Why There Are No White Elephants
Long ago in the scorching, grassy Plains, where all the wild animals dwelt and roamed, lived a very sad elephant. She was sad because she was an oddball of her kind. She gazed at all the great cats in their mocha spotted fur playing with their cubs. Her heart sank when passing a herd of striped zebras grazing together. She sat across the watering hole starring longingly at the gray majestic elephants gathered on the other side. But because White Elephant’s skin was not gray, the other elephants wanted nothing to do with her. They raised their long trunks and turned their tusk up in the air when White Elephant came near for a drink. Every day, the other young elephants teased and mocked her. One day, she ran back to her parents sobbing.
“Mother. Father. Why am I the only White Elephant in all the Plains?” she asked as her floppy, pink ears turned red. “No one will play with me. They say mean things and make scary faces at me. Oh, why am I so ugly?”
beautiful of all the elephants. You were given to us by Mother Nature herself. You are a miracle child.”
“If I’m so special, why do the other elephants ignore me and run away?”
“Honey, they treat you that way because you are different. They don’t know what a kind and smart elephant you are. Don’t pay them any mind. You just stay yourself and remember we love you. The others will come around in time,” said her father.
“But I don’t want to wait! I don’t want to be different anymore! I want to be beautiful and gray like all the other elephants.” White Elephant shouted, running away from her parents.
She rested under the old Acacia Tree she usually sat at alone, letting out a loud trumpeting sound scaring away all the African Sunbirds from their perches. Tears fell from her peach eyes and rolled down her pale thick skin. From noon to dusk, she cried as she watched the other elephant families take cover under the large setting sun, wishing desperately that she could be beautiful and normal.
“White Elephant! Wake up my child.”
White Elephant awoke with a start and glanced into the dimness but saw no one.
“It is Mother Nature.”
“Is it really you?” she spoke to the air. “Have you come to grant my wish?”
“I have seen your burden and heard your cries. Weep no more my child. Journey with me, heed my instructions, and I may grant your heart’s desire.”
White Elephant lifted herself as fast as any elephant could. “Oh yes, please. Mother Nature, I will do whatever you say. Tell me where to go.”
“Head north, and chase the moon. Keep walking. I will guide your footsteps and protect you from predators. Let us go now.”
Without another word, White Elephant walked and walked using the moon as her guide. As she walked, her heart leapt with anticipation. She journeyed for hours clomping the patches of tall grasses until the arid, dusty ground become moist, red soil.
The moon disappeared. White Elephant looked around and knew she wasn’t in the Plains anymore. Her eyes were wide to see all the sights, her ears alerted to hear all the sounds, and her trunk up to smell all the aromas. The place was cool and lush with large drooping leaves, leaning palm trees with indigo coconuts, and multicolored flowers. She heard the gentle splashes of the burgundy waterfall. The air was spiced from the basins of sage, cerulean, vermilion, mustard, and iridescent white opal powders. In front of her a glass mirror hung on an ashen dead tree.
“Mother Nature,” White Elephant called out.
“Here I am, child.” Mother Nature appeared wrapped in ivy and peacock feathers. Her long hair was like a lion’s mane and her skin scaled. Her head was crowned with rock crystals and neck adorned with a ring of butterfly wings. She smiled widely at White Elephant with her blackberry-stained lips and eyes that seem to
contain all of creation. “My little white elephant, almost fully grown. You are still my greatest creation in over 100 years. Tell me what you seek.”
“I want to be gray and more beautiful than the greatest elephant or animal of all
“But why? You are unique and time and handcrafted. In you all the wonder, variety, and mystery of creation is manifested. You were a gift to the most deserving elephant guardians, who wished for you for many years.”
“Well, I don’t feel that special. I’m hated by all the other elephants. Even the other
animals don’t like me. I’m so pale and ugly and have no friends."
“Hmm, I see your plight.” Mother Nature frowned. “But I meant for you to be cherished and you are.”
“But I’m not happy, Mother Nature. Oh please make me beautiful. Please.” White
Mother Nature turned away from her. White Elephant’s heart thumped in her chest as shewaited for a response.
“I cannot make you gray, but I can make you more beautiful than the setting sun. You will sparkle more than the stars, and put the moon to shame.”
“Oh yes, please. That is what I want. Thank y-”
“But before I do this, we must draw up an agreement.” Mother Nature tugged a nearby branch and pulled out a long piece of parchment and stood in front of White Elephant. “You must first promise me to use this gift to be happy and good. If you abuse this gift, a curse will fall upon you.”
“Yes! I promise to do whatever you say Mother Nature.”
Mother Nature searched White Elephants eyes and looked her up and down. “We shall see. I will agree. Let’s begin. Stand very still. I shall ornament you with the richness of the earth.”
Mother Nature took a bamboo stick and tapped the red soil three times. White Elephant felt a small rumble under her large feet. But she stood incredibly still. She watched in amazement. The colored powders created a cloud decorating her.
Lavender petals, magenta blooms, and saffron threads were pressed into her skin. Drops of burgundy rain were scattered on her body. Bracelets of gems and smooth pebbles were wrapped around her ankles. When the rainbow cloud dispersed, White Elephant emerged glowing. Mother Nature brought the blank
parchment up to her.
“What do you see?”
White Elephant looked at the parchment and saw herself against the background of Mother Nature’s Den. “Is that me? I look…”
“You are pleased?”
White Elephant let out a trumpeting sound raising her front legs up in the air. Mother Nature let out a thunderous laugh. “I have heard my answer. But before
you go, I’ll remind you of our agreement one more time,” said Mother Nature as
she laid the picture at the elephant’s feet. “Dip your foot into the vermillion powder and press it on the parchment.”
White Elephant did as she was told without hesitation, and the red circle formed a solid ink seal then vanished.
“It is done. In three blinks you will be back in the Plains. Live well my child.”
White Elephant woke up under the Acacia Tree, glittering in the morning sun. Overjoyed, she went to see her parents. On her way, she noticed the creatures of the Plains stopped and admired her glowing figure.
“Mother, Father. I got my wish. Look at me.”
The pair of wrinkled gray elephants could hardly believe their eyes. “Are you our daughter? Her father asked.
“Yes, it’s me. I look more beautiful than I could imagine. Better than you or any of the animals in the Plains. I’m magical.”
“You were magical the way you were,” her mother said. “You are different
“How dare you! You are just jealous,” White Elephant said enraged. “I don’t want to see you again!”
She ran to the watering hole where the elephants and buffalo communed and the
hippopotamus wallowed. She stood like a radiant queen amongst them. They all
bowed to her hooting and hollering as she walked past, charmed by her brilliant
colors. White Elephant took it in and was very happy with herself. The elephants that once scorned her were now following her around. Other animals fetched her the greenest grasses and ripened fruit. Everywhere she went, animals would follow and offer greetings and gifts.
A year passed, and her fame had grown and her head swollen. White Elephant had gotten so used to the special treatment, she demanded to be favored most of all the elephants. When her followers could not find more food and supplies, she
shouted at them and took the food they saved for their families. If they refused, she told them she had magical powers and would turn them into rocks if they didn’t obey. Those who came across her and didn’t greet or bow were exiled. The beasts of the Plains started to hate White Elephant but were too afraid of crossing her.
One day White Elephant decided to make herself Queen of all creatures and wanted her beauty to be worshipped. So she climbed the highest rock in all the Plains and declared it over all the land. Suddenly, the winds changed, the sky darkened, and the earth quaked. The animals dispersed in fear. Mother Nature appeared before White Elephant in all her wrath holding the picture. White Elephant was scared.
“WHITE ELEPHANT!” Mother Nature’s voice boomed and lightning cracked in the sky. “You have not kept the agreement you made with me.”
“Y-Y-Yes I have, Mother Nature,” she whimpered. “I am living…very well now.”
“NO! You terrorized my creatures, stole their food, forsook your loving guardians,
and now you want to take a position that is not yours. You have not been good or kind. You shall be punished.”
“Wait. Please give me another chance Mother Nature!” White Elephant cried.
“I gave you a year to change and you got worse. Today, you have dishonored me and misused my gifts. Into the parchment you will stay and be forgotten.” In a tap
of her bamboo stick, White Elephant was banished to the parchment. Mother Nature took the picture back to her den and tore it into strips. She placed them in the glass mirror on the dead tree and vowed to never make a White Elephant on the earth ever again.
The land was calmed and the animals of the Plains had peace. Just as Mother Nature promised, no one saw White Elephant again. To this very day, a White Elephant has never appeared on Earth.