By Azariah Lindo
“What do you mean you aren’t handsome?” Tyrone asked his friend Shamonah. Tyrone was a toucan and since he was sure he was pretty good looking, he felt sure that everybody else thought they were pretty good looking too, but in his private thoughts, he thought Shamonah was pretty awful looking. Quite an ugly species, he quietly thought to himself. Shamonah was a hippopotamus.
“Well, my mom always said I was very, very beautiful, but then again, she was a hippo too after all. Tyrone, hippos are simply not beautiful. Not like giraffes or peacocks are.” Shamonah said, feeling somewhat jealous.
“Ok, well if you could pick one thing about a giraffe that you would want… What would it be?” Tyrone said. Now Tyrone, like all toucans, was able to allow others, who they love or like a lot, see visions.
That’s why people like having toucans for pets. It isn’t because they are delicate and ever so beautiful birds. It's the vision showing things that make them great; in this story, at least anyway.
“Well, if my neck was long and elegant, all of the pretty giraffes would love me and I would have tons of friends, wouldn’t I?” Shamonah said, his voice hopeful, however still full of envy.
“Ok, it’s yours. Say no more!” Tyrone said. He flapped his wings wide and then shouted ‘BAKKAH!” or at least I think that's what he said, which then induced the vision. “Hey, what’s happening?” Shamonah asked worriedly in a panic as he felt his big hippo head begin to shoot high into the sky, on top of the most beautiful giraffe neck that was growing from his plump hippo body.
When it finally stopped, Shamonah stood there not really knowing what to do with this much neck. Then, slowly at first, and then faster, his head began to sway back and forth and out of control like a carnival ride. His big hippo head was too heavy for that slim, long neck, and all of a sudden, it toppled downward. All around the jungle, the animals heard Shamonah yelling for help as the ground grew closer and closer and then WUMP! It hit the ground.
“Just a moment, let me get your head out of the sand.” The toucan said and he pulled Shamonah’s head back until it popped back into the air. “This isn’t working Tyrone. Not only is it dangerous, I think I look foolish with this huge neck attached to my big fat head.” Shamonah complained. “BAKKAH!” Tyrone squawked, and Shamonah was himself again.
“I still want to be good looking like the Pelican with those beautiful long legs. They can even sleep standing on just one of them. I wish I could do that.” He said, lifting one of his squatty hippo legs, and then putting them down before he lost balance and fell to the floor. “Ok, let’s try that,” Tyrone said, and out went his wings. “BAKKAH!” called the bird once again and the vision was seen as before.
“Here we go again!” Shamonah said gasping as he shot into the air with his legs growing long and skinny underneath him. When he stopped, he was standing tall enough to see over the trees. He peered down at his two pelican legs quivering trying to hold up his massive hippo weight. “Wow, Tyrone, my legs are so pretty.” Shamonah said with admiration as he started to walk toward the marshes where the other pelicans stayed. But the pelicans didn’t see Shamonah as pretty because of his long, pelican legs. As a matter of fact, he got quite the opposite reaction.
“Yikes! What is that thing!” many screamed and took flight thinking it was some kind of ugly monster. Others weren't as frightened and instead laughed, thinking Shamonah had come up with a strange costume. Others ran to him with Band-Aids thinking he must have been in a scene of a terrible collision between a bird and a hippo.
“Oh Tyrone, nothing is working,” Shamonah said bitterly and hopelessly. “BAKKAH!” Tyrone said, flapping his wings and Shamonah was back to normal again. Thank the heavens for that! “How will I ever stop being ugly?” Shamonah wondered with great sadness in his heart.
“Shamonah, I told you before, you are already good looking in your own right. You really need to be thankful for what you have. When you say you are ugly, you insult Yahawah, our creator. Way back, at the beginning of time, he made Hippos. He made toucans, pelicans, giraffes, and even humans, and each of them was perfectly made for what Yahawah wanted them to be. We are not made to look pretty to each other based on your own silly standards. Look to your friends and your own people, the hippos, and be at peace with what you are and what Yahawah made you be. Envy is a way of saying ‘Yahawah you did a bad job,’ and that makes Yahawah very sad or even angry indeed.” The wise bird counseled his Shamonah, friend. “Well, I don’t want Yahawah to be sad. And definitely not angry. I want to be all that he made me be, not what he made someone else to be. I want to be the best Shamonah the hippo he ever made.” Shamonah said, his big hippo chest sticking out proudly, but not the bad kind of pride, it was more of the thankful kind. “Oh, Shamonah!” Shamonah and Tyrone suddenly both heard a melodic female voice sing out. Just then, Claudette, the hippo stepped from behind the grass. “Will you take me to the waterfall today you handsome hippo you?” Claudette asked Shamonah, looking at him with her cute, big hippo eyes that were full of admiration.
“Wow, she sure is pretty.” Shamonah said to Tyrone and then he walked her way doing a little happy dance. Off they went as Tyrone looked on in amazement. “Those sure are two ugly hippos boy!” Tyrone said to himself giggling. Then he flew back to his tree to see if there was a pretty, girl toucan there who might like a trip to the waterfall too.