By Vanessa Smeets
Rob the rhino was the cutest rhino in the whole herd. He had big blue eyes and a tiny puffed up tail, but one thing was missing… his horn!
“Mom, when will my horn start to grow?”
“Don’t worry, Rob… Everything in due time.” Mommy rhino said, softly patting him with her tail.
What did that mean?
Rob didn’t know what those words meant together and was too embarrassed to ask his mom to explain.
“Rob, where’s your horn?” laughed Rick, the biggest baby rhino. Rick was busy eating some grass nearby.
“I don’t know, Rick. Probably where your manners are… hiding somewhere.”
“You know you can’t be a rhino if you don’t have your horn.”
“You may turn into a hippo!”
“A hippo?” said Rob, very hurt. “Well, maybe you should tell that to my mom. I dare you!”
“Oh, poor baby Rob still needs his mommy to protect him. Maybe we can be friends when you can look after yourself. When your horn appears.”
Rick walked away with his tail standing up.
“Why can’t we be friends now?” asked Rob, with a half-broken smile.
“Because, I can’t be friends with a hippo. See you later, Robopotamus.”
“My full name is Rob Ceros! Like rhinoceros! One day you will remember me!” Rob said, smiling.
In a way, it was fun to fight with Rick. Rob knew Rick was just mean because he was bigger than the other rhinos and that made him feel very different. Just like Rob was different with no horn, Rick was different through his big size.
Rob carried on walking till sunset, looking for a place to drink. He finally found a small puddle near the fence, where a tap had been left open. It was the dry season and the lake close to the herd had completely dried up.
But there, in a small puddle of water, Rob saw another baby rhino staring back at him. Rob had no idea it was his reflection, he was still too small to understand.
“Hey, lil’ guy… What’s your name?” Rob saw the little guy’s mouth move but could not hear him.
“I can’t hear you…
Are you stuck on the other side? Hey, wait a minute…”
Rob noticed something fascinating. The little guy had a completely smooth snout, no horn either. Rob felt at ease. He finally found someone just like him!
“I have to tell Mommy!” he shouted! “She will see I’m not the only one in the whole herd without a horn. Even if this baby rhino has no voice.”
“Mommy! Mommy! I found someone just like me!”
“That’s wonderful, Rob. Where?”
“Near the fence. His snout was smooth like mine. But he can’t talk! He has no voice!”
“Shame, poor thing! Did he lose it?”
“I don’t know, but he talks when I talk. I can’t hear him.”
“Is he in the water?”
“Yes, Mommy! How did you know?”
“Rob, my sweetheart, that is your reflection!”
“Yes, it’s you. In the water, we can see ourselves. But we can’t talk back.”
“I thought I had a new friend!” Rob said. He started to sob.
“Don’t cry, my darling. Daddy’s horn took a long time to grow also! Everything will happen in due time!”
“I still don’t know what those words mean.”
“Well, look at the seasons. After winter, there are no leaves and no rain. When spring comes, the leaves and flowers start to appear. When summer comes, the rain hits the savannah and the trees get bigger with more leaves. This is called due time.”
“Wow, Mom! So, right now, I am like winter with no leaves, but one day my summer will come, and I will be big and strong like Rick with a huge horn?”
“That is so exciting! I can’t wait!”
“But, you must wait. Such beautiful things take time.”
“Yes, my precious. You understand everything.”
Later that day, Rob went back to his reflection.
“I wish you could talk to me. I have no friends. They laugh at me because I have no horn, just like you! I don’t want to be a hippo!”
Rob started to cry. His tears hit the puddle very quickly, like rain.
“If only it was my rainy season now… I want to have a horn, I want many friends.”
“Why are you crying?” said a voice behind him. It was Rachel, Rick’s sister.
“Please don’t tell your brother I was crying. He will make fun of me.”
“It’s okay. We all need to cry now and then. Why are you so sad?”
“Can’t you see why?” Rob said, his eyes burning from the tears.
Rachel looked at Rob but couldn’t see anything wrong with him.
“All I see are tears in those big, blue eyes.”
“No, that’s not it…”
“Okay, all I see are four legs struggling to walk away from sadness.”
“All right, all I see is a tail small and withering from sitting in the dirt too long.”
“That’s still not it.”
“I don’t know what else. All I see is someone so cute, yet so lonely that he is talking to his own reflection.”
“That’s true. Someone with no purpose. Someone with no horn.”
“No horn? That’s why I can see your eyes so well. Wow! Your eyes are really big…and beautiful.”
“Thank you, I think. But I have no friends. Nobody in this herd wants to be friends with a hippo.”
“I’ll be your friend!” said Rachel, giggling. “I like hippos!”
Rob laughed. Suddenly, there was lightning in the sky and Rob’s snout hurt very much.
“The rainy season has come! Finally!” Rachel said, laughing. “Why do you still look so sad?”
“Ouch! My snout is hurting. What’s happening to me?”
“Oh my, that’s normal! Your horn is growing. It will hurt like this for months, until the rainy season stops.”
“I guess all in due time.”
“Exactly, due time. Also known as the best time of our lives.”
Rob was soon accepted by Rick and the rest of the baby rhinos and had the biggest, sharpest horn of the entire herd. His winter was finally over.
Rachel’s kindness had helped Rob realise his true potential. She was a friend in perfect timing… due time.
About the Writer
Vanessa loves writing about people and places on our beautiful continent. You can read more of her writing on her blog: Chica Papillon