One day, there were heavy rains in the jungle. It rained continuously day and night. Most of the houses were flooded. The river of the forest was overflowing and a flood was imminent. All the inhabitants of the jungle were anxious. No one could figure a way out.
“Friends, there’s a forest on the other side of the river! The land there is on higher ground. If we all swim to the other side, we can save our lives,” said Nikki parrot. She had flown and seen the forest land on the other side of the river.
“Is that forest safe and free from danger?” asked Zimba tiger, the king of the jungle.
“Yes, your Majesty! That forest is peaceful and safe. We can stay there for as long as we want,” assured Nikki.
“All right, then! All animals of our forest can swim. Let’s all swim to the other side of the river as soon as we can,” announced King Zimba.
Everyone was relieved.
“Your Majesty! There are strong currents in the river. The adults may be able to swim across the river easily, but little children will not be able to do that,” said Bunty monkey.
“Yes, Your Majesty! The children will not be able to handle the strong currents of the river. They will be swept away by the current,” added Rancho bear.
The children could not be put in danger. King Zimba pondered over this. So did the other animals.
Hoiti camel was also present amongst the animals. He had come to the jungle a few days ago. He had become friends with Lambu giraffe, and stayed back. He turned, looked at his friend, and asked him, “Well, what do you think?”
“I think what you think!” said Lambu, smiling, and they both approached the king.
“Your Majesty, the children can ride on our backs. My friend, Hoiti and I will make three or four trips and ensure all the kids are safely taken to the other side of the river. The adults can swim across without worrying about their little ones,” said Lambu.
“That’s a great idea!” said King Zimba.
All the kids gathered and Lambu and Hoiti started taking them across the river. The adults started swimming across it. It took the two friends four trips to take all the children to safety. King Zimba crossed the river after everyone got to the other side.
“I hope no one is left behind,” said King Zimba, looking at the crowd.
“Your Majesty! We will go back and look again. If anyone is left behind, we will bring them along,” said Lambu giraffe.
“Thank you, Lambu” said King Zimba.
The two friends crossed the river once again. They scanned the jungle quickly and called out to check if anyone was left behind. But there was no one.
When they returned to the river, they were shocked! The river had swollen up suddenly. Now, it was impossible even for them to cross it!
Hoiti looked at Lambu anxiously. They both were nervous. “You too, it seems?” said Hoiti.
“Yes, me too!” nodded Lambu sharing Hoiti’s fear.
Both of them stood there thinking of a way out, but could not figure out anything.
“What are you two doing there? Come over here quickly!” called out King Zimba from the other side.
“Your Majesty! We don’t know how to swim. The river has swollen so much that it’s impossible to walk across it!” said Lambu.
“You don’t know how to swim?” asked King Zimba surprised.
“We always walk across rivers and lakes using our long legs. We never need to swim,” explained Hoiti.
“Both of you saved our lives, and now you are in danger. But don’t worry! I am coming to get you,” said King Zimba.
“No, Your Majesty! Do not come to this side. It is dangerous.” said Lambu.
“But I cannot leave you both when your lives are in danger!” said King Zimba and stepped into the river.
“Wait, Your Majesty! You need not take the trouble to go there, when I’m here. I will bring them here,” said Rambo hippopotamus.
But, Rambo, even you don’t know how to swim! How will you help us?” asked Hoiti camel.
King Zimba could not believe his ears. “Rambo, is it true that you don’t know how to swim?” he asked, surprised.
Before Rambo could answer, Hoiti interrupted. “Your Majesty, the only three animals in the world who cannot swim, are the giraffe, camel and hippopotamus,” he said.
“I know camels are called ship of the desert because they can walk through a desert for days together. But a hippopotamus is the horse of the river and he is always inside water! If he cannot swim, then why is he called horse of the river?” asked a puzzled King Zimba.
“Your Majesty! Our bodies are so heavy that we cannot swim. But we can hold our breath for a long time inside the water, and so we go to the bottom of the river and walk across it easily,” explained Rambo.
“Is that so?” asked the king in amazement.
“Yes, Your Majesty!” nodded Rambo.
“If we walk leisurely, we can cover fifteen miles of a river in an hour. If we run, we can cover thirty miles. That’s why we are called the horse of the river,” he explained.
“I didn’t know that,” said King Zimba. “But how will you save Hoiti and Lambu?” he asked.
“They will stand on my back one by one. I will simply walk across the river and bring them here,” answered Rambo.
It seemed like a good idea. King Zimba gave his consent to Rambo who then went inside the river and walked towards Hoiti and Lambu on the other side.
“Lambu, you go first,” said Hoiti camel.
“No, my friend! You are our guest. Your safety is our duty. You must go first,” insisted Lambu giraffe.
Hoiti stood on Rambo’s back. As Rambo went inside the river, Hoiti’s body too was submerged into it. Only his face could be seen sticking out of the water.
The other animals waited for them with bated breath. Rambo successfully helped the two friends come to the safer side.
“You are a great friend, Rambo!” said Lambu, hugging him.
“Both of you put your lives in danger to save all the children. You both are wonderful!” said Rambo, smiling.
“Yes, you two have done a great deed! I want to reward you for it. Tell me, what you want?” asked King Zimba.
Hoiti looked at Lambu and said, “Well, what do you think?”
“I think what you think!” said Lambu, and then he addressed the king.
“Your Majesty! Rambo cannot stay long without water. Once the floods have receded, please make a pond in our forest so that Rambo can stay there here he visits us. That’s all we want,” said Lambu giraffe.
“Yes, Your Majesty! If there’s a pond, I can come and meet my friends more often,” said Rambo hippo.
“You all have done a great job and your reward will be granted!” smiled King Zimba and entered his new forest with all the animals. They were now safe and waiting for the flood to recede.