All the animals were busy preparing for the Diwali celebration.
They were all allotted a different task to oversee. Chinku bear was given the task of collecting glowworms to light up the forest. He had collected many and was lovingly taking care of them.
On the night of Diwali, he had to place them on the trees, which would then be illuminated, appearing as if a thousand lamps were flickering around.
Mintu monkey had to arrange for firecrackers. He had already bought different kinds of crackers from the market and had safely stored them.
Gittu elephant had to collect decoration items and he too had completed his task.
Rangoli fox had to make the rangoli, just like her name.
Two days before Diwali, everyone gathered at the venue along with the things they were responsible for.
Rory rabbit sat in the centre and inspected the materials. He praised everyone for their work. When Mintu took out the firecrackers, Rory frowned and said, “I do not like these things at all.”
Mintu was annoyed and said to him, “Rory, if you do not like these crackers, then you can go to the city and buy those of your choice.”
Gittu said, “Relax, Mintu!”
“No, I want to know what is wrong with the crackers I have brought,” said Mintu.
He was upset that the crackers he had bought so thoughtfully, had been rejected by Rory.
“Mintu, you completely misunderstood me. There is nothing wrong with these crackers or you. The problem lies with the harm the crackers do to us. I had expected that you would bring crackers that would cause less noise and air pollution. If we burst the ones you bought, the pollution levels will increase as much as in the cities. And we know that pollution is harmful to us,” explained Rory.
“How does that happen when we burst these crackers?” asked Mintu.
“The smoke that comes out when we burn them, pollutes the air. This in turn causes harm to our nose, ears, throat, eyes and skin. And the loud sound it creates, damages our ears and brain,” said Rory.
“But how can we celebrate Diwali without crackers? Our Diwali will be joyless and pointless.”
“I have a good suggestion. Let’s all go to the nearby cybercafé,” said Rangoli.
“Why?” asked Chinku.
“She is planning on showing us pictures of firecrackers. Hahaha…” said Mintu jokingly.
“No! I will show you all the beauty of firecrackers, which you will enjoy, without the pollution,” said Rangoli.
“How?” asked Gittu.
“By celebrating e-Diwali.”
“What is e-Diwali?” asked Rory.
“Let’s go to Genny giraffe’s cybercafé. We will be able to see and enjoy the bursting of crackers and a lot more. We can see it as many times as we want and control the volume too,” suggested Rangoli.
“That is a great idea. Let’s go now,” said Chinku, excitedly.
And they all joyfully went to Genny’s cybercafé to celebrate a pollution-free Diwali.
All the animals and birds in Champakvan forest lived happily and peacefully under the rule of their king, lion Shersingh.
Every year, Shersingh organized the Champakvan Festival during Diwali week.
The festival included competitions such as rangoli making, floral and light decorations, games and drama. There would be a delicious feast for all the inhabitants of Champakvan. They would also visit their family and friends with gifts.
The week-long festival would end with a prize distribution ceremony for winners of all the competitions at a grand finale of the celebrations.
This year too, they had a great time during the festival! And finally, the much-awaited grand finale was being organized at the bank of the forest river.
It was a pleasant afternoon. All the inhabitants were gathered at the river bank. It had just stopped drizzling. Peacocks gathered there were dancing in joy. Nandu mynah enthralled the gathering with her melodious songs. Naughty monkeys played and ran about with each other.
When king Shersingh arrived at the bank with his advisor Jumpy monkey, everybody greeted him. After casually interacting with some animals, he sat on a rock under the banyan tree.
“We have been celebrating our Annual Champakvan Festival every Diwali for many years. Like every year, we organized competitions in various categories.” After a pause, he continued, “I hope everyone enjoyed all the events like dance, music, drama, sports and the eating competitions, as much as I did! I personally judged many programmes and shows performed in the last few days. But before I reveal the names of the winners, I have a big surprise for you – an event neither seen nor imagined before! Please put your hands together for a very special performance by our dearest, Chameli butterfly and her team!”
Chameli, the pretty butterfly, came fluttering in front of them with hundreds of butterflies, dragonflies and moths Flapping around, they synchronized their movements to form beautiful patterns above the river in the air! Then, they queued up separately based on their colours.
The moths made red, blue, orange, yellow, white, brown, purple lines. Slowly, they started coming together. Chameli remained at the center fluttering her wings first. The line of red moths circled her. The blue, orange, yellow, white, brown and purple team-members of Chameli followed, and made different coloured patterns circling one after another. Finally, in front of the inhabitants was a big rangoli in the air.
Now, the colourful rangoli flew about in different angles in perfect synchronized steps. Nandu mynah enhanced their movement with her songs. Nobody had seen a flying rangoli before!
Chameli and her team enthralled the audience till the sunset, and as the evening set in, they slowly started disappearing. To everyone’s surprise though, after a few minutes, the butterflies and dragonflies came before them with thousands of fireflies joining them, forming shapes of diyas, depicting an illuminated world!
“Wonderful!” exclaimed King Shersingh. Everyone gave a huge round of applause for Chameli and her team.
In a few minutes, as planned by Jumpy monkey, the rabbits and deers of the forest lit diyas all around. From the river, Indu swan came out looking beautiful. “Diwali is the festival of lights- victory of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance,” she said, addressing everyone.
Jumbo elephant distributed sweets to all. Baddy fox and team opened the non-polluting fireworks. The king had banned the use of noisy crackers to avoid sound pollution. However, crackers that lit up with minimal noise were permitted.
It was now time for the feast. All the animals had carried something from their homes. Nayana squirell and Chandni parrot arranged the food for everyone.
After the celebrations were over, the Shersingh appreciated Chameli and team for their magnificent performance and presented them a beautiful honey pot decorated with jasmine flowers. He then distributed prizes to the winners of Diwali competitions. Nobody could control their laugh when Jumbo elephant was declared the Best Eater! Each participant got a bouquet as a token of appreciation by the king. The king then, thanked the organizers and the audience for making the celebration a great success!
Champakvan celebrated its annual Diwali festival in a special way – brightly, generously and deliciously!
“Happy Diwali!” cheered everyone, as the night fell
October 31 is Halloween. It’s a day when everyone wears a costume. Ruchika wants to go dressed as a Wizard but she is missing a few accessories to complete the costume. Read the hints, look at the picture and find out what she is missing.
- When you want to cast a spell, you hold me in your hand and flick your wrist
- I am white; I sit perched at a height and I howl at night
- Round I be, through me the wizard can clearly see
- I am a piece of cloth that the wizard wears on the head, which matches the colour of the cloak
World Mental Health Day is on October 10. In the following scenes, read the options and pick the right one.
World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10. Just like how we keep our body healthy, we should also keep our minds healthy by staying happy and making those around us happy.
Amar was the owner of the biggest sweet shop in town. Two days before Diwali, he called all his workers and said, “Day after tomorrow is Diwali and many customers have placed huge orders. So, we need to complete these orders and also make sweets for further sale. I’m sure we will be sold out before the festival begins.”
“Sir, we don’t have enough ingredients to deliver the orders,” said Govind, one of the workers.
“Hmm. But it’s too late to get more ingredients. Our suppliers will charge us much more than the usual rate,” said Amar.
He looked at his workers and said, “This should not be your concern. Dilute the milk by adding water to increase its quantity. Use all the old ingredients to make new sweets. Now get to work.”
“But sir, our sweets won’t taste as delicious as before and there’s a chance people will fall ill if, we use bad quality ingredients and dilute the milk,” said another worker.
“You all do as I say and don’t worry about quality. Just think of the profit we will earn and the big bonus I will give after Diwali,” said Amar, not listening to them.
Without saying anything more, the workers returned to the kitchen and began making the sweets. They worked overnight and filled the trays and boxes, completing old orders and making new sweets for sale. Once done, they left to go home.
As soon as they left, the king of sweets, Rasgulla, stood up in the tray. Dripping with water and milk, he stepped out and called for a meeting of all the sweets. Soan Papdi, Rasmalai, Rewari, Chandrakala, Batasha, Motichoor laddoo, Barfi, Gulab Jamun and Imarti hopped out of their trays and gathered around Rasgulla.
King Rasgulla said, “Tonight is going to be our last night here. Tomorrow we will be in different houses. Let’s celebrate before we are packed and sent off.”
Hearing him, all sweets rejoiced except Imarti.
“I know everyone is in a celebratory mood but our maker hasn’t used the best quality of ingredients to make us. I don’t feel healthy at all. Yet, he wants to sell us to small children who are unaware that we might not be good for them. I don’t look delicious also,” cried Imarti.
“This is true. I would have looked better if the milk and cream used to make me weren’t diluted. There’s another strange sticky ingredient in my body. I think it’s flour,” said Rasmalai, squiggling in the milk.
Rewari looked disturbed and said, “Amar puts too much sugar in me. I think I have got diabetes and will give diabetes to all those who eat me.” All the sweets laughed at Rewari’s statement.
“This is a serious situation. I feel sick, too. I think I’m going to get a heart attack any time and I’ve never felt so weak before,” cried Barfi.
Listening to all the sweets, King Rasgulla said, “This is a matter of great concern. If we are not healthy, then people eating us will get sick. They will not enjoy eating us and will throw us into the drain and in garbage dumps. That will be very insulting.”
“What should we do, King Rasgulla?” asked Motichoor laddoo.
“I think it’s time to revolt against this cheating. We should go to Amar right now and demand that he remakes us using only pure ingredients. Let’s go together and voice against this adulteration,” declared King Rasgulla.
“Yes, let’s revolt!” shouted Jalebi. All the sweets gathered and shouting slogans, walked towards Amar’s house at night.
“Unhealthy sweets, unhealthy people!”
“Don’t spoil our name for profit!”
“Pure is equal to sure!”
“Whoever makes adulterated sweets, will be doomed forever!”
“Long live pure sweets, down with Amar’s greed.”
Hearing these slogans, Amar woke up, sweating all over. “What a terrible nightmare! The sweets looked sick. What if someone comes to know that I used diluted ingredients? What if the sweets really revolt? What will happen to me!” he exclaimed.
The next morning, he gathered his workers and said, “Throw all the old adulterated sweets. We will only use pure ingredients to make our sweets. We have a responsibility towards the health and well-being of our customers.”
The workers were shocked to hear this but were happy at their boss’s decision. “What do you think made him change his mind?” whispered one worker to another.
“The sweets may have threatened him,” replied another worker and that made everyone laugh.
From that day onwards, Amar’s shop was known for making the best and purest sweets in town. And he was happy for making profits without cheating.
Neel’s exams were over and Diwali vacations had just begun. He and his friends would gather to play in the park everyday. After sunset, they all walked to Neel’s house to watch television together. They played video games for a while and finally bade goodbye to each other. The next day, they did the same and a week later, they were bored of this routine.
“We have so many holidays left! What else can we do?” asked Sahil, impatiently, one day.
“Let’s think of something fun. I’m bored of playing the same games,” agreed Neel.
Neel’s grandparents had just came back for lunch after closing their stationery shop and saw the children sitting quietly in the living room. “What’s the matter, Neel? Why are you and your friends looking so bored?” asked dadi.
“We have so many holidays before school begins. And we’re bored of watching television and playing video games.What else can we do in our free time? Dadi, do you have suggestions to make our holidays more exciting?” asked Neel.
“I may have a suggestion,” said dadaji.
“Please tell us,” said Rohan, his eyes sparkling
“Would you all like to learn to make lanterns? When we were kids, we used to make lanterns to decorate our homes for Diwali. I’ll teach you!” said dadaji.
“That’s a wonderful idea!” said Chinmay, his eyes twinkling like the lights of a lantern.
“And I shall teach you how to make greeting cards for Diwali,” said dadi.
“Dadi, can you also show us how to make diyas?” asked Dipti. “Of course! Let’s go back to our stationery shop and pick all the material we need to make these things,” said dadi.
After that, Neel’s friends would come every afternoon and make lanterns, greeting cards, and colourful diyas.
Neel’s grandparents helped them. Soon, Neel’s house was full of Diwali decorations and cards.
“What do we do with all these now?” asked Neel. “Take a lantern, greeting card and a diya for your homes. We can display the rest of the decorations at our stationery shop for sale. Till then, you all think of what you would like to do with the money we earn from selling them,” said dadi.
Neel’s friends excitedly helped dadi and dadaji display their diya decorations at the stationery shop. ‘Made with Love’ was their motto and in a few days, all items were sold out.
A day before Diwali, all of them went to Neel’s grandparents and said, “Tomorrow is Diwali. We would like to celebrate it with kids from the orphanage near our society. We will use the money to buy sweets, clothes and some crackers for them that we can burst together.”
“That’s a great idea! With this, we all will have a brighter Diwali!” said dadi.
Next day, Neel, his grandparents and all his friends went to the orphanage and spent a great and memorable Diwali together!
Halloween was round the corner, but instead of carving pumpkins and dressing up in their favourite costumes, and going house to house asking for chocolates, there was complete chaos at Sea View Housing Society where people had gathered in large numbers.
Police was patrolling the area. Inspector Piyush Bhosle, was being questioned by the media as he had discovered an alien today!
Inspector Piyush claimed that he had seen an alien in the jungle next to the Sea View Housing society.
The alien’s body was buried in the ground from the neck below and only his face was visible.
From a distance, Inspector Piyush said, it looked as if a helmet was covering the alien’s head and a mask covering its mouth and nose, which made him look fascinating.
The mask had something painted on it that Inspector Piyush said was not seen before. The police had closed the entire area and nobody was allowed to go close to the alien.
People were trying to get a glimpse of the alien from a distance and whispering among themselves. Inspector Piyush was being interviewd by a journalist from a local newspaper about this strange discovery.
Inspector Piyush answered his questions in a serious tone and explained about his investigation, “After last night’s thunder and lightning, a woman from Shyama Society noticed something unusual in the jungle and called me. I went to the spot she had said and to my surprise discovered an alien wearing a mask just like us.”
“It proves that the planet that the alien has come from has also been infected with the coronavirus or that the residents of that planet are aware of the crises on Earth. It is also possible that they know it can spread to their planet as well and hence they have taken the precaution of wearing a mask. Or
this alien brought the disease to our planet and is now caught.”
Inspector Piyush had informed his headquarters about the alien and a team of scientists were on their way to the town to verify it.
He was pleased about his achievement and had started dreaming of his name being published in the newspaper and getting a reward. After all, it was because of him that an alien had been caught.
To take the entire credit for the discovery he had sent the original witness away and also threatened her to keep her mouth shut.
Soon, the team of scientists arrived. Inspector Piyush took them to the site where the alien was buried. The team wore their protective gears before moving close to the alien. The police guns were all pointed towards the alien in the event of an attack.
One of the scientists lightly pushed the helmet with the help of a stick. The head of the alien rolled to the ground. The gathered crowd screamed with fear and started to run but the scientist was taken aback.
He took off his protective helmet and looked at Inspector Piyush with rage.
He bent down and picked up the alien head and angrily threw it at Inspector Piyush who screamed with fear and almost lost consciousness when he saw the alien head coming towards him.
The alien head hit Inspector Piyush on his head and he lost his balance.
His throat dried up as he looked closely at the alien head. He picked it up and was surprised to see it was a wooden head wearing a cloth mask.
First understanding and then being horrified at the blunder he had committed, he looked at the scientists and stuttered, “I am sorry, Sirs and Maams. Mrs Meena from Shyama Society said that she saw something odd and the moment I saw this head, I thought it was an alien. How would I have known what an alien looked like?”
In the mean-time, the news of the alien head had spread like wildfire.
A pair of siblings reached the spot with their dog to claim the wooden head with the mask. Ravi said, “Uncle, head is ours. We were preparing for the upcoming Halloween festival. I was supposed to be China, my sister India and this wooden head was coronavirus.”
“My sister had painted a flag on the mask but our dog Buzo sat on it so it looks eerie. We were playing at home with it and Buzo was not pleased by it. He grabbed the head in his mouth and ran away. Buzo returned after a long time and the head was missing when he came back. I want to thank you for finding our head. Can we please take it with us?”
Grinding his teeth, Inspector Piyush gave them the head.
As he saw them leaving with it, he could see his fortune leaving with them. He started preparing himself for the huge scolding that he was about to receive instead of the reward that he had imagined. This was his worst Halloween.
Ojas and his friends were wondering about their Dusshera celebrations this year. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it had become difficult to even move out of their houses.
Physical distancing did not allow huge gatherings and so it was impossible to build the Ravan effigy, which they normally built and burnt every year on Dusshera.
“I cannot think of any way we can build the effigy this year? Do you guys have any suggestions?” Ojas asked his friends over a video call.
“We cannot just sit at home during the festival; we have always celebrated it with great pomp and show,” said Saavan.
“Saavan is right; we have to think of a way to celebrate the festival while following all precautions of wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance from each other,” Chandan added.
“But how will we make the Ravan effigy? It takes at least two to three days to do that. We can’t possibly meet and build it. We have to think of something else,” said Saavan.
“Let us all think about it and discuss in the evening,” Ojas suggested and disconnected the video call.
Ojas was still thinking about it when his grandfather saw him looking worried. He asked, “What is it, Ojas? What is bothering you?”
“Nothing Grandpa. I am just lost in my thoughts,” said Ojas.
“Oh Ojas! I know when you are lost in your thoughts and troubled,” Grandpa insisted.
“I was just wondering how we can celebrate Dusshera this year, Grandpa. The Dusshera fair has also been cancelled due to the coronavirus,” Ojas said sadly.
“Let’s think, Ojas. Festivals are meant to be happy events, not sad ones. Dusshera can be a very special and unique experience this year given the circumstances,” Grandpa consoled.
“Special? How so, Grandpa?” asked Ojas.
“By making people understand that the coronavirus is the evil of these times and we have to be ready to fight it and overcome it. We have to also prepare those who are not yet ready,” Grandpa explained.
“We are prepared, Grandpa. My friends and I make sure that we wash our hands regularly; we leave our houses only when it is absolutely necessary and we always wear a mask outside the house. Also, we use the sanitiser at all times,” Ojas said proudly.
“That is wonderful, but I believe a lot of people are still unable to understand the significance of these rules. You can still notice small children, adults and the elderly without face masks. You see educated people eating near food stalls without their masks and not maintaining a social distance.”
“People are still spitting on roads and some believe there is no virus at all. We can educate them and distribute face masks, soaps and sanitisers to these people. And also put up posters about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Grandpa explained.
“That’s an excellent idea, Grandpa!
The money we would have spent on building an effigy of Ravan can be used to buy these products. Let me present this idea to my friends and make this a memorable Dusshera for all of us,” Ojas said excitedly.
“But, do make sure that you take good care of yourself and your friends. Here, take some money,” said Grandpa.
“Thanks a lot, Grandpa,” Ojas said.
Ojas was extremely happy with the idea and he called his friends and explained Grandpa’s idea to all of them.
“Let us withdraw some money out of our piggy banks and buy these essential products. Later we can go and distribute them to the residents. We can also educate them on how they can prevent getting infected by wearing a face mask and by washing their hands regularly,” Ojas further explained.
All his friends immediately agreed. They decided to meet on the day of Dusshera.
Ojas disconnected the call and counted the money in his piggy bank. His friends did the same.
They all bought face masks, soaps and sanitisers with the money they had collected.
They then put a small table outside their colony and spoke to various people about the benefits of using face masks and maintaining hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.
They put up posters explaining the concept of maintaining a social distance and not spitting on the streets as well as of not eating in crowded places together.
Spreading happiness on the day of Dusshera was a beautiful experience for Ojas and his friends.
It made them confident that they would now be able to conquer the evil of the coronavirus together.
They walked back happily to their respective houses after the distribution.
Danny deer, Meeku rabbit, Gogo giraffe and Jumpy monkey were close friends.
This year, for the Dussehra Mela they had each got `50 from their parents and the four friends were excited about going to the fair. Today was the last day of the fair when Ram kills Ravan.
On the Ramlila ground, tall puppets of Ravan, Kumbhakarna and Meghnad were built on one side. On the other side of the ground, the stage was set where the Ramlila play was taking place. As soon as Ram took out an arrow and shot Ravan with it, all the three puppets were on fire.
After seeing them burn, the four friends went to visit the various stalls. The fair looked lively with decorated sweet, toy, and flower and pottery shops. There were many swings for children to ride on and there was a balloon shooting counter. There were huge cut-outs of heroes and heroines, which anyone could take a photograph with. There was a long queue for the same.
There were chat-pakodi, golgappa, lassi and peppery chowmein stalls, where everyone was eating delicious food.
Some small shopkeepers were selling their goods on the streets by displaying them on bedsheets.
At the fair, Meeku, Gogo and Jumpy were craving to eat the mouth-watering food items.
Meeku enjoyed hot gajar halwa, Gogo had golgappas and Jumpy who was fond of bananas, ate a lot of them.
However, Danny was not interested in food. His eyes were searching for something, but he could not find it.
Meeku, Gogo and Jumpy took a ride on the giant Ferris Wheel. Meeku then bought Ravan’s gleaming sword. Gogo bought Ram’s bow and arrow and Jumpy bought Hanuman’s mace.
“Hey, Danny! Why aren’t you buying anything? Do you intend to save all the money and take it back home?” said Meeku, holding the sword on his shoulder.
Gogo and Jumpy laughed at this. Gogo held the bow on his left hand and arrow in the right hand like Ram. He felt as if he was Ram. Holding the mace on his shoulder, Jumpy felt no less than Hanuman.
Danny could still not find anything for himself. Then he saw Blacky bear, selling clay flowerpots. Blacky was waiting for customers.
As Danny saw the flowerpots, he remembered the day when Environment Day was celebrated at school.
Forest Officer, Jeetu cheetah had visited school as Chief Guest, and had explained, “Dear children, trees give us oxygen to breathe. They provide us with fresh fruits and medicines to stay healthy. Trees are essential to life. But, the biggest enemy of the environment, like the demon king Ravan, is air pollution, which can be defeated only by planting more trees.”
As he remembered the Forest Officer’s words, Danny thought that the true meaning of Dusshera is to fight various evils in the form of Ravan. He thought of fighting the demon ‘air pollution’ by growing plants and trees.
He went to Blacky and asked, “Uncle, how much for a flowerpot?”
“Son, a flowerpot costs `30.”
After bargaining for a while, Danny bought two pots for `50.
The flowerpots were so heavy that Danny could not carry them in his hands. So he held both on his shoulders.
Seeing this, Meeku took out his gleaming sword from its sheath and said, “Danny, are flowerpots to be bought from a fair? Look at my sword. It can cut off the enemy’s neck in a single blow.”
Saying this, Meeku started brandishing his sword in the air. Danny stepped back in fear. But as Meeku twirled the fake sword vigorously, its fragile handle broke away, leaving the blade apart.
Meeku was disappointed. He had no other option but to put the broken sword back into its sheath.
Seeing this, Gogo said, “Meeku’s sword is fake. Look at my bow and arrow. These are real. One single arrow is enough to destroy the enemy!”
Gogo then pulled the bowstring to shoot the arrow. But as soon as he pulled the bowstring, it broke. Poor Gogo was embarrassed and started tying both ends of the broken string.
It was now Jumpy’s turn to show off. Twirling his mace, he said, “Danny, look at my mace. If I hit your flowerpots with it, they will break into pieces.”
Danny was scared as he knew Jumpy was very naughty. He held on to the flowerpots even more firmly.
Jumpy hit Danny’s flowerpots hard with his mace, but to everyone’s surprise, Danny’s flowerpots remained intact and the mace quashed!
It was disappointing for Jumpy to see his mace in such a state. He started fixing his dented mace. After this incident, Meeku, Gogo and Jumpy walked back home quietly. There was no point in boasting, as each one’s weapon had broken, whereas Danny was walking proudly with his flowerpots.
When Danny reached home, his mother asked, “Why did you bring these flowerpots? You had gone to the fair to eat and have fun.”
“Mummy, you prepare such delicious food that in its comparison, I found all the food dishes and drinks at the fair tasteless. This is why I did not eat anything. Now I am hungry. Is dinner ready?”
Danny’s mother hugged him and laid out the dinner.
The next day, Danny planted saplings in both the flowerpots and took utmost care of them. Within a few weeks, both the plants grew taller. One day Meeku, Gogo and Jumpy visited Danny’s house. He showed them the green plants in the flowerpots and they were amazed to see them. They could not stop themselves from taking selfies with the lush green plants.
Now Meeku, Gogo and Jumpy decided that they too will save their pocket money like Danny and buy flowerpots and grow plants in their homes. These plants would not only last longer but they will also help in keeping the environment clean and help in fighting the Ravan of ‘air pollution’.
After a whole night of heavy showers, the rain stopped. Most trees in Anandvan forest had fallen down. Due to landslides at many places, the roads were blocked.
Mintu monkey reached his favourite spot – the banyan tree, but was shocked to see it. Due to the previous night’s rain, the tree had been uprooted. The huge trunk blocked the road and its branches were scattered everywhere.
Mintu sat quietly near the fallen tree. He remembered all the beautiful moments he had spent on the tree with his mother. He had been born there and had spent his childhood playing with other animals on the branches of the tree. When he became older, he left the banyan tree to stay with his friends. But he came to the tree often to meet his mother. Even after his mother died, he would still come to the tree regularly.
After some time, Pinku parrot passed that way. Seeing Mintu sitting there with his shoulders drooping, Pinku asked, “What happened, Mintu? Why do you look so sad?”
“Pinku, I’m sad looking at this uprooted tree,” replied Minku.
“The rain has destroyed many trees of the forest. This is not the only one. Come with me, I will show you around. Don’t feel so sad,” Pinku consoled.
“No, thank you Pinku. I am better here,” replied Mintu.
“Tell me the truth, Mintu. What happened? Were you very attached to this tree?” asked Pinku.
“Yes Pinku, I spent the best days of my childhood sitting here, on this tree. The memory of my mother also revolves around this tree,” Mintu sobbed and said.
“That is why you are feeling so sad about this tree,” said Pinku.
“You are right. The government has cut down so many trees to make the road. But, what is the point of the road if there are no trees?”
“You may not need the road, but there are others who do, Mintu. For the development of the forest, this was necessary,” said Pinku, now getting angry at Mintu.
“It doesn’t mean that for development, the whole forest should be destroyed,” retorted Mintu.
“For development, cutting trees is necessary. We don’t know how many more sacrifices we still have to make to become modern,” said Pinku, sticking to his point of view.
“Pinku, not only that this tree is destroyed. So many animals, birds and insects living on the tree also are homeless. Where will they go now?” asked Mintu.
“Yes, that’s true,” said Pinku. “But this is what you and I think. The government does not think about all this.”
“We must make them understand. Do you know now?” asked Mintu.
“Come, let us ask what the other animals of the forest who have suffered because of the rains, say on this,” said Pinku.
Soon, they gathered many animals who had suffered losses because of the heavy rains destroying the trees and their homes in the forest.
“By building the roads in the forest, many animals have suffered loss of their homes and loss of forest property. We should put our problems before the government. If we carry on like this, we don’t know how much more loss we will have to suffer,” said Mintu.
“Mintu is right!” they said together and decided to go and meet the Minister in charge of roads and development.
Seeing so many animals together the Minister asked, “What happened? Is everything alright?”
“Sir, because of yesterday’s rains, many of our birds and animals have become homeless. Big trees have been uprooted. We have never seen such large-scale destruction,” said Pinku.
“But why have you come to me?” asked the Minister. “Sir, because of the construction of roads in the forest, so much destruction of property has taken place,” they said together.
“Then, you tell me, what should I do? For the development of the forest, we have to suffer some amount of loss,” he said.
“You’re right, sir. But we request that at the time of building roads, a few points should be kept in mind. Road construction should not kill the roots of trees. The forest’s old banyan tree has fallen down. Many birds and small animals had their homes on it. All of them have become homeless. Many creatures had spent their childhood on or around this tree. Their memories revolved around it. And all this is now over!” they explained.
“You are right. We should have kept these things in mind. The road should have been planned in a way, so that least destruction of trees and forest happens.
Whatever loss has happened, can’t be undone. But I promise you, In future, we will keep in mind that you do not suffer anymore,” replied the Minister.
“But what will happen to the old banyan tree? It is still lying there on the ground,” said Pinku.
“I have a solution for this. If you wish, I can help you preserve its memories,” said the Minister.
“How?” they asked. “We will cut off the big branches and place the trunk with the roots in a big hole in the ground. Soon, new sprouts will come from it,” said the minister.
“Is that possible?” they asked. “We have to try. And I also promise, next time, we will be careful in our construction,” he promised.
Mintu and all the animals too decided to help in the development of the forest and ensure that the forest was not destroyed.
Myra was sitting deep in thought that afternoon when her elder sister, Mandira, who was studying law came into their room. Seeing her sister sitting quietly, Mandira asked, “What’s the matter, Myra? What are you thinking about?”
“In school today, we were given a topic, ‘Anti-child labour Day’. We have to collect and share information about this day. We also have to paste some pictures. Didi, you are studying law. Do you know about ‘Anti-child labour Day’?” asked Myra.
“Yes, sure! But let’s eat our food first, and then we’ll talk,” replied Mandira.
After lunch, Myra cleaned up and went with her sister to sit on the lawn in front of their house. Her sister pulled up two chairs at the table. Mandira had carried fruits and milk as an afternoon snack for them.
“The International Labour Organization-is an international body formed to study and talk about labour. It started the ‘Anti-child labour Day’ in the year 2002. Many people take work from small children under 14 years. This is called ‘child labour’. Children are kept as servants in homes. Some children are employed in shops, hotels and garages. Children clean and wash cars. Some children are employed in hazardous jobs like mining; though this has become much less these days. In the olden days this was more common,” said Mandira.
“But why do people take work from small children?” asked Myra. “There may be some compulsions for these children, like they may be poor and may require money. Also, people pay less to small children and hence, don’t mind employing them,” replied her sister.
“But didi, then how do these children go to school? And what about their life, like play and games. What about those activities?” asked Myra.
“This is the objective of ‘Anti-Child Labour Day’, so that we recognize rights of children. Every child has the right to go to school, to play and enjoy life. We cannot deny them these rights by employing them for work. Childhood has a great impact on a person’s personality. The people who employ them often do not treat them well. For their small mistakes, they shout at them. Very often, they beat them. That is why Anti-child labour day is celebrated,” explained Mandira.
“Didi, after hearing you, I just remembered one thing. Near our school there is a hotel. I have seen a small boy working there,” remembered Myra.
“Really? Tomorrow I will come to pick you after school. Then we will go to the hotel and meet the boy. In the meantime, you can use the information I shared with you and prepare your report. I will help you download pictures from the internet or take them from magazines,” said her sister.
Next afternoon after school, Mandira and Myra went to the hotel. They saw the boy cleaning tables and serving food to the customers.
Mandira asked the hotel owner, “Who is that boy?” The hotel owner replied, “He is Ram, my elder brother’s son. My brother who lived in the village passed away last year. His mother also lives in the village. His education cost had increased and she was unable to meet the expenses. So I brought him here. He goes to school in the morning and helps me with my work in the afternoons. In the morning my wife stays here to help me. But she has the house to look after. So, Ram helps me take good care of the hotel.”
Mandira said, “You brought Ram to study here. That is very good. But along with the studies you are taking work from him and this is wrong. Do you pay him? Does his mother know all this? It is a crime to take work from him. From tomorrow you must stop asking him to work for you.”
Then the hotel owner said, “How does this matter to you? He is my own nephew. His mother will not say anything.”
“You are snatching his childhood from him. He needs rest after coming from school. Besides, he needs to complete his homework and studies. And for him play and games are also necessary. His childhood will not come back,” insisted Mandira.
The hotel owner then said, “Alright, didi. From tomorrow I will not take work from him.” They saw a smile on Ram’s face.
While going away Myra told her sister, “At least, Ram benefited from my project.” “Yes!” said Mandira and they returned home happily.