Gajaraj, the elephant, lived in the best booth of the royal stables. The king was fond of Gajaraj, and he had ordered that the elephant should be well looked after.
In spite of royal comforts, Gajaraj was sad because he had no friends. The mahout, or elephant trainer, was the only one he ever interacted with. The mahout was a kind man who served Gajaraj food, and gave him a bath in the elephant pond daily. He was a good caretaker, but not a friend.
“I wish I had a friend I can play with,” thought Gajaraj. One late evening, a dog strayed into the stable. Gajaraj could see that the visitor was tired and hungry. He pushed some of the food he was munching towards the dog. The visitor wagged his tail, looked up at the elephant to convey his thanks, and then turned his full attention to the food in front of him. As soon as he finished eating, he fell asleep.
Next morning, the mahout found the stray dog in the stable. He did not mind the dog. He also noticed that Gajaraj seemed to like the company. So, he threw some crumbs to the dog which the animal accepted, wagging his tail.
When the elephant went out for a bath, the dog accompanied his friend. Plunging into water, the elephant gave himself a shower using his long trunk, as the dog watched. The elephant took a trunkful of water and playfully splashed the water on his friend. The dog yelped for he hated taking bath. The mahout laughed.
On their way home, the elephant picked the dog with his trunk and placed him on his back. The dog was delighted to get a ride.
But a farmer passing by saw the dog. “Buntee,” he yelled. The dog ran to him. The farmer hugged the dog and told the mahout that he was looking for his dog ever since he disappeared from his house. He was glad he found him now. The mahout had no objection to the farmer taking the dog home. The farmer tossed a rope round the neck of the dog, saying, “Come Buntee, let’s go home.”
Only when the farmer pulled the rope did the dog realize that he was being taken away from his friend. He yelped, the elephant winced, but neither the farmer nor the mahout noticed that the two friends were in tears.
The next day at lunch time the mahout served Gajaraj his favourite food. When the mahout came back after finishing his other chores, he was surprised to see that the food had remained untouched.
“Why Gajaraj, aren’t you hungry?” he asked concerned. The elephant did not react.
“He may have slight indigestion. Let me not force him to eat,” thought the mahout.
That night too, Gajaraj did not touch his food–nor the next day. Now, the mahout was worried. He ran his hand on Gajaraj’s tummy and felt there was nothing wrong. Why was he not eating then?
“Is he missing his friend, that dog?” mahout wondered.
Meanwhile at the farmer’s house the dog had not touched the food ever since he was brought home.
“Are you missing your friend?” asked the farmer remembering the happy look on Buntee’s face while sitting on the elephant’s back.
“I cannot bear seeing you go hungry,” said the farmer, “If you miss him so much, go to him.”
The farmer removed the rope with which he had tied the dog.
The dog, though weak, sprang to his feet. He licked the farmer’s hand once and then ran. He stopped only when he arrived at the stable.
The elephant picked up the dog with his trunk and gave him a joyous swing. The mahout was relieved. He quickly brought the food.
“Both of you eat first,” he said.
By then the farmer who had followed the dog, joined him. The two of them watched with satisfaction the two friends eating food.
“It’s not only Gajaraj who has found a friend,” said the mahout hugging the farmer, “I’ve also found one.”