Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Great War of Animals

Once a python asked a tortoise to guard her eggs. While the tortoise was guarding the python's eggs, a deer came passing by. The deer said to the tortoise, "Come, let's see if we can jump over the python's eggs." But the tortoise said, "I don't think I can jump over the eggs. If I fall and break them, the python will kill me." The deer replied, "Don't be afraid. If you break the eggs, I'll save you from the python." The tortoise then agreed.

The deer then jumped first and easily jumped over the python's eggs. But the tortoise could not jump over the eggs. He fell on them and broke all the eggs. The deer, who had promised to save him, said, "I am also afraid of the python. I cannot help you. Please run away as fast as you can." But the tortoise could not run fast. He tumbled down and fell on the wall of a bear's house. The bear shouted, "Who is it?" The tortoise answered, "It's me, the tortoise." The bear asked, "Why are you running? What are you afraid of?" The tortoise said, "I am running away from the python. I broke her eggs and I am very afraid. Please help me." But the bear said, "I am also afraid of the python, I cannot help you."

The tortoise went everywhere for help. He went to a tiger, a wild boar, a stag and a wild goat for help. But they were all afraid of the python and could not help him. He tumbled and rolled everywhere. At last, he knocked on the door of a big eagle. The eagle asked, "Who is it?" The tortoise answered, "It's me, the tortoise." "What do you want?" said the eagle. The tortise replied, "The deer and I were trying to jump over the python's eggs. I fell and broke all the eggs. I am very afraid of the python and no one can save me from her anger. So I came here hoping you will save me." The eagle said, "Don't be afraid, I'll help you and save you from the python."

The python went searching for the tortoise everywhere, and asked all the animals she met if they had seen the tortoise. At last she crawled towards the eagle's house with a dreadful sound. The eagle asked, "What's that noise?" The tortoise answered, "It's the python! What should I do now?" The eagle asked the tortoise to quickly hide under his wings. When the python reached the python's house, she asked, "Have you seen the tortoise?" The eagle replied, " No, I have not." But the python did not believe him as the tortoise's trail ended at his house. So she asked him to spread his wings. The eagle spread only one of his wings. The python asked him to spread the other wing as well. But the eagle said, "I cannot spread it because it hurts very badly." The python insisted that he should spread at least a little of it. The eagle then spread the other wing slightly and the python immediately saw the tortoise's tail. She was so angry that she immediately declared war between animals on land and animals on trees.

All the animals that lived on land gathered together to plan the war. And at the same time, all the animals that lived on trees gathered together on a big branch of a banyan tree. They were very busy planning the war. And so began the great war of animals! It started with the python standing up and smashing the branch where the birds were sitting. The birds were so frightened they flew over to a branch on the other side of the banyan tree. Animals that lived on land were so happy that they shouted and jumped with joy when they saw what the python had done.

The python rested for sometime. Then she stood up and again smashed the other branch where all the birds had shifted. The branch came down with a crash! Animals on trees were feeling very defeated and sad while animals on land were shouting with joy. A bat, who was with the birds, thought that the animals on land were going to win the war. He cunningly decided to join them. He flew down and said, "Look at me, look at my head and teeth, I should be on your side." So he fought against animals on trees along with animals on land. They fought the battle very hard. Smaller animals on land were fighting with smaller animals on trees. Bigger animals on land were fighting with bigger animals on trees. All of them fiercely fought the war.

After they had battled for a while, the eagle began to violently shake the python. The python became tired and could hardly move. When the animals on trees saw what was happening with the python, they sang and danced with happiness. The bat once again wanted to belong among the animals on trees. He flew up to them and said, "Look at me. look at my wings. I should be with you."

The war was fought harder than ever before. The python, for the last time stood up and tried to snap the branch once more. But this time she could not break it and instead her body hung loosely on the branch. Just then the eagle saw his chance. He bit the python's spine, broke it and finally killed her. All the animals on trees happily celebrated their victory shouting, "Hurrah! We won!!"

Many years have passed, animals on land and trees have made peace with one another. But the cowardly bat who kept changing sides during the war did not know where to stay. He was so ashamed that he decided to live in a cave during daylight and come out only after dark. This is why we see bats only at night even today.

Taken from Selected Mizo Folk Tales, 2008, published and edited by the English Language Teaching Institute (ELTI), SCERT Mizoram.


  1. OMG... I still remember this story so well!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you so much for bringing back those memories. What was this story originally called in Mizo? Ransa indopui?

  2. One of our most charming folktales, isn't it? The original title, if i remember right, was Chungleng Leh Hnuaileng Indo.

  3. am so glad SCERT has FINALLY come up with something like this. **Wild applause**

  4. Ngainawm khop mai a.....Naupan lai a ti ngaihawm hle mai [:P]

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