I might have been six or seven when my dad first told me the tale of the rabbit who lost to a tortoise. And like any other kid of my age my reaction to the story was,lets just say quite predictable. I laughed at the stupidity and over confidence of the rabbit and was impressed by the determination of the tortoise, believed that hard work conquers all, blah blah.
Few weeks later me and my family went on a picnic near the woods. I still vaguely remember the day,where I was about to had the adventure of my life (but more on that later). It was like an any other warm spring evening. Mom and dad were sitting on a mat,chatting while me and my brother were playing catch, actually it was more of a fetch the ball where he used to throw the ball as far as he could and I was to get it back as fast as I can, let me tell you, for a guy who is just 4 years older than me he had amazingly strong arms or as he used to call them ‘bazookas’. It was getting late, so with all his might he bazooked it for one last time and it landed in the woods and as the game was, I went after it. I went deep inside the woods, in search of a green tennis ball. I was looking for the ball when I felt a moist breath on my elbow and then the voice came from behind “find your ball here you will not”. Horrified! I turned around and standing in front of me was a brute dressed in a brown sack towering about half a meter, stooping on a cane, a little green rabbit. For a boy who grew up listening about jungle folks finding a talking rabbit in jungle was, well pretty awesome.
There he told me a number of incredible stories I can’t recall most of them but I do remember one in vivid details, the one which completely shocked me. And that is the one I’m going to share now.
The old green rabbit in his soft and feeble voice spoke in weirdly constructed short sentences. He told me about 800 years ago when he was a young strongly built chap, he used to be the fastest runner the jungle had ever saw. The word about his accomplishments spread throughout the great greens, he became popular every animal wanted to be like him, every lady animal wanted to be with him and this success went into his head. He became disrespectful and inconsiderate towards other animals. Years passed, when he was about to announced his retirement there came an old cat in black boots, who challenged him that his nephew the blue eyed, torto can beat him anytime, anywhere. The rabbit, being too proud in his abilities, first laughed off the challenge but the sheer audacity of the cat to challenge the lightning bolt with such a slothful creation grew on him. He accepted the challenge announcing that it will be his last race, little did he knew of the clever ways of the cat. The race was set in for a two weeks time. For two weeks the rabbit trained hard for his last race, while the cat went around the race track again and again as if memorizing every nook and corner.
Then came the race day, it was a long race as they had to lap the entire town and the whole town was waiting for them at the finish line. But just before the race, in the name of a friendly gesture the cat offered him a taco and being gracious enough the rabbit accepted it. Shortly after the race started the rabbit took an unassailable lead over tort and as he passed through the thick chaparrals his vision started to get blurry, dizziness overpowered his senses and he collapsed but the force inside him was strong, he regained his conscientiousness within minutes. He was sure that even with the time wasted in the woods he would still win the race as torto wouldn’t have gone more than a few blocks. As he ran even faster the sight of finish line grew in his eyes, but what he saw was beyond his worst nightmare. He looked at the proceeding ghastly as torto was being crowned the champion, his radiant brown eyes pierced rabbit’s heart.
Several weeks later he found out that the old cat has not one but two twin nephews the blue eyed torto and brown eyed iese. Feeling betrayed he went to town after town saying that it was torto and iese who defeated him , every animal who heard the sad tale of the rabbit felt sorry for him and was left a little impressed by the cleverness of the old cat. For years they recited the rabbit’s tale to each other on dinner, in family outings or over bonfires. They called it – the tale of the rabbit who lost to torto and iese. Over the many -many retelling that took place, few things were added to the story and a few details were omitted, one of them was ‘and’ in the title.