Under the shade of a banyan tree, in a hole in the ground, lived a big fat partridge. The partridge loved her home; it was in just the right place, and during the hot summer months, the shade of the tree kept her quite cool in her happy home. She filled her home with beautiful things, and her home was quite near the rice fields, making it easy for her to collect her food every day.
One year the rice fields nearby were flooded by heavy rains. The grains of rice that the partridge used to collect to eat were all washed away by the flood, it was a difficult time for all the animals living nearby. With no food to eat, the partridge knew that she would die. She had to find food somehow, so she left her home and went on a long trip searching for food.
Since she had short wings and a heavy body, she could not fly very well. So, she had to walk most of the way. She had to be very careful as it was a long journey, and she could easily be caught by hunters or killed and eaten by other animals. So, she walked when it was safe to walk and often had to hide up in a tree or a bush. She was on her way to her cousin’s home, who lived quite far away, near another rice field, and it was going to take her some time to get there.
Not far from the partridge’s home in the ground, lived a rabbit in a house just like hers. But the rabbit’s house was closer to a stream, and all the water of the stream had flooded his home. He was very worried as he had nowhere to live, and if he didn’t find a hole on dry land, to hide in soon, he could easily be trapped by hunters. So, went searching for a new home on dry land, and in little time, he saw the partridge’s dry and cosy home.
He thought to himself, ‘this is the perfect home for me, look I don’t even have to dig a hole in the ground.’ So, he very happily settled into the partridge’s home. By this time, she had reached her cousin’s house, and her cousin asked her to stay, as the rice fields nearby were on higher land, and the heavy rains did not cause any flooding. So, she stayed with her cousin for the rainy season, for quite a few days. By this time, the rabbit had made her home his own and was very comfortable indeed.
When the rains stopped, and it was dry again, the partridge knew that food would plenty again. She decided to leave her cousin’s home, and start the long trip to her own home. She walked many days and nights, and she finally reached her home. It was dark, and she was tired, but when she climbed into her home, the rabbit was already in there, sleeping soundly. He was shocked, he shouted at the partridge, ‘Who are you, why did you enter my home so late in the night?’ She shouted back at him, ‘this is not your home, this is my home, why are you sleeping here?’
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They fought with each other for some time, but each one of them was not willing to listen to the other. They fought till morning, and when they were finally tired, they decided to ask another animal to help them decide who’s home it was. Not too far away lived a wild cat, so they decided to ask them for help. As the rabbit and the partridge came near, the cat was pleased that she was going to catch them and eat them for dinner.
So, they went up to the cat. The partridge said, ‘I have been living in the hole in the ground, under the shade of the banyan tree for many years.’ I had to go away for some time, and now this rabbit has taken over my home and won’t leave. The rabbit said, ‘I have lived in the hole for many days, and now this partridge wants me to leave.’ ‘Please help us decide who’s home it is?’
The cat didn’t want to scare them away, as she was not as fast as the rabbit, nor could she fly like the partridge.’ So she said, ‘come near, I want to look into your eyes and see who’s telling the truth.’ The plan was to catch both of them when they were near enough. As soon as they got near, the big strong wild cat quickly got a hold of both of them. She was ready to kill them and eat them when an eagle flying overhead spied the three of them.
Now the eagle was just as hungry as the wildcat, and she wanted to steal her food, so she swooped right down and bit the cat hard on her head. The cat was shocked; she left the partridge and the rabbit and leaped up into the air to attack the eagle. Just then, both of them quickly ran away. Now, the rabbit and the partridge were back at the hole; they still had not decided whose home this was. But after escaping death, they were both much wiser.
So, the rabbit said, ‘it’s been many days since the rain has stopped, let me go and check if my home is dry now, you can have your home.’ The partridge was happy. The partridge felt sorry for him; she knew that the next time it rained; he would have no home to stay in again. She had a bright idea, she said, ‘why don’t you dig a hole and stay here, even if it rains, your home will be dry, and you can watch over my house when I visit my cousin. They both started digging another hole together, and very soon, there were two holes side by side. The rabbit and the partridge lived happily as neighbors for many years.
Moral: When two people fight, a third person can make things worse.