- Vol. 05
- Chapter 02
Kanje had never known anything beyond the family who swam and basked in the subtropical river. Yet she always felt different … as if there were more to her and life. It hurt that she was held in perpetual contempt because she just couldn’t manage to gather the massive girth of the others, or wiggle her unusually long ears free of water, or match the flawless grace of those around her as they dove beneath the balmy waters to eat the staple vegetation she abhorred.
She blamed her ridiculously long and slender legs, the ugly skinny snout and the nostrils which couldn’t manage to close even if they were in the right position and angle. Despite all the insults and scorn, though, she still felt blessed that the family had decided to adopt her. Gratitude aside, there were days, she just couldn’t hack the abuse about the deformity of a tail which dragged through the water behind her.
One such day she was standing in the sandy shallows of a narrow winding tributary, free to weep as she scowled at her reflection. Suddenly she heard a noise behind her: causing her to rear and turn quickly – one thing she could do better than the rest.
A pale figure confronted her, right arm half raised in a peculiarly stiff manner … face and mesmerizing eyes the very picture of innocence.
“Why are you crying?” it asked.
Kanje inclined her head to peer down at the small creature. “You recognize that awful noise as crying?”
“I know crying.”
Kanje backed off a little. The creature lowered its arm and stared into her eyes.
“Why would you care?” Kanje asked, despair diluted a little by her innate curiosity.
“It is why I was made.”
Kanje considered the toneless response and the general flatness of it speech. If she could have shrugged, she would have, but not even they could do that.
“I am deformed, and the other hippopotamuses will never let me forget that, even if I could myself.”
The arm rose again, indicating a space between the bushes. “Climb the bank and eat the grass beyond.”
Despite herself, Kanje followed the instruction. It was exhausting. She sweated in the sun and longed for the relative coolness of the river, but could not stop.
Reaching the top, she lowered her head and sank her teeth into the lushness of grass at the edge of a great plain she had never imagined being there. The taste was beyond wonderful, and the muscles she had awakened in the climb surged with indescribable verve.
She flicked her now dry tail in joy and whinnied. “What is this?”
“This is you, Kanje,” the little figure replied, “what you are meant to be.”
“Can all hippos do this?”
The pale face broke into a smile. “You are not so limited, Kanje, you are an elegant kelpie ... able to run with the zebras and swim with the hippos. Never be less than you are.”
The figure disappeared.