Two Old Friends

Ring…ring…’ the doorbell was ringing. Jambu, the jackal was shaving his beard. He came out with shaving cream still on his face.

“Who is it?”

Again he heard, ‘Ring… Ring…’

“Yes, I am coming.” Opening the door, he recognised his friend.

“Bhalla! When did you come?” He hugged his close friend so tightly that Bhalla’s neck was smeared with half of the cream.

Bhalla, the bear had taken a day’s off from his job. Early that morning he had thought of meeting his old friend.

Jambu caught hold of his hand and pulled him in, saying “Are you going to stand outside? Come in. Have some snacks and tea before going home.”

Bhalla started smiling while drinking tea.

“What is the matter?”

“I am recollecting our childhood days. Leave the snacks aside. Come, let us go and kick up a racket in the forest just like the good old days.”

Both of them looked at each other and within minutes they were off.

In front of the bazaar where the four tamarind trees stood, a monkey selling icecream shouted, “Milk, frozen milk. Buy one to feel cool!”

The naughty friends looked at each other. Bhalla asked, “How much is the mango bar?” “Ten rupees!” “Oh! This is daylight robbery!” Bhalla said and sat down. Now Jambu took over and said, “Brother, have some pity on him.”

“Uncle, this is the rate,” said the monkey.

“Okay! Take this.” Jambu took out money from his pocket and handed it to the monkey and gave the ice cream bar to his friend.Two-old-friends

Bhalla was enjoying the ice cream with closed eyes. Now Jambu nudged him and said, “Greedy old man! Will you eat alone? Give me some of it.”

Bhalla turned his face away.

“Will you not give me some?” asked Jambu facing him. This went on for quite a while. Jambu started circling Bhalla.

“Sir, you also take ice cream,” said the monkey, trying to pacify him.

“You will give me one?” Jambu acted surprised.

“Yes, why not?”

Jambu was delighted. He took the ice cream from the monkey. Then the monkey extended his hand and asked, “Sir, money. Please pay for it.”

“Money for what?” Both the friends asked slapping their chest.

“Oh! For the ice cream. What else?” The terrified monkey stammered.

Both their voices grew loud. “You gave it yourself. Did we ask you?” Jumbu shouted.

The monkey was shocked. He shouted, “You tried to trick me!”

The two mischief makers laughed and walked away. In the same way, they cheated the snacks vendor. They were playing their childhood pranks even now.

Finally, they reached the playground where the children of the hippos, wolf, rabbit, and kangaroo were playing gulli danda.

Bhalla asked his friend, “Would you like to play?”

“Why not? I am no beginner.” Jambu replied stroking his grey moustache.

“Hey, just give me the stick. Watch how we play.”

Bhalla threw the gulli. Jambu swung and hit it so hard that the children were astonished. The game progressed. Then Bhalla picked up the stick. He tossed the gulli in such a way that the children were speechless. Oh! These old men were good. They could compete with anyone.Two-old-friends

The gulli shot like an arrow from Jambu’s hand. Bhalla struck it really hard. The gulli flew like a hawk. Far away on a mango tree there hung a honeycomb. Instantly the gulli hit it like a bullet. Within minutes an army of honeybees emerged… Booo… booo…

“Run! It’s dangerous!”

The children started to run away. The two old men also started to run. But could not run as fast. Both of them suffered from pain in their legs. They were groaning and running.

Soon they started panting. The bees were chasing them too. The news of the broken beehive spread in the forest. Everyone came running. Mr. Hippo, Mr. Wolf, Mirza, the rabbit, and Babu, the kangaroo were very angry. “Whose mischief is this? Our children were playing quietly. Who did this?”

“These two are the culprits.” All the fingers, of the children and the snacks vendor, were pointing towards Jambu and Bhalla.

“Is this your doing Uncle? What a shame!” said Mirza, the rabbit.

The monkey also chipped in saying, “Brother, they took an ice cream from me and ate it. They did not even pay for it.”

The two friends stood downcast. The other animals of the forest surrounded them.

Jambu quietly asked, “Did you hit the honeycomb on purpose?”

Bhalla said shamefacedly. “Yes. The moment I saw the honeycomb my mouth started watering. Instinctively I hit the gulli on the honeycomb.”

“You have long hair. The bees got entangled in them.

Think about me? See my state?” said Jumbu. Big rashes had appeared on his body.

“Sorry friend, but what is a bear’s child if he does not put his life at stake for the sake of honey?” said Bhalla.

They apologised to all for their behaviour and the ice-cream monkey.

All the animals walked awayTwo-old-friends.

Jambu winked and said, “If the end is sweet then everything is sweet. Isn’t it true? Come friend we will soon eat honey and not create any mischief in the future.”

The Winner

Bill and Tarun were neighbours and attended the same school. Moreover, they shared similar habits too. They came from two well-to-do families and enjoyed all the comforts. They had everything a child could wish for. Too much indulgence and pampering by their parents had made them spoilt kids. For them, life was nothing, but enjoyment and fun.

Both of them went to school every morning, or at least their parents believed so. In the afternoon, when they returned home, they groaned and complained about their studies. But that was far from the truth. They hardly ever attended school and regularly bunked classes. If any teacher spoke to the Headmaster about their behaviour, it made no difference. The Headmaster called them to his office, scolded them and warned them not to do it again. It became a routine.

However, the teacher who complained against them was in for trouble, as they then teased him in class. The teachers, therefore, let them have their way. A report to their parents was ineffective too. In fact, it was their parents who were responsible for their bad behaviour.

Both of them were strong and clever. They were leaders of their groups and led their followers into all kinds of new mischief every day.

The neighbours were fed up of their activities. Sometimes they complained to their parents, but it didn’t matter.

Creating trouble was their only pastime. What fun they had!

Although they were close friends, they always wanted to prove who was more superior than the other. They thought of some new tricks to surprise each other. They bragged about their ‘brave deeds’ and tried to impress one another.

One day, as they sat together with their group, Bill said, “Tarun, our old mischievous ways does not amuse me any longer. How do we decide who is superior?” “Think of a new activity,” replied Tarun. “You always say you are more creative than I am.” Bill thought for a little while. Then his face beamed with  smile.

The winner

“I have a wonderful idea,” said he. “Look here, let us start our activities tomorrow morning and meet here with our groups in the evening. We’ll then describe our day. Two members from each group will be appointed as judges. They will decide which group has performed better. The leader of the other group will have to accept the superiority over the other.”

“That’s a good idea!” shouted everybody in unison, “It would be fun.”

That the evening both the groups met at the appointed place. A big crowd had gathered there. Bill’s group was in the high spirits. His boys were shouting, howling and whistling in excitement.

On the other hand, Tarun’s group looked, confused and worried. Tarun had not arrived as yet. Nobody could understand the reason for his absence. How could he abandon his group on such an important occasion? It was a matter which involved the honour and dignity of the group.

“Where’s your great Tarun?” Asked Bill. “I think he’s here but is invisible.”

His boys burst into a loud laugh and gave various answers, “…Has turned a tail…can’t show his face…accepted his defeat…is a coward….”

All of a sudden, there was silence. Tarun was coming toward them. His eyes were downcast, his neck was bent and he looked upset.

He sat in a corner lost in deep thought.

Amidst the shrieking and whistling of his group, Bill said. “Let us hear what deeds we have done during the day and decide who’s greater. The first group, I’ll describe the achievements of my group. Here they are:

Tied crackers to a donkey’s tail and made him run. Threw stones at the madman and had great fun. Broke two nests of crows, stole ripe mangoes from Kallu’s garden, misguided a stranger who wanted to go to the railway station, snatched the biscuit packet from a child and made him cry, smeared Bholu’s newly painted wall with dirt.

“These are wonderful deeds,” shouted his group joyfully, as he completed the list. “Come on, Tarun tell us what achievement you can boast of?”

Tarun simply answered. “I’m sorry I’ve come to accept my defeat and Bill’s superiority. I can’t be his equal.”

Everyone was stunned. “At least tell us what happened to you,” asked Bill. “What have you been doing today?”

Tarun spoke with a sigh. “I left home in the morning to join my group. I wanted to begin the day with a ‘great deed. Suddenly, I saw an old blind man moving toward a deep pit dug in the middle of the road. I thought I’ll push him into the pit.”

“As I placed my hands on his shoulders, he spoke out, ‘An angel has come to support a blind man. You must be a great man who thinks about a helpless old man.” His words struck me like lightning. I felt ashamed of myself. I pulled him away from the pit. His body was burning with fever. I took him to a doctor. I paid for the medicines with my pocket money.the-winner

Then I took him to his old and broken hut where I found his wife. The old man showered me with his blessings. He said, “I wish you all the joys of life. You seem to be a noble boy; you’d be the pride of your parents. I can’t thank you enough.” His wife held my face in her hand and kissed my forehead. Bill…I take back the challenge.”

The boys shouted in joy, “Bill has defeated Tarun. Come on judges, what have you to say?”the-winner

A garland of flowers was put around Bill’s neck amidst the noise of his group. Then everyone was stunned to see what seemed unbelievable. Bill took his garland and put it around Tarun’s neck and said in a chocked voice. “Tarun you are a great leader. Lead both the groups to greater heights. I salute you.”