Children's story based on a myth that elephants used to have beautiful wings and helped God build the world. The elephants grew too greedy and were cruel to the other animals, so God cut off their wings and shared them with the peacock and the banana tree, resulting in their beautiful plumage and big leaves today.
A long time ago, much longer ago than most people can remember, elephants could fly. They had enormous wings, four of them, and they whizzed through the sky faster than any of the other animals. They were also the biggest and the strongest of all the other animals, but (although nobody liked to admit it when they were around) they weren't the cleverest.
As the elephants were so fast and strong, God decided they would be the most useful of his creations to help him put the finishing touches to the world; he could jump on and be in Asia one moment, before zooming off to Iceland the next. The elephants shifted mountains and icebergs as God commanded until everything was just perfect.
However, once God had finished making the world and was busy with other things, the elephants didn't have much to do. So, to pass the time of day, they talked about the old days. The talked about how strong they had been. They talked about how fast, and how favoured by God they once were. The more they talked, the more they came to think they were much, much better than all the animals.
"Look at that peacock!", they would say unkindly, "See how ugly and brown his wings are compared to mine!" They would always make sure to raise their voices so that the peacock could hear, and the poor peacock, who did indeed agree that the elephants' wings were very beautiful, could say nothing to answer them.
The greedy elephants would even eat all the bananas from the banana tree, leaving none for the other animals, saying that they were far more important and so deserved all the fruit.
Then, with all the bananas pierced on their trunks, they would fly off to find somewhere to sit and eat them all. More often than not, the elephants’ idea of comfy dining chairs would be an entire village, whose houses were completely flattened under the great weight of the elephants.
The people with their squashed houses were furious, and the animals with their empty stomachs were very cross too, and soon God decided enough was enough: these elephants had gotten far too big for their tusks.
So God decided to invite all the elephants to a great feast. It would be a celebration (he told them) of his favourite animals, and a chance to remember the days gone by. So the greedy elephants, all puffed up with pride, turned up to the feast where sure enough, there was piles upon piles of food: great mountains of yellow bananas, ripe orange mangoes, juicy red pomegranates and berries. There was food that the elephants had never even seen before, and they ate it all up. Every last bit.
The elephants were so full when they had finished that one by one they each dropped off to sleep, lying on the ground surrounded by banana and mango skins.
This was the moment God had been waiting for. When the last elephant’s eyes had closed, he quickly went among them, chopping off their beautiful wings once and for all. He gave two wings to the peacock, who was delighted with his colourful new plumage. He gave two wings to the banana tree as huge leaves, so as to protect their fruit from great greedy elephants.
When the elephants woke up, their usual smug faces were shocked to see the beautiful peacock swishing his feathers at them. Then they were even more shocked to see a strange tree that looked just like the banana tree but had enormous leaves.
The elephants were angry and confused and were muttering and grumbling amongst themselves when God told them what he had done. He instructed the elephants to use their strong tusks to help rebuild all the houses they had squashed, and to punish them for their spiteful remarks to the other animals, he took away their speech and replaced it with a loud, ugly trumpeting sound.
The elephants were ashamed and embarrassed, but they did as God said. All the other animals and the people in the villages were much happier.
So all the elephants learnt their lesson and from that day on most of the elephants were always very helpful and humble.
And as for the ones that weren’t? Well, nobody could understand their trumpeting anyway.