Khari trotted along behind her mama as the herd trekked through the thick rainforest. She flapped her large ears and gazed upward to watch the red tail of her friend flit through the branches. Anyango chattered away and imitated the voices of the many rainforest animals.
Just when Khari prepared to trumpet to her friend flying above, her mama stopped short. Khari bumped right into her back-side.
“Khari,” Malika scowled. “Pay attention to the line, Baby-girl.”
“Sorry, Mama,” Khari ducked her head.
“Squawk! Sorry, Mama. Sorry, Mama.”
“Anyango, how many times have I told you not to call me Mama?”
Anyango swooped down in a blur of grey, and perched on Khari’s head. She twitched her red tail, “Call me Mama. Call me Mama.”
Malika lumbered on towards the forest edge. “Why do I bother?” Her large head twisted back to glare at her daughter’s odd best-friend. “And don’t repeat me.”
“Squawk,” Anyango puffed out her white fluffy chest. Before she could squawk out her impulsive repetitive habit, Khari whipped her trunk over her head and knocked Anyango off.
“Shh,” Khari hissed. “Mama won’t let you come with us anymore if you don’t learn to control yourself.”
Anyango flew up into the canopy before she squawked herself in trouble.
The light streamed through the trees ahead and Khari knew they were almost at Loango beach. Her step changed to a gentle hop-trot and excitement bubbled out of her.
Heads turned when the parade of elephants stepped out of the forest onto the strip of grassy savanna. The lead elephant trumpeted to announce their appearance.
In the nearby lagoon, a bloat of hippos rolled their eyes in disgust. “Oh brother,” the largest whispered. “Go blow your nose somewhere else.”
A ripple of giggles floated through the hippos as they leisurely turned so their broad behinds welcomed the elephants.
“Mama, why don’t the hippos like us?” Khari asked innocently.
“They’re just jealous, Baby-girl. They may be large, but we are big and beautiful.”
“Mm-hmm, that’s right, Honey,” a shameless bull encouraged Malika.
“Mama, look. The bulls are shaking the palm trees,” Khari pointed with her trunk. “May I go eat the fruit?”
“Go ahead,” Malika nodded, “but stay away from the Iboga plants.”
“Is that the one that made me dizzy last time?”
“Yes, Sweetie,” Malika hesitated, “you’re allergic to Iboga.”
Uproarious laughter erupted at Malika’s explanation of the highly intoxicating plant.
Oblivious, Khari motioned towards the ocean, “Look mama, whales!”
“Ugh, the humpbacks have returned,” Malika moaned.
“Why do they choose to swim just off our beach and do their thing?” A young mother groaned and nudged her calf, “run along with Khari, Sugar.”
The cow-elephants gawked as two whales surfaced vertically, with ventral surfaces in close contact. Unashamed, the couple frolicked and flipped their water tango.
“Ahem!” Malika startled the herd. “It’s not polite to stare, Ladies.”
With a satisfied tummy, Khari enjoyed the sunshine while she chased Anyango among the grass. Something tickled her ear and she shook her head. A beautiful butterfly flitted out and landed on her trunk.
Khari flapped her ears and giggled. “Ooo, you’re so pretty.”
Anyango squawked, “Pretty. Pretty.”
The butterfly pulled her green-gold wings back, and revealed a slender, black, velvety body. She fluttered and danced around Khari’s head, and the trio cavorted with joy.
Khari froze at the sound of heavy footsteps. A large bull-elephant spoke with an angry slur, “Why do you play with birds and butterflies? You’re an embarrassment to the herd.”
“They’re my friends,” Khari trembled.
He shoved Khari with his huge trunk, and knocked her to the ground in a flash of rage. Anyango squawked loud enough to alert attention.
“Hey!” The largest hippo rose out of the lagoon, “Leave the little girl alone.”
The bull trumpeted. “Mind your own species.”
The other hippos pulled themselves out of the water and followed the lead of their friend. “We’ve got your back, Girlfriend.”
“You’ve had your Palm fruit and Iboga feast. Now go do your duty and leave fruit seeds in the forest.”
In his drug induced stupor, the bull stumbled towards the forest. “Ugly hippos, you’re not worth the trouble.”
Malika hurried over to Khari and stroked her with her trunk. “Are you alright, Baby-girl?”
“Thank you,” Malika addressed the hippos.
“You would do the same for us, it’s a mom thing.”
Malika started to leave, but hesitated. “You know, you are large…large and lovely.”
Anyango squawked, “Large and lovely…large and lovely.”
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