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The Ant Eater and the Dassie – Lakshmi Mukuntan

The Ant Eater and the Dassie - Lakshmi Mukuntan - Characters, Quotes, Important Lines from the following works of Indian Authors.

The Ant Eater and the Dassie

 Lakshmi Mukuntan

 Tendal was helping his Grandmother to cook lunch outdoors. He was waiting eagerly to eat the tasty sadza [maize grain] and stew when on their small radio they heard the news bulletin. One news Item was about some African farmers who had caught a scaly ant eater in their farmlands. They travelled in a group and presented it to the President of Zimbabwe as a token of respect. The President then sent the creature to the National Park where it was safely released into its natural world again. Grandmother told Tendai that scaly anteaters were never harmed because they weres ymbols of good luck. While they sat eating their lunch, she narrated to Tendai an amusing anteater tale.

A scaly anteater once lived near the Limpopo river, which flows at the border between Zimbabwe and Its Southern neighbour, South Africa. Pangolin and little Dassie were friends and together explored the bush, and tried to find interesting ways of challenging each other with new games and races.

They had a lot of fun together. Dassie would take his friend to visit his colony and Pangolin admired the intricate burrows and network of pathways built between the rocks made by them. On each of Pangolin’s visits, Dassie had observed that it was difficult for his heavy friend to climb up and down among the rocks and pathways. He himself was small and sleek and able to run along easily. One day he had a splendid idea. He decided to ask Pangolin to race against him down one of the paths. He smiled a wily smile to himself because he felt quite sure that he would win. He called out to his friend, “I have a good idea for a new race. Let us climb to the top of the kopje and come down the main path that goes straight down. The one who can reach level ground first will be the winner. Pangolin cheerfully agreed since he loved to compete, whether he won or lost. Together they climbed to the very top of the kopje. Dassie’s beady eyes shone eagerly as he drew a line in the clay at the beginning of the path. They took positions at the starting line, counted to three and set off, running as fast as the could. Little Dassie soon drew ahead because this was the most familiar of paths to him. He could also run faster than Pangolin who had to carry all his heavy, clattering scales along. When they reached level ground, Dassie was the winner by a clear distance. Pangolin came up puffing and panting, but happily hailed Dassie as the winner. The two friends then had a good laugh together over the day’s contest. The next day, Pangolin returned to visit his friend and Dassie challenged him to the downhill race again. Pangolin agreed.

Characters:

Tendai – A small boy who heard the tales of anteater from his grandmother.

Pangolin – Another name for the scaly anteater.

Dassie – Is an African rat.

But this time the scaly one had a special gleam inhis eye which Dassie did not notice. After the third count, they started racing down the slope to the ground once more. Dassie ran as fast as his legs could carry him. Suddenly he was wondering what was rolling quickly past him now? He was being overtaken by a scaly ball, carried swiftly down the slope by its own weight; it reached the plain long before he did, quite unhurt by the bumps alongth. He could hardly believe his eyes. Dassie was very confused because he could not really understand what had happened, He reached the finishing point and then watched the ball unrolling itself. Pangolin straightened himself and got onto all fours again, He laughed delightedly as he carefully smoothed his scales back in place with his long claws. Dassie looked on in amazement and asked, ”How did you ever think of doing such a clever and unusual thing? The scaly anteater explained,” After I lost the race yesterday, I remembered my father’s advice. He always said that there is more than one way to do a thing. Last night, I thought very hard and realized that even if I could not run as fast as you, maybe I could try curling up and rolling down faster. As you can see, the new idea worked very well and I am the winner today!’

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