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By Amina Khaleel

In the beautiful valley of Rabbitland lived Jumbo. Jumbo’s parents had migrated to Rabbitland in search of employment. They were employed at a popular tourist attraction “Ride an elephant” at a new amusement park on the outskirts of the city. They were well fed, paid a good salary and treated affectionately. They loved carrying young rabbits on their backs, eating bananas offered by visitors, playing with their trunks etc. But the only worry that was plaguing them was Jumbo’s education. Being illiterates themselves, they understood the importance of education, but the only school that existed there had refused to admit him because of his size and hence Jumbo was very upset. He missed his previous school, his friends and teachers miserably. He enjoyed studying and desperately wanted to go to school, but living next door to the school and yet not being able to go there made his pain unbearable.

One day after his parents had left for work, Jumbo decided to see the school. There was no fence between his house and the school, the only boundary being the row of trees and bushes. It was mid day and nobody was outside. Jumbo stealthily entered the school through a small opening and stopped for a minute looking at the school building dotted with trees on all the sides. It looked so beautiful and enchanting. ‘What fun it would be to study here!’ he thought. 
He could hear the sounds of classes going on. He slowly moved towards one window at the corner and sat down. Peeping through the grill, he saw the teacher writing on the black board and the students copying it down. Being covered by bushes he felt secure that no one would find him. After the school got over and all the students and teachers had left, he slowly crept back home.

It had been a wonderful day for Jumbo.  He felt very happy and contended. After reaching home, he took a notebook, wrote down whatever he learnt from that day’s class, ate bananas and lied down on the bed to sleep.

His parents had no idea where he had been. Since Jumbo enjoyed reading, they had brought him few story books to cheer him up. Jumbo was delighted to see the books. But his little adventure had already made his day. He did not tell this to his parents as they would not allow him to sneak into the school again. He decided to keep it a secret.

From that day, he attended the school daily. He took care to enter the school when no one was around. Armed with a notebook and pen, he sat at the same place and studiously took notes and listened attentively to the class going on. This continued for several days with Jumbo escaping detection and suspicion. 
But one day he was not that lucky. Maths test had been going on and the teacher had dictated the questions. All the students were writing the test and Jumbo was also busy writing the answers. He was so engrossed in attempting the fifth answer that he did not realize that there was somebody looking at him.
 “Who is it? Come out now” shouted the headmaster. 
A bewildered Jumbo dropped his notebook from his lap as he got up at once. He slowly went and stood in front of the headmaster. 
“I am Jumbo Sir” he stammered. 
“What are you doing here?” The headmaster asked, looking at him from head to toe. 
Seeing the notebook on the ground, he bent down and took it. Hearing the headmaster’s voice the teacher came out and the students started peeping from inside. Everyone was shocked to see an elephant there. 
‘What will happen now? Will they punish me?’ Jumbo shuddered as these thoughts filled his mind. Copious tears were falling from his eyes due to the fear of punishment. 
“I did not do anything Sir… did not do anything…” he replied.
The headmaster examined the notebook and handed it over to the teacher. 
“I can’t believe my eyes. All the answers are correct. “, the teacher exclaimed after some time.
All the students were looking at each other. The headmaster took the teacher aside and had a word with him. Jumbo stood there petrified and scared. He thought of running away but his legs would not move.
After some time, the headmaster came forward. His face was looking grave and tense. “Do you realize that sneaking into the school without permission is wrong?” He said.
“Yes Sir, Please forgive me, I am sorry” Jumbo replied, fresh tears leaking from his eyes again.
The headmaster suddenly softened, “Do not say sorry my son, it was my folly as I refused to admit you just because of your size, but today your interest in learning and the zeal to excel has proved me wrong. The mathematics teacher says that all your answers are correct. How can I take away such an intelligent student’s education?”
“Come with your parents tomorrow and get yourselves enrolled in our school. We will be happy and proud to have you as our student. We will also make arrangements to shift your classes to the indoor stadium”
“Thank you Sir” Jumbo replied. His face was beaming with happiness and gratitude. Finally his dream of studying had got fulfilled.
Then addressing the students the headmaster said “Even though what jumbo did was wrong, it proved beyond doubt that he had great interest in learning. All of you should inculcate in yourselves the zeal to learn and excel. The lessons you learn in your childhood will remain with you forever. Hence put your heart and soul in learning to reach the pinnacle of success.”
This story was published in Champak magazine.



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