Category Archives: Children’s Stories


It was the week before Christmas, and the dolls In the toy-shop played
together all night. The biggest one was from Paris.

One night she said, “We ought to have a party before Santa Claus
carries us away to the little girls. I can dance, and I will show you

“I can dance myself if you will pull the string,” said a “Jim Crow”

“What shall we have for supper?” piped a little boy-doll in a Jersey
suit. He was always thinking about eating.

“Oh, dear,” cried the French lady, “I don’t know what we shall do for

“I can get the supper,” added a big rag doll. The other dolls had
never liked her very well, but they thanked her now. She had taken
lessons at a cooking-school, and knew how to make cake and candy.
She gave French names to everything she made, and this made it taste
better. Old Mother Hubbard was there, and she said the rag doll did
not know how to cook anything.

They danced in one of the great shop-windows. They opened a toy piano,
and a singing-doll played “Comin’ through the Rye,” The dolls did
not find that a good tune to dance by; but the lady did not know any
other, although she was the most costly doll in the shop. Then they
wound up a music-box, and danced by that. This did very well for some
tunes; but they had to walk around when it played “Hail Columbia,” and
wait for something else.

The “Jim Crow” doll had to dance by himself, for he could do nothing
but a “break-down.” He would not dance at all unless some one pulled
his string. A toy monkey did this; but he would not stop when the
dancer was tired.

They had supper on one of the counters. The rag doll placed some boxes
for tables. The supper was of candy, for there was nothing in the shop
to eat but sugar hearts and eggs. The dolls like candy better than
anything else, and the supper was splendid. Patsy McQuirk said he
could not eat candy. He wanted to know what kind of a supper it
was without any potatoes. He got very angry, put his hands into his
pockets, and smoked his pipe. It was very uncivil for him to do so in
company. The smoke made the little ladies sick, and they all tried to
climb into a “horn of plenty” to get out of the way.

Mother Hubbard and the two black waiters tried to sing “I love Little
Pussy;” but the tall one in a brigand hat opened his mouth wide,
that the small dollies were afraid they might fall into it. The clown
raised both arms in wonder, and Jack in the Box sprang up as high as
me could to look down into the fellow’s throat.

All the baby-dolls in caps and long dresses had been put to bed. They
woke up when the others were at supper, and began to cry. The big doll
brought them some candy, and that kept them quiet for some time.

The next morning a little girl found the toy piano open. She was sure
the dolls had been playing on it. The grown-up people thought it had
been left open the night before; but they do not understand dolls as
well as little people do.


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Meenu’s New Pet

Meenu’s mother was worried about her. A week had passed since their dog Tommy’s disappearance, and her daughter had still not got over it.
Meenu adored Tommy, who had been her faithful companion since her third birthday. He had become a part of the family as he was a loving and well trained dog. Meenu simply adored him. And Tommy, on his part, followed her around everywhere. During the summer holidays, the family would usually go to Baroda, where Meenu’s grandparents lived. Because it was difficult to take Tommy along with them, Meenu’s parents would leave him with their neighbour Mr Rao. Tommy was quite happy staying with him because Mr Rao was very fond of dogs too. He was the owner of three adorable dogs, and was planning to bring one more pup home. He was quite happy to look after Tommy while Meenu and her family was away. But this year, Mr Rao too was travelling, so Tommy had to be left at Meenu’s uncle’s house. Unlike Mr Rao, Sharma uncle did not like dogs. Reluctantly, he agreed to look after Tommy. As soon as Meenu returned from Baroda, she rushed off to fetch Tommy. When she reached Sharma uncle’s house with her father, he dropped a bombshell. Tommy had run away. Meenu was stunned. As she stood there, with tears running down her face, Sharma uncle told her that one day, the gate was accidentally left open and Tommy had run away. Meenu wondered why Tommy had run away. The gate to their house was left open all the time, yet Tommy had never ventured outside the house alone. Meenu came back home very depressed. Her father had promised to get her another dog but all she said was “I only want my Tommy.” It looked like it would take some time before Meenu forgot her companion of five years. Next day, on Sunday, it was bright and sunny. Meenu woke up early, brushed her teeth, had a bath, gulped down breakfast and went to take a walk in the garden. The garden was big and full of huge trees and colourful birds. Suddenly, she started shouting, “Mummy, Mummy come here.” Her mother, fearing the worst, ran outside. “Mummy, see what I found!” Meenu pointed to a myna lying on the ground. One of its wings was badly broken. and it could not fly. The scared little bird was squeaking loudly in pain. Meenu asked, “Mummy, why can’t it fly?” “It’s broken its wing, Meenu. I’m not sure if it will be able to fly again.” Can we take care of it? Meenu asked hopefully. Looking down at Meenu’s earnest face, he mother decided to give in. “Okay. But first we have to take it to the veterinary hospital.”

At the “animal hospital”, as Meenu liked to call it, the doctor bandaged the Myna’s wing and prescribed a medicine for the pain. He said it would take more than a week for the wing to heal. Back home, Meenu made a small nest for the Myna. She called him Mitoo. For the first time since Tommy ran away, Meenu’s mother found her bubbling with excitement. “Mummy, what do Mynas eat?” asked Meenu. “Grains, nuts, small insects,” replied her mother. At first, the Myna was very scared. It didn’t eat much and squeaked all day. Meenu spent all her time after school, looking after Mitoo. Soon, Mitoo lost all its fears and boldly pecked grains from Meenu’s hand. Meenu was delighted. Mitoo had started hopping around the house, and would even hop onto her hands and sit on her shoulders. Gradually, the wing healed. Meenu had grown very fond of the Myna. She would pat, talk, feed and proudly flaunt it before her friends. She was so happy with Mitoo that she had completely forgotten about Tommy. In a week’s time, Mitoo had become quite strong. One day, while feeding Mitoo, Meenu Asked, “Mummy, can we keep Mitoo with us?” Her mother had been expecting this. She replied gently, “I too wish we could keep Mitoo. But once she gets well, she will fly away to her own home.” Meenu looked thoughtful. “What if we kept Mitoo in a cage? Then it can’t fly away.” Her mother looked straight into Meenu’s eyes and asked, “Meenu, would you like it if you were caged all day and not allowed to go home?” Reluctantly Meenu said, no. After that, Meenu never pestered her mother about keeping Mitoo. Before long, Mitoo was completely well again. Although it made her a bit sad, Meenu set the Myna free in the garden. Mitoo fluttered hesitantly to a nearby tree and then flew away into the open sky. Meenu was sad the whole day. She missed Mitoo. She didn’t eat much at night. She tried to sleep, but could not. As she lay tossing and turning in her bed, she suddenly heard a sound. Something was fluttering outside her window. It was very dark. Meenu couldn’t see much. She slowly opened the window and, whoosh, something flew inside, chirping loudly. It was Mitoo! Mitoo had returned on her own. She flew madly around the room and then settled down on Meenu’s hand. Bursting with excitement, Meenu rushed out of her room shouting, “Mitoo’s back! Mitoo’s back!” Her parents rushed sleepily out of their room, too surprised to speak. Meenu was dancing with joy. Even Mitoo seemed happy. He had returned home. Meenu asked, “Now that Mitoo is back on his own, may I keep him, please?” Her parents looked at each other, and smiled. “Of course, my dear,” her father replied. Meenu went wild with joy. Her parents saw her happy face and knew that it was the right decision.

By Vichitra Vijaykumar; Illustrations by Kusum Chamoli

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A Sister for Shubya

It all began when Shubhya walked into her friend Diya’s house one evening. The Sharma household was agog with excitement. Shubhya was quite surprised to see so many people at Diya’s house. All of Diya’s aunts, uncles and various cousins were around. Even her grandparents had arrived from Jaipur. Shubhya wondered what was up. Suddenly, Diya spotted Shubhya. “Shubhya”, she shouted excitedly, “I’ve got a baby sister! I had told you that we were going to get a baby. Now I have someone to play with all the time. Come and see her.” Shubhya was taken aback. Someone to play with all the time! Lucky Diya! I wish I had someone to play with all the time too, thought Shubhya. She said aloud, “Oh babies are no fun Diya. They cry all the time. Just look at Sanjana’s little brother. Always crying wee, wee, wee. And he even wets his bed. Yuck!” But Diya was just too happy. “Mummy says that’s only for a short while. Then they learn everything”, she said. “And I’m going to take her out in the stroller every evening. Oh, it’s going to be such fun. And we are going to call her Riya, because it rhymes with my name!” With that, Diya danced off to take another look at her sister. At dinner that evening, Shubhya minced no words. She too wanted a baby and that too now, she declared. Her parents tried to pacify her and distract her, but Shubhya was single-minded. At bedtime Shubhya was in no mood to be read to. Her mother sat up trying to explain how it takes time for a baby to arrive and that it could be a girl or a boy. “No way,” sobbed Shubhya. “I also want a little sister just like Diya’s. I also want to play with her all day long and take her out in the stroller.” All the explaining her mother did made no sense to her. She simply could not understand why her parents were being so difficult. Crying, Shubhya rocked herself to sleep. Her parents hoped she would forget all about the baby by next morning, but they were mistaken. The demand for a baby sister kept getting louder and louder, and the more Shubya met Diya the more she persisted. This five-year-old was not only making it very difficult for her parents, but also for herself. Complaints trickled in from school about how she would throw tantrum and break into sobs at the drop of a hat. Her parents began to get upset with Shubhya. This only made things worse. It was time to take some serious action. After a lot of thinking, Shubhya’s parents decided to call her grandparents. When Shubhya returned home from school, she was thrilled to see her Dadaji and Dadima. “I’m so happy you have come Dadima. Mummy and Papa are not getting me a baby sister,” Shubhya complained. “Why can’t I also have a baby sister?” Over the next few days, Dadaji and Dadima spent a lot of time explaining to Shubhya, but no logic would work. The excitement of having her grandparents soon wore off and she was back to being very quiet, yet difficult. It was ‘Baby Girl‘ and that too ‘Now’.

It was at the breakfast table one morning that Dadaji had a superb idea. When he shared it with everyone, Dadi immediately said, “This is wonderful”. Shubhya’s parents too nodded in unison. “But let this be a secret”, said Dadaji. “We’ll only let Shubhya know at the right time. Now let’s get down to some serious work.” Over the next many days, there was much excitement among the elders, but Shubhya was completely unaware of it. As they went about telephoning people, writing letters, and visiting places, Shubhya was still sad and very upset with her parents. Even the outings to the park every evening stopped because she never felt like it. As for playing with Diya, it was a big ‘No – No’. A couple of weeks passed by. And then one evening when Shubhya’s parents returned from work, Dadaji had some good news for them. “It’s finally happened!” he told them. “This Saturday is going to be very, very special.” On Saturday they all set out in the car, this time with Shubhya. “Where are we going mummy?” asked Shubhya. “You’ll soon know Shubhu,” her mother said, hugging her tightly. The elders had a mischievous grin on their faces. Shubhya wondered what was up, but didn’t ask. The car came to a halt near a big red brick building. “What is this place Dadaji?” asked an inquisitive Shubhya. “We haven’t been here before, have we?” “No we haven’t Shubhu,” replied Dadaji. After a pause he continued, “This is Mother Teresa’s home for abandoned children. You are a little too small to understand what it’s all about, but you are going to get a big surprise here.” Shubhya’s eyes lit up. She clutched onto Dadaji’s hand tightly and walked into the building. Inside, a lady dressed in a white sari with a blue border greeted them and led them into a large room. “Please be seated. I’ll be back soon.” Saying this she disappeared into the next room. “That was Sister Agnes. She is the one who takes care of this place. And she is the one who has the surprise for you,” whispered Dadaji. Shubhya sat erect, waiting for Sister Agnes to reappear. She simply had no clue as to what was up and was eager to know what the surprise was all about. Sister Agnes returned soon. And this time she was carrying a cute little, curly-headed, bright-eyed, six-month-old baby girl. She got the baby close to Shubhya and said gently, “This is your baby sister.” Shubhya was wide-eyed with disbelief. She ran to her mother in sheer delight and asked, “Is she really my sister?” “Yes Shubhu”, replied her mother. “She’s all yours. Do you like her?” “I love her!” screamed Shubhya. “Now I have someone to play with all the time!” “I think we should call her Divya,” suggested Dadima. Shubhya looked up questioningly. “Because it rhymes with Shubhya!” they all said in unison.

And little Divya gurgled at that.

By Mamta Sahni; Illustrations by Shiju George


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Follow the Leader

Chimpoo has a balloon. It is a BIG balloon! It is a BIG, RED balloon! It is a BIG, RED, ROUND balloon! Chimpoo has a LITTLE dog. His name is Chutku. Chutku loves Chimpoo. Chutku loves to PLAY with Chimpoo. There is a BIG, BLACK cat! Chutku does not like the cat! There is a TINY, GREY mouse. The BIG, BLACK cat does not like the TINY, GREY mouse! Cat loves Chimpoo. Mouse loves Chimpoo. Chimpoo likes the cat. Chimpoo likes the mouse. Chimpoo takes his BIG, RED, ROUND balloon to the park. Chutku goes with him. Cat goes with him. Mouse goes with him. What is Chimpoo doing? He is flying his BIG, RED, ROUND balloon! A butterfly sits on the balloon. The balloon floats in the air. Chimpoo holds the string tightly. The wind is STRONG. It pushes the BIG, RED, ROUND balloon. The RED balloon tugs the string Chimpoo has in his hand. The string pulls Chimpoo. “Help!” yells Chimpoo. “BOW-WOW!” barks Chutku. “I will save you!” Chutku holds onto Chimpoo’s pants! But the wind is very STRONG! The BIG balloon tugs Chimpoo.
“Help!” yells Chimpoo.
“BOW-WOW!” barks Chutku.
“MEOW!” mews Cat. ” I will save you!” Cat holds onto Chutku! But the wind is very STRONG! The BIG, RED balloon pulls Chimpoo.
“Help!” shouts Chimpoo.
“BOW-WOW!” barks Chutku.
“MEOW!” mews cat.
“I will help you!” squeaks mouse. Mouse holds onto cat. But the wind is very STRONG!
“HELP!” shouts Chimpoo. BROWN SLIPPERY earthworm comes out of his hole in the mud in the park. “I will help you!” he says. Earthworm holds onto mouse.

The Wind is very, very STRONG!
The Wind pulls the RED balloon.
The BIG, RED balloon pulls Chimpoo.
Chimpoo pulls Chutku!
Chutku pulls the cat!
Cat pulls the mouse!
Mouse pulls the earthworm! “HELP!” screams Chimpoo.
“I will help ALL of you!” says LITTLE ant! Ant holds onto earthworm. But wind is strong! The BIG, RED balloon pulls Chimpoo!
Chimpoo pulls Chutku!
Chutku pulls cat!
Cat pulls mouse!
Mouse pulls earthworm!
Earthworm pulls ant! Crow is flying in the BLUE sky. Crow sees the butterfly.
“That’s a nice dinner for me!” caws crow. But butterfly is CLEVER! She flys away. Crow is sitting on the balloon. Wind stops blowing. Crow pecks the balloon. POP! The balloon burst! Chimpoo stops running. There is no BIG, RED balloon pulling him.
Chutku bumps into Chimpu.
“BROWCH!” barks Chutku.
Cat bumps into Chutku.
“MEOWCH!” mews cat.
Mouse bumps into cat.
“SQUEAKCH!” squeaks mouse.
Mouse bumps into earthworm.
“EEEECH!” screeches earthworm.
Earthworm bumps into ant.
“OOOOCH!” squeals ant. Chimpoo goes home. He has no balloon to play with. Chutku goes with him.
Cat chases mouse. “How dare you bump into me?” snarls cat. Mouse runs into a hole in a tree. Now mouse is safe from the NASTY cat! Earthworm slithers back into the mud.
He doesn’t want crow to eat him. Ant walks on. He is searching for food. Chimpoo is feeling very sad. He has no balloon to play with. Mother comes.
She gives Chimpoo something. Chimpoo is smiling!
Mother gave him a BIG, BLUE ball!
“BOW WOW!” barks Chutku happily. Now we can play!

By Hema Rao; Illustrations by Shiju George

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Veerappan’s Folly

In the forests of South India lived an infamous rogue called Veerappan. There was no marksman who could shoot as well. His gang was known for its acts of cruelty. Mothers would frighten their kids with tales of Veerappan and how he kidnapped naughty children. The entire gang was high on the government’s wanted list, for Veerappan and his gang had killed 2000 elephants for their ivory and over 300 forest rangers. But, either through fear or otherwise, the villagers never informed on Veerappan. In turn, Veerappan (perhaps only his mother might have dared call him Veeru or Appa and that too before he was born) would sometimes throw some money, sandalwood or a carcass before the villagers. That is, if he was in a good mood, which was very rare. The tree or the carcass was enough to feed the entire village. It didn’t matter to the villagers that the money distributed was indirectly their own for after all, the forest wealth was theirs to lead a life without destroying it completely. Nor did it matter to them that the wildlife he killed, destroyed their habitat. To them the money flung before them occasionally, was better than nothing at all. But how did Veerappan become such a dreaded dacoit? Now that’s quite a story. As a child he was the puniest and sorriest looking boy in his village. He started growing a handlebar moustache the day he noticed a few strands of hair sprouting on his upper lip. He was a teenager then. In the village near the forests, everyone cut sandalwood trees from the areas marked as government property. They then sold it secretly for high prices to people who were willing to do anything for the fragrant wood. Veerappan soon became an expert in locating the largest and most fragrant tree to cut. Since the tree had to be cut, sawed and transported without the forest officials knowing about it, he got hold of a power saw from his underground contacts and cleverly devised a muffler to cut the sawing noise of the machine. The forests were also full of elephants and tusks were worth a fortune, more so since killing elephants, an endangered specie, was forbidden by the government. Veeru practiced long and hard and became a crack shot. In a trial run he shot his first tusker and managed to kill it. Then he declared himself a gang leader and set about collecting a large gang of thugs from around the village to do his dirty work.

One day Veerappan was in a particularly adventurous mood. “Wait here, I shall fire three shots in the air if I need you,” he told his band of ruffians. He then took up his carbine with its telescopic sight and two rounds of ammunition. He also stuck a revolver in his belt and a large machete and slunk away into the forest. As the day progressed, Veerappan counted his spoils. He had robbed a bank on his way. He hadn’t fired a shot but his very presence had scared the daylights of the bank officials and they willingly parted with Rs 1 million (on that day $1 equalled Rs 46). Further down he had robbed a man of his Rolex watch and diamond ring, which now glittered on his finger. Coming upon a small brook he decided to eat. Veerappan opened his knapsack and unwrapped the foil. Slowly he bit into the soft bun of his hot dog. He dug into his pack to find the can of Diet Coke. Sipping it he thought about everything that he had done that day. Gargling on the last drops of the aerated drink, he dug a hole in the ground and carefully buried the can and all traces of his presence. His cunning so far had saved his life many times. He was just enjoying his siesta when he noticed a movement on the edge of the green. In a quick blur he moulded into the landscape and through his scope sighted the stranger coming through. He was a tall brute of a man, easily weighing 300 pounds but moving on cat feet. His eyes were sharp and probed the jungle for any sign of danger, but he himself didn’t try to shy away from it. With a thickset body and arms and legs like an elephant’s, the stranger was impressive. Quickly making a decision, Veerappan called out to the stranger. “Stop, or I’ll shoot.” And just for good measure sent a bullet thudding at the stranger’s feet inches away from his toes! Anger flashed across the man’s face. “How dare you shoot? You could have hit my leg,” he roared. “Had I wanted to I could have shot the nail of your big toe without you even realising it,” boasted Veerappan, rising from the ground. The stranger had already spotted him and there was no sense hiding anymore.

“You could, could you? Let me see you shoot a hole in this.” Saying this the stranger took a coin and flicked it high in the air. As the silver glinted and reached its highest arc, there was a puff of smoke and then the sound of a shot. The coin landed on the far side and both hurried to take a look. A corner of the coin, like a bite from an apple, was missing. Veerappan grinned like a cat. “Can you do better?” he asked mockingly. In answer the stranger took the coin and tossed it high in the air. Just as the coin reached its peak the stranger took a wicked silencer fitted magnum and took a pot shot. But instead of flying away the coin landed on the palm of the stranger’s hand! Veerappan was astounded.

The stranger closed his palm as if in pain and quickly flicked the coin at Veerappan. A clean hole was drilled in the centre of the coin! “Fantastic,” he cried. “You must join my gang, whoever you are.” “No way,” cried the stranger, “I am a loner and let me be. It is best that you don’t interfere with my plans. I am wanted in two countries and the international police organisation Interpol has a red corner notice out on me.” Veerappan was terribly impressed. For all his banditry, he was only an interstate criminal. He had never felt confident enough go outside his haunts. But he dreamt of red corner notices and Interpol and how he outwitted them time and time again – in his mind. “Okay, at least let’s spend the day together,” he cried. Here was the adventure he had hoped for. Rushing out he shot a large hare and frenziedly skinned it. Over a slow fire the meat was cooked and the duo ate with relish. The stranger related his escapades to an open-mouthed Veerappan. As the fire died down, Veerappan’s eyes glowed as he imagined himself as the daring derring-do. Lost in his world of make-believe he forgot to take his usual precautions and turned over and went to sleep. At two in the morning the stranger’s watch alerted him. He woke like a panther in a fluid motion. Moving towards Veerappan’s knapsack he opened it cautiously and checked to see if the money was there. It was. He hefted it on his shoulder. Turning away, he stopped as if he forgot something. He put his hand in his pocket, took out some coins and threw it near Veerappan. Then he walked away in the night. In the morning, dark was Veerappan’s rage at the stranger’s trickery. He cursed and shouted. Ranted and raved. In his rage he kicked at the root of a tree nearby and something flew in the air. Bending down he saw two coins. One had a hole in its corner like an apple bite and the other had a clean hole drilled in the middle. Veerappan hadn’t paid attention earlier and he thought the hole had been drilled by a bullet. But now, examining the coin he saw that the hole had been drilled by a machine. What a fool the stranger had made of him! He recalled the adage he constantly used to tease the people he robbed: A fool and his money are soon parted!

By B Sumangal; Illustrations by Sudheer Nath


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The Butterfly in a Bottle

Poltu was wide awake in his bed. He had had a marvellous dream in which he had won the football match in the inter-school competition. He was getting ready to receive the trophy when the alarm rang. So loudly that it jarred him awake. But Poltu wasn’t too unhappy at the intrusion. He ran straight to his study table. There, in an empty jam bottle, was the treasure. A colourful little butterfly. How difficult it had been to catch it. It had kept flying away from his grasp. But catch it he did. Without a net, too. And now it was going to be part of his biology project in school. The biology project required Poltu to submit the study of a living creature every month. Most of his classmates drew diagrams from their books as part of this exercise. But Poltu was going to do something different. He was going to present a live creature – this butterfly. Poltu loved the different colours on the wings of the butterfly. Red, green and blue. How beautiful it looked when it fluttered the wings. Poltu had made a few holes on the cap of the bottle to let air pass through, and added tender leaves for the butterfly to nibble on. He might have trapped the creature, but he cared for it. Excited about displaying his exhibit to the biology teacher, Poltu dressed hurriedly, and left for school. His school was walking distance from his house. He took a short cut through the backyard of Sinha aunty’s house, a stretch he loved walking through. The breeze was very pleasant as it had rained slightly the previous night. The garden smelt of sweet-smelling flowers, jasmine and ‘mogra’. Poltu glanced at his bottle every now and then and smiled at the butterfly fluttering its wings. When he reached school, gate wasn’t wholly open yet. For once Poltu was early to school. A few boys were playing football in the field. Any other day would have seen Poltu joining them without a second thought. But today, he walked straight into his class. He opened the bench window and placed the bottle on the windowsill.

The golden rays of the sun streamed through the glass, on the delicate wings of the butterfly, and added a sheen to them. Poltu’s butterfly looked simply gorgeous. In a few minutes, the area was full of boys, even from the other sections, gaping at it. That day’s biology class was the most interesting in a long time. Poltu’s teacher was very happy with his initiative and asked everyone in class to thank him as he had made it possible for them to study a butterfly so closely. Poltu felt like a star for being treated like royalty. While going back home, he again took his favourite route through Sinha aunty’s garden. In the bottle, the butterfly still fluttered its wings energetically. On the way, whatever small creature Poltu came across, he felt like putting into the bottle. But he checked himself as he wanted to give breathing space to his butterfly. Poltu woke up around midnight suddenly. He went to the study table and lightly patted the lid of the bottle. The butterfly did not move. Poltu thought it must be sleeping. He shook the jar some more, but still no response. Poltu was scared all of a sudden. He poured a little water from the drinking-glass in his table into the jar.

The water seemed to help as the butterfly shivered a little. Poltu heaved a sigh of relief. Sitting on his bed, he stared at the jar for a long time. The butterfly was still again. After a while Poltu got up, and, holding the bottle tightly in his hand, ran outside. The air was so fresh and cool. He went to the backyard of his house, quickly opened the lid of the bottle and started shaking it gently. The butterfly started to move, but slowly, as if waking from a deep slumber. It perched itself on the edge of the bottle and flapped its colourful wings. It waited there for a long time. Poltu also waited. All of a sudden it began to flutter its wings. To Poltu, the tiny noise of the fluttering wings was musical. Suddenly there was a loud thud behind him, and he turned around. A coconut had fallen from the tree. When Poltu looked at the jar again, he found the butterfly gone. He sat staring at the empty bottle for a while, feeling a little empty himself. But he was happy that he had sent the butterfly back to where it belonged – nature.

By Sanyukta Chaudhuri ; Illustration by Sudheer Nath




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Know-it-alls and Find-it-outs

Once upon a time, there was an island called the ‘Land of the Sun’. People of all shapes, sizes and appearances lived there. Everybody knew everybody and they were like one big happy family. But slowly, as time passed, the children grew bigger and had more children who grew bigger and had more children. Things reached a stage where there were so many people in the island that not everybody knew everybody else. People started doing their own things, talking in their own languages and writing their own scripts. So the elders of the island came together and decided to open a school where the children could be taught about the history, geography, rules, rituals and languages of the people of the ‘Land of the Sun’. However, when it came to deciding on the teacher, the group of elders was equally divided between two of the candidates – Ms. Know-it-all and Ms. Find-it-out. Since they couldn’t decide on which candidate to go with, and being an amicable group of people, the elders decided to have two schools, each being run by the two candidates. The islanders then sent their children to the schools of their choices. Misses Know-it-all and Find-it-out ran their schools very differently from each other. As a matter of fact, they were poles apart in their methods of teaching. Miss Know-it-all was a total disciplinarian who believed that children should be only seen and not heard. Unless, they were asked a question and they were replying to it. Her belief was simple. She was there to ask questions and the children were there to answer it, after she had taught them the lesson. And god forbid, if they were to disagree with any of her teachings. You see, the children were not allowed to think. On the other hand, Ms. Find-it-out believed that she did not have all the answers. So everybody was allowed to ask questions and everybody tried to find the answers, individually or together. Slowly, the islanders became aware of this distinction and started taking sides. They broke up the island into two different zones and built up a wall so that one set of people did not interact with the others. Time passed and the children grew bigger. They in turn had children who went to the same schools. People on one side of the island came to be called ‘Know-it-all’ and people on the other side of it ‘Find-it-outs’. But as the population grew, the space available for the people to live in got smaller and smaller. Till one day the people in the ‘Know-it-alls’ land had no standing space. As they pushed and shoved each other, the wall dividing them from the people of the ‘Find-it-out’ just gave way. The wall broke down and the two divided people looked at each other for the first time in the century. And what did they see? The people of the ‘Find-it-out’ land saw a whole lot of identical looking people staring at them with similar expressions on their faces. These were the ‘Know-it-alls’.

They had the smug expressions on their faces which suggested that if there were something to know, they knew of it and whatever they didn’t know, was not worth knowing anyway. They were all similarly dressed, moved identically and gasped together, as though on cue. Also, they were cramped together like a pack of sardines in their part of the island. Except for their ages reflected in their physical condition, they could all have been copies of each other! On the other hand, the people of the land of ‘Know-it-all’ discovered that the ‘Find-it-outs’ were very different. Not just from them but also from each other. They wore different coloured costumes, had different expressions on their faces, moved differently, talked differently and behaved in a manner that was not at all alike. What they also saw was the difference in the physical lands. Whilst the land of ‘Know-it-all’ was full of nothing but human beings, the land of ‘Find-it-out’ had its entire space planned out. There were areas for playing, schooling, working and housing. They were not cramped. And they did not seem to be too many people! The people from the land of ‘Know-it-all’ wondered how things had turned out so differently in their two lands. Their elders came forward and enquired of the elders of the land of the ‘Find-it-out’ as to how they had managed to be so diverse and still be apparently happy and prosperous. The friendly elders of the land of ‘Find-it-out’ called on their aging teacher and requested her to share the secret of their prosperity. The teacher smiled and said, ‘Oh! We have a simple way of living and teaching .’ And this is how she described it.

‘If you don’t know ask a question seek an answer and you’ll find one. WHO will tell you of the people WHY will give you a reason HOW will tell of the manner And WHEN of the duration. WHAT describes, well, what happened! WHERE describes destination. So we learn and so we progress And the whole life’s an education.’ She said that her pupils had gone all over the world with their questions and come back with answers that helped them in better living. The ‘Know-it-alls’ realised that there was a lot more in the world that they did not know of. And it helped to share knowledge and ask questions. It was not a sign of ignorance but an indication of a desire to know more! They promised never to build a wall again between the two lands and decided to share their knowledge. Today, the ‘Know-it-alls’ and the ‘Find-it-outs’ look very similar to each other, and are very different from one another. If you don’t know what that means, ask a question!

By Vibha Singh ; Illustrations by Anup Singh



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