By Margo Wayman
Khuzaymah was a rather long, and quite skinny cobra. He lived under a red sandstone boulder that sat next to a very 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 dont you slither like the other snakes? You look so funny!" she called out to Khuzaymah.
But Khuzaymah just kept on rolling. He couldnt say anything back to her because hed have to let go of his tail, and he was having too much fun rolling around in the desert.
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 cobrasHa! Ha! Ha! are very dangerous. Ha! Ha! Ha!" She couldnt talk. She was laughing too hard. Her stinger bounced up and down in the air as she and her babies laughed at Khuzaymah.
He hadnt seen Saabira the scorpion and her family. He knew hed better be more careful. He tried to hiss, and stick out his wiggly tongue, but he couldnt 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. "Lets take a closer look!" The two buzzards swooped down towards Khuzaymah.
"Why, it is a cobra. Look! Its 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 asked.
Basit couldnt answer. He had fallen to the ground and had landed on a cactus. He was laughing so hard that he didnt 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 didnt 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 hed almost bitten his tail right off. He lay there for a few moments with his eyes shut. When he opened them, he saw that hed bumped into a pile of bones. There was a huge, sun-bleached skull, that 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. Shed 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 spider 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 dont slither? What kind of cobra are you anyway? Ha, ha, ha, ha."
Khuzaymah rolled faster, and faster, so that he could get away from Shamsa the spider. After hed rolled for about an hour, he was tired again. He didnt 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, "Im Khuzaymah, the cobra."
"What were you doing with your tail in your mouth?" Hasib the fox asked.
Khuzaymah didnt answer.
"You look tired, and hungry. You can stay here with me and rest for a while if youd like," the fox said. "Just leave my gold alone. Thats 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 dont need to worry about me. I dont care about ancient Egyptian artifacts."
Hasib invited 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 didnt 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, youll know who they are.
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