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The Stupid Tortoise

A story by Hema R Acharya

Once upon a time there was a tortoise who thought that he knew everything there was to know about anything and everything. However the other creatures knew better than to take his word for it.

One day the tortoise started saying how good he was at everything he did and that no task was too difficult for him. Now the other creatures were tired of hearing this and wanted him to shut up. So they all started thinking up a plan to teach the tortoise a lesson.

As it happened a few days later when they all met up again the tortoise saw a bird flying in the sky. Suddenly he thought how wonderful it would be if only he too could fly like the birds. He called out to the birds and asked them to teach him to fly. The birds looked at him and at first laughed and said: "don't be stupid, tortoises don't fly "." But I want to", he said. After a lot of persuasion the tortoise finally got the birds to agree to help him to fly.

And so after the birds had reluctantly agreed they explained how they would get him into the air. They said to the tortoise that first they would get a big stick, then he must bite and hold onto the stick with his mouth; they would then fly him up over the jungle to the other side. There was only one thing that he had to do and that was to keep his mouth shut and hold the stick as tight as he could. The day arrived; the tortoise was ready and so were the birds. All the other creatures arrived to see the tortoise off. The birds once again asked the tortoise whether he was sure that he wanted to go through with it. The tortoise, as usual, said of course he did and started blowing his own trumpet about how good he was at everything and that this would be a piece of cake.

The tortoise bit the stick and held onto it as tightly as he could and after a count of three the birds took off. Whilst flying they kept reminding the tortoise not to speak because if he did then he would fall and break his neck. The tortoise just made noises and shook his arms and legs about. The birds kept telling him to keep still but he wouldn't. The tortoise wanted the birds to fly higher and so he started making louder and louder noises and shaking his arms and legs violently. The birds did not listen to him. So the tortoise did what he was not supposed to do. He opened his mouth and shouted: "fly me higher you stupid birds." Well, as you can imagine it was too late, the tortoise immediately lost his grip on the stick and came crashing down to the ground where he cracked his back in several places and from that day onwards the tortoise decided never again to boast about the talents he possessed. He was so ashamed of what had happened that whenever anyone came near him he would just hide in his shell to get away from the humiliation. Now he takes it really easy and always takes his time to get to wherever he's going.