Anokhi ant was very lazy. Monsoons were fast approaching and all the animals were working hard to collect food, but Anokhi would just laze around the whole day. One day, Somu sparrow could not hold herself back and said, “Anokhi, you too gather and store food for the rainy season or you will be in a problem”.
Anokhi smiled and said, “Oh! let it be. I have good friends like you who will help me out.” And saying so, left Somu.
Soon there were dark clouds over the forest and it rained heavily continously for three days. All the animals and birds were locked indoors. Since they had stored food ahead of the rainy season, they were not worried. Only Anokhi was left starving. It was tough for her to spend the three days without food.
As soon as the rains stopped, Anokhi stepped out. She met Bholi bee on her way. “Bholi, please give me some honey. I am starving. You have a lot of honey in your hive.” requested Anokhi.
“Do you think making honey is easy? I have to collect nectar from each and every flower. Then I bring back the nectar and deposit it in the hive. Just imagine the number of trips I make from flowers to my hive and back! Making honey is hard work.”
Bholi continued, “I have to save honey for the others in the hive. I am sorry, I won’t be able to share any with you.” And Bholi flew from there in a hurry. Anokhi was left wondering what had happened to Bholi.
She then went to Kittu spider asking for some sweet treats. Kittu was arrogant. He immediately said, “Collecting sweets is not easy! It involves a lot of hard work.”
Kittu added, “Often, I have to save myself from being stamped when I go out to collect the sweets. You should collect your own sweet treats. I can’t afford to feed you and that too for free.” Anokhi felt sad listening to him. She was already starving and Kittu’s words hurt her more.
She decided to visit her friends in the village near the jungle. She went to her friend Kiran cat’s house.
Kiran was drinking milk when Anokhi said to her, “I am feeling very hungry. Will you share some milk with me?” But Kiran too responded like Kittu. She told Anokhi about the difficulties involved in getting milk.
“Whichever house I enter, people chase me with sticks and crow bars. The other day, I nearly lost my tail when the Landlord’s daughter threw a big stone at me. Nowadays it is hard to find ghee and cream too. I am forced to satisfy myself with milk! If I give this little milk then I will starve.” Anokhi understood that Kiran would not share food with her.
Anokhi was too tired and she sat down helplessly. Just then she saw Jimmy dog coming from the opposite side. She started walking towards him because she was sure that he would give her something to eat. Jimmy was holding a fritter in his mouth. She asked Jimmy, “Brother can you please share your fritter with me. I am starving.”
Hearing her say this, Jimmy gobbled the fritter in a hurry and told her, “I got this fritter from a sweet shop and had to stay awake the whole night to guard the sweet shop for it. I visit many houses where people live. Some give me a roti and some hit me with a stick. Why don’t you go to the sweet shop by yourself?”
Anokhi set out towards the sweet shop. On reaching there, she saw jalebi, bits of laddoo and kalakand scattered on the floor. She started eating without wasting any time. She felt really happy and satisfied after finishing her meal.
Anokhi realized not only she was full but, she had worked for her food without begging to anyone.
She understood that everyone has to work hard to earn their food. She had been foolish and lazy in asking others to share the food with her.
It is believed from that day on, the ants have been working hard to gather food for themselves, bearing a symbol of hard work, dedication and sincerity.