Badi Ma and Other Stories

Ten-year old Kishore was doing his homework when mother walked in with a letter in her hand,

“Beta Kishore, Badi ma is going to come and live with us for some time.”
“What,” exclaimed Kishore. For a boy who had just asserted his independence by acquiring a room all for himself, this was bad news. He knew Badi ma would be sharing his room and that was bad news.
“How long will she be here” asked Kishore. “About six months or so,” replied mother.
“Oh no!” groaned Kishore, “I may as well go and live with Sudhir.”
“Kishore, that’s really very bad,” scolded mother. “You know very well Badi ma has no one to look after her and she is getting old. We can’t grudge her a little happiness in her old age”
“I’m sorry”, said Kishore, feeling a little guilty.
“Besides Badi ma makes such delicious chaat, don’t you remember”, said mother.
“Oh yes,” said Kishore lightening up a bit.
“I suppose I will have to share my room with her”, asked Kishore.
“Of course” said mother.
“But you know she snores so loudly and she gets up early in the morning and wakes me up also.”
“Good for you son, you can work on your math in the morning when the mind is fresh instead of lazing in bed till 7,” said mother.
“Oh maa…”protested Kishore.
“No more complaining now, let’s quickly find out what time the train arrives.” said mother.

Badi ma was Kishore’s mother cousin sister. She was a spinster and lived with her brother in Saharanpur but usually came to spend some time with Choti, Kishore’s mother in Gwalior. Because of the small age difference somehow she was always like an elder sister to Choti and Badi ma to Kishore.

Kishore’s room was rearranged to fit another cot and a bedside table. The radio was taken and set on it as Badi ma liked listening to bhajans early in the morning. At the station, Kishore was greeted with a warm hug. Badi ma hadn’t changed much. She was of a medium built, white hair tied in a knot and in pastel colored sarees always. “How tall you’ve grown,” Badi ma said beaming as she sized him up with her nut-brown eyes. Kishore smiled at her hesitantly.

Despite his mother’s reassurances, Kishore would mostly try to do his own thing and speak only when spoken to by Badi ma and keep out of her way.

One day when Badi ma made dal with the red leaves plucked from some shrub that grew in the garden. Kishore was sure that this was not a good idea at all. First his room had changed and now the food was starting to look strange.
“It is red amaranthus,” she said, “very good for the eyes and blood.”

The next day Kishore came home from school with a bad toothache. It grew worse by evening and Kishore was afraid of going to the doctor. Sensing his fear Badi ma pulled out a bottle from her medicine bag and put a drop of oil on the painful tooth. It was clove oil. The pain was gone in a short while. Kishore’s heart softened somewhat. Badi ma was not so bad.

But his opinion took a u turn when Badi ma served fried and salted neem flowers with hot rice one day. “Eat that up first then the rest of the meal will follow” she said. “It’s good for your stomach. It will kill any worms you may have in your stomach.”

Kishore was dumbfounded, “Badi ma you come up with some real strange ideas.” All his protests fell on deaf ears and Kishore had a tough time eating one morsel of rice and bitter neem flowers.

Time was flying. It was already two months since Badi ma had come. Kishore was getting up early in the morning, studying or playing, or sometimes collecting the broad leaves of the native badam tree for badima’s pattal. Badi ma ate her food in leaf plates!

He was having fun doing things he had never done before. Of course, there were times he was eating stuff he had never eaten before! But Badi ma would compensate for that by making his favorite chaat. Kishore was growing fond of Badi ma.

But he was truly floored when she scared away a thief who tried to break into the house when Kishore’s father was away on tour. A swish of her walking stick hit the thief on the head, and her loud screams scared the wits out the thief who took to his heels and ran away.

Next day, Kishore was coming back from school thinking about the attempted robbery at home and marveling Badi ma’s courage in outwitting the thief and scaring him away. He saw Badi ma sitting in the shady corner of the verandah in an easy chair. Kishore’s half knitted sweater was lying in her lap and Badi ma had nodded off. Last night’s excitement had proved too much for her. And she looked so small and frail now. Kishore was suddenly filled with a warm feeling. He sat down on the floor overcome with a new respect and affection for her.

Bulbul - The Slow Learner

The red vented bulbul is a slow learner. It never learns how to keep away from danger. When the nesting season of bulbuls is on, it scouts for a proper place to make a nest. Time and again, season after season, the bulbul builds its nest on the low branches of a garden croton, or the wooden trellis of the bottle gourd patch. Imagine this, in times when cats scale second and third floors of buildings with ease.

Today, there is a constant chatter since morning and the anxious feathered parent is trying to scare away a black cat that has spotted an easy lunch. Two baby bulbuls that haven’t yet opened their eyes are in the nest. Totally dependent on their parent to feed them and keep safe.

An hour later all is quiet. What happened, you wonder. The bulbuls were lucky. The cat had found some leftover chicken in the garbage. That was a close call.

Flying Lessons for Baby Bulbul

It was a very worried Mother Bulbul that woke up on a cloudy and windy morning. She had spotted a cat prowling in the garden and knew her little brood was not safe at all. Mother Bulbul had to give flying lessons to her babies today. If she didn’t, disaster would be at her doorstep. All but one of her brood was fully feathered with relatively strong muscles. They did not have much trouble taking to the skies. Except one, she had not grown very well and her muscles too seemed weak.

The garden had become a very cheerful place ever since the red- vented bulbuls moved into the pomegranate tree in the garden. Papa Bulbul would be up at dawn and in search of food for his brood. His chirpy “didudoit, didudoit’ call would wake up everyone.

The nest was quite big, compact and cup shaped. It was built in the fork of a branch, camouflaged by leaves. Externally it was made up of stems, some dead and skeleton leaves and blades of dry grass. Inside, fine grass roots were tightly woven into a lining for the deep cavity.

Mother Bulbul had a plan ready for the flying classes. She knew her baby would be reluctant to fly. She would have to seduce her into it. Mother Bulbul began to feed her baby. Midway through she flew a short distance away from the nest. She made some encouraging sounds from there that sounded like, now that’s a good girl, come and get it.

Baby bulbul wondered why Mother flew away, while she was still eating. But she decided to move closer to her by taking a couple of hops. The third hop saw baby falling to the ground with a soft thud. This is going to be more difficult than I thought, Mother Bulbul said to herself. Now baby would have to hop all the way back to the nest for safety. For the next five minutes Mother Bulbul had to call out continuously to her baby, to keep trying and not give up. Thankfully the baby made it to the safety of a low bougainvillea bush.

The clouds had cleared and the sun was right above, beating down quite hard. Mother Bulbul stopped at the garden tap for a cool drink. The incessant calling had dried her throat completely. For the next two hours Mother Bulbul was hard at work, cajoling, coaxing and sweet-talking her little one to take courage and fly.

The results were slow but sure. The short hops soon became short flights. The excited chatter of Baby Bulbul filled the air, as she felt the wind in her tiny wings. Yes, she could feel the wind carrying her at times. It was a joyous moment. Mother Bulbul couldn’t control her delight. But once back in the nest the baby was reluctant to move out again. Once again Mother Bulbul had to persuade baby to move out. This was the umpteenth time Mother Bulbul was doing this and her patience was wearing thin.
Tiredness ached in every muscle but the lessons were far from done. Sensing the change in her tone Baby Bulbul seemed to say I’m working on it, but I am tired. Tomorrow I will fly really far.

Papa Bulbul had meanwhile planned a special treat to celebrate Baby Bulbul’s successful flying lessons. He had gathered a bunch of juicy berries for the family.

It was a very tired mother and baby that went to bed that night and Papa Bulbul knew it.

Here Comes the Wolf – A Huffing and a Puffing
An English fairy tale retold

You all know the story of the three little pigs and the houses they built, don’t you? Eight-year-old Priya also read the story one evening. It is important for you to know that Priya’s mother was journalist who worked from home and the news channels would be running on television the entire day.

Do you know what happened when Priya read the story of the three little pigs at bedtime? The same story came in her dream but in a news format with herself as the reporter! Read on.

Priya: “Good evening, I am Priya reporting on the Big News of the day.

There is an air of happiness in Pandipuram as the clever pigs have got rid of the Big Bad Wolf. How did this sensational event take place, let us ask some of the residents of the town? Eyewitnesses say that trouble began when B B Wolf came to the straw house of the littlest pig. Let us ask one eyewitness. Can you tell us what you saw?”

Eyewitness: “BB Wolf had a wicked look on his face as he knocked the door. When the little pig refused he huffed and puffed and blew the straw house down. This sent the first pig scampering away. This little pig was very playful and had built a very flimsy house.”

Priya: “Thank you ma’am. Now let us go to the second scene of crime. I can see sticks lying around here. It looks like BB Wolf has destroyed this house also. Now this little pig was not lazy. But the house was not strong enough. I think we need to get back to the studio right away as we have live footage for you.”

Back in the studio

Anchor: “We have with us the third and the most successful one of them all who trapped the wolf. Welcome to the studio of Big News Mr. Clever One. Tell us how you managed to trap the ferocious, horrible, no good B B Wolf?”

Clever One: “When the wolf knocked at my door, I shouted back I wouldn’t let you in, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!

I worked hard to build my house. I made it with bricks and cement so that no amount of wind or rain could shake it. I had a net waiting for B B Wolf when he came down the chimney and we simply tied him up and called the cops.”

Anchor: “That was a really brave act. On the other side of the break we have an analyst to tell us about the important lessons such incidents teach us, so don’t go away!”

Commercial break

“Welcome back, we now have the Mother of the three little pigs to give us the moral of the story.”

Mother Pig: “I feel the youngest pig got into trouble because he was careless and more interested in playing rather than building a strong house. The middle one was not lazy but his judgment was weak. The oldest one was the wisest as he planned with foresight. He is a hard worker and very focused. He was able to save his own life and protect the other two also. You cannot take shortcuts to success and I am sure the two little pigs have learnt how not be casual about things.”

Anchor: “Thank you Mother Pig, that’s all we have for you in this special edition on Big News, viewers. Goodnight.”

The Barking Mouse
A Folktale from Cuba that Promotes Bilinguism

Once upon a time there was a family of mice. There was papa mouse, mama mouse, sister mouse and brother mouse- Hermana and Hermano. One beautiful and sunny day they decided to go on a picnic. Mama mouse packed lots of cheese, their favorite food in a picnic basket. They went to a green meadow and sat down under a shady tree. Once they finished eating Hermana and Hermano decided to play. Mama mouse sent them off with a warning about the cat, “You can play if you want to but don’t go too near the fence because El Gato lives there and you don’t want to get caught by her.” Hermana and hermano agreed. They played on the grass away from the fence for sometime.

But soon curiosity got the better of the two of them. They had never seen a cat in real life. They had seen them on TV and heard their parents talk about them. Unable to contain themselves they went right upto the fence. They peeked through the slats and sure enough there was the cat just like in TV – big whiskers, floppy tail and big green eyes. Hermano greeted the cat with a hello.

The cat didn’t respond. Hermano wanted to tease the cat and see what it would do. So he said, “Hello you fat cat.” The cat just swished its tail and looked away too proud to be provoked. Hermana found this good fun and was emboldened by her brother’s bravado. She too called out to the cat, “Hello silly, billy fat cat!”

They had a great time making fun of the cat. The cat had had enough. His eyes grew small and his tail was swishing furiously. He pounced on the fence and pushed his paws through the slats but neatly missed the mice. The cat tried to jump over the fence but fell flat on its back. This was insult to injury. The cat tried again and smashed right into the fence. The mice were laughing so loud they had tears in their eyes. The cat tried to jump the fence a third time and lo this time it was successful.

The mice were shocked out of their wits. They turned and ran for their lives with the cat behind them. The cat was gaining ground with each stride. The mice jumped into a bush and escaped to the safety of their parents, “Mama, papa let’s run, the cat is coming to get us”, they urged.

Papa mouse said, “I’ll teach him a lesson” and started boxing in the air, clearly showing off in front of his children. Just then the cat came and papa froze. Mam quickly got in front of Papa. Her courage in the face of death was admirable. It was the courage only a mother feels when her family is threatened. She stood up as tall as she could on her back paws and looked straight into the green eyes of the cat, took a deep breath and barked like a dog, “Woof, woof, wrooff, wwrrooff!!”

The cat stopped in its tracks and looked around. Quickly it turned around and slipped away from the fence, Mama couldn’t believe her trick had worked. She turned around to her family and said, “See that, it pays to speak another language!”


The Beauty of Nature

Once upon a time there was a garden in a place of worship. The priest there worked as the caretaker of the garden in his spare time. He loved the flowers, shrubs, and trees and enjoyed the time he spent in the garden. Next to the temple there was a meditation centre where a very old Zen master lived.

One day, when the priest was expecting some special guests, he took extra care in tending to the garden. He pulled the weeds and trimmed the shrubs, staked up the trellises. He spent a long time painstakingly raking up all the dry autumn leaves. He carefully loaded the leaves into the garden cart and carried it away. As he worked, the old Zen master watched him with interest from across the wall that separated the temples.

When he had finished, the priest stood back to admire his work. "Isn’t that perfect," he called out to the old master. The garden was indeed very neat, orderly, prim and proper.

"Yes," replied the old man, "but there is something missing. Help me over this wall and I'll put it right for you."

After hesitating, the priest lifted the old fellow over and set him down. Slowly, the master walked to the tree near the centre of the garden, grabbed it by the trunk, and shook it. Leaves showered down all over the garden. "There," said the old man, "you can put me back now."

The Caterpillar's Voice

Once upon a time a caterpillar crawled inside a hare's house when the hare was away, and set about making himself comfortable. When the hare returned home, he noticed new marks on the ground going into the cave. He called, "Who's in my house?" The caterpillar boomed out in a loud voice, "It is I! Yes, I who crushes rhinos to the earth and tramples elephants into dust!"

The hare hopped about, crying, "What can a small animal like me do with a creature who crushes rhinos and tramples elephants?"

He soon met a jackal, and asked the jackal to talk to the terrible creature that had taken possession of his home and to convince him to leave. The jackal agreed, and when they reached the place, he barked loudly and said, "Who is in the house of my friend the hare?"

The caterpillar replied in a voice that rocked the earth, "It is I! Yes, I who crushes rhinos to the earth, and tramples elephants into dust!" On hearing this the jackal thought, "Certainly I can do nothing against such a creature," and he quickly left.

The hare then fetched a leopard, and he begged the leopard to help him. The leopard assured the hare it would be no trouble at all. On reaching the spot, the leopard bared his claws and growled, "Who is in the house of my friend the hare?" The caterpillar replied in the same manner as he had done before. The leopard was alarmed and thought, "If he crushes rhinos and elephants, I don't even want to think about what he could do to me!"

Next the hare sought out the rhinoceros. "No doubt, I am the most fearsome of beasts," grunted the rhino. The rhino marched to the hare's cave, where he snorted and pawed the ground with his massive feet. But when the rhino asked who was inside and heard the caterpillar's booming reply, he thought, "What, he says he can crush me to the earth?" And the rhino thundered away, crashing through the forest.

Growing frantic, the hare tried the elephant, and asked him to come to his assistance. But like the others, on hearing what the caterpillar had to say, the elephant knew that he had no wish to be trampled underfoot like dust, and stomped off.

In despair by this point, the hare asked a frog passing by if he could possibly make the creature who had frightened all the other animals leave his house. The frog went to the cave door and asked who was inside. He received the same reply as had been given to the others. Then the frog went nearer and shouted, "I, who am the strongest of all, have come at last. I am the one who crushes those who crush the rhinos! I am the one who tramples underfoot those who trample the elephants!"

When the caterpillar inside the hare's cave heard this, he trembled. He sensed the shadow of the frog coming nearer and thought, "After all, I am only a caterpillar!" And the caterpillar inched out of the hare's den along its edge, trying not to be noticed. The animals that had collected around the hare's house seized the caterpillar and dragged him out. "What, you?" they all cried in disbelief.

"I would never dream of staying in that cave!" said the caterpillar with his nose in the air. "An echo like that is far too crude for a refined creature like myself!" As he sniffed away, all the other animals laughed at the trouble he had given them.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

The Final Test

In an ancient Chinese monastery there was an old Taoist master who had taught a group of students the high level principles of Taoism. The day came when the Taoist Master said to his students, “The time has come. Tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock come to the bank of the river and I will give you your final test that will enable you to teach others.

The next day all the students hurried out of the monastery so as not to be late for their master’s final test. On the way they passed a poor lady crying by a tree.

She said, “Help! My son has fallen down the well, please help!”

Fearful that they would be late for their Master all the students continued to hurry down the path towards the river, except one.

This one student stopped and looked at his fellow students hurrying away. He then looked at the lady and then again at the students. In his heart the student knew that he had to help this lady. However, he also knew that he would not make it in time for his Master’s final test. But his heart told him to help the old woman. His mind told him to carry on like the rest of the students so that he could give the test.

The boy listened to his heart. He walked towards the crying lady, jumped down the well and rescued the lady’s son. As the student came out of the well the lady approached him. At that moment to the student’s surprise the lady turned into the Taoist Master. The Taoist master said to the student that he had passed the final test and he would be the only one who would reach consummation. The Master called the other students and told them that they all had failed and only one student who helped the old woman had passed. The students asked him to explain why.

“How did the boy pass the test”, the students asked.

“Because of his selflessness,” said the master. “Selflessness is the key to receiving the abundant life, favor, and blessings of God. So start today by taking up your cross, denying yourself - your will, your dreams, your desires, your ambitions, putting others before us, thinking more highly of others than we do of ourselves, and helping our fellowmen.”

”How do we do this”, the students queried.

“We can assist the poor, the disabled, the needy, the orphans, the widows, the outcasts, the homeless children and the less fortunate. We can do this anonymously, without the need to be acknowledged as the one who helps. Why must we do that, you ask? Must you seek recognition for everything you do?

The Master went on to explain the real meaning of Taoism.

“Taoism is a 2500 year old spiritual practice. Tao merely means the natural way of the universe. Being one with the Tao means merely to live with the change and accept the way of nature; that of impermanence and flexibility.”

The Little Round Bun

Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman who were very poor and had nothing at all to their name. And they kept getting poorer and poorer till there was nothing left to eat in the house, not even bread. Said the old man:

"Do bake us a bun, old woman! If you scrape out the flour-box and sweep out the bin, you'll have enough flour."

So the old woman scraped out the flour-box and swept out the bin, she made some dough and she shaped a little round bun out of it. She then lit the oven, baked the bun and put it on the window sill to cool. But the bun jumped out of the window and onto the bench outside, and from the bench onto the ground, and away it rolled along the road!

On and on it rolled, and it met a Rabbit coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Rabbit.
"Don't do that, Fleet-Feet, let me sing you a song instead," said Little Round Bun.
"All right, let's hear it!"
"Here it is!

And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"

Off it rolled and away from the rabbit. By and by it met a Wolf coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Wolf.
"Don't do that, Brother Wolf, let me sing you a song instead."
"All right, let's hear it!"

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"

And away it rolled.
By and by it met a Bear coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Bear.
"Don't do that, Brother Bear, I'll sing you a song instead!"
"All right, let's hear it!"

Out came the song well rehearsed by now and the little round bun was having fun adding extravagant flairs here and there. The song was over and away it rolled, far away from the bear!

By and by it met a Fox coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Fox.
"Don't do that, Sister fox, I'll sing you a song instead."
"All right, let's hear it!"

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"

"That was the most beautiful song I’ve heard in a long time. Sing some more, please, don't stop! You have the most melodious voice in the whole world" the Fox said. "Hop onto my tongue, so I can hear you better."
Little Round Bun jumped onto the Fox's tongue and began to sing:

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin-"

But before it could go on, the Fox opened her mouth and - snap! -she gobbled it up. That was the end of the little round bun.

Moral of the story: First flattery makes you deaf and then you are dead. 


To Sell a Donkey

Long ago, there was a man named Khek who lived with his son. He had a donkey to sell. They had to go to market in the next village to get a good price.

Since the village was far they decided to carry the donkey so that it be would fresh and active when they reached the village. They caught the donkey, fastened its legs together and passed a pole between them to carry it.

On their way, some villagers saw them and were much amused. They burst into laughter and said, "Hey, what a strange thing! Two men carrying a donkey!" They chided the man: "Old man, men have never carried the horse, the ox, the elephant and the donkey. It is they which have to carry men on their backs."

On hearing this, the father and the son took down the donkey and untied it. The father then said to the son, "Both of us cannot ride at once, because our donkey is not strong enough. You ride and I will follow you." And so the young man did.

As they went some distance, the young man was asked, "Where are you riding, boy?"

"I ride to a village called Kompang," answered the young man.
They asked, "Who is this old man behind you?"
"He is my father," the young man replied.
The villagers became angry and said, "What an ungrateful son you are! You are strong enough to walk while your old father is not so. Let your old father ride the donkey."

On hearing this sharp remark, the young man at once got down from the donkey and the old man took his place. Then they continued their journey. The young man walked behind the donkey carrying his father.

After some time, they came near a well in the village. There was a throng of young women who came to draw water from there.

Looking at the young man walking slowly behind the donkey, they felt a great sympathy for him.

The young women said roughly to the old man, "This young donkey is fat and pretty; it is worthy of the young man who is in the same happy state; an old man like you is not fit to ride on it!"

When the old man and his son heard such unkind words, they discussed the matter. "We will both ride together on the donkey, you in front and I behind you," decided the old man. And sitting like that, they continued the journey.

They reached a customhouse where an officer asked, "Where are you going, men?"

"We are going to the village of Kompang," they answered.

The officer scolded them: "Your donkey is not strong and old enough to carry both of you. If you keep on riding along as far as the village of Kompang, it will become thin and its price will go down. How foolish you are! Why don't you let it walk?"

Again, they got off the donkey and led it by means of a rope. When they arrived at a field, there was no road for them to go any further. So they began to cross it. The farmer working there cried out, "Walk carefully, old man! My field is full of thorns. I have not yet cleared it. You have a donkey, why don't you ride it to avoid the thorns? Why do you treat it as your ruler? How foolish you are!"

The father and son looked at each other. "We cannot be in agreement with all people. Whatever we do, we get a scolding from someone." At last they agreed: "We will just have to travel as we see fit, and put up with the blame as it comes."

They went on and finally reached the village of Kompang. There, they sold the donkey for a very good price and returned home, wiser and richer by the experience.

If you shape your life to suit your nature you will never be poor, if you shape your life according to people’s opinions, you will never be rich. – From the Letters of a Stoic.

The Race Returns

“And so the tortoise defeated the hare in the race.”

A young hare that lived in the 21st century was tired of listening to this ancient Norwegian fable that put a black mark on the name of hares for all eternity.

“What a shame!” he said addressing his group of friends who were really proud of their sprinting skills. The agitated hare was the leader of the group because he was the fastest among them all.
“What kind of a hare was he that ran the infamous race”, our friend continued. “Can you imagine taking a nap in the middle of a race?”
“He must have been one dumb hare…how else can anyone explain a hare losing to a tortoise?” said the second hare.
“And to top it all, these humans narrate the story over and over again to their little kids, so that it remains fresh forever in the minds of all living things!”
“True, very true,” everyone agreed. It was rare to see such unanimity in thought.
The young leader hare was going red in the face with embarrassment. “Somebody has to do something to set the record straight,” he said seriously.

And he came upon an idea.

“Why not run the race again and let the world see for themselves who is the fastest.”
“Good idea! The first race must have been run at the beginning of time when fables and legends were being written and they were looking for a tale with a twist,” said one hare.
“You can’t hang on to a silly tale like that for centuries when reality is quite the opposite!” said another.

So word was sent to the leader of the tortoises that history was to be written again. The hare and the tortoise must race again as the hares had lived long enough with the reputation of a humiliating defeat.

Naturally the leader of the tortoises did not agree. He was one hundred and fifty years old and quite comfortable with the name and fame they had made for themselves during that historic race.

“Sorry you can’t keep rewriting history like that, it’s not allowed,” said he said.
“All’s fair in love, war and racing,” said the stubborn hare. He was adamant and would not budge. He said, “ Okay then, if you do not wish to run then let it be declared that the tortoise has accepted defeat and the hare is the fastest of them all.”

The tortoises had a discussion amongst themselves.

It looked like they had no choice but to run the race again. And it was a very high reputation to live up to.

“Going by the determination of the young hare it is evident that he is keen on taking the victory trophy home without doing anything as foolish as going to sleep in the middle of a race.” the leader said.
“On second thoughts maybe he does not have such fine chance after all. Who knows this time around maybe he will make a new and different foolish mistake!” said the octogenarian with some cockiness.

With some hesitation the tortoises agreed to the new race. The course was decided. It was some 20 km of distance on the busy city roads with its speeding vehicles, flyovers and all.

The race started at 9.00 a.m. on Monday morning. The runners were wearing badges to identify themselves and also to ensure that there was no mix up and switching of places by some over smart contestant. You never know what any one might do just to win!

The race began. By the time the tortoise had lifted one leg the hare was two feet away. It was a flying start for the hare and soon he was ahead by leaps and bounds.

Along the way all the hares were there to cheer their leader.

Soon the hare came to a red traffic light. Now he knew that a red light meant dead stop. But he thought we never made any rules about obeying the traffic lights. Why should I stop? And so he jumped the red light. Cars from the other side were coming towards him as the hare ran. They just missed him by a whisker! The hare could feel the rush of blood into his head…phew that was a close call, he thought. Cars had come to a screeching halt and the horns were blaring. The traffic policeman was blowing his whistle loudly.

Racing ahead he did the same thing at the next red light. This time a motorbike had come close to making a pancake out of him. He just made it by the skin of his teeth. The hare knew he was taking big risks. So what, thought the reckless hare, this is a do or die race for the entire species of hares, I have to take a few risks, he thought to himself.

Now he was at the third red light and this time he was unlucky. A speeding two-wheeler simply knocked him out. He was flat as a cardboard now and unfortunately he could not get up and shake himself out and walk again like the coyote in the cartoon shows.

When the cheerleaders of hares found no sign of their runner they came looking for him. They found him moaning and bleeding on the road, luckily still alive. Cursing the indifferent bystanders the hares picked up their friend and took him to the hospital. “ We should have never gone for the second race,” said one hare with the wisdom of hindsight.

The injured hare came to his senses three days later and found himself in plasters on the hospital bed. “What about the race,” he asked his friends. “Did I win? Let’s go to the finish line quick.”

The hare arrived at the finish line on a wheel chair, only to find the tortoise being handed the victory trophy by the judge. History had repeated itself, albeit a little differently!

“Where did you vanish, friend,” asked the tortoise. “I just reached the finish line. You don’t look very well ”, he said as he handed him one of the many flower bouquets that he was receiving.

And so you see the tortoise won the race again.

Guess what the thoroughly chastened hare said? “Snip, snip snover, this story’s over!” That’s how Norwegian tales come to an end.

The Trapped Whale

Once there was a humpback whale swimming freely and living a happy life in the wide blue ocean.

One day it got entangled in a web of crab traps. The fifty foot whale was weighed down by hundreds of pounds of traps that were making it difficult for her to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her tail, her torso and a line tugging at her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her and called an environment group for help and rescue of the whale. Within a few hours the rescue team arrived and reviewed the situation. They found that the only way to save her was to dive into the ocean and untangle her. This idea was fraught with dangers as the whale was moving restlessly and one slap of her tail would be enough to kill the rescuer.

The team worked hard for a few hours with knives to cut of the rope and eventually freed her.

When the whale was free she was so happy she swam around the team in circles. The rescuers were afraid- they thought the whale wanted to attack them. But then after some time they realised that the whale was moving gently and carefully towards each one of them- she came close, nudged them and pushed them around gently. She was thanking them! It was joyous moment.

The man who cut the rope near the mouth said that he saw her eyes on him all the time while he was at work. He says his life will never be the same again. Receiving thanks and gratitude from a humpback whale was the most uplifting experience for the entire team. And to think that they feared for their lives before going in for the rescue!

Let us keep our minds open to the light of natural goodness.

Humpback whales are endangered species. There are only some 10,000 known to be alive.


More by :  Sujata C

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