It was evening, when Punch called a halt. He was the head of the herd.

“About time too!” muttered Gauravi.

“Can you never be happy?” asked Kamala. “Always grumbling, always whingeing...”

“Ha haa haa!” laughed Gundu. “Grumpy Gauravi, Grumpy Gauravi!” he shouted, excitedly.

“Look at that one! Always ready to make fun of me. Now see, he insults me in front of everyone, and all of you keep quiet.”

“That’s enough nonsense, Gundu,” called Punch, sternly. “Don’t let me catch you cheeking Gauravi or any of the other elephants. I will be forced to punish you.”

Hearing Punch’s angry tone, Gundu became quiet. The other elephants began to settle for the night. But Gundu was still a bundle of energy.

“Ma, can I play around for a while longer?” he asked.

“Ok, but don’t wander off too far,” replied his mother.

Gundu walked around the forest, humming happily under his breath. Then suddenly, he spied, Pandy the Black Panther up on a crag. He was standing quite still – almost like a statue.

“Wonder what he is up to,” thought Gundu. Silhouetted against the setting sun, he looked absolutely stunning. His black coat was glistening in the fading light and he looked ever so powerful and majestic.

“Let’s see what he’s up to,” said Gundu and he began to run wildly up the slope.

Pandy looked very fierce but actually he was harmless. He was a great friend of Gundu’s, always telling him stories of himself and how brave he was. The other animals never listened to any of his stories.

“Tall tales,” they said.

Others said, “In is his imagination!”

Thundering clumsily up the slope, Gundu called out, “Hey, Pandy! What are you standing like that for?”

“Oh! Shut up!” said Pandy in a strange voice. “Don’t come up now.” “Why are you talking out of the corner of your mouth?”

“For heaven’s sake, keep quiet. I can do without your blundering, clumsy ways now,” muttered Pandy.

Gundu was about to turn away, but then he wanted so much to find out what Pandy was upto. So silently, he climbed the rest of the way and stood beside Pandy on the crag.

“Oh! You will spoil the picture!” exclaimed Pandy.

“What picture?”

“Oh! Just look down...” he said, rolling his big eyes. “And your appearance is causing quite a stir down there!”

Gundu looked down and to his surprise found a whole bus load of humans standing on the road. The bus was parked on a side. The humans seemed to have tiny boxes in their hands, which they were aiming at Pandy.

“What are they doing?” asked Gundu rather puzzled.

“They are taking my picture,” said Pandy, proudly. “After all I am a rather handsome fellow. I am just posing for them, and now see you have come and spoiled it all for them.”

“But I can pose too,” said Gundu excitedly. He stood beside Pandy and posed. He stood exactly like Pandy, only he raised his trunk high. The humans were now clearly excited. Never had they had such wonderful luck. A black panther and an elephant...surely a rare picture. Lights flashed like tiny stars and Gundu maintained his pose beside Pandy.

“Can I see the picture?” Gundu asked Pandy.

“Don’t be silly. The picture is in their black boxes. How can you see it?” said Pandy.

“But I want to see it. I want to see it,” shouted a petulant Gundu.

Pandy shrugged. “Well, there is no point in throwing a tantrum here. I don’t have your picture. If you want to see your picture then you must go down and ask them for it.”

“Of course, I will go down and ask for my picture.”

He ran down the slope, his tail going round and round like a propeller and his large ears flapping with excitement.

The humans however were not so happy anymore. They saw an elephant rushing down the slope towards them. They screamed and ran towards the bus. The last of them was just in the bus when Gundu reached them. He ran around the bus. The humans inside screamed some more. The driver started the bus. Gundu was frantic now. He had to see his picture. He put is trunk in through the window and began to search for the tiny black boxes.

“Where could they have kept the boxes?” he thought.

The bus began to move, and Gundu moved along. Pandy watching from above was laughing.

The humans were frightened. Someone threw a banana at Gundu. He caught it deftly and put it in his mouth.

Thinking Gundu wanted bananas, the humans began throwing more and more bananas at him. Finally, a whole bunch landed on Gundu’s head and rolled off to fall on the road. Gundu bend to pick it up, and he heard the roar of the bus as it disappeared in a cloud of dust.

Gundu never got to see his picture. But he did get to eat a whole lot of tasty bananas!

Keywords: short story