Once, a fierce fire broke out in Green Forest. All the plants and trees in the forest got burnt in the fire.
The animals of the forest somehow saved their lives, left the burnt forest and started looking for more habitable areas. Within a day after the fire, the forest was deserted.
The only animal who did not leave the forest was Jaggi tortoise. He did not wish to leave his native land. He was born and brought up in the forest.
All his friends and relatives left and went away. They all asked him to come with them before they left but Jaggi wanted to stay.
Jaggi managed to survive the next few days on simple meals he could find. But the nights were unbearable. The loneliness of the forest was frightening. He could not sleep. The memory of good old days kept him awake all night.
Finally Jaggi could not bear it any longer and he too decided to leave the forest.
As he was preparing to leave while sitting under the shade of a thick, burnt out tree near the pond, the thick tree shook violently, scaring him.
Two vultures had come and they were sitting on one of the branches of the tree, looking for dead animals to feast on. When they saw the tortoise sitting below, they were pleased.
One of the vultures said to the other vulture, “Tortoise meat is very soft
“But the outer covering shell is hard and difficult to break open,” replied the other.
“I have a plan by which we can take this tortoise and break his shell,” said Tom, the first vulture, looking at Jaggi.
Jean, the second vulture, asked eagerly, “What is the plan? Tell me quickly.”
Tom said, “Have you heard the story about the talkative tortoise who was carried by two birds on a stick? He was holding it with his mouth and he fell down when he opened his mouth to speak. We too will offer to fly him to his friends by holding a stick in his mouth. Then we will drop him down and enjoy a good party.”
Jean said, “Let’s not delay our plan. Come, let’s go.” Both of them flew down to where Jaggi was sitting.
“Where are you preparing to go, Jaggi?” asked Tom in a friendly tone.
“After our forest burnt down, all the animals left to go to other places. I did not want to leave this forest but now I feel I too need to leave,” said Jaggi.
Tom said, “With your speed, you may not reach your friends even after a year.”
Jean said, “Meanwhile, you may die of hunger and thirst because you will not be able to find water and food on the way as the land in between is dry and barren.”
“Are my friends so far away?” asked Jaggi.
“Yes, they live very far,” both the vultures said together.
Jaggi sadly said, “That means I will not be able to reach them.”
“Not if you were to walk to them. But you may reach them if you fly,” said Tom flapping his wings.
Jaggi became sadder and said, “Why are you making fun of me? You know I cannot fly.”
“If you agree, we can fly you to your friends,” said Tom looking towards the sky.
“How will you hold me?” asked Jaggi.
Tom picked up a stick and explained, “You hold this stick in your mouth. We two will catch the two ends of this stick in our paws and fly you to your friends.”
Jaggi agreed to the idea.
The vultures brought a strong stick and asked Jaggi to catch it tightly in the middle by his mouth.
But suddenly just then, the wind started blowing strongly and the thick burnt tree started shaking violently. The next moment it tilted and was about to fall on the two vultures.
When Jaggi saw the tree falling on the vultures, he rushed and pushed them away. Both got saved but the tree fell on Jaggi who became motionless. Both the vultures were shocked to see this.
“I feel sorry and ashamed that we planned to take the life of such a good and virtuous tortoise. He sacrificed his life to save our lives,” said Tom sadly.
Jean started sobbing. He said, “Jaggi died to save us.”
Just then Jaggi came out from under the tree and said, “There is no need to cry. My strong shell has saved me. I am perfectly alright.”
“Oh great! You are safe! So wonderful!” they both said joyfully.
“We are very happy to see you alive. Come, let’s go. You will be with your friends,” said Tom.
“No friends, I have decided that I will not leave the forest, my motherland. I will start planting new seeds and saplings and make this forest green again,” said Jaggi, filled with positive thought.
“Like you, your ideas also are great. Both of us will also help you in it,” said Jean.
“Yes, we are with you,” Tom joined in.
From that day onwards all three of them started planting new saplings.
When Jaggi’s friends and relatives heard about this, many returned and joined in making the forest green again.
In a few months the whole forest got filled with small green plants and trees. The animals too looked forward to the day when the forest would become their old forest with big trees and shade.