The Happiness Shop

Vicky rabbit was fond of eating chocolates. He fought with his younger brother and sister because they unknowingly ate his chocolate that was kept in the fridge.

He was angry and sat quietly in one corner. Suddenly, the doorbell rang as aunt Ruby came to visit them.

Seeing Vicky sit quietly, she asked, “What’s the matter? Have you all fought again?”

Vicky’s looked up at aunt Ruby, trying to smile. He was happy to see her as she had a chocolate shop. He was sure that she must have brought lots of chocolate for them.

Vicky narrated the incident that happened in the morning with his siblings. He didn’t like being angry but could not help it.

Aunt Ruby heard him out and then asked, “If I own a chocolate shop, do I have to go somewhere else to buy chocolates?”

Vicky bowed his head and said, “No, aunt Ruby.”

“This also means that we will always have enough of chocolates in our shop, right?” aunt Ruby asked.

“Yes, aunt Ruby,” replied Vicky.

“Okay, so if you want to be happy, you need to open a happiness shop, so that you will always have enough, especially after you give it to others,” said aunt Ruby.

Vicky was surprised and said, “I never thought of it that way! But how can I open a happiness shop?”

“It’s very easy! Ever since you wake up in the morning, you have to help others and make them happy,” said aunt Ruby.

Confused, Vicky asked, “But how can I give happiness to everyone? Will they take it from me? Am I not too young to give happiness away?” 

Aunt Ruby replied, “So what if you are young. There are many ways to give happiness. You can help your brother and sister in their studies, play with them, or share your things with them. Help your mother with the housework. You can help anyone if you wish to do so.” 

Vicky said, “I understood. Starting today, I will open my happiness shop.” 

Next day, when Vicky was returning from school, he saw an old bear trying to cross the road and helped her. 

He also carried her bag and dropped her home. The bear was happy and thanked Vicky. 

When he reached home, his siblings were struggling to complete their homework. He helped them and shared his chocolates with them. 

His siblings were happy to get an extra share of chocolate and that too from Vicky who loved chocolate so much. 

In the evening, he helped his mother clean the house who was happy to see Vicky voluntarily helping her. 

Vicky was satisfied with all he had done during the day. 

Next morning, he heard his father tell his mother that some senior citizens are living alone in a house nearby. They were struggling to get things from the market. 

Vicky took permission from his parents and helped the senior citizens to buy what they needed on his way back home from school. 

When Vicky had to buy many things, he and his father would go together as he couldn’t carry heavy items alone. 

Vicky was delighted to help people and he realised that he was getting happier by the day. 

A few days later, aunt Ruby visited Vicky again. 

She looked at Vicky and said, “Looks like your happiness shop is running well.” 

With a smile on his face, Vicky replied, “Yes, I am very happy about it! I will continue to share happiness with others as much as possible and run this shop of happiness forever.” 

Aunt Ruby smiled and gave Vicky extra chocolates for his good work.

Do it yourself!

“How hot it is! When will it rain, mom?” asked Bolt, Misha cheetah’s cub.

Anandvan forest had no rains. Animals did not have enough food. The forest had always been short of water and now, whatever little water was there, quickly dried up under the hot sun.

The days were hot and dry, and the nights were eerily uncomfortable. Birds and animals with fur like bears were suffering the most.

Misha lived in the forest with her cubs.

Clouds would form in the sky every day but would break without rain. The months of monsoon passed, but not a drop of rain fell from the sky.

Drought was declared in the forest. The Forest Administration advised all animals to move to other forests.

When the animals started migrating with their kids, the hawks arrived from other forests and said that animals from other forests were moving towards their forest. There was a drought everywhere and no one knew where to go.

The animals called for a meeting. It was decided that no animal would eat another during the meeting.

Deer, squirrels, buffaloes, zebras, cheetahs, tigers, bears, foxes, and rabbits—all came together.

King Sheru said, “Friends, we are facing drought because of the human race.

Because they believe they are superior, they have cut down trees and destroyed forests, constructed dams over rivers, drying them, and leading the planet towards destruction. The weather has altered. It doesn’t rain during monsoons, it isn’t cold during winters, and summers are increasingly hot. Our food chain is being destroyed because of no food and bad water.”

“So we too must destroy the humans.

Down with humans!” shouted Foxy fox.

The others repeated after him, “Down with humans! Down with humans!”

The whole forest started chanting in hatred of humans.

“Quiet!” said King Sheru in his firm voice and everyone fell silent. “Tonight, we shall attack the human city closest to the forest and take their food and water. They too should know what it feels like when they starve.”

The animals clapped at their king’s decision and waited for nightfall. As soon as the sunset, tigers, bears, jackals, and cheetahs crossed the forest borders to hunt the human territory.

But the humans had good security systems in place, so the animals could not do much and just about escaped the traps set for themselves and returned.

The news about their failure spread through the forest.

King Sheru called for another meeting.

Some hyena who had been beaten up by the humans were standing in one corner and shivering with fear.

“Residents of the forest! We can’t live in fear! We must keep fighting! In this struggle for survival, we must…”

But before King Sheru could finish, Misha interrupted him and said, “Your majesty, with your permission, may I say something?”

Misha was loved and respected by everyone because she was a wise animal who found solutions without blaming or fighting.

The king nodded, and Misha said, “Friends! Our fight is not with humans but with what they have done. They have misused their knowledge and have caused destruction to nature. The earth is heating up. The glaciers are melting but not just us, the humans too are suffering because of it. In some years, they too will face scarcity of food and water.”

Everyone listened to her attentively.

“If we attack humans,” continued Misha, “we will not survive. They are stronger than us.”

Some animals, like the hyenas, who had been beaten agreed with her, but the others still wanted revenge.

“Do you have a solution to the problem, Misha?” asked the king.

“I do, your highness, but it’s going to be time-consuming and slow,” said Misha.

“Do tell us!” said the animals.

“We should try and grow our own food instead of stealing food and water from humans. Everyone will have to work hard and have the patience to see the results.

If it does not work, we will try another way,” she said and explained what had to be done.

Next morning, the work started. Barren lands were dug by oxen and birds got the seeds sown. Elephants and bears got water from far away lakes that still had water.

All the animals and birds contributed to the cause based on their skills and all helped each other.

Working hard, they believed Misha’s plan would bear fruits. They knew about farming as they had seen humans do it.

Days passed into weeks. But neither did the weather improve, nor was there any sign of food.

All their hard work seemed to have failed.

They started thinking they would rather have stolen food. They decided to go and attack humans and called for a meeting with their king.

They had only just reached his cave when lightning struck. The entire forest lit up in a flash and it started raining. Where seeds were sown, saplings appeared and the lakes started filling up.

With the crops growing, food problems also slowly began going away. Since the herbivores could now eat, the carnivores were hopeful about having food too.

Misha’s plan had worked, though it took time.

If they had attacked humans, there was no guarantee of a continuous supply of food and water.

They had learnt that if you wish to do something, the best way was to “do it yourself.”

Treasure in the well

“Yash! Yash! I just learned something interesting!” said Karan, panting.

“Karan! Catch your breath first? Now, tell me, what it is?” said Yash, resting his bat on his shoulder.

“About three kilometres from here flows Ratna River. On its shore, there is an old house with a well.”

“What’s special about that?” asked Yash.

“Oh, Yash! Don’t you know? The British have hidden a truckload of treasure inside that well.”

“How do you know there’s treasure inside the well?”

“My grandpa told me that during the revolt of 1857, the British government had hidden its treasure in that well so that the revolutionaries would not lay their hands on it. The British were killed during the revolt, but the treasure is still inside the well. No one has found it till now.”

Yash thought for a while, and then said, “Karan! The treasure in the well can be ours! We’ll do what no one has done!”

Yash and Karan talked and walked towards their closest friend, Mohan who had an analytical way of thinking.

Mohan loved reading detective stories and had learnt about being a detective through them.

He listened to his friends attentively, and then said seriously, “Hmm! A treasure in the well! We will find it, no matter how hard it is.”

The three of them started drawing up a plan and decided to go on Sunday to find the treasure. They also agreed to collect things that they would need to draw out the treasure.

They collected large bags to put the treasure once they got it, and sticks with pointed ends like spears to fight off any danger they may face. They took a large rope for getting inside the well, and a pickaxe for digging.

On Sunday morning, the three friends set off on their treasure hunt fully prepared.

Their first obstacle was the way to cross the Ratna river. Though the river did not seem to have a lot of water, they didn’t know its depth. They took off their clothes and shoes and put them in a plastic bag.

They used their sticks to measure the depth of the river and started walking across it slowly. They walked through the parts where the water was shallow and avoided the deeper pockets.

They had almost reached the shore when Yash screamed. “Ouch! Ouch!” and jumped and rushed towards the land. Mohan and Karan got scared and followed Yash quickly.

When they reached the land, they found Yash stamping on the ground. They saw that two leeches were attached to Yash’s legs and they had become swollen sucking his blood. Yash tried shaking them off, but could not. He was screaming now.

Hearing the screams, a farmer working in a field near the river came running. He saw Yash stamping and understood what had happened.

He immediately pulled out a small bottle that had white powder from his pocket and sprinkled some on the leeches and they came off Yash’s legs at once.

“There are a lot of leeches in this river,” explained the farmer. “We bring our cattle to bathe here and they stick to their legs too. The only way to get rid of leeches is to sprinkle salt on them. That’s why I carry a bottle of salt with me!”

Yash thanked the farmer, and the three friends began walking towards the old house. They had just crossed a field when they heard a buzzing noise. A swarm of bees were coming towards them!

Yash and Karan turned around to run but Mohan yelled, “Put the treasure bags over you!”

The three friends immediately put the empty bags over them. Through the bags, they could hear the bees buzzing and were scared they would get stung. But luckily, the bees flew away and the three friends removed their bags, looked at each other and laughed in relief.

“We didn’t expect our hunt to be full of dangers!” exclaimed Yash.

“Yes, shall we go on?” asked Karan.

“Yes, of course! We’ll find that hidden treasure!” answered Mohan, and the three of them marched ahead.

They soon reached the old house that looked like a ghost house. Trees and bushes had grown through its walls. The windows were broken and covered with cobwebs and looked dark and scary.

But even more scary was the snake in front of the house! Soon, a second snake joined it and the children recognised them as poisonous snakes.

Karan was about to hit the snakes using his pointed stick, but Mohan caught his hand and said, “Don’t hurt them!” he whispered. “Stand still and they’ll go away.”

Sure enough, soon the snakes slithered away.

“You see Karan, snakes are shy. They don’t attack till they feel threatened.

If you had hurt them, they would have attacked us,” explained Mohan.

The three friends then tiptoed through the grounds and finally saw the well. But just before they could go near the well, they heard a rustling noise! Was that some wild animal that would attack them?

They took a step back and looked inside and saw two rabbits running away!

With a sigh of relief, the three went closer to the well and looked inside. It was deep. Plants and weeds had grown along its walls. They could not see the bottom. One of them would have to climb down to get the treasure!

“Mohan, you are the thinnest. You should climb down!” said Karan. Yash is heavy and we will not be able to pull him out.”

Yash laughed but was secretly happy that his weight had saved him from climbing down. He did not want to get stuck inside the well! Mohan tied one end of the rope to a tree trunk and tied the other end to his waist.

“Yash and Karan, release the rope slowly.

Once I reach the bottom, I’ll find the treasure and put it in the bags. Then I’ll shout so that you can pull me up.”

Mohan balanced himself along the side of the well and slowly started climbing down easily. When he reached the bottom, he looked all around for the treasure that was not there.

Instead of the gold coins, he was expecting, he saw a scared white baby rabbit that tried to hide when Mohan reached to pat it.

Mohan realised that the baby rabbit must have fallen into the well. The two rabbits that scurried when they had reached the well must have been her parents.

Thankfully, there was no water in the well, otherwise, the baby would have drowned.

Mohan carefully picked up the rabbit and put her in his bag. He used his pickaxe to make some holes in the bag for her to breathe. He took the bag on his back and tied the pickaxe to the rope. Then he called Yash and Karan to pull him. Yash and Karan were thrilled because they thought that Mohan had found the treasure. They started pulling the rope with all their might. Mohan, too, started carefully climbing upwards.

When he reached the top, Yash caught Mohan’s hand and pulled him out.

They were all exhausted and lay flat on the grass for some time.

Then Yash could not hold himself and picked up the bag Mohan had dropped on the ground and opened it. He wanted to see what was the treasure they had found!

But the treasure inside the bag was scared of Yash and started jumping. Yash dropped the bag in fear and Mohan took the rabbit out of the bag and told them that this was the only treasure he found inside the well.

Karan said, “Mohan, you are kind. I wish everyone was as kind as you are. So many animals can be saved by our small acts of kindness.”

Just then, they saw the rabbits coming back looking for their young one. Mohan released the baby rabbit in the direction of her parents. The rabbits were overjoyed upon being reunited. The three friends were also overjoyed—the treasure they found was a unique one.

Kittu’s Rotten Idea

Kittu was walking down the road, holding an apple in one hand and a sack in the other. He met Venkat on the way.

“What’s with the apple and the sack?” asked Venkat, curiously. “That apple looks delicious! I love apples.”

Kittu shook his head. “Oh no, the apple is for someone else.”

“For whom?”

“If you must know, it’s for Mrs. Natrajan who lives at the end of the road.”

“That crabby old lady? She’ll bite your head off!” warned Venkat.

“Oh no, she won’t,” answered Kittu, confidently.

“You never give things without a reason.

Why are you giving her an apple? Asked Venkat, narrowing his eyes.

“What do you mean? I have no motive!” said Kittu, opening his eyes wider.

“Don’t pretend with me. I know you better!” Kittu sighed. Mrs. Natrajan has a mango tree in her garden. And those are the best mangoes I have tasted! She loves apples and I love mangoes. So I thought I will give her this apple and hopefully she will let me take some mangoes. That’s why I am carrying the sack!”

“I knew you would not do something without a reason. Anyway, you can’t carry such a heavy sack. I’ll come and help you!”

“And I am sure you want some of the mangoes for your help,” replied Kittu, as he knew Venkat would not help just like that.

Venkat grinned and said, “Well, if you are that kind, considerate and generous, who am I to refuse?” Kittu threw a nasty look at him but realised that he wouldn’t be able to carry the heavy sack by himself, so he agreed to take Venkat along.

Both set out to Mrs. Natrajan house.

As they neared the house, they found her standing outside, yelling at the top of her voice at some kids who were trying to steal mangoes from her tree. She was shaking her hands furiously at them.

The kids ran away while she was shouting and muttering under her breath at the same time.

Kittu and Venkat stood frozen and looked at each other nervously.

Both were scared now.

Kittu gulped and said softly, “I thought we were the first ones to try and get her mangoes.”

Venkat nudged and whispered, “Let’s drop this idea and leave before she scolds us too.”

Kittu hesitated. He was scared, but the thought of those delicious mangoes wanted him to try. Also, he had an apple.

Surely that would make Mrs. Natrajan kind towards him.

“No, let’s go to her. Don’t forget that I have an apple.”

Venkat hesitated and thought, “What if Kittu is right and he is rewarded with a lot of mangoes? If I don’t help Kittu carry the sack, then Kittu will not even share one mango.” So Venkat agreed to go with Kittu.

Both of them walked up to Mrs. Natrajan and stood before her.

She turned towards them and looked at them.

She had a scowl on her face and when she spoke, they felt she was barking, “What do you want? Mangoes, I bet?”

Both of them got more nervous.

Kittu put on a fake smile and extended the apple towards her.

“For you,” he said.

Mrs. Natrajan looked suspiciously at it and asked, “For me? Why would you bring me an apple for no reason? Is it some sort of a joke?

If yes, then you will be sorry. I mean it. Now run off, you two,” she yelled.

Kittu said smoothly, “No, ma’am, this is a gift for you. It is not a joke. Sweet apple for a sweet lady.”

Venkat looked at him in wonder. He had never heard Kittu speak so sweetly before.

Mrs. Natrajan frowned. Then she looked at the apple and her frown cleared. She almost smiled, and said, “That is very nice of you, boy.”

She took the apple from Kittu and looked it over.

She loved apples so she didn’t waste any time biting into it.

The next moment, she spat it out.

“Blech! Rotten apple! How dare you give this to me?” she yelled.

She threw the apple down and ran towards them.

Kittu and Venkat ran with their empty sack and with Mrs. Natrajan chasing them.

Breathless, Venkat said while on the run, “You and your dumb ideas!”

Kittu replied, “How was I to know that the apple was rotten? I found it in our backyard a few days ago. Now, I think my mother must have thrown it out.”

Shocked, Venkat glared at Kittu. “Now you tell me!”And they both ran to save themselves.

The Spotted Puppy

Abhay was fond of puppies. He demanded and pleaded with his parents to get a pet dog, but every time they gave him some reason and turned him down.

“It’s not easy to have a pet, Abhay! It’s a lot of responsibilities. Humans can speak and ask for what they want, but pets can’t.

Just imagine if we do not understand the needs of the animal, how miserable it will be for him here,” dad explained.

“That’s not all! If we go out on vacation, there will be no one to take care of it. We won’t be able to take it with us, nor leave it alone,” said mom.

Abhay would get sad. He knew his parents were right, but he really wanted a pup.

One day, Abhay left for school when he heard a low cry. He looked around. In a shallow drain near Uncle Sharma’s house were some tiny puppies! Abhay carefully looked at them. They were of different colours—black, grey, white, spotted—all huddled together.

Abhay stared at them for a while and then started counting them. Before he could count, the puppies huddled together, making him forget his count.

Abhay giggled. He separated them and started counting again.

While he was counting, their mother came back and looked at Abhay, bared her teeth and growled.

Abhay stepped back. He knew the mother was being protective about her babies.

His school van also arrived so he left for school. But throughout the day, Abhay’s mind was occupied by the puppies.

After returning home, he quickly changed, had his lunch, and sat down to finish his homework. Mom was pleased to see him studying and went for her usual rest.

“Mom will take a nap for an hour now.

I’ll go and play with the puppies till she wakes up,” thought Abhay as he smiled and went out.

Bobo, the mother of the puppies, was not around. She had probably gone out to eat.

Abhay picked up the puppies and started petting them. He loved the spotted puppy and picked it up and walked home with it.

Mom was still asleep when he entered.

Abhay took an old shoebox, placed some towels inside and put the puppy in it. He put some milk in a bowl and tried feeding it to the puppy, but it could not drink properly.

Abhay could not take the puppy inside the house, for if mom came to know she would ask him to take it back. And Abhay did not want that.

He started thinking of ways to convince dad and mom so they would let him keep the puppy.

An hour passed. Abhay was still playing with the puppy. He heard his mother wake up. He covered the shoebox and quickly started riding his bicycle. Mom did not suspect anything.

When dad came home from work and called Abhay, he went inside the house, keeping the shoebox covered with the puppy still in it.

Meanwhile, Bobo came back and started looking for her lost puppy who heard his mother and came out of the shoebox.

Bobo realised that her puppy was inside Abhay’s house but couldn’t get in as the door was shut.

Bobo stood outside the main door, barking. The pup ran to the door but could not go out. Bobo tried to get inside but she could not either.

Mother and child, each on one side of the door, were helpless.

Bobo’s barking made a lot of noise. Mom went out and saw the puppy and the shoebox.

She realised what had happened. She opened the door and the pup ran out to its mother. Bobo picked up the puppy gently by its neck and went back to her other pups.

Abhay saw the whole thing. He was upset when he saw the pup leave. Mom called him inside the house but did not say anything about this.

“Abhay, I’m going to grandma’s place for a few days. She’s not keeping well. You will be here with your sad,” she said, while packing her bag.

Abhay started thinking. He had never been away from mom. From the time he woke up in the morning till he went to bed at night—mom was there for his meals, homework and games. The thought of spending even one day without her around gave him shivers.

Then he saw the pups and Bobo pass by the house.

“How selfish of me! I can’t live a day without mom, and I was planning to separate the pup from its mother forever,” thought Abhay, feeling bad about what he had done.

“Abhay! Let mom go! We’ll bring the spotted pup home tomorrow. You can play with him and you won’t even notice that mom’s gone,” said dad.

“No, dad! Even that pup wouldn’t want to stay away from his mom. I saw how much he was crying today. I don’t want the pup to be separated from his mom just like how I don’t want mom to go,” said Abhay and hugged his mom.

“I’m not going anywhere! I was just trying to show you that just like you can’t stay away from me, baby animals also need to stay with their mothers,” smiled mom.

The spotted pup stood outside the door and wagged its tail.

Let us Rhyme

Geeta was not aware that Srishti’s grandmother was a poet. Geeta had come to celebrate grandma’s birthday at Srishti’s invitation.

Dadi asked, “If we want to celebrate my birthday, would you all like to do it my way?”

“Yes, why not, dadi,” replied Srishti, “So, will we not cut a cake on your birthday?”

“We will neither cut a cake nor will we blow candles. We will do something more fun!”

“So, how do you want to celebrate it?” asked Geeta.

“We will sing and dance,” said dadi.

“Wow! That sounds like a lot of fun,” said Srishti.

“So, let’s begin with some rhymes,” said dadi.

“What are rhymes?” asked Srishti.

“We have to say something in two, four or six lines, which should end in rhyming words like bad-mad, day-say, couch-pouch.”

“Okay,” said Geeta. “Dadi, you go first and we’ll follow your example.”

Dadi made a funny face and said, “So, listen:

Humans look like owls,

But they don’t growl!

Owls look like me,

Look closely, you will see!”

Everyone laughed. “Wow, dadi! An owl’s face resembles ours. But dadi, you are not an owl. You are our beloved dadi,” said Srishti and hugged her.

Geeta had thought of some lines. “May I give it a try?” she asked.

“Go ahead,” replied dadi.

“Move your legs,

Move ten paces and come back two pegs.

Let’s see who runs fast,

Who goes ahead and who comes back last?”

“Wow!” As soon as Geeta said her rhyme, Srishti, Smridhi and Priyanka stood in line. Dadi said go and everyone ran. Geeta was the first one to come back after touching the wall.

“Wow, dadi, your birthday will be memorable,” said Srishti.

“After all whose birthday is it?” said dadi and started reading one of her poems,

“Come. Come.

We make a circle,

Hold hands, everyone stands

wearing purple.

Let’s play again,

And make a chuk-chuk train.”

Dadi stood in front and the children held onto each other’s shirts and started the train. Chuk-chuk! Rahul was at the back. He was blowing a whistle and then said,

“Kabaddi is a number one game,

played by the wise,

Not for those who don’t exercise,

Whoever touches the winning line,

They will wear the garland of

victory and shine!”

Saying so, Rahul made two teams and started playing Kabaddi. Dadi was quick and touched the winning line and returned.

“Really! Dadi’s game is fun,” said Rahul.

After some time, they all got tired and sat down to talk.

Dadi! When you were young, were you afraid of exams?” asked Smridhi.

“Yes, like everyone I too was afraid of things I didn’t understand,” said dadi.

“People who didn’t understand the dark were afraid of it. The only reason we still fear things is because we don’t know them.”

“My grandfather used to say exams test our knowledge. They bring out whatever one has learnt.”

“What does this mean, dadi?” asked Geeta.

“Exams are held so that we can ask ourselves what we know and test our memory. So, why should we fear them?”

“Hmm…I did not think of exams that way,” said Srishti, “Now, what do we do next, dadi?”

Dadi distributed sweets to all the kids. She also gave them a storybook.

“My children! If everyone reads their books, I’ll think my birthday was meaningful,” she said.

Srishti then said,

“Let dadi’s birthday come again,

We get to play aboard a train!

May we sing and dance a lot just like this,

And give dadi a hug and a kiss.”

Saying this everyone hugged dadi and sat down to eat dinner.