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Stories. 
The Race Returns
by Sujata C
Spoofs the Tortoise and Hare Fable

“And so the tortoise defeated the hare in the race.”

A young hare that lived in the 21st century was tired of listening to this ancient Norwegian fable that put a black mark on the name of hares for all eternity.

“What a shame!” he said addressing his group of friends who were really proud of their sprinting skills. The agitated hare was the leader of the group because he was the fastest among them all.

“What kind of a hare was he that ran the infamous race”, our friend continued. “Can you imagine taking a nap in the middle of a race?”

“He must have been one dumb hare…how else can anyone explain a hare losing to a tortoise?” said the second hare.
“And to top it all, these humans narrate the story over and over again to their little kids, so that it remains fresh forever in the minds of all living things!”

“True, very true,” everyone agreed. It was rare to see such unanimity in thought.

The young leader hare was going red in the face with embarrassment. “Somebody has to do something to set the record straight,” he said seriously.

And he came upon an idea.

“Why not run the race again and let the world see for themselves who is the fastest.”

“Good idea! The first race must have been run at the beginning of time when fables and legends were being written and they were looking for a tale with a twist,” said one hare.

“You can’t hang on to a silly tale like that for centuries when reality is quite the opposite!” said another.

So word was sent to the leader of the tortoises that history was to be written again. The hare and the tortoise must race again as the hares had lived long enough with the reputation of a humiliating defeat.

Naturally the leader of the tortoises did not agree. He was one hundred and fifty years old and quite comfortable with the name and fame they had made for themselves during that historic race.
“Sorry you can’t keep rewriting history like that, it’s not allowed,” said he said.

“All’s fair in love, war and racing,” said the stubborn hare. He was adamant and would not budge. He said, “ Okay then, if you do not wish to run then let it be declared that the tortoise has accepted defeat and the hare is the fastest of them all.”

The tortoises had a discussion amongst themselves.
It looked like they had no choice but to run the race again. And it was a very high reputation to live up to.

“Going by the determination of the young hare it is evident that he is keen on taking the victory trophy home without doing anything as foolish as going to sleep in the middle of a race.” the leader said.

“On second thoughts maybe he does not have such fine chance after all. Who knows this time around maybe he will make a new and different foolish mistake!” said the octogenarian with some cockiness.

With some hesitation the tortoises agreed to the new race. The course was decided. It was some 20 km of distance on the busy city roads with its speeding vehicles, flyovers and all.

The race started at 9.00 a.m. on Monday morning. The runners were wearing badges to identify themselves and also to ensure that there was no mix up and switching of places by some over smart contestant. You never know what any one might do just to win!

The race began. By the time the tortoise had lifted one leg the hare was two feet away. It was a flying start for the hare and soon he was ahead by leaps and bounds.

Along the way all the hares were there to cheer their leader.

Soon the hare came to a red traffic light. Now he knew that a red light meant dead stop. But he thought we never made any rules about obeying the traffic lights. Why should I stop? And so he jumped the red light. Cars from the other side were coming towards him as the hare ran. They just missed him by a whisker! The hare could feel the rush of blood into his head…phew that was a close call, he thought. Cars had come to a screeching halt and the horns were blaring. The traffic policeman was blowing his whistle loudly.

Racing ahead he did the same thing at the next red light. This time a motorbike had come close to making a pancake out of him. He just made it by the skin of his teeth. The hare knew he was taking big risks. So what, thought the reckless hare, this is a do or die race for the entire species of hares, I have to take a few risks, he thought to himself.

Now he was at the third red light and this time he was unlucky. A speeding two-wheeler simply knocked him out. He was flat as a cardboard now and unfortunately he could not get up and shake himself out and walk again like the coyote in the cartoon shows.

When the cheerleaders of hares found no sign of their runner they came looking for him. They found him moaning and bleeding on the road, luckily still alive. Cursing the indifferent bystanders the hares picked up their friend and took him to the hospital. “ We should have never gone for the second race,” said one hare with the wisdom of hindsight.

The injured hare came to his senses three days later and found himself in plasters on the hospital bed. “What about the race,” he asked his friends. “Did I win? Let’s go to the finish line quick.”

The hare arrived at the finish line on a wheel chair, only to find the tortoise being handed the victory trophy by the judge. History had repeated itself, albeit a little differently!

“Where did you vanish, friend,” asked the tortoise. “I just reached the finish line. You don’t look very well ”, he said as he handed him one of the many flower bouquets that he was receiving.

And so you see the tortoise won the race again.
Guess what the thoroughly chastened hare said? “Snip, snip snover, this story’s over!” That’s how Norwegian tales come to an end. 

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

27-Dec-2008
 
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