There was a green meadow and –in its greenest part –there lived a small green grasshopper.
His name was Zinedine.
All day long Zinedine was practicing long jumps.
You will say: what is there to practice, he is a grasshopper, isn’t he?
Yes, he was a grasshopper and that is exactly why he did not want to quit it; and he was jumping and jumping although one of hislegs was almost completely missing.
It was missing ever since he was born.
In the beginning Zinedine thought that everything was exactly as it should be. He was not able to understand why his distant aunts, who jumped and gathered from all sides, were looking with compassion at his mother and all the time were giving him sugar cane to lick.
When he grew up and tried to jump like everyone else, he found out. And everyone looked upon his attempts with sympathy as he tried to jump from one stone to the other; even the stones themselves have sat nearer to each other so that they could also discuss more easily each event in the forest.
For the rest of the green grasshoppers jumping was not a problem at all, but for him it was a great effort.
Zinedine was getting so tired after every jump, that he had to rest until sunset.
‘It is hopeless!’ he thought after one of his attempts, ‘I will never be able to jump like the others.’
‘Croak, croak, I also agree! You would do better to quit. And you can try to be a snail. For sure it will be easier for you’ the Frog Singer from the nearby bog croaked a few times more and disappeared with giant frog leaps into the distance.
The grasshopper felt even sadder. He sat upon a pebble and started to cry, all of was shaking from the sobbing and looking even greener than before.
He cried for so long that the sun could not stand it any more and hid itself.
All of a sudden the grasshopper was startled and scared by the darkness coming from the West.
He started limping away but suddenly realised that he had made his difficulties even bigger. Everything around him was flooded with tears very much like in a sad song and a small salty lake had formed there.
A small salty lake, but big enough for a tiny limping grasshopper to drown in its tears.
Zinedine tried to jump on the nearby stone but started sinking in the puddle; then he caught a blade of grass and managed to climb back onto the stone.
When he looked around, it was already dark and scary. A cold wind blew. The grasshopper understood that the more he cried, the bigger troubles he would make for himself and that is why he was sitting silently on the stone, wondering how he would get back to his warm bed.
He tried to shout ‘mummy, mummy’ but no one heard him.
He felt even colder and sadder and in his mind he strayed back to the time when all of his brothers and sisters were going for some shopping with their mother and he was staying home and drawing with a tiny green pastel. Why?
Zinedine was sitting alone with his sad thoughts and felt almost at peace. He decided that it was better like this. To be alone!
And suddenly there was light flashing above him. He closed his eyes.
‘Here he is, here he is!’ there was someone shouting.
As he slightly opened one of his eyelids, he saw that the lights were those of a few of the fireflies from the local firehouse.
It turned out that all the animals in the forest had left their cosyhouses and rushed to look for him! The ladybirds even flew to the strawberry fields at the end of the forest!
Zinedine rose on his elbow and the owl Buffo grabbed him, flying with him over the lake of tears and carried him tight back into the arms of his loving and caring small mother. She started covering his face all over with thousands of kisses.
‘Zinedine, I will always love you! I love you not for what you do but for all that you are, being my boy.
Without you the forest would not be the same. And it is even truer that I would never be the same too! If I had lost you, a part of my heart would have been gone too!’
So let the party begin!
The small grasshoppers were jumping around and no one was feeling sleepy. Everyone was happy that they had found Zinedine safe and sound. The owl Buffo flew in a hurry to his small house to bring some hazelnuts and walnuts; the hedgehogs were sharing their apples and pears, while the bear cubs rolled nearby a whole earthen jar of honey. The crickets took out their guitars and the dances shook the floor.
You jump the furthest and you
Jump even over the stars,
Even over the dreams! When you are
Loved and you love too.
When you are loved,
Then no walls rise,
When you are loved,
The next day Zinedine continued with his exercises but all seemed different. And so it happened that Doctor Stork arrived in the forest. He was a sturdy creature but nevertheless a great doctor with a big and kind heart.
Doctor Stork carefully stitched a new leg to the grasshopper kid, that was made of special green Needles, borrowed from a pine-tree.
And not long after that, Zinedine could jump almost like the others!
His brothers and sisters encouraged him and were showing him other ways to jump lighter and further.
The Frog Singer heard of the achievements of the so assured grasshopper, she jumped from her bog, came near him with a big white lily and uttered shyly:
‘This is for you. You are a real grasshopper. Not only because you can jump this well, but because you kept your faith in what you do and believed that it is possible even when hope seemed gone, and now it is true.’