Khuzaymah was a rather
long and quite skinny cobra. He lived under a red sandstone boulder that
sat next to a prickly cactus. He loved his home. Once a year the cactus
would bloom with a few orange-red flowers and they would fill the air with
their sweet scent. He loved the hot desert sun of Egypt and how it heated
the coral pink sand that surrounded the boulder.
Khuzaymah was a little
bit different from the other cobras. Instead of slithering across the
sand, he did something unusual. He held the end of his tail in his mouth
and he rolled along the sand like a hula-hoop. Since he was so different,
the other desert animals sometimes made fun of him.
One day, as Lateefa,
the lizard, was scuttering across the burning sand, she happened to see
Khuzaymah rolling towards her. She stopped and began to laugh. She
laughed, and laughed, and laughed, as he came rolling past her. Lateefa,
the lizard, had never seen a cobra roll before. "Why don’t you slither
like the other snakes? You look so funny!" she called out to Khuzaymah.
But Khuzaymah just
kept on rolling. He couldn’t say anything back to her because he’d have to
let go of his tail and he was having too much fun rolling around in the
Saabira, the scorpion,
was taking her four babies out for their first walk to teach them about
the dangers of the desert. "Children, you must be very careful. You must
watch out for….." Saabira was interrupted as Khuzaymah rolled right in
front of her family. "…….rolling cobras?" she continued. She suddenly
burst out laughing. Her four babies started to laugh too. "Children,
rolling cobras…Ha! Ha! Ha!… are very dangerous. Ha! Ha! Ha!" She couldn’t
talk. She was laughing too hard. Her stinger bounced up and down in the
air as she and her babies laughed at Khuzaymah.
He hadn’t seen Saabira,
the scorpion, and her family. He knew he’d better be more careful. He
tried to hiss, and stick out his wiggly tongue, but he couldn’t do that
and hold his tail in his mouth at the same time. He was having too much
fun rolling around in the desert sand to let go.
Bari and Basit were
two buzzards. They were flying high in the sky, looking for some lunch.
They loved to eat any kind of dead animal, so were always searching the
ground below for a meal. "What is that?" Bari asked, pointing with his
wing to a large area covered with acacia trees.
"It looks like a cobra
rolling along in the sand," answered Basit. "Let’s take a closer look!"
The two buzzards swooped down towards Khuzaymah.
"Why, it is a cobra.
Look! It’s got its tail in its mouth and it is rolling like a hula- hoop.
Have you ever seen anything so funny before, Basit?" Bari, the buzzard,
Basit couldn’t answer.
He had fallen to the ground and had landed on a cactus. He was laughing so
hard that he didn’t notice the sharp barbs sticking into his feathers.
Bari fell down and started laughing too. They both watched Khuzaymah roll
through the acacia trees with his tail held tightly in his mouth.
Khuzaymah could hear
the two buzzards laughing at him, but he didn’t care. He was having too
much fun. He kept rolling along happily, until he bumped into something.
He had knocked into it so hard, that he’d almost bitten his tail right
off. He lay there for a few moments with his eyes shut. When he opened
them, he saw that he’d bumped into a pile of bones. There was a huge,
sun-bleached skull, which must have belonged to a dead elephant. It was
lying partially buried in the sand.
Khuzaymah was tired,
and he was hot. He crawled into the skull through the hole where an eye
had been. He curled up into a ball and fell asleep. It was shady and cool
in there. He woke up a little while later to something sharp poking him.
"Get out of here! This is my skull!" screamed Shamsa, the spider. She’d
been out looking for her lunch and had come to find the cobra curled up in
the skull. He slithered back out of the hole onto the hot sand. "And stay
out of here! Be on your way!" Shamsa added.
Khuzaymah grabbed a
hold of his tail, being very careful of his partly bitten off end, and
rolled away. "What in the world?" laughed Shamsa. "You don’t slither? What
kind of cobra are you anyway? Ha, ha, ha, ha."
faster, and faster, so that he could get away from Shamsa, the spider.
After he’d rolled for about an hour, he was tired again. He didn’t notice
a big hole, and fell right into it. He lay at the bottom of it with his
tail in his mouth.
"Well, what have we
here?" asked the old desert fox who lived in the hole.
Khuzaymah let go of
his tail and answered, "I’m Khuzaymah, the cobra."
"What were you doing
with your tail in your mouth?" Hasib, the fox asked.
"You look tired, and
hungry. You can stay here with me and rest for a while if you’d like," the
fox said. "Just leave my gold alone. That’s all I ask of you." He pointed
to a pile of gold artifacts lying in the corner of the hole. Next to the
artifacts stood a shovel and a small pick.
Khuzaymah assured the
fox, "You don’t need to worry about me. I don’t care about ancient
Khuzaymah to go with him to find some food. "There are some delicious
dates growing on a palm, at the oasis. Do you like those?"
Khuzaymah didn’t care
for dates, but decided to go with Hasib anyway. The fox climbed out of the
hole and ran off. Khuzaymah grabbed hold of his tail and started rolling
behind Hasib. Neither of them saw Shakur, the lion. He was standing on a
rock watching the two animals. "What in the world is that?" he asked
himself. Coming quickly towards him was a fox, and a cobra holding its
tail in its mouth. The lion had never seen anything so funny before. He
began to laugh.
Hasib saw the lion.
Lions liked to eat foxes. He started running faster and faster. Khuzaymah
could hardly keep up with him. Hasib found another hole in the ground and
jumped inside. Khuzaymah followed him. They could hear the lion laughing
for hours, and knew they had to stay inside until it was gone. Shakur
laughed long into the night.
As the morning sun
rose from behind a sand dune, Hasib realized how happy he was to have a
friend; someone he could do things with. Khuzaymah was happy to have a
friend, someone he could roll around the desert with.
The next time you are
out in the Egyptian desert and you see a snake roll by with his tail in
his mouth, following a running fox, you’ll know who they are.