Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Story for Janamashtami

Yesterday was Janamashtami. I went to Alipurduar town to buy a small garland for the baby Krishna in our puja.

We have to drive a long way through the Rajabhatkawa forest to reach the town. It's a very large forest, and there are so many trees that you could never finish counting them. Last year, when my mother Maiji saw this forest for the first time, she said it reminded her of a story from one of the text books she read at school. Maiji told me the story, and here it is.

A little boy lived at the edge of the forest with his mother. His father was dead. His mother was very poor and she had to work very hard to feed herself and her son.

It was time for the little boy to begin schooling. The only school was on the other side of the forest. He would have to walk there and back all by himself every day. It was a very thick forest, and he was frightened.

On the first day, he came back home crying. He had been so scared! How could he go into the forest all alone like that everyday? His mother heard everything he had to say. She put her arms around him and told him he was not alone in the forest.
Surely he knew his elder brother lived there?

His elder brother! The boy's face lit up. 'I have an elder brother? Who is he? What is his name? Why doesn't he live with us? Why does he live in the forest?'

'His name is Gopala, son. He is a cowherd. He can't leave the cows alone in the forest. That's why he has to live there too.'

The little boy could hardly wait to meet his big brother.
'But will he know who I am?' he asked. His mother replied that he only had to call out to Gopala. He would come, and he would stay by his brother's side, and he would walk with him through the forest.

The following day, and every day after that, the boy came back home very happy. He couldn't stop talking about his brother Gopala.

The teacher at school heard him talking one day. Now the teacher knew that the boy had no brother. He scolded him for telling lies.
But the boy said, 'No, I am telling the truth.'
'Well', said the teacher, 'if that is so, I will walk back with you through the forest and I will meet your brother too.'

They entered the forest together, and the boy called out to Gopala as he always did.
'Gopala, Gopala!'
'Gopala, Gopala!'
Gopala did not appear.
He called him again and again, but  no one came.
The teacher turned upon the boy and said he would have to punish him now.

All of a sudden, there was a voice that filled all the forest.
'I am here. But only those who really believe in me can see me.'
The teacher stood there stunned. He now understood who Gopala was, and why only the little boy could see him in the forest everyday.

Isn't it a beautiful story? All the stories about Krishna are. He was the friend of the poor and the friendless.

Maiji told me that 'Aval' or ‘Chiwra’ was something that he loved. But that is another story, and I'm sure you will tell it much better than I can, won't you?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tara's Birthday : A Story for Guppy, Poppy, Nino, Maya and Marek, and Pacha

Tara Doggie is ten years old now. I remember the day she came to Guppy and Poppy's house as if it was yesterday. Mummy and Papa had been thinking about getting a dog for the girls as they were now old enough to take care of one. They also wanted them to have a friend who would share all their secrets, and all their fun times.

Mummy asked Santosh Uncle next door to keep his ears open (almost like a good dog might do!)for any news of little puppies who were being given away. 'Not a hairy dog, please, Santosh, not a very small one, and if possible, a male.' Well, Mummy thought a male would be a nice addition in a house with mostly females, and for obvious reasons she didnt want a very hairy dog which she'd have to clean up after. She wanted a big dog because she thought it would frighten unwanted people away.

Santosh Uncle visited one morning soon after. He was standing outside in the verandah with his hands behind his back when Mummy came out to greet him. He smiled and said, 'I can't sit down, I have no time, but I do have something for you.' Then he put whatever was in his hands on the table in the verandah. It was tiny, white and fluffy.

The tiny thing stood up and blinked at Mummy slowly. 'Oh, what kind eyes you have, you little beauty!' said Mummy and picked up the - yes, it was a puppy - at once. 'This puppy is a girl. And she will grow up to be a small, hairy dog' said Santosh Uncle. But Mummy had already lost her heart to the little puppy, who was looking happy too.

Papa came home for lunch before the girls were home from school. He was very happy to see little Tara exploring her new home quite happily in tiny puppy steps.
She was put into a small cane basket and covered with a napkin to keep warm. When Guppy and Poppy came home from school, they were told, 'There's a surprise waiting for you in the Jali Kamra!'

So off they ran into the room that led from the verandah. All they saw was a small covered basket. They knelt down and one of them lifted a corner of the napkin. Out came a little black snout, and an enquiring white face.

Oh, how Guppy and Poppy yelled with delight! What hugs and kisses Mummy and Papa got from them. How the two girls ate their lunch, or ever got their homework done that day, I don't know.

I do know that since that day, Tara has heard all their secrets, and wept with them over all their sorrows. She'd always comfort them with a special lick. You don't believe me? Well, I just read all this out to Tara, and she looked very wisely at me and said, 'Let it be. Children who've shared their secrets with their dogs will understand.' Oh, and she asked me to put in a big happy wag and friendly woof from her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Baby Kitty Cat

There was a little girl called Meeta who wanted a puppy. Guppy and Poppy who lived next door had two doggies. After many months of saying they could not get her a pet, Meeta's Papa brought a kitten home for her. Meeta was so happy! She named her Softie.

The first time I saw the kitten, she had run into Guppy and Poppy's garden to play. She looked so pretty that the two girls ran and picked her up. 'Look, Amma, a kitty cat!' said Guppy. 'Yes! A Baby Kitty Cat!' said Poppy.

Guppy brought her in and fed her a little milk, which Baby Kitty Cat drank up very happily. And then Baby Kitty Cat walked all around the veranda, looking curiously under tables and chairs. She rubbed her head along everybody's feet and tried to nibble all our toes. She jumped up on to the narrow ledge around the verandah and stalked along like a big hunter cat. She pounced on a little insect and ate it up. She knew everyone was admiring her.

Then she saw the wool that Nani was knitting. The ball of wool kept rolling and jumping on the floor and Baby Kitty Cat was fascinated. 'What is this thing?' she seemed to be wondering. She waited until the ball settled down for a bit and jumped on it. She dug her teeth into it and fought it, biting and pulling it all over the place! Guppy and Poppy laughed and laughed. Nani and Amma never noticed. But not for long. When Amma saw what was happening, she was so annoyed, and let out such a sharp yell that the poor little kitty ran away at once.Guppy felt so bad! 'You've frightened her away!' she said. 'She'll never come back here.'

But it took more than a little noise to keep Baby Kitty Cat away. She came back the next day, mewing loudly and looking sternly at Guppy and Poppy as if to say, 'Go on! Get the milk!'Poppy ran happily to get the milk and after drinking it up, Baby Kitty Cat lay down on a patch of sunlight on the floor, yawned very lazily, stretched, and went to sleep with a curly little smile on her tiny face. She woke up soon, and looked at all of us turn by turn, through half-open eyes. 'I know what you're thinking, ' she was saying. She looked very very wise. I don’t think anyone can keep a secret from a cat. Then she stretched again and got up, all ready to play. Poppy had a small ball of wool today which nobody wanted, and she threw it for Baby Kitty Cat to catch. Baby Kitty Cat jumped up, caught the ball in her teeth and shook it very hard. Then she dropped it again and picked it up between her paws. She lay down, put the ball in her mouth, and wriggled about happily in the sun. That's when the big Doggie Tara who had been tied up that day broke her chain and came and barked SO LOUDLY at Poor Baby Kitty Cat that she RAN back to Meeta's house.

Meeta was happy to see the naughty kitten back in her house! ''Softie! Where did you go? How dirty you look! Let me give you a nice warm bath!' Meeta picked up the kitten, and tried to put her in a tub of warm water. Softie, like all cats and kittens, didn’t want to go anywhere near water. She jumped out of Meeta's arms and ran again -- but not to Poppy and Guppy's house, where the big, scary Tara Doggie was on the lookout for her.

Now nobody knew where the little kitten had disappeared. Poor Meeta kept calling 'Softie! Softie!' but no Softie answered.And in the next house, Poppy and Guppy kept calling out 'Baby Kitty Cat!' But she was gone. She had been very clever and gone to Badal's house, which was behind Poppy and Guppy's house. Badal is a very little boy, but he has sisters who knew just what to feed little...Billie.

That’s what they called her, and the tiny kitten now had three names. If you'd written down all her names, they'd be longer than that kitten herself! They fed her some bits of roti, and Billie stayed there happily for two full days.

That adventure made the little kitten want to go places. Now she divided her time between Guppy's, Meeta's, Badal's and who knew how many other houses? She must have had a different name in each house, and the people in each house must have thought that she was their little cat. Little, well, she was not so little now. She was a long cat. She grew big, and liked to run away from anyone who wanted to pet her. One day she was sitting under the big litchi tree behind Guppy and Poppy's house and waiting quietly. A rat ran out from the garage and she pounced on it before it knew what was happening. Our little Baby Kitty Cat had grown up into a big hunter. She couldn't be seen anywhere inside any of the three houses. She wandered around in the wild area outside the garden and fed on little animals and birds there.

Do you know what happened when Baby Kitty Cat stopped coming home?The MICE began to have fun. They zoomed and skated all over the house. They smelt food anywhere you kept it, and if you looked away they went for it. Bars of chocolate, biscuits and fruits; nothing was safe any more. The mice were too quick for Tara to catch, and I am sure they must have laughed and laughed together at the number of times they managed to fool everyone.

Outside, under the big litchi tree, the rats were becoming bold. They dug huge holes in the ground and nibbled away at the carrots that were growing there. Then they decided to sharpen their teeth on the car in the garage. Where was Baby Kitty Cat when everyone needed her?

Now it was July, and it started raining very heavily. And one evening, when the water was pouring down from the sky, everyone heard a loud Meow! Meow! Again, Meow, Meow, Meow! Guppy and Poppy were so happy and surprised to see Baby Kitty Cat again, bigger than ever before. They called out to her, but she turned and looked behind, saying 'Meow' loudly. And there was another cat! Now they both stood there, meow-meowing at the two girls, 'Go on! We're wet, and we're tired, and we want to be fed!' Guppy brought out Baby Kitty Cat's old bowl in no time at all. She had filled it with milk and soft, mashed rice, and Poppy found another bowl, even bigger, for the friend,The two Kitty cats had a good feed, and said 'Thank you' very sweetly, circling round and round Guppy's and Poppy's legs and rubbing their heads against them lovingly.When the rain stopped, the two Kitty Cats went away.

Sure enough, it rained again the next evening, and the next, and Baby Kitty Cat and friend came every time. Then there were three dry evenings in a row.And now we are all waiting for the rain and the Kitty Cats to come!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Caw-Caw Tale -- A Story for Children

Why would anyone want to read a story about a crow?
Crows are ordinary birds and we see so many of them, dont we?
They're not like the beautiful birds that we go to see in a zoo or a park.
Or are they?

Close your eyes and think of a crow. Now change the colour of the crow, in your mind, to purple or orange. Interesting? And before you open your eyes, change it back to black again.Doesn’t a crow have a lovely shape? Think how its glossy black wings shine in the sun!

Once, in Guppy and Poppy's house, the crows started gathering every evening on a tall black-siris tree . Here's what happened. At first there were just two crows on the topmost branch of the tree and they cawed loudly, again and again. Now, a lot of crows joined the first two. They came in, five and six at a time, until the tree looked as if it was covered in black leaves!Then all the other birds that had been singing sweetly became quiet. All the sweetly singing birds rushed back to their nests and kept their little ones quiet, so that the large, noisy crows who were threatening them couldn’t come and attack the babies. It was scary.

So Suraj picked up some small stones and hurled them at the big tree, not to hit the crows, but to frighten them away. Suddenly, the big siris tree lost all its black leaves. But they didn’t fall on the ground, they all scattered and flew away, caw-caw-cawing loudly.

The mynahs were the first to rush out and fly madly around, celebrating the crows going away. Then the parrots, the little pigeons, the muniyas and every other bird in the garden sang loudly again.
Crows aren’t very popular with other birds, are they?

What would we do without crows, though? They help us to keep a place clean, do you know? They eat those small animals which become pests if there are too many of them.They even eat up dead animals and help to protect other animals and human beings from the germs and diseases that could spread around them.

One day, we saw that one of the crows was badly hurt. It kept hopping along on the ground. It couldn’t fly. Maybe some larger bird or animal had attacked it. Its right wing hung limply by its side. It looked like a wounded soldier wearing a black coat with one empty sleeve. No, it couldn’t fly with that wing hanging hurt like that.How would it get back into its nest? Surely there were other animals waiting to catch that helpless crow and eat it up. There were cats, snakes, jackals, and even a leopard that came by, very quietly, in the night. Everyone worried about the poor thing.

But the little wounded crow was not alone or helpless.Two of its friends flew around it all day, one on each side, and they cawed loudly if anyone tried to get near the wounded bird. They guarded the crow until it was well enough to start hopping around smartly all over the yard, looking very busy! Suraj and the other boys started throwing bits of bread and roti to it. It was fed by all of us.

After some days, Soldier Crow could make short flights. We kept putting roti and bread pieces in the usual places. After a week or so, we never saw it again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Yellow Cat -- A Story for Children

Once upon a time there was a yellow cat.

One day, it was up on a tree in Nina's garden.

It wasnt really sure how it had got there, but it was there now.

Nina was walking in the garden with her mother.
The yellow cat saw Nina from where she was sitting up in her tree. She wanted to wave out to Nina. 'I like the little girl,' she thought. 'I want to be friends with her.'

So the yellow cat waved her paw at Nina. Nina and her mother were looking at flowers in the garden. There were many big, beautiful, red, pink, orange and yellow flowers in the garden. Amma and Nina didn't look up into the tree and so they didn't see the little yellow cat waving.
Then Amma went inside and Nina was in the garden all by herself. The cat called out, 'Hey!' Nina looked up. 'Hi!' said Nina. 'Hi!' said the cat. 'What's your name?' asked Nina. The yellow cat thought. 'I dont have a name.' she said.

'You dont have a name?'asked Nina. 'Every body has a name. I have two. One is Nina. The other is Malini. My Amma has two names. One is Amma and one is Jyoti. My Appa, he has many names. His names are Appa, Pradeep, Paddy and PK.' 'How many names is that?' asked the yellow cat.

Nina counted on her fingers. 'Four' she said. 'Can you give me a name, Nina?' asked the yellow cat. 'Come down from up there.' The cat looked down. 'I cant. I'm scared.' she said.
'Are you a fraidy cat?' asked Nina. 'No, I dont know what kind of cat I am. But I cant get down from here.' 'Wait', said Nina. She went into the house. She went to the shelf where her books were kept. 'I know where I saw a yellow cat just like that one', she thought. She pulled out the big book of animals. There were all the animals you could think of, big and small.

Nina turned the pages, and there! There was a yellow cat, exactly like the one on the tree outside. It was yellow, and it had brown stripes. And what do you think it was? It was a tiger.
So now I know that Nina went out into the garden and called out, 'Tiga, Tiga!' The little yellow cat jumped up and down happily ! 'I remember now! I'm Tiga! And Tiga is NOT a fraidy cat!' Saying that, she jumped down from the tree! And you can see Nina playing with Tiga, out in the garden, every day!