I was as tall as my father’s waist on the day that is saved in my memory as the first time I ever visited the local zoo. My younger brother, Shayan and I had been busy colouring that day’s newspaper when our father walked in on us. He looked astonished for a moment and then broke down into hearty gales of laughter. Realizing that his sons were soon going to render all the newspapers unreadable; he decided to make us utilise our energies elsewhere. He was taking us to the zoo.
The zoo turned out to be a fascinating place. Not only was it teeming with children of every size but all the animals whose names I knew and some that I had forgotten, were there. I squealed with joy at the monkeys’ cage. I looked at their jumping abilities with envy and wondered if I could grow a tail like theirs someday. It amused me to see them eat bananas just like us. Shayan wanted to give the monkeys his chocolate bar but our father told him that monkeys don’t like chocolate.
We moved to the lion’s cage but all he did was yawn once or twice to show everyone his sharp canines. I was impressed by how grandiose he appeared but was glad that he was being kept in a cage. I held my father’s hand more tightly till the lion’s cage was out of sight. We moved from one animal to the next; from the sullen, old tortoise hiding in its shell to the flamboyant peacocks excitedly taking in all the sights and sounds. I had decided on the enormous hippopotamus as my favourite animal because it had splashed water on a few passer-bys.
Our father decided that we couldn’t leave the zoo without an elephant ride. I was quite afraid of riding such a huge mammal but trying to hide it from Shayan. It was one thing to appreciate wild animals from a safe distance and quite another to be actually riding it. The huge tusks further added to my fear. Nevertheless, I soon found myself atop a gargantuan elephant along with my father and Shayan. As the hefty beast trudged along slowly my fear gradually subsided and I began to enjoy the ride.
On our way back we were rewarded with large chocolate ice cream cones for showing exemplary behaviour. With the day’s adventures safely stored in my mind, I couldn’t wait to go to school the next day so I could brag to my friends. So pleased I was with this trip that I decided that I may even ride the elephant alone next time.