A Lesson in Luck

Surya was extremely superstitious. He believed that the number 13 was unlucky, that broken mirrors meant bad luck and he should not get a haircut on Tuesday.

One day, Surya got ready early and left for school. His exam results were going to be announced that day. As soon as he got out of his apartment, a black cat walked by.

“Oh no! A black cat just crossed my path. Surely something bad is going to happen to me today,” he panicked.

At school, Surya remained very worried. Just then, his class teacher, Geeta ma’am, entered the classroom with the exam results. Everyone was anxious.

The teacher called out each student’s name and handed over their papers. When Surya’s name was called out, he went up to her looking sad.

“What happened, Surya? Why do you look upset?” asked Geeta ma’am.

“Ma’am, a black cat crossed my path while I was on my way to school. I am sure that my results are extremely bad,” he replied.

“Not at all! You have scored well. In fact, you have got the second rank. A black cat crossing your path has no impact on your exam results. It is just a superstition. What you have scored is because of how hard you prepared for the exams,” said Geeta ma’am.

“If not for the black cat, I would have stood first,” said Surya sulking.

After she finished distributing the exam papers, Geeta ma’am made an announcement. “We will be going to Elephanta Island for a field trip this tomorrow,” she said.

Everyone cheered.

“Do you know where Elephanta is?” asked Geeta ma’am.

“My mother told me that it is an island in the middle of the sea,” said one student.

“That’s right. Elephanta is an island close to Mumbai. It is also called Gharapuri. We will have to take a ferry from the jetty at the Gateway of India and travel for a distance of about 10 kilometres,” said Geeta ma’am.

She continued, “Be ready by 7 a.m. The school bus will pick each of you up from your house and take you to the Gateway jetty. We will then board a ferry to Elephanta.”

All the students left for home feeling excited about the field trip.

Next day, Surya packed his bag with the delicious snacks that his mother had prepared for him. As he was walking to his stop, the black cat crossed his path again. This time, she also came and stood next to him purring softly.

Surya froze in fear. “Something bad is going to happen today as well,” he thought.

The school bus had already arrived and Geeta ma’am was waiting for him.

“Ma’am, I will not come for the field trip. This black cat crossed my path again, and anything, bad can happen now.

So you please carry on,” said Surya.


Geeta ma’am picked up the cat and said, “Look how sweet this cat is. She will come with us on the field trip. Let’s see what happens.”

Before Surya could protest, she grabbed his hand and boarded the bus.


At the Gateway of India, everyone got into a ferry. Geeta ma’am sat with the cat on her lap.

But Surya didn’t share any of the excitement. He sat in a corner worried about what was going to happen. He kept looking at the cat which seemed to have comfortably settled on his teacher’s lap.

After an hour, the ferry reached the Elephanta Island. After visiting the caves, the students had lunch together and set out to explore the island.

“Children, we will be leaving in an hour. Make sure you assemble back here by that time,” said Geeta ma’am.

The cat was still roaming close to Surya.

Suddenly, an idea struck him! He walked deep into the woods, while making sure the cat followed him. His plan was to leave the cat there and exit the island, leaving it behind.

The black cat too seemed to walk further into the woods by itself.

“Now is my chance,” he thought and quickly turned around to walk out of the woods.

As he continued walking, Surya realised that he had lost his way. It was getting dark and scary.

A bush close to Surya shook. He jumped in fear. The black cat walked out of it and looked at Surya. It began meowing.

It walked a few steps ahead, and turned to look back at Surya as if asking him to follow it. Having no other option, Surya started followed it, and soon the cat led him out of the woods. He then spotted his friends and Geeta ma’am.

“Where did you go? We had been looking for you!” said Geeta ma’am anxiously.

Surya told her everything that had happened. “You were lucky that this cat found you and brought you back to safety. Cats have good memory and they have a sense of direction,” said Geeta ma’am.


“Now I understand how foolish I have been to believe in superstitions,” said Surya, and picked up the cat. “From now on, it will stay with me,” he said petting it. The cat too purred, looking happy in his arms.

Chimbu traps the Frauds

Wily the Wolf, who was a petty thief, left his jungle in Madhuvan and came to Champakvan in search of a good fortune. He was hungry and desperately knocked at doors to ask for food. He peeped into Blackie the Bear’s shabby home. Blackie, who lay under a sheet, was seriously ill.

When he went to Miku the Rabbit’s burrow, he saw Miku shivering with fever and a doctor checking him.

“Ugh! Here in Champakvan everyone has fallen sick. I’ve come here at a wrong time. I myself may fall sick. Phew!”

Wily looked around in desperation. “Hey! There’s someone who isn’t bedridden!” It was Kalu the Crow, an idler like Wily who was sitting in the veranda of his house at the top of a tree.

“Brother, I left Madhuvan and came here hoping for a better life. But I see the animals suffering with sicknesses. Friend, you are the only one who can help me. Have pity on this starving orphan!” Wily begged Kalu.

Kalu broke into a smile. “I myself depend on others for food. Now that everyone is struck by this mysterious disease, I hardly get anything to eat.”

“Mysterious disease! Tch! Tch! Your King’s not doing anything in this matter?”

“Our King Sher Singh died a week ago.” Kalu murmured sadly. “Ever since, there’s no one to work for our welfare.”

“Your King’s dead!” Though hungry and desperate, Wily was frantically planning how to make use of the situation. King’s dead…mystery disease spreads fast…patients worried. Whew! An ideal opportunity for spreading false beliefs and fooling the desperate patients….

Wily spoke cheerfully, “A clever one will turn adversity into opportunity. The animals are scared of the mystery disease. We can easily fool them by promising to help them with magical powers.

Wily described the plan. Kalu cheerfully agreed to assist Wily and the duo immediately got ready to carry out the plan.

Kalu flew here and there and spread the news that a sage with magical powers was camping at the cave in the Champakyan forest, and that he could cure them of the mystery disease. The news spread like wildfire. Soon a large crowd rushed to the cave. Wily was sitting inside the cave with closed eyes. The animals eagerly waited to hear the sage’s answer.

“You all have forgotten Sher Singh soon after his death. You all did nothing to honour the dead. The king’s spirit is roaming around to take revenge. The revengeful spirit has sent the mystery disease.” Wily Baba cleared their doubts.

“Oh! The spirit! Baba, tell us what’s to be done to please the revengeful spirit and get rid of it.” They were terrified.

“Ah! It’s so easy to make them believe my lies! This is the chance for me to get rich,” thought Wily.


“Offer whatever you can to the spirit that’s haunting Champakvan: tasty food, grains, fruits. Bring them to Sher Singh’s den. My assistant Kalu and I will remain in the den to deal with the spirit. Continue to send the offering until everyone is free off the disease,” Wily said.

“Friend, you’re indeed a great fraud! Haunting spirit…revenge… ha…ha…” Kalu admired his new friend’s smartness.

Every day, the terrified animals faithfully brought offerings to the den: a variety of fruits, mouth-watering food, bags of grains. The duo collected the items, stored them in a dark cell and ate and drank to their heart’s content.

Chimpu the Monkey was a science teacher had just arrived at Champakvan to work in the Jungle High School.


One day on his way to the school, Chimpu saw the animals standing with bags and baskets outside the den. He found out what was going on and why they were offering food and grains to Wily.

“Uff! What a blind belief!” Chimpu decided to trap the cheats and teach a lesson to the superstitious animals. He bought a tiny spy camera. The next day, he too joined the animals standing at the den with offerings. He entered the den along with the crowd and swiftly tucked the spy camera into a flower vase.

Chimpu eagerly waited for the next day. The next day while inside the Den, Chimpu stealthily removed the camera from the vase.

“Hurray! The cheats are caught! Chimpu screamed while watching in his T.V. the scenes recorded by the camera. Not knowing that a hidden camera was recording their actions and speeches, Wily and Kalu greedily collected the items.


“What an easy way to earn! Let’s remain here for a few more days and then escape with our earnings,” said Wily.

I must get half the collection, okay?” said Kalu.

The animals, including the sick ones, watched what was recorded by the hidden camera.

“Ugh! What a shame! We believed that Sher Singh’s spirit’s taking revenge and lost our grains and money to the crooks. Let’s run and catch the crooks before they escape.”

The angry animals rushed to the den and got them arrested.

Turning to the crowd Chimpu said, “Friends, the illness that the animals are suffering from is nothing but malaria. All over here I can see pools of dirty water and blocked drains. No wonder mosquitoes are breeding, resulting in the spread of malaria. You must get medical help instead of going to frauds who pretend to have magical powers. Your illness has worsened and you have lost your money.”

The animals nodded their heads.

“Thank you, Mr. Chimpu, for opening our eyes.”.


Aditya was upset. His aunt, who he was close to, had just phoned him to inform that she would not be coming over during the summer vacation because some important work had come up.

Later that day, when Anju, the laundryman’s daughter, came to deliver the ironed clothes, she saw Aditya looking glum.

“What happened, Aditya? Are you unwell?” asked Anju.

“I am alright, Anju didi. I am just sad that my aunt, Reema won’t be coming over to stay with us during the summer holidays. I was really looking forward to her visit. She said she would teach me how to make toys with paper. We had also planned a short trip to Shimla,” said Aditya.

“That’s sad. In such cases, I have a way to make my wishes come true and it always works!” said Anju.

“What do you do?” asked Aditya, perking up.

“It’s a secret,” said Anju.

“Oh, please share your secret with me, Anju didi. I want my aunt to come as soon as possible!” Aditya pleaded.

“Okay, but you should not share it with anyone else,” said Anju.

“I surely won’t!” Aditya assured her.

“Okay. So, all you have to do is stand under a peepal tree at midnight, light a lamp and make your wish. It will come true,” said Anju.


“Who told you this?” asked Aditya.

“My grandma. She has a solution for everything,” said Anju proudly.

“I could try it but there’s just one problem: How will I step out of my house so late in the night without being accompanied by an adult?” asked Aditya.

Anju thought about it and then said, “I am older to you! I can accompany you.”

“Thank you, Anju didi!” said Aditya elated.

“You are my friend and you share all your toys with me. This is the least I can do for you. I will also bring the lamp,” said Anju.

“But didi, where will we find a peepal tree?” asked Aditya.

“Do you know the sweetshop at the junction? There is a peepal tree behind it,” said Anju promptly.

“Isn’t that a bit far?” wondered Aditya.

“So what? If you want your aunt to come, you will have to do it. I will meet you outside your house tonight and take you there,” said Anju.

“Okay. I will come out by 11.30 p.m. and meet you near the gate,” said Aditya.

That night, after his parents had gone to sleep, Aditya came out of his house and saw Anju standing by the gate. Together they walked to the peepal tree.

When they reached the peepal tree, Anju handed over the lamp to Aditya. Just when he was about to light it, a dog walked towards them barking.

Nitin’s Painting

Aditya got scared on seeing the dog and started to run. The dog ran after him, and Anju ran behind the dog. The dog caught up with Aditya and pulled his pants, because of which he fell down hard.

After sniffing around and realising that Aditya did not have any food, the dog walked away.

When Anju reached, she saw Aditya crying. Assuming that he had been bitten by the dog, Anju ran to inform his parents.


Aditya’s parents were surprised when they heard what happened. They immediately rushed him to the hospital.

Aditya woke up the next day at the hospital and saw his aunt standing next to his bed.

“Aunt Reema!” exclaimed Aditya. “How come you are here? I didn’t light the lamp under the peepal tree.”

“Peepal tree? Lamp? What are you talking about?” asked Aunt Reema puzzled.

After Aditya narrated the entire incident, Reema laughed. “Aditya, when did you start believing in such superstitions? And why didn’t you just call me if you wanted me to come?” she asked.

“Anju didi said her wishes always came true whenever she lit a lamp under the peepal tree at midnight. So, I wanted to try it too,” replied Aditya sheepishly.


“Now, because of these superstitions, look what happened—you have fractured your hand and will have to take rest for at least two weeks,” said Aunt Reema.

“But how did you come?” asked Aditya.

“It was anyway my plan. I had informed your parents, but I told them not to tell you because I wanted to give you a surprise,” said Reema.


Aditya felt foolish. His aunt was here but he wouldn’t be able to enjoy the time with her because of his fracture.

“No more silly superstitions for me!” Aditya resolved.


Rani Deer and Soni Deer were the best of friends. They were neighbours too, since their homes were right next to each other.

Soni Deer was a tailor. She made a living by stitching the clothes for the animals who lived in the forest. Rani Deer was a schoolteacher. She was happy to teach the young animals who studied in the forest school.

Soni Deer was very superstitious. She believed in rituals and would spend all her free time performing rituals. Well, she had been having some tough times lately. The heavy rains that lashed the forest every monsoon, had damaged the roof of her house and made it leak. The house was drenched, and Soni Deer had to stay in Rani Deer’s house, and also pay the repairmen a huge amount of money to repair her roof.

When Soni Deer finally went home, she found that her sewing machine had stopped working. She had to pay a lot of money to repair it, and was out of work for many days.

Soon after that, she had a fall while running to the market, and hurt one of her legs.

One day, Soni Deer saw an old man with a long beard standing outside the house.

“This house has a spirit hovering above it,” the old man shouted. “It is a very evil one! It is causing trouble for the house owner!”

Soni Deer was flabbergasted.

“I’ve had so much trouble of late,” Soni Deer thought. “This old man must be right! He must be a seer and can probably see an evil spirit hovering above my house!”

Soni Deer called out to the old man and asked, “How do you know this, Baba? Are you a seer?”

The old man closed his eyes, and looked like he was lost in thought. He opened them a few minutes later. Soni Deer gasped. The old man’s eyes were flaming red.

“I can see the evil spirit that’s troubling you right now,” the old man shouted. “He has broken your roof and has also made you fall down. I think he has meddled with your sewing machine too. He is very evil and wants to cause more trouble for you!”

Soni Deer’s jaw dropped. Her eyes grew wide. She believed every word of what the old man was saying. “He definitely must be a great seer!” she thought.

“Baba,” Soni Deer then said. “Please tell me how I can protect myself from this evil spirit who wants to harm me!”

“Well, I can help you if you like,” the old man said. “I can come back after two days and perform a ritual. It will take a few hours to complete. But be assured that it will drive the evil spirit faraway from your house.”

Soni Deer trusted the old man. “He will drive the evil spirit away and solve all my problems,” she thought.

“Baba, let’s perform this ritual,” she told the old man eagerly.

“Please tell me what you will require.”

The old man gave Soni Deer a list of things that she needed to buy. He then told her that he would come back to perform the ritual after two days.

As soon as the old man left, Soni Deer ran to Rani Deer’s house. She told her about the old man and the ritual that he would perform to drive the evil spirit away.

But to her great disappointment, Rani Deer grew very upset and scolded Soni Deer harshly. “Soni, since when have you become so foolish?” Rani Deer shouted. “How can you believe this old man, huh? He must be a conman who’s trying to cheat you! There are no such things as evil spirits! You’ve just been having some bad days! We all have them at sometime or the other!”

Soni Deer was not convinced. “If the old man was a conman, how did he know about my troubles?” she asked.

Rani Deer shook her head and replied, “Everyone in the forest knows about your leaking roof, your sewing machine, and your fall. It’s a small forest and news spreads easily. The old man must have heard about you from someone you both know. Please listen to me and stay away from him.”

But Soni Deer didn’t listen to her friend. “Well, there’s no harm in performing a small ritual, is there?” she said and stormed out of Rani Deer’s house.

Rani Deer realised that it was useless to say anything more to her friend. She decided that she would secretly keep an eye on the old man when he went to Soni Deer’s house next.

After two days, the old man knocked on Soni’ Deer’s door. Soni Deer was very happy to see him. She invited him in to perform the ritual.

“Eat this,” the old man told Soni and gave her some food to eat. “It is part of the ritual!”

Soni Deer respectfully ate what she was given. She was convinced that the old man was her well-wisher, and that he would drive the evil spirit away from her house. She sat down as the old man began the ritual, and hoped that all her troubles would soon be over.

Suddenly, Soni Deer felt as though the world around her was spinning. “Unhh!” she cried. “Why am I feeling so giddy?”

“Don’t worry,” the old man said. “The evil spirit is leaving your house. That’s why you’re feeling uneasy.”

“Oh!” Soni Deer said, believing the old man.Little did Soni Deer know, that the old man, was young Nakul Jackal in disguise. He was a notorious conman who wanted to steal the money and gold that Soni Deer had in her house. Or that she was feeling giddy, because Nakul Jackal had mixed a sedative in the food that he had given her to eat.

Soni Deer found herself feeling drowsy, and in no time, she fell fast asleep. Nakul Jackal laughed when he saw Soni Deer sleeping. He quickly gathered all the money and gold he found in the house.

“I’ll leave before she wakes up,” he said, running towards the door. But the moment Nakul Jackal opened the door, he found Inspector Matru Bear standing in front of him.

Inspector Matru Bear handcuffed Nakul Jackal immediately. Rani Deer then rushed into the house with Dr. Appu Elephant, and ran towards her friend.

When Soni Deer woke up, Rani Deer told her what had happened. Soni Deer cried and held her friend’s hand.

“You saved me, my dear friend,” Soni said gratefully. “Had you not alerted the police, Nakul Jackal would have surely stolen all my gold and hard-earned money. But tell me, how did you suspect that he was a conman?”


Rani Deer replied, “Well, I stood outside your house to watch what was happening. When I heard you say that you were feeling giddy, I realised that something was very wrong. And so, I ran to alert the police and call the doctor. Inspector Matru Bear guessed that the old man was Nakul Jackal in disguise, since he is notorious for playing such tricks.”

“I have learnt my lesson,” Soni Deer said. “I won’t believe in evil sprits from now on. Or old men who claim that they are seers and can perform rituals. I’ll accept the bad days of life gracefully, for I know that they will be followed by good days!”

Rani Deer smiled. She was glad that her friend wouldn’t fall for a conman’s tricks ever again.

The God in the Mirror

Cheeku rabbit was very happy today, as he was carrying a plate of puja offerings and in it, there were two Rs. 500 notes as well.

Meeku mouse saw him and asked, “Where are you going with the puja plate and money?”

“My wish has been fulfilled. I have been cured now. The Baba had promised that he would solve everyone’s troubles. For something like this, I would not hesitate to offer the Baba even Rs. 5000. I was saved in the nick of time from dying. Nothing can be greater than that,” explained Cheeku and continued walking towards the temple.

Baddy fox had come to Champakvan in the guise of a new Baba a few days ago.

Baba claimed to solve the problems of people and in return, they would offer him money and sweets. Baba’s ashram was always very crowded. Some people would come to get their wishes fulfilled and some to make an offering after their wishes were granted.

“God did not listen to me. I’ve failed this time too. What should I do now?” cried Jumpy monkey, standing next to Cheeku.

“You need to work harder. When the right time comes, your problem will be solved,” said Baba while hitting Jumpy on his head with the holy broom. Saying this Baba turned to the next person. As Cheeku came out after giving his offerings, Damru donkey, came to him shouting “Jai ho! Jai ho!”

“What happened Damru? You look very happy,” asked Cheeku.

“I saw God! I found God! I saw the miracle of God,” said Damru dancing with joy and moved ahead.

Everyone was surprised to hear this.

The news that Damru saw God spread like fire in the jungle.

“How is that possible? What does God look like?” everyone was curious to know. Everyone headed to Damru’s house in a group. “If Damru can see God, then why can’t we?” some of the animals thought.

“Damru, will you not make us see God too?” asked Teetu butterfly pleadingly.

“Why not! Anyone can see God. Let me show you now,” said Damru as he put a hand in his pocket and gave a mirror to Teetu.

“You can see God in this,” said Damru.

“But this is a mirror. I can only see my own face in this. Where is God in this?” said Teetu.

Cheeku too peeked into the mirror and saw his own face instead of God.


Damru went near Cheeku so his reflection too appeared in the mirror. Damru jumped up and said, “See! See! There are two Gods now.”

“Silly! These are our own faces,” said Cheeku angrily.

“How do you know these are our own faces?” said Damru.

Everybody laughed when they heard Damru say this.


Jumpy shook his head and said, “Damru there is a scientific reason behind seeing our faces in the mirror. It happens due to the reflection of light and we can see our face in the mirror. This is not called seeing God.”

“If you understand all this then why do you go and bow down in front of the Baba?” asked Damru angrily.

Everyone was surprised to know the relationship between devotion to Baba and the reflection in the mirror.

Damru took a deep breath and said, “Friends! There was a time when people did not know about mirrors.”

“Yes,” said Cheeku in agreement.

“They did not understand that light reflection makes us see our face in the mirror. But today we know about this. Science has helped us. But why do we still believe in things like miracles by Baba?”

“For occurrences where there is a reason, we do not think of them as a miracle of God. But for things which we don’t know a scientific reason, we think them to be miracles of God,” said Damru. “Everyone runs to the Babas and temples and they trap you.

We make offerings to them saying that God should fulfil our wish. The work gets done through a scientific reason but people will think the work has been done through the miracle of a Baba. If their work does not get completed, people will think it is not time yet. Baba will get the work done when the time is right.” Listening to Damru, everybody was shocked.

It was the truth. Work or no work, everyone was running to the Baba, but why? Truly, what good can a Baba do, except being a crook.

“We should stop this foolishness,” said Meeku immediately.


“Damru is right. Thank you for making us see the truth about Babas, Damru. From today onwards, nobody will go to the Baba, and follow them blindly,” said Cheeku, loudly.

All the animals agreed and then returned to their homes.