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Assad the tiny elephant

Let's jump right into our story this time, it's too exciting for an introduction!

This tiny little elephant is called “Assad". Assad may be tiny, but his story is as big as

his name suggests, a LION!

Assad was born on a very hot day, so hot in fact that his colour turned a bright as he was growing up. He didn't grow up in size too much but his colour was so bright, it

could be seen for miles!

One thing that worried Assad’s parents, was that he

never found his trumpet ,or as we humans call it, his “voice”.

Until Assad was 3 years old, his parents still didn’t know what he sounded like. He

never made a sound.

Their family, neighbours and friends all tried to help. His cousin, Ibtissama (smile)

the hippo, tried all the sounds she knows to encourage him. She hooked, squeaked,

grunted, croaked and whined at him but nothing doing...Assad just stared at her. At

first Ibtissama thought she succeeded when Assad opened his mouth to laugh at

her attempts but, even his laughter was silent...

She went home feeling defeated, with her head down and the massively sized ribbon

on top of her head, sloping to the side from all the action.

Next came his best friend, the baby human, who saved him from the mean old

poachers on the first day they met. The baby boy tried the same as Ibtissama.

Besides all the sounds Ibtissama made, Tata (little step) the baby had a plethora of

sounds to try, so he spent a whole two days trying! Tata tried cooing and gurgling

and babbling and finally, when none of his sounds worked, crying 😭

Assad wrapped his little trunk around his friend and cradled his much larger baby

form to soothe him. On this occasion Assad’s silence was just what baby Tata

needed to fall asleep.

Little Assad appreciated all his friends’ attempts because he knew it came from their

love for him, but he couldn’t help feeling a little sad that he couldn’t give them what

they wanted...his voice.

One day Assad’s bright orange skin was dimmed and he was dragging his trunk on

the ground, with his head drooping and feet dragging, because he felt he

disappointed yet another friend. That friend was Shousha, the little bird that was born on the same

day as Assad. Shousha and Assad called themselves taw’am, the twins. He

thought that out of all his friends, Shousha would be the one to understand him, but

even his twin couldn’t accept his silence…

Assad wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, when he suddenly felt himself

surrounded by total darkness. The only dim light, showing a glimmer, was coming

from him.

As Assad noticed the sudden change surrounding him, he panicked for the first few

minutes then remembered that panicking always caused him more trouble; like when he almost trampled on Shousha. He was fleeing from Nokta (joke) the monkey, who

had the idea to scare Assad into trumpeting, by Creeping up on him and screeching

LOUDLY!!! Assad almost squished Shousha under his hooves while fleeing from the sound!

Though Nokta’s trick didn’t work, Assad did learn a valuable trick that day. Whenever

Assad was spooked, he thought of this day and what his fear could have made him

do to his tiny friend. That memory was enough to make him gain control of his fear

and focus on getting himself out of trouble.

So Assad took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a minute so he can focus on

his next step. The first thought that came to him was to extend his little trunk as far

as it will go, to feel his way around in the dark. Assad realised that he could turn

around and simply head back where he came from, into the lit pathway, but he didn’t

feel like going home. He thought a little adventure was just what he needed and so,

he felt his way forward.

At first, he felt all the bumps of a cave wall but then he started feeling it get

smoother. All the dust from the walls made Assad sneeze 3 loud sneezes , Atchou!

Atchou!! ATCHOU!!! That last one was so loud it made an echo in the cave and

Assad flew backwards near the entrance, where there was enough light from the

outside for him to see his dusty trunk. What he saw though was not just a dusty trunk

, but a very colourful one! “where did all these colours come from?” wondered Assad

as he admired his new trunk’s look.

Getting more and more curious, Assad’s sense of excitement made him glow again.

Enough to be able to enter the cave with more light surrounding him. So Assad

walked back the way he was thrown out, and saw a magnificent site where the wall

was smooth under his touch before. Assad could tell there was a beautiful story

being told through the drawing on the wall. It was a story of a flower. It started with

what looked like a fight between animals in a dessert setting. An angry looking camel

spat in the face of a fox, who tried to attack his calf. Even though pictures make no

sounds, Assad could almost hear the angry shouting and the little camel crying in the

middle of the fight. It was like his eyes were not just seeing but hearing too! The next

image was of the little calf’s tear drops falling on the desert ground and watering an

even littler bud. Through the next images the drawing shows the bud growing, in

stages, to a big bright and beautiful sunflower

What really interested Assad about the images though, was not so much the bud

that bloomed to a beautiful sunflower, but the angry animals' (and sad one's) reaction

to it...

When the flower was a little bud, hardly noticeable from the ground, the animals had

the same angry look. All through the remaining stages, up until the last one, angry

snarling expressions...But, when the sunflower bloomed bright and beautiful,

searching for its sun in the sky , at that part of the painting, the camel, his calf,

and the fox were all looking at it with wonder and curiosity. You see, there aren’t

many flowers in the desert, not like this one. The angry faces of the animals were

now relaxed and even...friendly.

So many thoughts went through Assad’s mind as he looked at the pictures. Then, a

big idea popped into his tiny head! He decided he’ll find the place painted in this

picture, the desert! One of Assad’s favourite pastimes was to listen to the village’s

storyteller “ ’Am Hakawy” the parrot. He remembered, in one of ‘Am Hakawy’s

stories, he told of the adventure of a wise old lion living in the desert. Assad had

never met a lion before, he didn’t even know that his name meant Lion. So, the first

steps Assad took to find the desert was to try to remember all the details of ‘Am

Hakawy’s story. Using his famous elephant ability to remember, he soon had a clear

picture in his head of what path he will take, by recalling every little clue in the lion

story. Luckily it turned out that the desert wasn’t too far from his village. All Assad

needed to do was walk to the edge of the village and his adventure would begin!

On he went to find his voice in the desert, he hoped. Assad reached the edge of the

village during the day and, as he had planned, the sun lay down to sleep just as he

was stepping into the desert, so he avoided the heat of the day. He walked for two

days trying to find what he was looking for, even though he didn’t know what it was.

He was following his instincts and, faith in what’s to come...

As he was heading home, feeling defeated on the second night, as the sun was

waking up, Assad heard an enoooormous ROAAARRRRR! His ears opened up to

the sound to find out where it’s coming from. He heard it coming from somewhere on

his right. He turned. Assad’s eyes grew wider and wider, his mouth dropped open

and his trunk dropped down slowly at the magnificent sight in front of him…!

A beautiful Lion with a big mane surrounding his neck of bright orange and red hair…

it looked like fire! The lion was standing proudly over a big rock by a lake in an oasis.

Assad was mesmerised by his colours and that voice…what a voice! Before Assad

had time to think he found his legs taking him towards the Lion. He remembered Am

Hakawy saying this was not what one should do when he sees a lion but he just

couldn’t help it. His feet, no, his whole body! just felt like this is where he’s supposed

to go, even if “this” was danger…

Assad’s feet only stopped when he got about 5 elephant trunks away from the Lion.

Far enough to have time to run if he needs to but, close enough to be Seen, Smelt

and HEARD by ‘Azama! “ROAAAARRRRRRRRR what new smell is this?! Who

DARRRES enter my territory!" Roared ‘Azama. Assad finally got scared! He was

about to turn around and flee when in two swift moves ‘Azama pounced and pinned

him to the ground!! Another ROAAAAAARRRRRRRR! Was heard but…this roar was

different… It didn’t sound like Azama’s but…could it be?...was this…ASSAD’s

VOICE?!!!

Even ‘Azama was so taken aback by that powerful roar he started stepping back, off

Assad!

‘Azama asked, this time with more doubt in his voice “who…what…arrre you?”

Assad took a few seconds to understand what just happened… “was tha…? is

tha…? …my…Voice..” “my voice…my VoiCe…MY VoiCE…MY VOICE!” kept saying

Assad not believing his ears and wanting to hear his voice over and over again! He

needed some practice to get the high and low notes right but..he had a VOICE!

“Whooopppeeee I Have a Voice! I HaAaavvvEe a VoiiIIiCee” Assad started playing

with his voice going up a note, down a note, he was not only trumpeting now but

Singing!

Now it was ‘Azama’s turn to get scared. He thought this was some crazy creature

who looked too bright, and was rude enough to sound louder than him! Nobody

sounds louder than a Lion! Thought ‘Azama. That’s it! Thought ‘Azama. This

creature must be a different species of Lion!

“Hey youu..loud…thing”

“Who? Me? Me loud thing? You’re calling me loud?! Oh thank you thank you thank

you!” Assad was about to hug ‘Azama when

“Get away from me!” Roared Azama.

“Oh sorry” Assad checked himself and looked at Azama with curious happy eyes.

“hrrmph you. What’s your name?”

“Assad” he quickly replied and then burst into happy tears.

“wha…? What did I do? I didn’t even touch you!!” Shouted Azama panicking at this

strange behaviour.

“sniff. Sorry sniff. It’s just sniff. It’s just hic sniff. It’s sniff ..the FiRST TIME I SAY MY

NAME OUT LOUD” bowled Assad “waaah I’m so happ hic happ hic happpyyyyy

aaaaahaaaahhaaa”

“If you’re happy then why are you crying you strange strange STRANGE creature”

Azama was getting frustrated so he changed the subject to what mattered, “You say

your name is Assad right?”

“sniff yes”

“Why?”

“why what?”

“why are you called Assad?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a name”

“JUST A NAME! Of course it’s not just a name! How could you little thing with a big

nose and bigger ears be called Assad?”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why can’t I with a big nose and even bigger ears be called Assad?”

“Don’t you know what Assad means?”

Assad shook his head “Well that explains it. Your name is one of the greatest names bestowed upon an

animal” Azama’s chest was expanding with pride and his mane somehow looked

bigger and almost, ablaze!

Assad’s eyes grew wider and wider as he asked, with so much excitement his own

colour was shining more brightly than ever now, “really? Tell me, what does my

name mean?”

“Lion”

“Yes”

“yes what?”

“Yes I know you’re a lion but what does my name mean?”

“It means..” Azama’s chest puffed up again “Lion”

“huh?”

Azama expected awe, pride, humbleness at hearing such a proud name bestowed

upon him. “Huh” was not what he expected or wanted to hear

“ROAAARRRR ARE YOU MOCKING THE GREAT NAME you MOST CERTAINLY

DO NOT DESERVE TO BEAR!”

“No no I meant no disrespect. I’m just..confused…” squealed Assad. Afraid as he

was of Azama, he was happy for the opportunity to find another sound he could

make. He kept “squealing” in his memory to practice later. “I must ask my mama and

baba what these sounds are for” thought Assad

Meanwhile ‘Azama was watching him closely, trying, and beginning, to understand

how simply innocent this Assad really is. Azama’s voice then became gentler. He felt

this young Lion, for he had already decided he’s a lion and his name just confirmed

it, was in need of some wisdom only Azama could teach him.

“come” Azama said and turned around expecting Assad to follow, which he did, no

longer afraid of this magnificent creature who gave him his voice.

When they reached the rock Azama was on minutes before, Azama sat back on it.

He instructed Assad to sit in front of him so he was looking down into Assad’s eyes.

Assad obediently sat in front of Azama with his eyes looking up at him expectantly

waiting for some great wisdom to be given him.

“Tell me your story” Azama said

Assad wasn’t ready with his story and, since he only just found his voice, was even

less ready to tell it. “My story…ummm…uhhh..umm”

“Tell me why this is the first time you say your name?” Azama helped. His help

worked because Assad was now able to tell his whole story to him, all the while

hearing himself for the first time, feeling so much emotion, there are no words to

describe it.

When he was done telling his story ‘Azama said “follow me”

Assad felt tired after telling his story and feeling so much but, like before his feet

were taking him to where they felt he needed to go. This time, to follow ‘Azama

wherever he was going. He was dragging his trunk and spraying some sand on

himself to cool down, now that the sun was fully awake, when ‘Azama suddenly

stopped.

Behind ‘Azama, Assad couldn’t see why they stopped so he walked to his side and

as he reached where ‘Azama was looking, once again his eyes grew wider and

mouth dropped open in wonder at what he saw…It was a sunflower. Not just any

sunflower, but the one in the painting!

“You see, the story in the cave is a real story that happened years ago. This flower is

treated with great care and respect by all the creatures of the desert. It is the flower

that brought peace to our world when there was so much anger before. Without a

word or a…” and he looked down at Assad when he said that “…voice. Insisting to

grow tall and beautiful in the middle of so many angry animals, so much ugliness

around it, it still kept growing and spreading its petals wide and bright. It even

dropped its seeds for the birds to eat. Never a sound she made but she gave so

much wisdom to all who wanted it. Whenever an animal needed guidance, it would

come here to Abadit El Shams, to find their way. ‘Azama said that and turned to

leave.

“Can I stay?” asked Assad.

“You must. Afterall, how will the story end if not with you… Assad.” ‘Azama said

Assad’s name as if he knew him, or of him, from a long time ago.

Assad spent the rest of the day just sitting in front of Abadit El Shams, the sunflower,

to learn and in her silence, to find his voice, his true voice.

When nightfall came, he went to say goodbye to ‘Azama but couldn’t find him so he

left him a hoof print in the mud by his rock, as a way of saying thank you, and

returned to his village.

Even though Assad was eager to tell his family and friends of his adventure in his

own voice, he decided to wait a little longer. The time he spent with Abadit El Shams

made him feel the value of silence. A lesson he wished he knew before he could

trumpet and one he wanted his family to realise. He was happy he now had a voice

but realised, it’s only a good thing if he used it wisely.

Assad wasn’t going to keep his voice a secret for too long. Just long enough to help

them understand that with or without a sound, Assad always had a beautiful voice.

He waited till morning then he went to the big tree in the middle of the village and,

using his trunk, pulled down one of the branches , then let it go so that it disturbed

the birds hiding in it’s shade and they all flew up into the sky. This was how the

animals sounded the alarm. Not fun for the birds who made a fuss every time they

were disturbed, but they were secretly proud of their job for keeping their neighbours

safe. They just liked to hoot, twitter and squawk. Well, they were about to be the first

to learn a lesson in using their voice to sing, not fight.

When Assad was sure everyone in the village was gathered, he stood in the centre,

stretched his trunk, and began to suck through and twirl so the leaves that fell from

the tree around him were pulled towards him and flew all around him. Assad then

stood still and glowed like he never glowed before. It was a spectacular site to see,

with all the autumn coloured leaves flying around him and his light that shone all the

way to the sun… The sun itself was shielding it’s eyes! Assad was a site no one will

ever forget. All the animals who saw him that day would go silent when they

remembered it. They would also never forget what happened next.

After dazzling everyone into silence, Assad finally spoke one short sentence…

“Friends, what you saw now is who I am. Whom I’ve always been” Stunned even

more to hear Assad speak, the villagers had nothing to say. No one except for the

cricket, who always took the chance to be heard, to rub his hands together because

no one ever heard his soft sounds except in silence.

Assad spoke once again “I appreciate and love you all for trying to help me find my

voice. Now that I have found it, I can tell you that I found it through silence. Let us

gather here everyday in silence, to get to know one another.” Not sure whether

they’re supposed to cheer Assad for his voice or stand in silence, the animals were

very confused. They kept looking from one to the other and to Assad, waiting for any

clue as to what to do next.

Assad didn’t want them to think he was scolding them, after all everything they did

for him was out of love and it pushed him to go on the best adventure of his life! He

just wanted them to see what he saw, to help them like they helped him. So, he

walked to each and every animal or bird standing, sitting, and those flying he

grabbed gently with his trunk, and gave them all… a hug. A long silent hug and

whispered, “thank you” with each hug.

From that day onwards, the family of animals had a new tradition of gathering in the

same spot and sitting in silence. Sometimes facing the old tree, sometimes sitting

side by side, sometimes facing each other but always, ending it with hugs.

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