Reading sample

Excerpt from Ch. 3 – The Man in the Dark Suit:

The other day I was playing on the riverbank with Bahini and some other elephant kids. The mothers of the baby elephants and the mahouts were there too, looking after us. Sajan had prepared a big wallow for us. Do you know what mahouts are? I do. They are the people who work in the elephant camp and take care of the elephants – like keepers in a zoo. Have you ever been to a zoo?

And do you know what a wallow is? I do. A wallow is a mud hole. A hole with water and sand or soil. When you roll around in it, it makes a really good mud. A wallow is a great playground for elephants and rhinos. It is so nice to wallow in the slush until you are covered in mud from the top to the bottom and from the front to the back! Mama Sumita and Sajan told us that we should do that. The mud is very good for the skin of the elephants and the rhinos. It’s like moisturising for humans, they say.

Playing in the wallow was great fun! The mahouts also enjoyed watching. They were having a great time, too, and kept refilling the hole with water.
It suddenly got very quiet around us, just as I was doing a somersault into the wallow and my little legs were pointing skywards. There was a person in a dark suit standing next to me.

“What’s going on here?” he asked grumpily. Then he looked at me in shock. “And what is that?”

“Kunjana, the rhinoceros girl from the forest, Boss,” Sajan said kindly.
“I can see it’s a rhino!” the human in the dark suit roared louder. “What is she doing here? This isn’t the rhinos’ camp!”

Just then I found myself on all fours again. A big, fat drop of mud slid slowly from my little horn onto my upper lip. There was such a tickle on my lips that I had to shake my head very hard. The air was filled with droplets of mud, large and small. Drops of mud were all over the man’s dark suit. He even had some mud on his face and in his hair. “Eww! Ugh. Yuck!”

I had never heard a human scream in such a loud and angry way before. I was so shocked that all I wanted to do was to run away. And that’s when it happened. I didn’t mean to, no way. I saw the door to the little house open behind the dark-suited guy. I ran in and hid under the table. But the table was so small, and I was already so big, that I couldn’t get under it any more. Now the table is broken and so are the chairs that were next to it. And it’s all muddy, including the notebook that was on the table.

The person in the dark suit ran after me and locked the door. Then he hopped around in front of the hut like a Rumpelstiltskin.

Sajan tried to calm him down: “Boss, the little girl didn’t do it on purpose. She just got scared. She’s such a good little rhino.”

“A good little rhino? Are you out of your mind? This animal is aggressive and dangerous. It will stay there until it is picked up and taken to the rhino camp. You can’t let something so dangerous run free.”

This must have been heard all over the valley. The man in the dark suit was bellowing so loudly.

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