It was soon after the first few, heavy showers of the rainy season. The grasses had grown tall, and the entire world all around seemed to have washed and dressed fresh in golden green. The gardens had revived.
Sri Bandicoot, who was living with his happy family near a big vegetable farm, contented with himself, fat and heavy, stretched himself and watched the bright sun burning down through the clouds. The rains had at last stopped. Sri Bandicoot thought, "I will just run up along the hedges and inspect how my farm-garden is flourishing."
He inspected the vegetable bushes, the potatoes, the various bulbs, the cauliflower, the tomatoes, the fruits, apples, limes, oranges, he was therefore more than satisfied. Whistling to himself, he was returning when he saw his friend, Sri Donkey, head down, lost in his own thoughts, going in the opposite direction.
"Good morning! Where are you going?"
enquired Bandicoot. "Good morning! Why do you want to know? If you want know, I can tell you, I am going to look at my farm. Now and then at night, I visit it."
"Yes, yes. I have seen it very often. As soon as you get there, the farmer is also there and what you get from him! Tell me, are they as painful as the sound indicates? They sound like heavy blows!"
"No. No. My friend. You don't know. I am experienced in receiving such blows all day, and so when I get a few in the night for the privilege of grazing in the gardens, I don't mind them at all!"
The Bandicoot burst into laughter at this donkey-wisdom. Sri Donkey felt insulted, and so he said, "You! Bow-legged little rat! How dare you laugh at me!"
Sri Bandicoot, still laughing, said, "My bow-legs are stronger than your long hind legs. They cannot take you as fast as mine can—no farmer can ever get at me with his stick."
"What do you say? Your tiny dandy legs are stronger than my steel-like strong hind legs! You are a fool."
"Alright. I bet," boasted Sri Bandicoot. "Let us have a test run. He who wins shall have the exclusive rights over that vegetable garden."
The suggestion was acceptable to Sri Donkey. It was settled that in half an hour's time they would both meet in the school playground and run from one end to the other of the foot-ball grounds. "That should decide who has the stronger legs," said Sri Donkey, and he felt so happy, that he frisked about, braying hoarsely.
Sri Bandicoot soon reached his home—and called out to his wife and said, "You get ready quick. We are both going to the school play-ground. Right now. I have challenged our Donkey for a race. He who wins will have the exclusive rights to the vegetable farm down the street."
The poor lady was aghast. She began to despair. She could not believe that her wise husband had so foolishly made such a bad bet. "Be quiet!" he said. "You females should not interfere with us males. You just come with me."
As a dutiful lady-rat, she quickly got herself ready and they both started.
They carefully ran and crossed the street, and reached safely the play-ground. As they were crossing the play-ground, Sir Bandicoot whispered to his wife, "Look, darling. You can now help me. You stay at this end. When Sri Donkey runs and reaches here, just peep out of this hole and say, 'I am here," and go back into the hole. You understand? Again, when you hear the sound of the pounding hoofs of Sri Donkey, bring your head out and again say, 1 am here" That is all. Will you do this for me?"
Smt. Bandicoot felt very cross and terribly unhappy that her husband should ask such a question. "When have I not obeyed your wishes? Why do you ask me, 'will you?' Certainly I will do anything for you, my Lord. But I warn you—don't try to run against Sri Donkey. He has such long legs, and they are powerful . . . Please think for a moment—how can you win a race, when we Bandicoots have such a big body and such small legs."
Sri Bandicoot smiled in satisfaction and, "You females. If legs are short, still we can win the race, because of the strength of the head. You watch, old lady, and tell me what you have to say when we are returning in victory." She smiled, as only cultured lady-bandicoots can!!
By this time Sri Donkey walked on to the playfield. Our Bandicoot ran and met his adversary at the other end of the field. They decided to start from the end where Sri Donkey was, run to the goal-post on the farthest end, stop, turn, and run back. They both stood. Sri Donkey cried: "Get set. Ready. Go!" and Sri Bandicoot ran—Sri Donkey in a dash galloped away in frantic speed. Sure of success when he reached the other end, out of the hole came the head of the Bandicoot ”C'I am here," it said and disappeared.
Sri Donkey, wondering how this was possible, turned and ran back again, and when he reached the starting line, Sri Bandicoot was standing there and he cried out, “I am already here!"
Poor Donkey was worried. He was confused. But he got an idea. "I think you won this race because it was such a short run. Let us run now—-ten times, non-stop, goal-post to goal-post across the foot-ball field." With great hesitation Sri Bandicoot accepted, and the more Sri Bandicoot was hesitating, the more Sri Donkey was getting over-confident that he would win. At last the challenge was accepted.
They both stood at the starting line, and this time Sri Bandicoot cried, "Get set Ready. Go!" And off Sri Donkey ran. When he reached the other end, Smt. Bandicoot said, "I am here" and when the Donkey reached the starting end, Sri Bandicoot said "I am here". The Donkey ran faster and faster each time, and each time at each end he found Bandicoot was already there to address him and to say, "I am here". Faster and faster the Donkey ran. More and more exhausted he became. His tired legs began missing their steps. Once or twice he stumbled. But he regained his balance. And again he ran. He ran faster. His front legs became stiff with weariness. Head-on the animal crashed down. In the great speed of its rush, the fall broke its neck. The poor Donkey died where it lay.
Sri Bandicoot collected Smt. Bandicoot and both of them returned home happily. On the way, Mrs. Bandicoot stopped and said: "Lord. You are most inconsiderate. That Donkey has died and you won't stop to lift him and bury him." Sri Bandicoot again reminded her that she should leave all such things to the wisdom of her husband.
"Do you think I would not consider all these things? When Sri Donkey was thus madly running across the foot-ball field, the keeper of the field was watching from the school corridor. There, see! He is running towards the dead animal. Surely he will see to the burial of the dead Donkey. You come with me and give me something nice to eat."
"Why should you feel hungry, when you did nothing at all to win the bet?"
"What? Do you think one needs no food to think so hard and with wisdom win over the physical strength of others around us? As soon as you reach home, give me plenty to eat. If you have nothing at home, run across and get things from our vegetable garden. Now we are the sole owners of it."