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In the forest called Greenland, there lived Chatur, the fox. He was a barber by profession.

One day, Chatur sat outside his shop feeling jealous about the queue of animals outside Malku, the bear’s barbershop.

An angry Chatur grumbled, “How long will I keep looking at them? Don’t I have any work to do?”

Chatur sighed and muttered sadly, “But what work can I do?”

Chatur continued thinking in self-pity, “Poor me! Hardly anyone comes here for a haircut and I know that I’m such a great barber. Why? These animals simply don’t have any appreciation for my great skills.”

The truth was that Chatur was such a bad barber that one could be sure of getting a bad haircut from him.

Chatur knew that sitting sadly in self-pity was not going to help. He got up and called out to the customers who were going into Malku’s shop.

“Hey Porky, come here. Shall I give you a nice trim?” Chatur cheerfully asked Porky the porcupine.

“No thanks, the last time I got one from you, I ended up looking like a sheared sheep,” Porky said angrily.

Poor Chatur’s face fell. But he did not give up.

Chatur called out to Chimpu, the chimpanzee who simply looked at him in horror and ran away.

Chatur was definitely at a loss now. He sadly wondered how he was going to earn his living. Then, he had an idea.

Chatur went to Malku’s shop and requested to meet him outside where no customer would hear them.

Malku nodded out of curiosity.

When they were alone, Chatur suggested, “Dear Malku, why don’t we enter into a partnership? That way we both can make a huge profit. You can send half of your customers to my shop and I will do the same for you.”

But Malku was clever too. He said, “What do you mean by your customers? Nobody’ is the only customer you have. Nice try, Chatur but no thanks. I will have my customers and you can have ‘Nobody’ as your precious customer.”

Malku laughed and went inside.

Just then, Chatur spotted King Leo, the lion going towards Malku’s shop.

Chatur quickly ran to him and said with a polite smile, “Sir, please honour me by getting a haircut from me.”

Surprised, Leo asked, “From you? I have heard rumours about you. I don’t know. After all, my mane is my crowning glory.”children-fiction

Chatur’s heart sank a little but he gave a quick smile. He said sweetly, “I am sure that lovely mane of yours requires to be royally pampered. And I am the best person to do it. I will first give your mane a nice oil massage, free of course for you, Your Majesty. Then I will give a haircut which will make everyone jealous. Just think about it.”

Leo hesitated but Chatur’s words were playing in his mind. He imagined his lovely mane looking all silky and pampered and being admired by many. So he decided to give Chatur a chance.

Leo gave in, “Alright. I will give you a chance. Make sure you do it right or else…”

Chatur was over the moon. Leo was his first customer in months.

Chatur immediately led Leo inside and seated him.

There was an impressive collection of beautiful oil bottles on the table.

Chatur used to keep empty oil bottles and fill them with cheap quality oils and creams unknown to even him. He never remembered what was mixed with what.

Chatur selected a fancy oil bottle and poured some of it on his hands.

Leo sniffed the air and asked in disgust, “What is that? Smells awful.”

Chatur said sweetly, “Forget the smell, sir. This oil is the best though it smells bad. It is made with thousands of herbs. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to smell it after a few minutes.”

“I hope so,” thought Chatur, for he had just lied.

Chatur rubbed the oil on Leo’s hair for some time and then picked up a pair of scissors to trim them.

Chatur accidentally chopped one section of his hair, cutting off a major chunk which fell to the ground.

Leo took one look at it and screamed, “What have you done, you clumsy fool? You were only supposed to trim it, not make me bald.”

Chatur gulped and said, “Err… don’t worry, sir. The haircut I am giving you is a very fashionable haircut. You will see at the end.”

Leo looked suspiciously at Chatur and warned, “Let us hope so, for your sake.”

The threat in Leo’s voice could not be missed.

Chatur cut another chunk of hair. He kept feeling that one side was longer than the other. In order to even it, he cut one side short and he had to redo it with the other side again.

Finally, feeling disappointed, Chatur put on a brave front and a fake smile. He said, “Your Majesty, your crowning glory can now be revealed to the world.”

Leo touched his mane but his mind was still filled with doubt.

Leo asked, “How much do I pay you?” Chatur said, “Just Rs. 100, sir.”

Leo paid him and left the shop. Chatur sniffed the oil bottle and thought, “I hope what I had used is a hair oil. I hope nothing happens to Leo’s mane.”

Just to be on the safer side, Chatur decided to close his shop and leave early.

King Leo stepped out and went in the middle of the crowd gathered outside Malku’s shop. He coughed with authority and asked, “Well?”

The animals stared at his mane with horror which now looked like it had been damaged by a group of rats.

But no one had the courage to say anything, not when Leo was looking for some admiration.

Leo again thundered, “Well, how do you find my mane?”

All the animals just stammered and looked at each other.

Leo then ran his fingers through his mane. Some of his hair came off in his hand in a bunch. Soon another section fell. This kept repeating so many times that Leo ended up having itsy bitsy hair in some places and big, round, bald patches in others.

It seemed that Chatur had used a hair removal oil instead of a nourishing one on Leo’s mane.

Everyone was horrified. Leo went to Malku’s shop to check his mane.children fiction

Leo roared furiously seeing his bald head in Malku’s mirror. By then, Chatur had already made his escape and closed his shop forever.