammals on earth, they are capable of roaming great distance. They play a key role in spreading tree seedlings far and wide. They live in forests and make more forests by this act. The big trees store carbon in their trunks, roots and soils ,which in turn help reduce the effects  of climate change.”
By that time Gopal was  feeling sleepy. So his mother cut sort telling and said, “Gopal remember this, as long as the elephants survive the other species and we humans survive. Our people have known it since long. So that’s why  your grand mother worships them. “
“I too love and respect elephants  Ma.I will love them always.And  I will tell all my friends what you have told me about the elephants . “
Promising this to his mother, little Gopal fell asleep.
Charulata Panigrahi.
She is a member in the international inner wheel organisations and loves social work. Writing is her hobby and gardening her passion. She loves to read Indian authors in her spare time and listen to music.

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