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Seven year old Rohit was going to the holiday area of Mussoorie with his parents in a jeep, and he was enjoying the panoramic beauty of nature.
He was enchanted by the mesmerising scenery of the tall trees and high mountains, valleys and streams.
Suddenly the jeep screeched to a halt, and Rohit was jolted out of his dream world.
He asked "Papa, what happened?"
With a worried look his father replied "I am afraid one of the front tyres has punctured."
His mother was also worried said "Now what we will do?"
His father replied "Help me get the tools, jack and spare wheel out of the trunk and I will change the wheel."
They were both engrossed in changing the wheel and didn't notice Rohit slip away.
He started picking wild but beautiful flowers which were blooming on the road side.
Soon, both of his pockets were full of them and he turned to show them to his parents, but a cold shiver ran down his spine finding that no one was there.
He called to his parents as loudly as he could, but did not get a reply.
He started crying loudly on finding that he was there alone.
Shadows cast by the big trees and plants were creating a frightening atmosphere, and it was starting to get dark as well.
He was trembling with fear, but his crying stopped when he heard an elephant's trumpet.
He saw a small elephant approaching him, and thought that the elephant might crush him.
But the elephant moved closer to Rohit and looked at him carefully.
Rohit mustered all his courage and said, "My teacher told me that your name is Appu. Are you really Appu?"
The small elephant looked around and finding no one, carefully lifted Rohit with his trunk and started walking.
Rohit was not afraid of him and while sitting on his back, he was patted him gently.
Soon they were on the road side.
Rohit saw his mother weeping and his father sitting still with a gloomy face.
He was overjoyed to see them; he called out loudly, "Mummy, Papa."
They both ran towards him and his father took him in his arms.
His mother was still speechless and looking at the elephant in disbelief.
Rohit said happily "Here, is my best friend Appu, who saved my life and brought me here."
"Thank you is a very little word for you Appu; we can never forget your kindness." his father replied with wet eyes
Rohit gently kissed Appu's trunk and said "I will come every month to meet you."
Then they left for Mussoorie and Rohit waved goodbye to Appu, he could see him standing there until the road turned round a bend.
Days, weeks, months and years rolled by, but due to his father's mobile job and his burden of studies, he could not get to that forest again and meet his unforgettable friend Appu.
After hard studying, and having a soft spot for animals, he chose his profession to be a veterinary doctor.
He never charged for his work on any animal that was in a circus or a zoo, feeling their pain and agony as if they were in prison.
One day he got a call from the zoo asking for him to do the annual check-up of the animals.
When he reached the zoo the manager was delighted to see him, as he really admired Rohit a lot for his noble work.
After chatting for some time Rohit went to check the animals with the manager.
When he was about to leave, the manager said "I don't know how I will be able to pay for your generosity as you have been visiting our zoo for many years and have not charged even a penny."
Rohit smiled and said "I get peace of mind after curing them. Now I must go."
When he stood up to go he heard an elephant trumpet.
Surprised, he asked the manager, "You have not shown me an elephant, where is this sound coming from?"
The manager stammered and replied hesitantly, "We brought an elephant two days ago, but he is very fiery and wild. His handler has been unable to control him, even after beating him severely.
So for your safety, I didn't mention him."
Rohit said angrily, "You need not worry about me, come and show me, where he is?"
The manager went with him and pointed in the distance.
Rohit looked back but the manager was rooted to the ground and remained still there.
When he reached the elephant he could easily see the blood stains on his legs and trunk.
He started observing him carefully, but the elephant was still making a loud noise.
Just then the elephant ran towards him and Rohit's legs seemed to have turned to jelly.
But to his surprise, elephant stopped near him and raised his trunk.
He saw that tears were trickling from elephant's eyes.
Rohit recognized him, it was his friend Appu.
He held his trunk and could not say a word.
A big tight knot in his chest ached and he wept so loud that the manager came to him.
"What happened? Did he try to kill you?" the manager asked in fear.
But still Rohit was holding the elephant tightly and continuously weeping.
"Please tell me. I beg you." the manager pleaded.
Rohit told the manager about Appu.
Rohit opened his bag and applied ointment on his wounds and Appu too was standing silently.
Manager said "Shall we go now?"
Rohit looked at Appu; tears were rolling down his trunk.
Rohit's face became pale and he said to the manager, "You can ask me for anything, even for my life; but please give me my Appu."
The manager wiped his tears and said, "He is yours and yours only."
Tears of joy glistened in Rohit's eyes as he took his Appu home with him.
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