By Margo Wayman
Hakim was the biggest, noisiest, and laziest of all the hippos in the Nile river. While the rest of the hippos swam, ate, and played, Hakim would sleep. The others were always getting angry with him because he took up so much space in the mud at the side of the river.
Sometimes there was no room for any of the others. When they wanted to sleep, Hakim would snore. He snored so loudly that all the birds and monkeys had gone off to live in another part of the jungle so they could get some sleep.
One day, one of the hippos went over to Hakim and said, "Hakim, you are just too noisy. None of us can sleep, and you are so big that none of us get a chance to lay in the mud. And besides that, you are lazy. We want you to leave. We want you to go and move down river by the elephants. Keep them awake all night!"
Hakim was surprised. He hadn't realized that he bothered the other hippos that much. "If I promise not to snore or lay in the mud anymore, can I stay here?" he asked.
The three hippos looked at each other, then one said, "All right. But you have to be quiet!"
The whole day long Hakim tried his hardest to be as quiet as he could. He stayed awake so he wouldn't snore, and he didn't go near the mud. He sat in the middle of the river watching a bird dive into the water to catch a fish. He watched as a white feather flew off the tail of the bird and floated down to where he was sitting. Hakim looked all around but he couldn't see where the feather landed. Suddenly he let out a big sneeze.
All of the sleeping hippos woke up. They looked over to where Hakim was. "Uh, sorry. I just sneezed. It won't happen again," Hakim apologized, but soon he sneezed again. "AAAAACCCCCHHHOOO!" Then again, "AAAAACCCCCCCHHHHHHHOOOO!"
The hippos looked angrily at him. "Uh, sorry again, Just a small sneeze, guys," he apologized once more, but then he sneezed again.
Hakim felt very badly. The hippos were angry with him now. He didn't want that, so he left, and swam slowly down the river. The AAAACCCCHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOO's got quieter and quieter until the others couldn't hear them anymore.
"That's much better," one said, then they all went to sleep.
A group of elephants from down river had their eyes on the spot where the hippos usually lay. They had heard that Hakim had left, so they came to check it out. They looked around and didn't see Hakim. One of them yelled, "Hey! You hippos! We've decided that we want this spot in the mud. You guys are going to have to leave!"
The startled hippos looked at each other in surprise. One of them called back to the elephants, "Oh yeah! Why should we care what you want?" The other hippos agreed and yelled, "Yeah, why sould we care?"
The biggest elephant, Tough Rashid, walked over to the muddy bank. "See these sharp, pointed tusks? Well, in case you haven't noticed, you don't have any. If you don't leave right now, we'll jab you with them!"
The hippos looked at each other. One asked, "Why now? Why do you want our spot now?"
Tough Rashid sneered, "You used to have Hakim here. He was the only one we were afraid of. Now he's gone, and now you have to go. We have always wanted this spot."
The elephants filled their trunks with water and sprayed the hippos, then cried, "Go! Go! Go!"
The hippos had no choice. They were not as big as the elephants and they had no tusks. So, they left and went further down the river. One of them mumbled, "Maybe if we find Hakim and ask him nicely, he'll help us get our spot back!"
They searched, and searched for Hakim, but they couldn't find him. Then they heard a faint, "Aaaaaacccchhhoooooo!"
"That's him!" one of them cried. They followed the sneezes until they found Hakim. He was laying on a bunch of leaves, and looked very sad. "Hakim. We want you to come back and live with us again. We're sorry for chasing you away," he apologized.
Hakim let out the loudest sneeze any of them had ever heard. A little white feather came flying out of his nose. It flew up into the air, then fluttered back down to the ground.
"A feather? Is that what made you sneeze?" Hakim was asked.
"I think so," he answered, waiting to see if he would sneeze anymore, but he didn't. "That's it! I'm cured!" He was so happy.
The hippos then told him about Tough Rashid, and how the elephants had taken over their spot in the river Nile. Hakim got very angry. "Well, we will have to show those elephants just who is the toughest.!"
They stomped back to the river bank near their spot. There were the elephants, blowing water on each other and having fun. "I hope you boys are enjoying yourselves," Hakim yelled loudly. The elephants stopped and looked over at the very big, and very angry hippo. "All right, Tough Rashid. I'm back. This is our spot. You get out of the water and back down the river where you belong, or I'll really get mad. You don't want me to get mad, do you Tough Rashid?"
The elephants were scared. They ran out of the water and down the river bank as fast as they could. "And don't you ever come back!" Hakim yelled after them.
That night, Hakim snored loudly, but the others didn't care. They were back home and didn't have to worry about Tough Rashid and his gang every again....as long as they heard Hakim snoring, they knew they would be safe.