Scintillating Sapna

Sapna was the monitor of class 7A. She was active and chirpy as a parrot. Ever willing to lend a helping hand to her classmates, she was the joy of her class.

Anyone who had any issue or wanted to solve any problem came to Sapna for a solution. This was because, according to Sapna, “Wherever a problem exists, the solution also exists. You just have to persist.” This earned her the tag of ‘Scintillating Sapna’.

The final exams were just two months away. It was recess time and Krisha, Hrithika, Aisha, Vaibhav, Kiran and Michael were looking tense. Sapna, who had just finished some work that the class teacher, Ms. Fernandes, had given her, walked into class. “What’s up? Has the sky fallen or is there going to be a tsunami?” she asked, trying to lighten the situation.

“Sapna, Why do we even have exams? It’s so boring to study, and give exams every year,” complained Krisha.

“Yes. Sapna. What are they for? Why can’t they just give us marks for our understanding of the subject?” asked Kiran.

“That would make things so much easier for us. Also, the teachers will not have to correct so many answer papers,” said Hrithika.

Michael, who loved nature, said, “Yes. It would save so much paper. We have to think of nature conservation first, not exams.”

Vaibhav, who was a voracious reader, said, “I would be able to read so many interesting novels, rather than delve deep into the geography of hills and mountains I would never explore.”

Aisha, who loved trekking, glared at him. “I love geography. I would throw a rock at you for saying such things. The hills and mountains are so beautiful. It is interesting to know about the type of rocks, trees and the topography of regions.”

Sapna smiled at them. She said, “Oh…so that’s it. The exam monster has attacked you. That’s why you are all looking tense.”

She then sat down with them. She continued, “Ok, I have an idea. Let’s make our studies interesting.”

To this, Vaibhav said, “Nothing can make me love geography.” Aisha looked at him in anger.

Michael, who loved the subject English and also nature, said poetically,

“Take me to a park, or a playground, Take me outside in nature, Everything is over there, All the poetry of English, All the problems of Maths, All the mysteries of Science, All the forts in History or All the mountains in Geography.”

Krisha laughed and said, “He plans to travel the world, when the exams are coming nearer!” The rest of them also started laughing and the atmosphere lightened.

“Okay, Sapna, tell us how we can make our studies interesting,” said Kiran.

“Yes. After all, studies do take up most of our time. It would be good to make it interesting,” said Hrithika.

All of them were all ears for Sapna. She was, after all, ‘Scintillating Sapna’.

Sapna said, “Look, let’s set up weekly goals for our studies. More important, let’s help each other clear doubts. None of us is an expert in all subjects, but each of us does like a particular subject more than the others.”

Krisha said, “That’s true. I like History very much.”

“So you could be the group head for History. Michael could be the head for English. Aisha shall be the group head for geography… and so on. If any of the group heads are not able to clear a particular doubt, then we shall meet and clear the doubt from the respective subject teachers,” said Sapna.

Vaibhav said, “That’s a good idea. It’s time I delved deep into my school books rather than my novels.”

Sapna announced in class about the group. She told the whole class to form different study groups, and see that no student was left out.

Each student was now filled with energy and hope. They prepared their own study charts, set up weekly goals, and looked forward to seeing each other’s progress in studies.

The teachers were also told about the study groups and they were very happy about it.

Earlier the students were looking tired, dull and tense. Now, they had got back their zest for life, all sparked by the bubbly Sapna.

Sapna said, “Let us try to understand what we read, then it makes writing the answers easier. Let’s compete with ourselves, so that we can better the marks we got in our previous exam.”

Vaibhav, who almost always got the highest marks, said in an amused tone, “Sapna, can I get 51 out of 50?”

The rest of them laughed. Sapna also laughed. She said, “By trying to improve our own marks, at least, we won’t be trying to get each other’s throats!”

All the students in the class were very happy. “I think we do require a name for our group. What shall we call them? Any suggestions?” asked Sapna.

A voice came from a girl who usually spoke less, but loved doing Karate… “The Stress Busters.” It was Disha, who packed the last punch.

Exam fever was now lesser and all the students had written their exams with confidence and with much less stress.

The results showed a marked improvement from the previous term. They had all passed in every subject and many more students had come into the merit list. Together, they had helped each other succeed.

All the children in the class were happy. Krisha said to Sapna, “You truly are scintillating. Studies don’t seem to be boring anymore.”

The teachers praised the class for their whole-hearted group effort in studying.

‘The Stress Busters’ group were a hit. They set an example for the other classes, who were inspired by them to form such groups in their classes too.

Money On A Tree?

“Money on a tree?” asked everyone. Blacky bear had been telling the animals about this. They knew about flowers and fruits growing on trees, but this was the first time they’d heard someone mention trees on which money grew.

“I don’t believe a word of what Blacky said. He’s trying to fool us,” said
Jumpy monkey.

“If he had asked us to get money, I’d have thought that he was fooling us. But he is offering us such a tree in return for some help. Why do you think he’s playing a prank?” asked Dora.

Jumpy could not answer Dora. He decided to get a money tree and went to see Blacky.

“Though I hate even the thought of doing work, I should get this wonderful money tree. Then I’ll just relax and rest throughout my life,” thought Damru donkey.

Behind Blacky’s house was a large plot of unused land that could be used as a farm but the land was uneven and full of gravel and stones. It needed a lot of work for it to be ready for farming. Blacky spoke to the animals in the forest about his farming idea. But most of the animals didn’t want to work, so nobody offered to help Blacky. That’s when he got this bright idea to offer money trees to all helpers!

Very soon, there was a long queue of animals at Blacky’s door. Blacky was excited to see them.

“If your promise turns out to be false, we’ll bury you right here in this ground. To get a tree on which money grows, we can dig not just this piece of land but the entire forest,” Zimba leopard roared.

“Stop worrying about that and quickly start working. We have very little time,” said Blacky, looking up at the cloudy sky.

The animals got out their spades and hoes and began digging. Some removed stones, while others made the surface smooth. The barren, rocky land became a smooth plot, fit for farming.

“Now you all may go home. After exactly two months, you’ll get your money trees,” Blacky thanked the animals and they left.

After they had gone, Blacky sowed seeds of various fruits and vegetables in the soil. After some time, it started raining.

In a few weeks, the whole field was lush green. The grain was swaying in the wind and the place was full of fruits and vegetables.

Blacky took the harvest to the market and sold everything. He kept aside the money and waited. At the end of two months, the animals came to him. “Blacky, where are our money trees?” they asked impatiently.

“They are here, right in front of you. Why don’t you see for yourself?” Blacky showed them the swaying plants. “And yes, money has already started growing on these trees. Here it is.”

Blacky distributed the profits he made by selling the crop. The animals now understood that the flowers and fruits that grew on trees are what got converted into money trees and that hard work is the first step to success.

Golu’s Wisdom

Golu elephant was enjoying his bananas when his friends Zebu zebra and Honey deer arrived and said, “Come Golu, let’s play.”

“Yes, let’s. What shall we play today?” asked Golu.

“The weather is pleasant and cloudy. Let’s play catch me if you can,” suggested Honey.

Just then, Sona duck and Casty tortoise arrived.

“This is not the time to play! We have just heard on the news that in the next one or two days, heavy rains and thunderstorms are expected in our forest,” said Sona.

“Golu, last year when it rained heavily, remember that the low lying areas of our forest were underwater. Trees also fell due to the storms, which led to big losses,” said Casty.

“Yes, you are right. We should do something so that we don’t face such loss again!” said Golu.

“Golu, your father is the king of the forest. Tell him and he will take care of everything,” suggested Zebu.

“That’s the problem. He has some work and is not in the forest for a few days,” Golu replied.

“Now what can we do?” asked Honey, worried.

“We will definitely do something,” said Golu. “Let’s go to Prime Minister Gingy Rhino.”

They all went immediately to Gingy. “Gingy uncle,” began Golu. “Heavy rains and thunderstorms are expected in our forest.”

“How do you know?” asked Gingy, looking at the clouds with a worried look.

“It was on the news a while ago,” Sona said.

Before Gingy could think of anything, Golu said, “Uncle, shall we set up relief camps in the upper areas of the forest and shift the residents of the lower areas there to safeguard them?”

“That’s a very good idea. I will get people working on it immediately,” Gingy said.

“We will also help you,” said the kids and joined Gingy.

In the next two days, the animals living in the lower areas were shifted to the relief camps in the upper areas.

Golu and his friends helped Gingy a lot. By the time the job was done, it had started to drizzle. Soon, the drizzle became a heavy shower. It rained heavily for two days. Right through that, Golu kept visiting the camps to check if the food and other arrangements were in place and that nobody had any troubles.

After two days, the rain stopped and the sky cleared. Golu’s friends were happy. “Come Golu. Let’s play today!”

“It’s still not time to play,” said Golu. “We have some work left.”

“Work? But everyone is safe. The sky is clear. What is left now?” asked Zebu.

“When I visited the relief camps, some of the animals told me that their friends were missing. But because of the rain, I couldn’t do anything. But now that the weather is good, we need to find them. Who knows where and in what condition they are in!” said Golu.

First, Golu asked the crows to help. “Fly in different directions. See if anyone is stuck anywhere and tell us,” he instructed them. Then he and his friends went to hunt for the missing people.

After walking for some distance, Golu came across a place filled with water. In the middle of that was a squirrel sitting on a stone, shivering. “Sona, in so much water, we don’t know where there could be stones and pits, so I can’t go there. Since you know how to swim, you go and bring the squirrel,” said Golu.

Sona immediately got into the water and reached the squirrel. The little creature was wet and shivering and seemed to have a fever. “Come, sit on my back and I will take you to safety,” said Sona, and the squirrel could barely climb on.

In no time, Sona was back to her friends with the squirrel. Golu picked up the squirrel with his trunk and placed her on his back. They went to Dr Babloo bear who was taking care of people in the relief camp.

Babloo immediately examined the squirrel. “There is no need to worry.

She has a fever because she got wet. And because she has had no food or water,
she is very weak. By tomorrow, with food, water, and medicine, she will be a lot better.”

Just then, Kaku crow flew in. “There are people stuck on the cliff near the old banyan tree,” he said. “They are wet and scared.”

“How many are stuck there?” asked Golu.

“Maybe 20 or 25,” replied Kaku.

“They may be in the same condition as a squirrel. Till the water settles, we will not be able to bring them here. So we will have to take food, water, medicines, and warm clothes to them,” said Golu.

Immediately, the eagles and crows took those items to the people on the cliff. That was a huge relief to those who were stuck. For the next three or four days, Golu made sure that food items were sent to the cliff regularly. Meanwhile, everyone was taken care of in the relief camp as well.

Finally, the water level went down and all the animals were rescued. Golu got the entire place cleaned. Dr Babloo made sure everyone was vaccinated against diseases spread by infected water. People started moving back to their homes and were advised to boil water before drinking.

King Gajraj also returned to the forest and heard about the entire incident. “Golu, I have heard about how, in my absence, you and your friends carried out the relief work during the floods. I am proud of you.” Golu smiled and hugged him

Wise Cheeku

Shersingh lion was the king of Champakan. He tried to do the best for the animals of the jungle, who were very happy with their king. Whenever someone had difficulty, they would go to King Shersingh, who would listen patiently and solve their problem.

Blacky bear was the Health Minister of Champakvan. He was proud and did not talk nicely to others. He did not respect anyone and felt that all the other animals were inferior to him. Baddy fox, Jumpy monkey and Kimi koel would flatter him and say things to please him. They did whatever Blacky asked, and in return, took benefit of his being a minister.

One evening, Blacky, dressed in fine clothes, with perfume on him, went for a walk by the riverside. There he saw Henko hyena with others, taking things out of a garbage dump and eating them, even though there was a foul smell coming from the garbage.

Seeing Blacky, Henko greeted him but proud Blacky did not return the greeting.

“What awful stench!” said Jumpy monkey, covering his nose with a handkerchief.

“Because of this stench, fragrance of the expensive perfume that Blacky sir sprayed on him is no longer there.”

“I hate to look at his ugly face,” said Kimi koel pointing at Henko. “I wonder how they can eat filthy!”

“Such ugly creatures in our beautiful Champakvan! These dirty animals spread filth, ugliness and diseases in our forest,” said Baddy fox.

“They are blemishes in our beautiful Champakvan,” said Jumpy monkey.

“How can they do this in front of our honourable minister! Look how they are chewing and enjoying the bones,” said Baddy looking at Henko and then pointing him to Blacky.

“You are right,” said Blacky. “These low-class animals are a disgrace to our society. They have no right to live in Champakvan.”

Covering his nose with his hands, Blacky went to Henko hyena and said, “You all must immediately leave Champakvan!”

“Your Highness, why should we leave? What have we done?” asked Henko
in astonishment.

“You all are ugly and live in filth. You eat dirty things and because of you, disease will spread in Champakvan. If you do not leave immediately, you will be punished,” said Blacky arrogantly.

Henko had no choice and left Champakvan with his companions.

But in a few days, diseases started spreading in Champakvan. One after the other, everyone started falling sick. There was confusion everywhere. There was hardly a family that did not have a sick member in the house.

When King Shersingh came to know that the residents of his kingdom were falling sick, he became concerned and asked the medical teams to immediately treat the sick. But animals continued to fall sick. There seemed to be no end. The sickness became an epidemic.

King Shersingh called the Health Minister, Blacky bear.

“Sir, we should leave Champakvan and start living in another forest. The epidemic cannot be controlled by our medical team,” advised Blacky.

“But we cannot abandon our animals in this condition and run away!” said
King Shersingh.

The wise Cheeku rabbit also lived in Champakvan and was concerned about the sudden epidemic. He wanted to know the reason behind it and took a tour of the whole forest. He saw dead bodies of different animals everywhere, with worms, maggots and germs growing on them.

Cheeku had never seen something like this before. When animals died in Champakvan, hyenas ate them and ensured that there were no dead bodies rotting. He remembered his friend Henko hyena, whom he had not seen for a long time. He went to look for him but he couldn’t find him anywhere. He met Kallu crow at the riverside.

“Who are you looking for, Cheeku?” Kallu asked.

“Friend, Henko hyena is not to be seen anywhere,” said Cheeku. “Have you seen him?”

“Oh, Henko? Minister Blacky insulted and threw him out of Champakvan about two months ago. Henko and all the hyenas went to Sundarvan,” Kallu said.

“What?” Cheeku exclaimed, now understanding the reason for the epidemic.

Cheeku immediately went to King Shersingh and shared this information with him.

“Your Majesty, Henko and the other hyenas never harmed anyone. They are scavengers who eat dead animals. Since they are not here, diseases are spreading. Hyenas consume all parts of the dead bodies. They eat all rotten and decayed things. When hungry, they even eat leather boots, bones, different types of filth, foul-smelling corpses, even those with worms and germs, that can spread diseases. In this way, they keep our forest clean and disease-free.”

King Shersingh asked Cheeku to go to Sundarvan and bring back Henko and
his friends.

Henko and his companions were happy to come back to their home and immediately got busy cleaning the forest. The epidemic was halted and the animals started recovering.

King Shersingh was pleased with Henko and rewarded him by making him the Health Minister. Cheeku was appointed the court Counselor in appreciation of his wisdom.

Blacky was asked to resign and think about how he could help the animals without being arrogant.

A Petty Fight

Sadhana and Vandana were best friends. Both studied in class III. They were always together, living in homes, opposite to each other.

One day, Sadhana was in her garden, when she saw a colourful butterfly sitting on a rose. She ran to catch it, but the butterfly flew away. It kept fluttering from one flower to another, sometimes landing on the trees. Sadhana kept running after it, but could not catch it.

After a while, Vandana came to the garden. She saw Sadhana jumping and running around. “What are you doing, Sadhana?” she asked.

Sadhana whispered, with a finger on her lips, “Shhh… The butterfly will fly away.” Meanwhile, the butterfly had once again flown and sat on top of a guava tree.

“Just sit quietly. The butterfly will come down on the grass,” said Vandana.

“Okay, let’s wait for it,” Sadhana agreed.

The butterfly flew again, fluttering around, came and sat on the green grass. Vandana promptly took out her handkerchief, placing it on top of the butterfly and gently caught it.

“Come on, give me the butterfly,” said Sadhana.

“Look, there’s another one there. You can catch that. This one is mine,” Vandana said pointing to another butterfly.

“No way! I have been after this one, for so long! Give it to me, it’s mine!” Sadhana replied.

“But I caught it! So, it’s mine now!” said Vandana.

“No, I want it!” Sadhana was adamant.

“Ok! Then go and catch it,” said Vandana and released the butterfly from her hand. It flew up high and disappeared. Sadhana looked at Vandana in disbelief.

“I will not talk to you anymore!” said Sadhana angrily. “Our friendship is over!”
“Fine, I also don’t want to talk to you either! I too, break my friendship with you!” Vandana declared and walked away.

Both went home angry. For some time, they remained upset with each other and
did not care about their broken friendship.

But after a couple of days, they were anxious and wanted to talk to each other again. However, neither wanted to take the first step. Both wanted the other one,
to talk.

Sadhana and Vandana tried to show that they had new friends and were happy playing with them, but they were unable to enjoy without each other. They would slyly look at each other and when their eyes met, they would quickly turn away.

Now, they couldn’t tolerate the pain of being apart any longer.

“Mummy, Vandana doesn’t speak to me anymore,” Sadhana said to her mother.

“Why? Did you both fight?” asked her mother.

“Yes, we were catching a butterfly in the garden. She caught my butterfly and took it. That’s why we broke our friendship,” explained Sadhana.

“What? Why were you catching butterflies again? I had told you not to do that! Butterflies are garden fairies. They are the life of a vibrant garden,” said her mother.

“Sorry, mummy. I will remember that and not trouble them again.

But please tell Vandana to talk to me,” Sadhana pleaded.

“I can’t tell her. You should tell her, that, yourself,” said her mother.

“No. I do not want to be the one taking the first step. That will show I am weaker than her.”

Meanwhile, Vandana made the same request to her mother.

“Mummy, tell Sadhana to be friends with me again and heal our broken friendship,” said Vandana.

“Why don’t you tell her directly? Oh, I get it. You think, it will be an insult if you take the first step,” teased her mother.

“No, no… I don’t want to show her that I need her friendship and that I am sad without her,” Vandana said.

The next day, Vandana was passing by a shop when she noticed Sadhana buying something. Both of them saw each other and quickly turned their faces away.

Feeling bad about this incident, Vandana went home, sad. In the evening Sadhana’s mother came to Vandana’s house.

“Why don’t I pretend to be sick? Sadhana will surely come to visit me.” Vandana covered herself with a quilt and lay on bed.

Seeing her lying down, Sadhana’s mother asked her, “Why are you in bed? Are
you unwell?”

“Aunty, I have a cold and my head is aching. I feel sick,” Vandana, put on an act.

Vandana’s mother touched her head. “But you don’t have a fever. Wait, I’ll give you a pill, for your headache,” she said.

“Get well soon, Vandana,” wished Sadhana’s mother and left.

On reaching home, she told Sadhana about Vandana’s sickness. As soon as Sadhana heard this, she came running to see her best friend. On seeing Sadhana, Vandana threw the quilt and jumped out of bed.

“You were not feeling well. Are you ok?” asked Sadhana concerned about her friend.

“I was not well, because we fought. But now you are here and talking to me, I feel perfectly fine!” replied Vandana, hugging her friend.

“Oh! So, this was a trick! You pretended to be sick to heal our broken friendship,” Sadhana laughed.

The Jungle Band

Ever since the residents of Champakvan heard about the World Music Championship, they couldn’t stop talking about it. A large banner had been put up in the forest, which said that participants would have to form a band if they wished to participate in the championship.

“The monkeys are surely going to win this championship!” said Jumpy Monkey, jumping with joy.

“No, the deers are winning it!” said Sona Deer, making a face at him.

“The elephants are going to sweep the trophy and the rewards!” said Jumbo Elephant, thumping his leg.

“We birds aren’t any lesser! Everyone knows I have the sweetest voice in the whole forest!” said Pinky Cuckoo, refusing to be left behind.

They all began arguing about who would win and who sang the best and were shouting so much that Professor Blacky bear had to come out and quiet them.

Everyone started preparing for the music championship seriously. They formed bands with their friends and relatives and began practising. But not a single band was melodious!

The deer band didn’t have anyone who could play the drums, the monkey band had nobody to play the piano, and the elephants could play nothing but trumpets! As for the tortoise band, it played such slow music, the listeners fell asleep before the first paragraph was half done. The foxes didn’t have a guitar player, and the snakes and squirrels couldn’t decide which instrument to play. Though the cuckoo could sing melodiously, her band could not play any instrument. Not a single band was complete!

In despair, they went to Professor Blacky for help. “I’d like to hear you all play,” said Blacky, after listening to the problem. “Each band come up here and play
for me!”

The animals were again excited and began playing different tunes together. “Cacophony!” exclaimed the poor Blacky covering his ears. “Stop! All of you, stop!”

Everyone stopped and looked at the professor. “You call this music? You’ll only get rotten tomatoes and eggs for playing like this,” said Blacky.

“What can we do, professor?”

“We need your help!”, said Rinku snake.

“I want each of you to come up and play or sing something for me,” said Blacky thinking about what to do.

He listened to them all carefully, and when the last one had finished, Blacky had a huge smile on his face.

“My friends, I have a solution,” he said. “You have all been trying to do things you aren’t good at. A monkey can play the drums but not the guitar. A cuckoo can sing but cannot play the trumpet. Instead of creating many bands and making a ruckus, we should create one band and make music!”

No one understand what Blacky was saying. Each one plays the instruments they are good at. Instead of forming different teams, let’s create a band together and you may just win this championship.

Now they realised their mistake. “Would you help us by guiding what we should play,” requested Jumbo. And so, listening to all of them again, Blacky created a band and named it The Jungle Band. He made them practice regularly, and soon it was time to leave for the world music championship.

On that day Champakvan, along with King Shersingh, gathered around a huge screen to watch the live telecast of the championship. The other forests too had sent some marvellous bands! Some played marching tunes, some played dance music, and some played soulful songs. And then, it was ‘The Jungle Band’s’ turn.

Jumpy played the drums like an expert, while Sona played the guitar skillfully. Twinkle Squirrel played the piano with flair, and Bobo Tortoise mesmerised everyone with his violin. Rinku played the mouth organ and Jumbo a marvellous trumpet solo. Pinky sang in her sweet voice and waved her wings along. The entire performance had the audience on its feet, cheering and screaming for more!

The judges announced the winner and it was The Jungle Band of Champakvan. Shersingh announced that the band would be rewarded, and the animals cheered loudly again.

Sona Deer held the trophy they had won, and Jumbo said. “This trophy that we received really belongs to Professor Blacky. He pointed out where we were going wrong, and he set up ‘The Jungle Band.’ Professor, please accept the trophy many behold,” he said, as Sona handed it over to the beaming professor.

The forest sky lit up with fireworks and the air was filled with cheering, as Champakvan celebrated the first music championship.

Memorable New Year!

All the animals in Champakvan were really excited. It was the last day of the year and they had planned to have a great show of fireworks that night to bring in the New Year.

Gholu Goat’s shop was literally bursting with fireworks. This year, he had added sweets, fruits, and even balloons. The shop was crowded with last-minute shoppers. Lima Lion was inspecting some flowerpots when crafty Hippo approached him. Hippo said, “These flower pots are great, aren’t they?” Lima nodded. “I think I’ll get a box of these.”

“What?” shouted Hippo. “A person of your stature buying these flowerpots. Those are meant for kids. Now, a lion should be buying the barrage.”

“What’s Barrage? Actually, I’m buying the flowerpots for my nephew,” said Lima. Making an excuse.

“No animal has so far dared to buy barrage,” said Hippo, pointing to a box that everyone was avoiding.

Lima was doubtful so asked Keera Wolf about these atom bombs. Keera knew what they were and was terrified of them. But he wasn’t going to admit that! So he said: “Oh, those are nothing. You just have to light this end of the wire and stand away. It’s child’s play!”

Lima decided to buy a box. As he paid for the barrage bombs, he spotted Bholu Bear trying to balance four pots of fresh honey. “What’s a New Year party without fresh honey,” said Bholu with a grin. Then he saw the box of barrage bombs Lima was carrying. “You’re quite the brave one, Lima. It’s going to be a resounding New Year with that lot!”

Lima blinked. He understood nothing. Why had he allowed that crafty Hippo to persuade him to buy something he knew nothing about?

But he couldn’t back off now and return the box. After all, he was a lion, known for his bravery! He decided to take the box of bombs to the grand celebrations and set them off there.

The animals had lit a huge bonfire by the riverside and were waiting for midnight. Excitement was high, and they all counted down together. “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2…1 Happy New Year!” Balloons were let off into the night sky, sweets were distributed and everyone was eating and wishing each other.

Bholu’s shirt was sticky with honey, and he was busy mixing honey with the nuts Squeaky Squirrel had given him. Chinchoo Monkey was gorging on guavas someone had given him, and he was thumping his tail on the ground in excitement.

“Everyone, it’s time for fireworks!” shouted Lima. Everyone cheered and began pulling out boxes.

Squeaky took out a pencil cracker and lit it causing it to glow. “Pooh, that is
kid’s stuff. I am going to go for flower pots,” said Bholu and lit them all one by one. Soon the place was illuminated by different kinds of crackers. Rockets soared and chakras spun on the ground making the animals squeal with delight.

Chinchoo settled for safe sparklers.

Suddenly, a clap rang out. It was Hippo. Everyone quietened down.

Hippo asked, “Aren’t you going to burst your bombs, Lima?”

Lima’s heart skipped a beat and he gulped. He cursed Hippo in his mind and grudgingly took out the box. He opened it nervously and glanced inside at the small green coloured balls with wires wrapped around them.

“Has anyone burst these before?” asked Lima.

All of them shook their heads and Squeaky started shivering in fear. He knew there was going to be a loud noise and he hated loud noises.

Lima with trembling hands and fear were written all over his face placed one down.

Hippo instructed, “Now ignite the end of the wire with a sparkler. That’s all.”

Lima glared and shot back, “Why don’t you show me first and then I will follow?”

Hippo hadn’t expected this.

Keera handed Hippo an ignited sparkler and asked everyone to step back.

Hippo started quivering like jelly. He slowly went near the bomb, lit the wire, and ran back.

They all closed their ears and some dared to peek but alas, nothing happened!

They all peered at the bomb but it looked like it was dormant.

Hippo didn’t have the nerve to light it again. He handed over the sparkler to Lima, who went cautiously near the bomb. He lit the wire and ran back, but still, nothing happened.

Relieved, Lima said happily, “Looks as though the bombs are a complete dud.”

Saying this, he picked it up and put it back in the box with the unlit bombs.

From the dark, Gholu screamed: “LIMA. Throw the box away. This is dangerous!”

Frightened, Lima flung the box and it landed on the bonfire! In a second or so, there was a huge explosion, as all the bombs went off at once.

The animals froze in terror for a second and then ran away screaming. Hippo led the pack, with Chinchoo clutching for dear life.

It was a New Year party Champakvan would never forget! and Lima promised never to be swayed by others and buy things he did not know about.

New Resolutions!

Beauty and Naughty were excited. The year was coming to an end and the new year was about to begin. They were eagerly waiting for their New Year’s Day picnic when the whole family went out, ate, played and celebrated together.

Naughty was eight and he was smart and playful. Beauty, his elder sister, was ten and she was quiet, beautiful, responsible and studious. They both studied in the same school.

“Well, you both look very happy. What’s special?” their dad asked.

“New Year is almost here!” replied Naughty.

Their dad pretended not to understand. “So, what? What’s there to be happy about that? There’s a new year every twelve months!”

“And every twelve months, on New Year’s Day, we go for a picnic! We go outside and have lots of fun!” said Naughty jumping with joy.

“Why do we have fun?” dad questioned him again.

“Come on, dad! Isn’t the new year supposed to be filled with happiness and fun?” asked Beauty.

“Yes, but why?”

“I don’t know! Maybe to welcome the new year,” said Beauty.

“Yes of course, but why is the beginning of a new year something to be happy about? It happens every twelve months. Instead of ‘2018’, we will now write ‘2019’ in the dates, that’s all! Everything else would remain the same. Right?” asked dad.

Beauty thought for a while and she said, “Before starting anything new, we
eat something sweet, hoping that everything goes well. Similarly, we start the new year by enjoying and having fun, so that the entire year is filled with joy and happiness.”

“Very good,” said their dad. “But do you believe that if the beginning of the year is great, it will remain great till the end?”

The kids now remembered their dad telling them not to believe in fixed notions and superstitions.

Hesitantly, Naughty replied, “Dad, that’s what people believe…”

Beauty had a more certain answer. “No dad, just by starting off right, everything need not go smoothly till the end. We must continuously work towards what we want,” she said.

“You’re right. We must understand and remember that just by having lots of
fun on New Year’s Day, we cannot be sure that the rest of the year will also be full of fun. We must therefore be responsible and work hard through the year to make our life the way we want it,” explained dad.

“Yes, dad,” said the kids, feeling a little low.

Their dad realised that the kids’ initial eagerness to celebrate the new year was now replaced with disappointment.

“I’m not saying that we won’t go for the picnic or won’t celebrate the new year! We’ll certainly do all that. But I want you both to do something else at the beginning of the new year apart from having lots of fun. Something that many people do,” said their dad trying to cheer them up.

“What’s that?” asked Naughty and Beauty together. They looked at him hopefully, wondering what dad would ask them to do. They hoped it would not be something that would stop their celebrations.

“I want you to make a New Year resolution for 2019, a resolution that will make the new year better and brighten your future. A resolution is a promise that you make to yourself, to make small changes in your life to achieve what you want. Tiny changes to begin with,” suggested dad.

They all laughed.

“Well, kids, what do you think?”
asked dad.

“It’s a great idea, dad! I’ll make a resolution to study harder and to not postpone work,” said Beauty.

“Wonderful! And you, Naughty?” asked dad, turning to him.

“I… I… I’ll think and let you know…” Naughty said, and everyone burst out laughing again.

The Dracula Python

It was lunchtime at Champakvan school. Blacky bear, Damru donkey, Gillan giraffe and Baddy fox were relaxing under the big banyan tree after their lunch. Blacky, Damru, Gillan and Baddy never mixed with other students, and they never enjoyed school.

Blacky and Damru were telling stories about ghosts. They had recently read a novel written by Dr Fero Python, a famous writer of Champakvan.

Gillan giraffe and Baddy fox held each other’s hands listening to their scary talks.

“Don’t worry! Ghosts don’t appear in daylight!” said Blacky bear.

“Yes… yes… Ghosts never attack people who are together. They only attack when one is alone,” added Damru.

Blacky and Damru continued talking about Dr Fero’s latest novel, The Dracula Python. Suddenly, Gillan felt something crawling on his neck.

“Ghost! Ghost!” he screamed.

None of them could see anything unusual. Blacky teased Gillan for being scared for no reason. After a while, Baddy howled, “Dracula Python is trying to swallow my head!”

“I also saw the Dracula Python slithering down just now to swallow us. But it has suddenly disappeared!” Damru donkey brayed loudly.

Blacky, Damru, Gillan and Baddy tried to run but could not move. Blacky whispered, “This is exactly what Dr Fero wrote about the python ghost who attacks unexpectedly and then disappears.”

The school bell rang and they could see others returning to their respective classes, but none of them could move or even shout. They were frozen in fear.

“Hisssss! I never got a chance to eat someone in daylight! Today, I am lucky to have found four of you! I will eat the one who closes his eyes first!” hissed the Dracula Python.

“Dr Fero’s python ghost is here!” Blacky and Damru shuddered.

The four friends tried their best to keep their eyes open. Their throats dried up, their bodies became numb, and they began sweating a lot.

They could hear the branches of the big banyan tree shake. “The python ghost is coming…” whispered Blacky. All of them kept their eyes wide open even though they were afraid of seeing the ghost.

The Dracula Python appeared in front of them. It was hanging from the banyan tree, staring at them. All of them were trembling. Somehow, Blacky gained a little courage and begged, “We are little children! Please don’t eat us!”

“We can take you to our principal’s office! He is a big lion! You can eat him if you want!” suggested Gillan.

Damru cried, “We will never read Dr Fero’s novels! We won’t talk about ghosts at all! Please leave us alone.”

Baddy was determined to keep his eyes wide open to escape from the python ghost for as long as possible. The Dracula Python looked at him and hissed, “You seem to be really brave. I would like to hug you.” The python ghost moved towards Baddy.

“I am not brave! Please don’t hug me!” Baddy screamed.

The Dracula Python twisted his body in scary movements, hissed loudly and opened his mouth wide.

The frightened children closed their eyes in fear. A few minutes later, they heard, “Sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… How I Wonder What You Are…”

All of them sang in full volume, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… How I Wonder What You Are…”

Blacky and Damru repeated the rhyme because they knew that Dr Fero said in his book that chanting rhymes help children to escape from ghosts.

A few minutes passed. Nothing happened to them. Absolute silence surrounded them. Wondering what was going on, they stopped singing and opened their eyes.

The Dracula Python had disappeared! But they saw their teachers and other children standing in front of them like statues.

“Dr Fero is right! Sometimes Dracula Python doesn’t kill at once but waits for others who come to the rescue of his victims. Our friends and teachers must have come to help us and they are under the spell of the Dracula Python,” said Blacky.
“Let us chant Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… How I Wonder What You Are… once again just to be sure,” said Blacky

“Yes,” Dolu said. “Perhaps our friends and teachers will be released from his spell.”

Blacky, Dolu, Gillan and Baddy started singing the rhyme again.

They saw the teachers and students move. “Wow! We have saved our school!” clapped Baddy. Gillan danced. Blacky and Dolu felt proud of themselves at their ghost wisdom.

Suddenly, everyone started laughing. Some whistled, some howled. The teachers controlled themselves, trying not to laugh loudly.

“Hello ghost-busters!” called out Jumpy monkey.

Everyone liked Jumpy monkey, who loved laughing and making others laugh.

“Sorry brothers!” Jumpy said to Blacky, Damru, Gillan and Baddy. “I just wanted to have some fun at your ghost stories! I knew you were crazy about Dr Fero’s novels and the four of you always remained in a ghost world. You never enjoyed playing with others.”

“So?” asked Blacky. Dolu was so annoyed that he wanted to beat Jumpy. Gillan and Baddy caught hold of Jumpy and asked, “What is your problem? Why do you care if we laugh or cry!”

Seeing this, Principal Shersingh interrupted and said, “Gillan, were you sending Dracula Python to my office to eat me!”

Gillan became red-faced and mumbled. “Dracula Python is a traitor! He told everything to our principal.”

Jumpy whistled and Pillu python, their classmate, arrived. Jumpy began singing, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… How I Wonder What You Are…”

Hearing Jumpy, Pillu python slid away and hid behind the big banyan tree. Once again, everyone laughed and whistled.

Blacky, Damru, Gillan and Baddy now realised that they had been fooled by Jumpy. They were embarrassed because they had not recognised their classmate Pillu python who pretended to be Dracula Python. They now understood that it was Jumpy’s way to show them reality.

When Pillu python came dancing and hissing, everyone chanted, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… How I Wonder What You Are…”

Even Blacky, Damru, Gillan and Baddy could not control their laughter. They too whistled in joy and danced with Jumpy, Pillu and others.

“Lord Byron said we must laugh when we can. We are sometimes forced to face hardships and challenges, but they don’t last long. Blacky, Damru, Gillan and Baddy never participated with others. That’s why I told our naughty Jumpy to trick them!” said Principal Shersingh.

The four friends held Pillu python and put him on their shoulders. The children laughed as they all sang, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… How I Wonder What You Are…”

Chotu Finds A Home

Dr. Singh was a famous surgeon who lived in Civil Lines in Jodhpur with his wife and two sons. In their garden there lived a cat with her four kittens. The kittens were furry with green eyes and the boys loved having them around.

The kitchen had a door that opened to the garden. The cat and kittens would live in that part and would come near the kitchen step for food that Mrs Singh would keep outside for them.

The kittens were very playful. They loved playing hide and chasing each other. Once tired, they would lick and caress each other. Dr Singh’s family loved watching their cats play.

Slowly, the kittens began to grow up. The mother cat would leave the home early in the morning after eating milk and bread and would only return at night.
All the four kittens would move around the garden but now, they too wanted to go out, learn to climb the trees and jump from one branch to the another and become independent.

Finally, the day came when the mother cat took the kittens out. The kittens were excited to be outside and see lush green parks, giant trees, plenty of people, lot of birds and squirrels.

They ran to catch the birds and butterflies and chased the squirrels. Chotu, the youngest of the four brothers, was scared to run and chase them. He was tinier and smaller than the rest and hence the name.

Seeing the cat with her kittens, the birds on the trees started making calls to alert the other birds about danger. The mother taught the kittens to walk without making a noise, climb a tree, and catch birds.

All the kittens watched, listened and understood but Chotu’s attention was somewhere else. He was thinking it was cruel to kill others.

Somehow, Chotu got through the day’s training but during supper at night, he told his brothers, “Other animals too have a right to live. Is it fair to kill them?”

As soon as they heard the question, the three brothers burst out into laughter.

“If a horse becomes friends with the grass, what will it eat?” they asked, making fun of him.

Young Coco said, “You mean to say, cats should become vegetarian?”

Brownie told Chotu, “If cats turned vegetarian, rats would rule.”

Chotu became quiet and scared. He had not expected such replies from his brothers.

Chotu was extremely nervous every time his mother took the four of them for hunting. He was not able to pounce, catch and kill any animal.

The mother cat was extremely worried that on one hand, Chotu was skinny and on the other, he did not want to hunt. How would he survive?

Chotu tried to climb the tree but became scared and fell when the birds began to
make noise. Chotu was always lagging behind whenever their mother took them out.

Slowly the kittens started going out on their own. The other three brothers would look for prey in the grassy meadows and shrubs. They would walk into nearby homes but at night, all of them would come back to Dr. Singh’s house.

Chotu would join them at night but, no one knew where he was during the day.

One day, when Chotu did not return at night, all the others became worried.
They mewed to call out.

Dr. Singh’s family, who understood that Chotu was missing, searched for him in every possible place. The mother cat feared that Chotu had been attacked by other animals.

After some time, everyone gave up the search. The mother cat’s search, too, yielded no results. Dr Singh’s children got tired and fell asleep.

The mother cat felt that she could not protect her weakest son. She felt that she should have paid more attention to him.

When they woke up the next morning, the mother cat could hear Chotu’s voice. She ran in that direction.

Chotu was sitting in one of the houses in the colony. There was a bowl of milk, bread and chapatti in front of him. A small boy was patting him gently. And, Chotu was drinking milk from the bowl.

As soon as Chotu saw his mother, he came running to her. His mother started licking Chotu. Chotu too hugged his mother back. Happy to see her son safe,
the mother cat forgot to scold him for not coming home.

Their mother reached home with Chotu. Dr Singh’s family found out where Chotu spent the night. They felt happy that Chotu had found a cat lover and people to love him.

Chotu’s mother was also happy that her son was in safe hands and that Chotu was happy at his new home.

They all understood that Chotu wanted to spend his life without having the need to hunt.

Door and Mirror

“Look, it’s better that you don’t argue with me. Don’t you know where I stand and where you do? You are not even equal to me,” said the mirror stubbornly to the door.

“Too much pride is not good for you. Let’s work as a team to give this house its look and beauty,” said the door to the mirror in a good-natured way.

“Sorry, what did you say? It’s only because of my beauty that this house is filled with grace. Your work is only to open and close, but the beauty of the house is because of its mirror,” said the mirror, putting the door in its place.

Fights between the mirror and the door would go on day in and day out. The mirror was full of pride as he was always shining. The house staff cleaned the mirror every day very carefully, and they did not allow any dust to gather on it. And due to this, the mirror remained quite proud and kept arguing all the time with the door.

The mirror’s pride kept increasing with every passing day.

Eventually, the mirror would only open its mouth to fight with the door.

One day in the house there was a small party going on and some of the guests had come to Mrs. Gupta’s house.

One of her friends complimented her and said, “Mrs. Gupta your mirror is shining and spotless. How do you keep the mirror so clean?”

Mrs. Gupta smiled and thanked them.

Hearing this, the mirror swelled with pride.

The mirror taunted and said to the door, “Look how everybody is talking about
my beauty and nobody is even asking about you!”

The door started to cry as it couldn’t say anything in reply.

When the seasons changed, everyone was happy with the onset of the winters. But one day, a thunderstorm arrived. Sonu, the younger son, opened the front door and went to play in the park without closing the door behind him. The door started to open and close because of the strong wind and before someone could shut it, the door banged shut by itself.

The impact of this loud thud caused the mirror on the wall to fall and it cracked and broke into several small pieces.

“What have you done?” the mirror screamed in pain.

“I did not do anything; I shut all by myself as a result of the thunderstorm. Please forgive me, it’s not my fault,” said the door as he looked at the mirror.

Tears started rolling down from the mirror’s eyes. The mirror had finally realised its mistake.

The thunderstorm had stopped, but the mirror, who was so proud of its beauty, was gone for good.

Race Among Equals

It was New Year’s Eve. Grandma rabbit was narrating a story to her grandson, Harry.

“And then,” Grandma rabbit continued the story. “My grandpa ran the race against Tippy, the tortoise. Midway, he noticed that Tippy was very slow and far behind. So, grandpa rested under a tree and dozed off. Not someone who gave up easily, Tippy tortoise, slowly and steadily moved past my grandpa, who was still asleep and reached the winning post.”

“But what happened to your grandpa? Did he challenge Tippy to another race?” asked Harry, the curious, young rabbit.

“Oh, nothing much. He woke up much later, realised his mistake and accepted Tippy as the winner,” remarked grandma. “He left us this story which is passed on from generation to generation.”

“Great-great grandpa lost the race because he was careless and lazy. If he had slept after reaching the winning post, there would have been a nice trophy in the shelf up there today,” declared Harry, pointing at the empty shelf on their burrow.

“That is not the point Harry,” said grandma while munching a carrot. “The point is that even if you’re slow, and if you consistently work towards your goal, without ever thinking of quitting, you’re sure to be a winner!”

“I don’t think so,” said Harry. “And grandma, I am going to prove my point before the New Year,” said Harry, hopping out of the burrow.

“Prove your point,” laughed grandma, following Harry. “But never on an empty stomach,” she said handing a bunch of carrots to Harry. “Never skip your breakfast,” she advised and waved at her grandson.

After finishing his delicious meal, Harry walked towards the pond where Tippy lived. Finding Tippy near the edge of the lake, basking in the sun, he shouted. “Tippy uncle, are you ready for yet another competition a running race?”

Tippy’s head appeared out of his hard shell and he looked at Harry. It seemed like he had grown older and wiser. “I am ready to compete, little Harry, but I have a condition,” he said. “Let it not be a hopping or walking race. Instead, let us ask the judges to conduct a competition for longevity.”

Harry heard this without batting an eyelid. Guessing that his tiny visitor did not understand what he said, Tippy continued. “Let us ask the judges to award a prize who lives longer out of the two of us,” he said.

Harry shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. “How can that be?” he snapped. “I know that you tortoises live for more than a hundred years
while we, rabbits, barely live for six years,” he said.

“In that case,” quipped Tippy. “Find someone more suitable to take part in the race.” Then Tippy slowly slid back into his shell to enjoy a quick nap under the warm sun.

A little disappointed, Harry hopped on. It had become too hot in the forest. He saw Shera, the lioness rushing to her den.

“Shera, Shera,” Harry called out and hopped ahead and stood before the lioness. “How about a running race between you and me?” he asked, tapping his paws on the ground.

Shera laughed at Harry’s suggestion. She felt protective about little Harry. So, instead of scaring him, she patted him lightly on his back.

“Harry, I can’t run a race with you. But I have a suggestion. How about a shouting competition? Let us see who is louder.”

Harry stepped back. “How can that be?” he asked lifting his eyebrows. “Every animal in the forest gets frightened when you roar. I cannot take part in that competition,” he said and hopped ahead. He stopped by the river to drink some water. He felt happy when he found Trunkie, the elephant, there.

“Trunkie,” he called as he hopped and jumped on to the elephant’s back. “As
you are my friend,” said Harry, “I invite you to take part in a running race with me. The winner will receive a medal from grandma,” he said, hugging the elephant’s neck.

Trunkie smiled indulgently.“A running race with super runner Harry?” he asked. “Let me suggest something else. Let us have a competition about who can fill more water in his mouth.”

Harry hopped down and placed his paws on his waist. “This is cheating, Trunkie. Everyone knows that you have a big trunk and you can fill more water at one go. I can’t compete in such a race with you,” he said and hopped on.

Harry was getting restless. He had to prove his point to grandma before New Year dawned but still he was unable to find any animal ready to take part in the running race with him. But he decided to continue his pursuit. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks as he felt a sharp tug. Turning back, Harry saw some rabbits, all his classmates, ready to surprise him!

“Harry, are you ready for a race?” asked Montu, the rabbit.

“Yes,” agreed Harry instantly. “And the winning post would be my burrow,” he added. So, all the rabbits set out on a race and Harry won it by just a fraction
of a second!

At the stroke of midnight, Harry told his grandma. “You may be a right grandma when you said that slow and steady wins the race but I have realised that any race should be only among equals.”

‘Tidy’ New Year!

Skip, the rabbit was very happy as New Year was about to arrive. Every year, he used to do something naughty on New Year’s Day to get his younger brother, Jack, in trouble.

Skip enjoyed watching Jack get scolded. This was how Skip’s new year used to start. And it had been that way for the last two-three years.

This time too Skip was eagerly waiting for the New Year.

Their mother strictly instructed Jack to clean his room before New Year.

Skip made up his mind of going to Jack’s room quietly and messing it. That way Jack was sure to get into trouble with Ma and Skip would watch Jack get scolded.

Sitting in the veranda and lost in his thoughts, Skip suddenly heard Jack talking to someone over the phone.

“No. I will not be cleaning my room this time at all. Every year I clean my room, but bhaiya comes and messes it up. Later, mom shouts at me, thinking that I did not clean my room,” said Jack.

He nodded his head a few times and then continued, “This time I have found a way of teaching my brother a lesson. Like always, he will come to mess my room. Instead of cleaning my room this time, I will tell mom about it. This way bhaiya will get scolded when mom actually comes to see my room and finds it dirty. It will be my turn to enjoy the sight of him getting scolded.”

After secretly listening to Jack’s plan, all the excitement faded from Skip’s face.

He thought, “Oh! What will happen now? If Jack will not clean his room then there will be no fun in messing it up as mother won’t scold him. On top of that, he too has made his plan to get me scolded by mom,” thought Skip. He decided that he had to do something about this plan.

Skip thought long and hard and finally got an idea and felt good again. He started waiting eagerly for the New Year.

On New Year’s Day, Skip got up early in the morning.

When he saw Jack walking out of his room, he quickly got into Jack’s room and started cleaning the room.

Skip picked up things from here and there, organised them properly and finally he cleaned the room completely.

He looked at the neat and tidy room and felt extremely happy.

“Now, I’ll have some real fun. Jack will tell mother that I have spread the things in his room and made it dirty. But when mom sees that the room is clean and well organised, she will get angry about Jack lying to her. And then she will scold him,” thought Skip and smiled.

He went out of Jack’s room and started waiting for Jack and his mother to come.

After a while, he saw both of them coming towards the room. He put on a sad expression and sat in a corner.

When Jack and mother went into Jack’s room, Skip too went behind them.

Mother looked at the cleanroom and she smiled at her sons.

Skip, who was waiting for his mother to scold Jack, was surprised to see her smiling.

“Why is mother smiling? She should have scolded Jack for telling a lie about the room,” thought Skip.

“Skip, this time Jack has taught you a lesson,” said mother, laughingly.

Skip surprisingly asked, “What lesson are you talking about, mom?”

She explained, “Skip, every time you make Jack’s room dirty and this innocent child used to get scolded for it. But this time Jack made a plan to teach you a lesson.”

Jack said, “This time I pretended to speak over the phone, saying that I will not clean the room and I will complain to mom about you. I already knew that if I say something like this, then you will clean my room in order to get me scolded for telling lies.”

“And see, it happened like that only. Jack had already told me about all this,” said Mom.

“Happy New Year bhaiya,” teased Jack said. Skip wished them too and also realised his lesson.

Srinivas Ramanujan

Dhruvi had returned from school and was sitting in the garden lost in her thoughts. A while later, her older brother Dhruv came there and was surprised to see her sitting alone.

“What are you thinking about, Dhruvi?” he asked.

“To celebrate National Mathematics Day on December 22, we have been asked to work on a project on Srinivasa Ramanujan. I’m trying to think about what I should write. Bhaiya, since you are doing your PhD in Mathematics, can you help me?” she asked.

“Of course! Don’t worry. I am free tomorrow, it being a Sunday. Keep your questions ready,” said Dhruv.

The next day, Dhruvi took a book and pen, and went into her brother’s room.
“Come in, Dhruvi! Let’s begin.”

“Firstly, tell me some general facts about Shrinivas Ramanujan, his birthplace, his interests, etc.,” requested Dhruvi.

“Srinivasa Ramanujan is one of the greatest mathematicians of India. He was born on December 22, 1887, in Erode in Tamil Nadu. His birthday is celebrated all over India as National Mathematics Day as that was his favourite subject.”

“Noted,” said Dhruvi as she neatly wrote down these details in her notebook. “Now, please tell me about his education.”

Dhruv said, “At the age of 5, he was admitted in a primary school at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. But he never liked other subjects and spent most of his time studying Mathematics. At the age of 10, he secured the highest marks in the entire district and was sent to Town Higher Secondary School. He even received a scholarship to study at Government Arts College, Kumbakonam.”

“Funnily his love for Mathematics was also the biggest obstacle in his education. He loved Math so much that he neglected all other subjects. Even while attending the classes of other subjects, he would always be solving Math sums. The result was that in his class 11 examinations he failed in every subject except Math and because of this, his scholarship was withheld.”

“This increased the difficulties for his family as they were poor. He lived off the charity of friends, filling notebooks with his mathematical discoveries. He also started taking Math tuitions and doing accounting work for the Madras Port Trust.”

“So even though he was a math genius he failed in other subjects!” exclaimed Dhruvi. “What was his contribution to the world of Maths?”

“At the age of 13, he mastered a book on Advanced Trigonometry written by London University’s Professor S L Loney. By that time, he had already discovered theorems on his own. By the age of 14, he had received many merit certificates and awards.”

“When he was 16, he studied G S Carr’s A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics in detail. The book was a collection of 5,000 theorems.

He created formulae on his own and his true achievement was that he did so, without any formal training in Mathematics. He was a self-taught mathematician.”

“Bhaiya, can you tell me anything else about him?” asked Dhruvi.

“In 1913, English mathematician, G H Hardy received a strange letter from
an unknown accountant in Madras, India. The ten-page letter contained about 120 theorems, improper integrals, fractions and so much more.”

“Professor Hardy who could not understand them completely, but discussed it with other mathematicians and colleagues, and concluded that Srinivasa Ramanujan was a person of unique mathematical ability. To understand his work thoroughly, he invited Ramanujan to Cambridge for further research. In March 1914, Ramanujan boarded a steamer for England. In 1918, Srinivasa Ramanujan was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, an award given to individuals for their contribution in the field of maths and science.”

“Ramanujan stayed in England for five years and did research. On April 26, 1920, he died at the age of 33 due to ailing health.”

“What! He died at such an early age!” exclaimed Dhruvi.

“Unfortunately, he did. Now, will you be able to compile all this information for your project?” asked Dhruv.

“Yes, I will. Thank you very much,” said Dhruvi and went back to her room.
She submitted her project in school the next day.

On December 22, the result of the competition was announced and Dhruvi won first place.

She also learnt many more things about Srinivasa Ramanujan and then discussed these too with Dhruv Bhaiya.

A New Friend

The afternoon heat in Champakvan was unbearable. Cheeku rabbit was thirsty. He went to the nearby pond to drink water. No one was sitting by the pond except him.

“I will quickly drink some water and go home,” he thought.

But as soon as his tongue touched the water, he heard a terrifying animal hissing. He jumped back and looked up.

He saw large bubbles coming out on the surface of the water, but he could not see anyone there. He silently kept watching the surface for some time but saw no one.

“Is it a crocodile?” he thought. But he was sure that there were no crocodiles in this part of the forest.

He was still thirsty and went closer to the pond to drink more water. Again, he heard the hissing sound. He swiftly raised his head and saw bubbles.

A head popped out of the water.

“Oh no!” frightened, he ran away and hid behind the bushes. It was a strange creature. Cheeku observed it dancing in the water as its head would come out at a corner of the pond and then dive in. Then, its head would come out at another corner. This went on for a while. All of a sudden, it came out of the pond completely.

Cheeku was terrified. It was of the size of an elephant with a stout body, but small legs. The creature started grazing. Cheeku was greatly relieved as it meant the creature was a herbivore, an animal who eats plants. The creature was slow in movement too.

After observing it for a while, Cheeku thought that he need not be frightened
of it.

But he was scared to approach the new creature. He tried to go close to it, but
it started hissing again and stared back at Cheeku.

“Go away! Get away from me! Who are you? I am angry with you. Go away!” the creature said.

Cheeku ran as fast as he could and hid behind a tree. But he was curious to know what this creature was doing in Champakvan. He gathered courage and went back to the pond.

“This is our forest. Who are you? And what are you doing here?” Cheeku asked, his voice stuttering.

The creature stared at Cheeku for some time, it then slowly went back into the water.

Cheeku was certain that this animal would not be able to harm him as he could run fast.

“You did not tell me who you are. You are not an elephant, are you?” Cheeku asked again.

“I told you to get away from here. Or I will run and catch you,” the creature threatened.

Cheeku started laughing. “Foolish fellow! You cannot beat me in a race. I am a rabbit, the one who flies in the air. And look at you…,” he only managed to say this much before the creature came out running fast towards him.

Cheeku ran away as he was scared the creature would crush him.

After chasing Cheeku for some time, the creature went back in the water. Cheeku was trembling with fear. He went and hid in the bushes.

The creature could sense Cheeku’s fear. “I am sorry but I am very sad, therefore, I am angry,” the creature shouted back from the water.

Cheeku came out of the bush. Seeing his sad face he felt pity for the creature.

“Why are you sad? If you want, you can share your problem with me. Maybe I can help you,” he offered.

The creature softened and said, “I am a Hippopotamus. My name is Harry.”

“A Hippopotamus!” Cheeku was surprised. “Oh! I know about you. You are the third-largest land animal after the elephant and rhinoceros. Also, Hippopotamuses are generally 12 feet long and 5 feet wide, and are heavy.
Am I right?”

Harry nodded his head.

“I know that you are very heavy, but I am unaware of the numbers,” Cheeku said eagerly. “Please tell me something about yourself. There are no hippos in our forest. So we do not have much knowledge about you.”

Harry swam closer to Cheeku then said, “3,500 kgs! But don’t judge us by our weight. Many hippos are about 4,000 kgs but can run at a great speed. We eat around 40 kgs of grass every day and we roam at night in search of our food.”

Cheeku stared at him in surprise and said, “Despite being so heavy, how do you manage to swim in the water?”

Harry burst out laughing, “I cannot swim, but I am so heavy that I reach the bottom straight away. I manage to walk or run and cover a good distance in no time. Many other animals call me a sea horse.”

“I thought you swim like a fish but you are more like a sea horse. Then why don’t you stay on land? It will be more fun.”

Harry smiled at Cheeku’s invitation and said, “No, no! Hippos are the closest living relatives to whales and so we prefer spending more time in the water, soaking in it. We come on land only at night in search of food. We don’t like roaming around in the sun as the sunlight really troubles us and our skin is sensitive.”

“Your skin is sensitive? But I have heard that your skin is so thick that even spears cannot penetrate it,” laughed Cheeku.

“That is correct. Our skin may be hard but it is very sensitive to the rays of the sun. Therefore, we stay in water for more than 16 hours a day. We can stay alive in water without breathing for more than 5 minutes. But when we’re on land, we cannot survive for long. We cannot live without water,” said Harry.

“Don’t you worry, my friend! You can live here peacefully. All the animals of this forest will be happy to have you here,” Cheeku said.

Harry said sadly, “I am not unhappy because I am new here, but because I am separated from my group. I miss them. We are social animals and we live in groups. I cannot live without them.”

Harry told him that hippopotamuses live happily in a group of 40 to 45 as they easily get angry when alone.

Cheeku felt bad for Harry and started wondering how he would be able to find his family.

After thinking for some time, he got an idea and his face brightened up. He said, “Don’t worry. My friend, Molly eagle will fly around and find your family.

She can go to all water bodies and look for them. Once she finds them, you
will be with them soon. Molly will lead the way.”

Hearing this, Harry’s face bloomed like a flower, “Thank you! You have solved my problem. If not today, then certainly tomorrow I will be able to unite with my family.” He was so happy and started dancing and splashing water.

Cheeku enjoyed the cool splashes in the afternoon heat. He had met a hippo for the first time in his life and was very happy to have made a new friend.

A City Mouse

Pichu mouse was fed up and bored of his life in Anandvan. He wanted to go to the city. He had heard a lot about the exciting city life and wanted to experience it.

One day, he made up his mind to go to the city.

Before leaving, he learnt a few ways of greeting people in the city, like ‘good morning’, ‘hello’, ‘good evening’.

Early morning, he packed a few biscuits for his long journey and left for the city.

Pichu reached the main crossing of the forest and waited for a vehicle to take him. After some waiting, he saw Golu donkey riding his rickshaw. He called Golu to stop.

“Golu bhai, I have to go to the city. Will you take me there?” asked Pichu.

“Pichu, I don’t go all the way to the city. I can drop you off at the main road. From there, you will find some means to go to the city,” replied Golu.

“But why do you not want to go up to the city?” asked Pichu. “You know, humans live in the city. They are selfish and they are cruel to animals,” said Golu. “That’s why I don’t go up to the city.”

“That can’t be true! The city has many facilities for a better life. People live there comfortably. I am tired of life in Anandvana. I want an enjoyable and comfortable life in the city. I will look for a job there too,” said Pichu, as he climbed on Golu’s rickshaw.

“All the best to you!” Golu smiled and wished him luck. He dropped Pichu at the main road.

Luckily, there was a truck parked near the road. Its driver and cleaner were talking. “We have to take these goods to the city before tonight,” Pichu heard one of them saying.

He jumped in the truck, delighted!

After a few hours’ drive, the truck entered the city. When it stopped, Pichu got down quickly.

It was getting dark. But the city was well lit. There were electric lights everywhere. Shops displayed goods of different kinds. Humans were everywhere and the roads were cramped with long rows of vehicles.

“Ah ha! Even at night, it’s as bright as day here. What a contrast between the dark Anandvan forest and this bright city!” said Pichu, joyfully.

Pichu was hungry and tired. He took out biscuits from his pocket and ate them. Then, he fell asleep under a bench.

When he woke up the next morning, he found people up and moving about. There was hustle and bustle everywhere. Some people were out for a morning walk and some were jogging.

“There are so many humans everywhere. To be able to live in this city, I need to find some city mice and make friends with them,” thought Pichu.

He started off in search of city mice. Even after wandering for a long time,
but he couldn’t find a single city mouse. He did spot quite a few dogs on the roads though.

Pichu went under the shade of a building to rest. But he was alarmed to hear a conversation between two humans. “There are some new mouse in the godown. They have to be delivered to the office,” said one man to the other.

“They must be talking about the city mouse! I should to go with them to meet them,” thought Pichu, and quietly followed them.

The men went into a big hall that had a lot of boxes. Some men were putting the boxes in a van parked outside. Pichu hid behind a box and watched them.

“These boxes contain mouse for the computers. Handle them carefully. Last time, some of them had fallen out of the box,” instructed one man to another, who was lifting the boxes.

Pichu had never heard of a computer mouse!

“It seems these people catch the mice, put them in boxes and send them to some place. I have to be careful, lest they catch me and put me in a box too! Golu was right when he said that humans are selfish and treat animals cruelly,” thought Pichu.

Then he thought of his carefree life in the forest. How peaceful was life there! Here in the city, there was danger everywhere.

One of the men saw Pichu. “There is a mouse behind that box. Catch him before he bites one of the boxes,” he shouted. All the other men dropped their boxes and ran after Pichu. Pichu, jumped onto a window and scurried out of the building quickly!

“The life of a forest mouse is much better than that of a city mouse. I do not wish to live in such a place. I am going back to Anandvan,” murmured Pichu, and set on his way back to his beloved forest.

Visit Pushkar Fair!

It was a Sunday morning and Tinku was still in bed. “Tinku, Tinku! Wake up! It’s already 8 O’clock,” his mom called out.

Tinku woke up rubbing his eyes, and peeped through the window. He saw a strange animal walking past the street and a man riding it. “Mom, come fast. A new animal is here. It’s wearing colourful flowers too!” said Tinku excitedly.

His mom and elder sister Pinki came running.His mom looking out of the window smiled and said, “Tinku, that is a camel. It is not wearing flowers, but is decorated with colourful tassels,” explained his mom.

“It is so big, mom! But why is there only one camel? Where are its parents?” asked Tinku.

“Tinku, his parents are in Rajasthan. We will go to the Pushkar Camel Fair after Diwali. There, you will see many camels,” said his mom. Tinku jumped with joy on hearing this.

His parents had got train tickets booked. Both Tinku and his sister waited impatiently for the trip. They arrived in Pushkar at night after a day-long journey, checked into their hotel rooms, had dinner and went to bed.

Tinku was very excited! He could not sleep the whole night. He woke Pinki and his parents at 5 am itself! They put on their sweaters and went out for a stroll.

The air was cool and pleasant and the morning dew had wet the sand. It was
still dark and few stars could be seen twinkling in the sky. There were hundreds of camels all around, grunting and bellowing. In the dark, they looked like ghosts.

The camel traders wore colourful turbans. They milked their camels, dug up pits in the sand, lit up small fires and made tea from camel milk in copper vessels.
With the break of dawn, Tinku could clearly see the camels in the sunlight. Some were black, some were white, but most of them were brown.

The front legs of some camels were bent and tied with a rope. “Papa, why are camel’s legs tied with ropes? They are crying in pain!” asked Pinki.

“Pinki, the men tie the legs so that they don’t run around here and there,” replied their father.

Tinku was watching everything in awe, while Pinki was capturing the scene on her camera. They could also hear a folk song with music, which gradually became clearer. They noticed a man and woman, dressed in traditional Rajasthani costumes. The woman was singing and the man was playing music on an instrument called iktaara.

Many young girls dressed in colourful Rajasthani ghaghra-choli or skirts and tops, joined them and started dancing to their music. A snake charmer was playing a special kind of flute. He let a snake out of his basket. The snake started moving his head in sync with the tune of the flute. Many foreign tourists were also there, clicking pictures of these beautiful sights.

“Why are they taking pictures of our dances, papa?” asked Tinku.

“Because, they like our country’s rich and beautiful culture and heritage, Tinku!” explained papa.

“What is culture and heritage, papa?” asked Tinku.

“They are our good habits and practices, Tinku,” replied papa.

Caravans of camels were coming from all directions. Majestic looking camels kicked the golden sand as they marched in, creating thin clouds of orangish dust, that looked stunning.

“What are those carts?” asked Pinki, pointing towards a caravan of camel-carts, decorated with pink and green canopies.

“They are camel carts Pinki. We will go on a safari in one of them in the evening. Let us go back and have our breakfast now,” said mom.

After a light breakfast, they visited the fair in Pushkar. They saw a camel dance competition! Decorated with colourful tassels, silver bells and jewellery, camels also competed in a beauty contest!

Later that day, post a brief afternoon nap in the hotel, the family went on a safari in one of the camel-carts. The cameleer would make strange sounds and the camel seemed to understand his language and obey his commands!

After a short ride, they reached the sunset point. Many tourists were capturing the camels and the desert, against the backdrop of sunset. The orange sun slowly dipped, spreading a crimson glow all around. It was a beautiful sight.

The safari then took them to gardens of roses and amla in a small Rajasthani village. Here, Rajasthani costumes were available on rent. Tinku, Pinki and their parents wore colourful Rajasthani attires and clicked pictures. The children were overjoyed after their camel-cart ride.

They also visited the Pushkar Lake and saw many people take a dip in its waters. The entire market around the lake was glowing in colourful lights. People dressed in colourful costumes could be seen walking all around. Pinki and Tinku bought wooden toys and colourful clothes from the market.

At night, they relished mouth-watering malpuas. The children bought sweets for their classmates too.

Early next morning, they left Pushkar with memories of camels and beautiful sunsets.

Surviving The Flood!

One day, there were heavy rains in the jungle. It rained continuously day and night. Most of the houses were flooded. The river of the forest was overflowing and a flood was imminent. All the inhabitants of the jungle were anxious. No one could figure a way out.

“Friends, there’s a forest on the other side of the river! The land there is on higher ground. If we all swim to the other side, we can save our lives,” said Nikki parrot. She had flown and seen the forest land on the other side of the river.

“Is that forest safe and free from danger?” asked Zimba tiger, the king of the jungle.

“Yes, your Majesty! That forest is peaceful and safe. We can stay there for as long as we want,” assured Nikki.

“All right, then! All animals of our forest can swim. Let’s all swim to the other side of the river as soon as we can,” announced King Zimba.

Everyone was relieved.

“Your Majesty! There are strong currents in the river. The adults may be able to swim across the river easily, but little children will not be able to do that,” said Bunty monkey.

“Yes, Your Majesty! The children will not be able to handle the strong currents of the river. They will be swept away by the current,” added Rancho bear.

The children could not be put in danger. King Zimba pondered over this. So did the other animals.

Hoiti camel was also present amongst the animals. He had come to the jungle a few days ago. He had become friends with Lambu giraffe, and stayed back. He turned, looked at his friend, and asked him, “Well, what do you think?”

“I think what you think!” said Lambu, smiling, and they both approached the king.

“Your Majesty, the children can ride on our backs. My friend, Hoiti and I will make three or four trips and ensure all the kids are safely taken to the other side of the river. The adults can swim across without worrying about their little ones,” said Lambu.

“That’s a great idea!” said King Zimba.

All the kids gathered and Lambu and Hoiti started taking them across the river. The adults started swimming across it. It took the two friends four trips to take all the children to safety. King Zimba crossed the river after everyone got to the other side.

“I hope no one is left behind,” said King Zimba, looking at the crowd.

“Your Majesty! We will go back and look again. If anyone is left behind, we will bring them along,” said Lambu giraffe.

“Thank you, Lambu” said King Zimba.

The two friends crossed the river once again. They scanned the jungle quickly and called out to check if anyone was left behind. But there was no one.

When they returned to the river, they were shocked! The river had swollen up suddenly. Now, it was impossible even for them to cross it!

Hoiti looked at Lambu anxiously. They both were nervous. “You too, it seems?” said Hoiti.

“Yes, me too!” nodded Lambu sharing Hoiti’s fear.

Both of them stood there thinking of a way out, but could not figure out anything.

“What are you two doing there? Come over here quickly!” called out King Zimba from the other side.

“Your Majesty! We don’t know how to swim. The river has swollen so much that it’s impossible to walk across it!” said Lambu.

“You don’t know how to swim?” asked King Zimba surprised.

“We always walk across rivers and lakes using our long legs. We never need to swim,” explained Hoiti.

“Both of you saved our lives, and now you are in danger. But don’t worry! I am coming to get you,” said King Zimba.

“No, Your Majesty! Do not come to this side. It is dangerous.” said Lambu.

“But I cannot leave you both when your lives are in danger!” said King Zimba and stepped into the river.

“Wait, Your Majesty! You need not take the trouble to go there, when I’m here. I will bring them here,” said Rambo hippopotamus.

But, Rambo, even you don’t know how to swim! How will you help us?” asked Hoiti camel.

King Zimba could not believe his ears. “Rambo, is it true that you don’t know how to swim?” he asked, surprised.

Before Rambo could answer, Hoiti interrupted. “Your Majesty, the only three animals in the world who cannot swim, are the giraffe, camel and hippopotamus,” he said.

“I know camels are called ship of the desert because they can walk through a desert for days together. But a hippopotamus is the horse of the river and he is always inside water! If he cannot swim, then why is he called horse of the river?” asked a puzzled King Zimba.

“Your Majesty! Our bodies are so heavy that we cannot swim. But we can hold our breath for a long time inside the water, and so we go to the bottom of the river and walk across it easily,” explained Rambo.

“Is that so?” asked the king in amazement.

“Yes, Your Majesty!” nodded Rambo.

“If we walk leisurely, we can cover fifteen miles of a river in an hour. If we run, we can cover thirty miles. That’s why we are called the horse of the river,” he explained.

“I didn’t know that,” said King Zimba. “But how will you save Hoiti and Lambu?” he asked.

“They will stand on my back one by one. I will simply walk across the river and bring them here,” answered Rambo.

It seemed like a good idea. King Zimba gave his consent to Rambo who then went inside the river and walked towards Hoiti and Lambu on the other side.

“Lambu, you go first,” said Hoiti camel.

“No, my friend! You are our guest. Your safety is our duty. You must go first,” insisted Lambu giraffe.

Hoiti stood on Rambo’s back. As Rambo went inside the river, Hoiti’s body too was submerged into it. Only his face could be seen sticking out of the water.

The other animals waited for them with bated breath. Rambo successfully helped the two friends come to the safer side.

“You are a great friend, Rambo!” said Lambu, hugging him.

“Both of you put your lives in danger to save all the children. You both are wonderful!” said Rambo, smiling.

“Yes, you two have done a great deed! I want to reward you for it. Tell me, what you want?” asked King Zimba.

Hoiti looked at Lambu and said, “Well, what do you think?”

“I think what you think!” said Lambu, and then he addressed the king.

“Your Majesty! Rambo cannot stay long without water. Once the floods have receded, please make a pond in our forest so that Rambo can stay there here he visits us. That’s all we want,” said Lambu giraffe.

“Yes, Your Majesty! If there’s a pond, I can come and meet my friends more often,” said Rambo hippo.

“You all have done a great job and your reward will be granted!” smiled King Zimba and entered his new forest with all the animals. They were now safe and waiting for the flood to recede.

The Great Dance

Loud music blared from a roadside tea stall. Dinu donkey was crossing from there. His ears perked up at the sound of music. He loved dancing and considered himself to be a great dancer!

He started to sway gently and got so immersed in the music that he broke into a wild dance!

A donkey kicking his legs here and there caught the attention of people who were enjoying a cup of hot tea at the tea stall. They were puzzled by the donkey’s behaviour. This was something they had not seen or heard ever! A child pointed to Dinu and laughed.

“What’s he laughing at?” he thought Dinu, continuing his wild dance.

“Do you think the donkey is having a seizure?” said one of the men at the tea stall.

Dinu was shocked to hear this.

“What a moron! Doesn’t he recognise a great dance when he sees one?” he thought to himself.

As the volume of the music went up, Dinu’s dancing became more energetic.

He danced so wildly that the people got afraid that something was wrong with him.

“Hey! We have to help the poor creature. Let’s hold him still from both ends.

Maybe then he will stop these weird movements,” suggested a kind man.

“Oh no, oh no, you idiots! You fools! This is a dance and not weird movements,” thought a horrified Dinu.

Before he could think further, some men pounced on him from behind and some held him tightly from the front.

Poor Dinu started to suffocate. He started making weird sounds but the men maintained their hold on him.

Finally, out of sheer exhaustion, Dinu stopped moving and making noises and stood still. Satisfied that he was better, the men let him free from their hold.

Dinu immediately ran away from there, braying at the top of his voice. Only when he ran far enough and was completely out of breath, he stopped and settled down under a tree. “Maybe they couldn’t bear the thought of me being a better dancer than them!” thought Dinu as he sat down to rest.

Clever Raju

Raju lived in a village with his mother and younger sister, Chanda. His mother worked in the village while Raju and Chanda went to school.

Ten-year-old Raju was wise for his age. He cared for his mother and sister. Being an intelligent student, he excelled in his studies. At home, he helped his mother with housework and Chanda with her studies. Everyone in the village praised him.

One day, Raju’s mother had to go to the nearby town.

“I will be back by tonight. Both of you take care of yourselves,” she told her children. “Raju, have your lunch on time and make sure Chanda eats hers too,” she added.

“Yes mom! Don’t worry, I will take good care of Chanda and myself,” assured Raju.

“I will bring sweets for both of you on my way back,” she promised.

Chanda was delighted to hear this. “Mom, come back as soon as possible,” she said excitedly.

After his mother left, Raju thought of doing something special for her. “Mom works so hard for us. We should also do something to make her feel special,” he said to Chanda.

The cashew tree in front of the house caught his eye. “Mom wanted to collect cashews and roast them. But she’s not got the time to do that. Why don’t we collect some cashews today, break the shells and roast them before she comes back!” he said.

Raju and Chanda went outside and Raju took a stick and started beating the tree so that the cashews would fall off the tree.

Chanda collected them in a basket. It was almost evening by the time the basket was full. They went inside to roast the cashews. Both were excited at the thought of their mother’s reaction. Just as Raju put the pan on the stove to roast the cashews, there was a knock at the door. Chanda ran to open it, thinking mother was back.

To her shock, there stood a lion at the door. The lion roared, “I am starving. Your aroma dragged me here. I shall eat you now!”

“Uncle lion, the fragrance is of the roasted cashews. If you want, you may eat them,” Raju said pointing at the pan.

The greedy lion thought that he would first eat the cashews and then the children later.

He leapt on the hot pan that was on fire and in his greed, put his mouth on it. The lion’s mouth got burnt.

“Help! Help!” he screamed.

The kids ran out of the house and climbed the tree next to the well. The lion barged out, looking for them. Clever Raju got an idea. “Lion uncle, there is water in the well. You may drink the water to cool your mouth,” he said.

As the lion bent over the well to drink water, he saw reflections of both the kids in the well. The angry lion thought they were hiding in the well and jumped inside to eat them but later realised that he was stuck.

The children climbed down the tree. Mother was also back by then. Both the kids narrated the whole story to her. She was happy with Raju’s quick thinking and hugged them both.

The lion who was stuck in the well called out and apologised. “Please help me out of here. I will not harm you or come back to the village ever again!” he pleaded.

Hearing his cry, their mother said, “Let’s get him out and free him.”

The three of them took the lion out with the help of a rope. The mother took out the sweets that she had brought from town and gave him a piece too. The lion ate the sweet and went back to the jungle, never to come back again

Never Judge Anyone

“Mom, hurry up! I am getting late. You will have to drop me at the bus stop today because I have a lot of things with me. I cannot carry them all by myself,” said Raghav, quickly putting his lunch box in his bag.

Raghav’s mom saw that Raghav’s hands were full with his school bag, water bottle, umbrella and a big model of Red Fort for his history project.

“Sending a child to school isn’t easy these days. Schools were so much simpler in our lives. We would run straight to school, near our homes, and needed to carry only books with us. Nowadays, there are so many activities at school. Along with children, even parents are busy,” she murmured to herself. But she couldn’t drop Raghav as she had to leave for work early.

“Son, ask grandpa if he may walk you to the bus stop today,” she said.

Raghav scorned at this idea. “Ask grandpa to drop me at the bus stop?” he mumbled. “Mom does not understand that all my friends make fun of him. I shall better go alone,” he thought.

Ever since grandpa had come to live with them from the village, Raghav had been having a difficult time.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like his grandfather. Like all grandkids, he loved to listen to his stories, chat with him and take his advice. Although grandpa was old, he kept himself updated about the modern world by reading. Raghav loved this about him. From studies to health, grandpa had a solution for everything.

But Raghav was embarrassed by the way his grandpa dressed and spoke. He would always be in his dhoti, kurta and chappals. Grandpa believed in old customs and rituals and he would keep asking Raghav to follow them. Raghav found it strange to greet guests and relatives with a Namaste and folded hands instead of a ‘hello’, but grandpa would insist Raghav did so.

Grandpa also insisted he eat more vegetables and fruits instead of noodles and burgers. He would raise his eyes when Raghav ate those. Raghav did not like this.

He would also discourage Raghav from drinking cold drinks and would always explain to him how cola drinks were harmful for health. This irritated Raghav who often thought it would be better if grandpa went back to his village. He
did not want to be seen with grandpa.

“It’s fine, mom. I’ll go by myself,” said Raghav.

Grandpa was sipping his tea and heard Raghav. “Wait, how will you carry everything alone? The model may break if you are not careful,” said grandpa who instantly put on his kurta, kept his cup of tea aside and got ready to drop Raghav to the bus stop.

With a heavy heart, Raghav walked to the stop with his grandpa. “I hope all my friends are already seated in the bus when we reach the stop so that no one sees grandpa,” thought Raghav all through the way.

However, when Raghav reached the bus stop, he saw his friends standing at the stop, carrying their models and waiting for the school bus.

“What’s the matter Raghav? What made you late! Looks like you have been busy working on the model even in the morning. It is fabulous,” said his friend Shrey.

“The model looks exactly like the Red Fort with our flag flying on it! I am not surprised it’s so perfect. Your grandpa must have helped you,” said Shrey, admiring Raghav’s model.

Grandpa was proud of Raghav and felt moved by Shrey’s words. “Your model of Tower of Pisa is also beautiful, Shrey! However, it is straight. You may tilt it a little and then it would look exactly like the real Leaning Tower of Pisa,” said grandpa.

“You are right grandpa. Once I reach school, I will tilt it slightly. Then it would resemble the real tower, won’t it, grandpa?” thanked Shrey.

“Yes, then it would be perfect,” assured grandpa. Another friend Deepak asked grandpa about his Taj Mahal model. “Very nice, Deepak. It seems Shah Jahan came back to help you build this model!” said grandpa and everyone laughed.

“However, the model looks too white. The marble at Taj Mahal is not pure white. Also, due to pollution over the years, it has brown stains. Efforts are on to clean the stains. So, if you add a bit of brown shade to your model, it will look both real as well as raise awareness about the need for conserving our monuments against pollution,” suggested grandpa.

Deepak listened to grandpa very carefully. “You are a genius, grandpa. I would have never thought of it. I will add a shade of brown to it,” he said and thanked grandpa.

The other children too discussed their models with grandpa. Soon, their school bus arrived. Everybody waved goodbye to grandpa and settled into the bus.

“Now I know why you are so intelligent? You have a great-grandpa,” said Shrey who was sitting next to Raghav.

“Really Raghav, you are very lucky that your grandpa lives with you. I wished my grandfather stayed with us. He lives with my uncle’s family. I miss him a lot. I visit him every summer. I sleep with him in the evenings and he tells me many interesting stories.

Every time he comes here, I ask him to stay with us forever. I wish I had two grandpas, one who could live with my uncle and one who would stay with me forever,” said Deepak wistfully.

Everybody laughed when Deepak said that.

Raghav pondered over all the conversations and his feelings about grandpa. His complaints against grandpa seemed to have vanished! He only thought of grandpa with the love and respect he had when he visited him in their village. He realised his friends were impressed with his grandpa’s intelligence and not how he looked or spoke.

“I was unnecessarily worried about what grandpa wore. I will never be embarrassed of him again. When I return home today, I will tell him not to leave me ever and how much I love him,” thought Raghav and promised not to judge anyone by their appearance

Mouse In The House

It was a usual Saturday at Suhani’s house. Her father had gone to work in the morning and she was having breakfast.

After eating, Suhani went to the kitchen to drink water and screamed, “Rat! Rat! Ma, there’s a rat in the house.”

Her siblings who were playing in the backyard heard her scream and ran into the house. “What happened, Suhani didi?” asked Jay and Akash, her brothers.

“Come here, quickly. There’s a rat in the house. Chase it away,” said ma who came running out of her bedroom.

Her aunts, Palak and Pari, stood on the sofa, afraid the rat would run over their feet while being chased.

Ma and Suhani pointed towards the cabinet where they last saw the rat.

Jay and Akash quickly took a broom and a stick and forced the rat out of its hiding place.

The rat first ran all around the kitchen, then in the hall, then towards the cupboard and then hid under the bed.

Everyone screamed each time they spotted the rat. The tables in the house were turned upside down to ensure the rat had fewer places to hide.

When Krish and Mohit, aunt Pari’s sons entered the house, they couldn’t stop laughing looking at the chaos.

After about 25 minutes, Jay and Akash managed to shoo the rat outside the house. Then everyone settled down.

Akash and Jay kept the broom and stick aside and sunk into the sofa, exhausted.
“I don’t know who chased whom but it seemed like the rat chased us,” said Jay who was out of breath.

“Yes, we need to ensure we keep the door shut or the rat may come back,” said Suhani.

“I wonder why these creatures exist. They do us no good,” complained Akash.

“Don’t say that, Akash. I know the rats are a menace but they are also an integral part of our life-cycle. They may roam inside our houses and trouble us but that’s because they are looking for food. We should shoo them and not hurt them,” said Jay.

“I don’t think they are an integral part of our life-cycle. We can’t always shoo them away. We should put an end to all rats,” retorted Akash.

“Rats are scavengers. They eat trash or any food that is left unprotected. They have a good sense of taste and can identify certain substances, including rat poisons, after tasting just a little bit of it,” informed Jay.

“Also, a man, inspired by rats, became a billionaire,” he added.

“What? Rats inspired someone?” asked Krish and Mohit together.

“Yes, Mickey Mouse, a beloved character, is a mouse. Walt Disney was inspired by a mouse and created this character that made him a billionaire,” replied Jay.

“That’s true. And here I was thinking that rats are only a menace,” said Akash.

“That’s an interesting fact, Jay,” said ma.

“Now, who wants to go out and watch an animated movie?”

“Let’s all go,” said aunt Pari.

“Let’s watch a movie that has rats in it,” giggled Akash.

Everyone laughed, and got ready to watch the movie

A New Teacher

“O Harsh! Please switch it off now. You have been watching the television since morning,” Mummy shouted from the kitchen.

It had been raining erratically the whole day. The sun would shine for some time and then it would rain suddenly.

The washed clothes were hanging out on the clothesline to dry.

Mummy wished that Harsh would get up and bring them in. But he was busy watching the television and the clothes were wet again.

Harsh was in grade 9 and he preferred watching the television and playing games on his mobile.

If he was not outside the house, he would spend his whole time inside watching TV. His favourite channels were Discovery, National Geographic, BBC Earth and Animal Planet.

His parents approved of these channels as they were helpful in imparting knowledge. But they also thought that such excess screen time was damaging his eyes.

He often tried to explain to them that LED televisions did not harm the eyes as much as the earlier televisions. But they were not convinced.

Different kinds of programmes were shown on the Discovery channel, from cookery lessons to unknown facts about animal life.

Harsh was thrilled by watching these programmes. He loved animals and birds. He also liked the various cartoon channels, but his parents did not allow him to watch them much.

Harsh often wondered that if J L Baird had not invented the TV, then what would have happened? We would never be able to see the remote forests, the deep oceans and the snow-covered mountains.

Harsh’s house was near the park. Since it had been raining a lot the past week, there was abundant greenery all around. A rainbow could also be seen in the sky today.

Harsh’s father was at the office and Mummy was busy in the kitchen. Harsh was on the terrace watching the rainbow when he suddenly heard Mummy’s loud scream.

He came running down and saw that she was shocked, unable to form any words. She was pointing towards the can of flour in front of her, with eyes wide open.

Harsh looked in that direction. A snake was coiled on the flour can. His heart started beating fast, but he did not lose courage.

He quickly pulled out his mobile and dialled the phone number of the snake catcher. But no one picked the phone, so he left a voice message asking for help. There was no one in the neighbourhood who could help them.

He slowly signalled his mother to move away from the snake, while he kept a watchful eye on it. A little mistake could endanger their lives.

Just a few days ago, he had seen a snake exactly like this one on the Discovery channel. He knew it was not a poisonous species of snake. But he noticed that the snake’s tail was hurt and hence it was hissing.

Harsh and Mummy were both frightened, but the snake could not be left alone until help arrived.

Harsh quietly picked up a stick and an empty container from the storeroom.

He then switched on all the lights in the kitchen. He gave Mummy the responsibility to keep an eye on the snake, while he proceeded cautiously and cleared the path between the kitchen and the main door.

With his heart beating fast, he slowly approached the flour can. Mummy was shocked and could not understand what Harsh was doing.

He opened the lid of the empty container that he was holding and placed it in front of the snake. Then he carefully tapped on the snake’s tail. The snake entered the can straight away and Harsh closed the lid quickly.

Mummy looked at him in astonishment. She did not expect Harsh to be so brave and courageous.

Harsh put the container in a big paper bag and went out through the front door. Fortunately, the snake catcher also arrived at the same moment.

He praised Harsh’s bravery profusely. The snake was not a poisonous one, but catching a snake safely was a praiseworthy deed, especially if done by a child. The snake catcher assured them that the snake would be released in the forest.

By now the neighbours had also gathered outside the house. They were all praising Harsh wholeheartedly. After everyone left, Mummy asked him, “How did you manage to do that?”

Harsh pointed to the television. Mummy did not understand it. He then explained, “I had seen this kind of snake on the Discovery channel a few days ago. I knew this snake was not poisonous and that it was to be caught by its tail. I learned this by watching the television.”

Mummy looked lovingly at Harsh and thought to herself, ‘After all the television is not all that bad’

The Toilet Fund

Champakvan jungle was celebrating World Toilet Day on November 19. All the animals had gathered at King Shersingh’s palace.

“Today, we celebrate World Toilet Day to understand hygiene and sanitation. I wish everyone in our jungle constructs a toilet in their home so that no one has to do potty in the open,” announced their king.

“Pardon me, King Shersingh! But it is more fun emptying bowels in the open, rather than using a toilet,” said Jumbo elephant.

“We have to get over this thinking, Jumbo,” said Jumpy monkey. Defecating or doing potty in the open is not fun anymore. Our poop is the main source of water pollution. The problem becomes even more serious during monsoons, when all the poop gets washed down to the river, contaminating the water with harmful bacteria. This polluted water causes infectious diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, vomiting,” explained Jumpy.

“Jumpy is right! That’s why I want all of you to have at least one toilet in your home. We have created a fund to help you construct the toilets,” said King Shersingh. “From tomorrow, my cashier, Bandu jackal will give 25,000 each
to construct a toilet,” he added.

Bandu had been newly appointed as the cashier of Champakvan. When the king gave him the responsibility of distributing the funds for toilets, he was very pleased!

The next day, all the animals came over to collect the funds. Jumpy was first in the queue.

Bandu gave the money to Jumpy, who signed and counted the money. “Bandu, this is only 20,000 instead of 25,000 that King Shersing had announced,” said a surprised Jumpy.

“Oh yes, silly me! I forgot to tell you all that last, night King Shersingh called me and revised the toilet fund to 20,000. The remaining 5,000 will now be used to build public toilets in Champakvan, that can be used by animals and tourists. This way, our jungle will become cleaner,” said Bandu.

“This is a good thought, but we would like King Shersingh to say this to us. Please call him,” said Jumpy.

“I would have called him but he has gone to town for some urgent work. You can clarify with him once he’s back,” replied Bandu.

“No problem. Give us the money,” said everyone.

Jumpy stood quietly in one corner. He felt something was not right. At night, he went to Bandu’s house. There was a new motorbike parked at his gate. He tiptoed to the backyard and sneaked in through the window. He was taken aback at the sight. Bandu was sitting on his bed, counting money and keeping it in a bag.

“It is fun and easy to fool all the animals,” he laughed loudly and said.

Jumpy was angry and thought, “Bandu cheated us. I must inform King Shersingh about what he did. He should be back in the palace by now.”

As he passed from the backyard, he saw Bandu’s motorbike again. He thought of an idea. He pumped out all the petrol from the bike and left for the palace. He found the king’s car on his way and stopped the car and narrated everything to King Shersingh in one breath.

“I had told him to give 25,000 to everyone. How dare he to do that. Let’s go to his house,” fumed Shersingh.

When they reached Bandu’s home, it was locked from outside. “It appears that he has run away with all the money,” said King Shersingh. “He wouldn’t have reached too far as I drained all the petrol from his bike,” said Jumpy,

They went on the road to search for him, and at some distance, they found Bandu’s bike parked near the roadside, but Bandu was not there.

They knew he couldn’t have gone far. Jumpy looked behind the bushes and saw him crouching there. “I found him,” shouted Jumpy, snatching the bag of money from Bandu’s hands. King Shersingh’s bodyguards caught him.

“I trusted you and gave you this job and you cheated everyone,” King Shersingh roared walking towards Bandu.

“Please forgive me, King Shersingh,” Bandu begged.

“This is the rest of the money, sir,” Jumpy said handing over the bag of money to King Shersingh.

“Please give it to Minister Bholu and this is your reward for finding Bandu,” said King Shersingh handing over some money to Jumpy.

“No sir, I can’t take this money. We need to use this money to construct public toilets. That will be the best reward for me,” said Jumpy.

“I am very impressed, Jumpy! Champakvan needs citizens like you,” said King Shersingh and patted his back in appreciation.

The Last Bet

One day, Sona deer, Balu bear and Tilu fox were standing near a lake looking at a distant run-down house.

Sona whispered, “The house looks spooky.”

“There are… stories about it,” said Balu, nervously,

“Those are just rumours to keep people away from it,” scoffed Tilu.

“Yes, there could be some gold boxes waiting for brave Tilu,” mocked Balu.

“Or maybe, there’s some treasure kept for you,” replied Tilu.

“No. I have no intention of going in,” said Balu, firmly.

“Why would you! You’re scared of your own shadow. You won’t be able to step in,” joked Tilu.

Balu was irritated but said nothing. He was scared but didn’t want to admit to it. Unfortunately, so did Tilu.

“How about we go inside the house tonight? Each of us will enter alone. The one who fails to enter will have to treat the others,” said Tilu, challenging everyone.

“I am ready to take up the challenge. You two be prepared to treat me tomorrow,” said Sona, excitedly.

“You wish! I will be the one to receive treats,” said Tilu. And Balu had no choice but to agree.

“As a precautionary measure, I will wear my lucky locket or maybe, I can show that I am entering the house but not go inside. Sona and Tile will not know because it will be so dark outside,” he thought.

Balu felt relieved thinking he could sneak out of the challenge and still keep his dignity intact among his friends. He smiled to himself.

As though reading Balu’s thoughts, Sona said, “How will we know the others haven’t cheated?”

Balu was startled. He felt his heart sinking. He glared at Sona for reading his mind. Now, there was no escape.

All three of them started thinking.

Then suddenly, Sona cried, “I got it! The first one who enters the house leaves a paper with his name written on it. The paper has to be kept at the entrance. The second one who enters will write his name on the same paper and so will the third. Now, you both bring your torches, pencils and I will bring the paper with me.”

Tilu agreed.

Balu brightened as he found a loophole in their idea.

“Sona is a real fool. And so is Tilu. The third person can still cheat by not entering the house and writing his name. And there is no one to check on him. Maybe, I can be that person,” he thought and couldn’t contain his excitement. That night, they all met by the lake. But their enthusiasm had dampened by now.

Fear was written all over their faces. But none could admit that they were scared and call off the challenge.

Each one was waiting for the other to do it but pride forced them to look brave.

Somewhere an owl hooted making them jump. Balu’s hand instantly went around his locket.

They glanced towards the house looked threatening against the dark sky.

Sona asked meekly, “Who is going first?”

“I am going to be the last person,” said Balu.

Suspicious, Tilu asked, “Why last?”

Balu realised that he had no reply and it was difficult to fool Tilu.

Balu stammered, “I…I…”

Not knowing what to say, he cringed.

“We have to play this fair and square. I am going to toss a coin to see whose turn it is to go first,” said Tilu.

Balu felt like banging his head for his haste foolishness.

Tilu tossed a coin and it was decided that Sona would go first, followed by Balu and then Tilu.

Balu looked miserably at the house.

Sona cautiously walked towards the house using her torch to throw light in the darkness.

When she went near the house, she thought she could hear a loud sound. She realised that it was her heart pounding loudly. The house looked scarier as she came near it.

Sona cursed herself for agreeing to the challenge. She thought, “What if something happens to me?”

She looked through the window and saw something move inside but couldn’t make out what it was.

“Bet or no bet. I am not going inside,” she said and sprinted back to her friends. When they enquired whether she had gone in, she managed a silly smile and didn’t reply to them.

Now, it was Balu’s turn to go. Sick with fear, he reached near the house. Suddenly, he heard a door creak and without a second thought, he ran back screaming with his hands tightly grasping his lucky locket.

Once at the meeting place, he breathed heavily and stood with his legs trembling like rubber pillars.

Sona stood silently wondering whether Balu knew that she hadn’t entered the house as there was no paper at the entrance.

“Did you see anything?” asked Tilu.

“I managed to get in somehow. Saw your name on the paper, Sona,” lied Balu.

Sona was astonished to hear this and knew Balu was lying but kept quiet.

Now, it was Tilu’s turn. He had tried to be bold but was sweating with fear.
As he walked to the house, his shirt became damp.

Peeping inside the house, he thought he caught a glimpse of something in white. Absolutely petrified, he yelled and ran back.

Panting, he reached his friends and shouted, “I saw your names on the chit. What do you think of me? No one can scare Tilu.”

Both Sona and Balu knew that Tilu was lying.

Feeling relieved they went home swearing that this was the last bet they would
ever make,

Kerry’s Victory

Chandanvan suffered from a drought this year because of which most birds and animals had left their homes and travelled to other forests to build new homes.

Kerry koel also shifted to a nearby forest with her family to build a
new house.

Kerry was a shy bird, but she was also talented. She soon made many friends in her new school.

Peeku pigeon was a proud bird who also went to this school. She always made fun of others.

She saw Kerry was making new friends. This made her jealous and she started looking for an opportunity to demean Kerry.

Peeku started teasing her because of her dark skin and sometimes called her a coward because she was shy. But Kerry never said anything and always laughed it off.

A few weeks later, on her birthday, Kerry brought a lot of chocolates to school and distributed them among her friends.

Peeku too took a piece of chocolate and said, “You should have told me about your birthday. I would have brought you a gift.” Everyone was surprised when she said that.

The next day, Peeku gave Kerry a gift wrapped in bright golden paper and said, “This is for you. You can open it in now.”

All the friends gathered and Kerry eagerly opened the gift in front of them. There was a small soap bar and a fairness cream bottle in it.

Kerry’s eyes welled up with embarrassment and hurt. Peeku was unaffected by Kerry’s reaction, instead, she laughed heartily.

Kerry’s friends were mad too and told her to give a befitting reply to Peeku, but Kerry did not want to fight. She said, “Mummy has taught me that sometimes silence can solve hundreds of our problems. If I say something now, then the quarrel will become fiercer. Therefore it is better that I keep quiet.”

Days later, all the classmates drifted away from Peeku because of her pride. While Kerry’s friend circle kept growing because of her kind behaviour.

Over time, Peeku became lonely, but this did not change the way she was.

Soon, the Annual Day celebrations arrived. A music competition was organised by teachers this year.

Seeing Kerry getting her name registered for the competition, Peeku also decided to register for it.

On the day of the competition, as soon as Peeku’s name was called out, she proudly went on the stage and started screaming in a harsh tone.

All the children started laughing hysterically. They shouted, “Down
with Peeku. Down with Peeku.”

She somehow completed her song and left the stage.

It was Kerry’s turn and she performed beautifully. The whole auditorium applauded her performance and also demanded that Kerry sing again. Everybody enjoyed her melodious singing.

Peeku was sad, but since she also enjoyed Kerry’s victory, she congratulated her. Kerry smiled and thanked her. Peeku knew that she was wrong. She knew that outward appearance and beauty is not everything. Kerry had a good heart and was nice to Peeku even though she was mean to her.

Peeku apologised to Kerry who forgave her easily. From that day, Peeku and Kerry became good friends.

Dinku & Bobo’s Eatery

Dinku bear and Bobo monkey were sitting on a log, wondering how to earn their living.

“I can’t think of anything, Can you?” asked Dinku, glumly.

“Stop disturbing and let me think,” snapped Bobo.

Bobo scratched his head thoughtfully.

Suddenly, he snapped his fingers and excitedly cried, “I got it! Why don’t we start our eatery? We wil need to pitch in some money to buy utensils and ingredients.”

“But which one of us will cook?” asked Dinku.

“Hmm…how hard can it be! I think you should cook and I will serve food,” said Bobo, confidently.

Horrified, Dinku asked, “What do you mean? I do not know how to cook. I can’t even boil milk. It won’t work.” “So, who asked you to boil milk? Just serve it unboiled. No one would know the difference. I have my grandma’s old cookbook at home. I will get it for you. Just follow the instructions written in it, that’s all,” said Bobo.

Dinku didn’t raise any more questions as he feared Bobo’s anger. He just went along with the plan.

Soon, the duo set up a small eatery named, ‘Dinku & Bobo’s Eatery’. Tables and chairs were set up for the customers and a slightly nervous Dinku was all set in the kitchen with the cookbook and vegetables spread around him.

Dinku opened the cookbook curiously and came across the words teaspoon and tablespoon many times.

He looked at the different sizes of spoons in front of him and wondered what was the difference.

Instead of asking Bobo who himself was unaware of these things, Dinku decided to experiment.

Next, he started making chappatis and ended up making dry, burnt ones.

He was proud of at least being able to make something, even though it was inedible.

The eatery was due to open soon and Dinku had somehow managed to make simple gravies and sandwiches.

On the day of the grand opening, Bobo asked, “Ready?? The customers are beginning to arrive.”

“I am not too sure. I made a few dishes but I don’t know what it tastes like,” said Dinku, nervously.

“Who cares? We are just giving customers new choices of food!” said Bobo, offhandedly.

Then Bobo picked up some sandwiches and hurried outside.

He served the sandwiches to Pinky and Chinky rabbits.

Chinky smacked her lips and said, “Hope there are some juicy grated carrots inside.”

Her smile vanished as she picked the slice of bread to see what’s inside.

“What’s this? It looks weird,” cried Chinky.

Bobo took a peek and wondered what Dinku had made as none of the sandwich contents looked familiar.

“That’s our speciality,” Bobo smoothly said, with a smile.

Chinky stared suspiciously at the sandwich and took a whiff.

“It smells horrible. I don’t want it,” she said and pushed the plate away.

But Pinky wanted to taste it. She took a big bite and instantly spat it out.

“Blecchhh! It’s pathetic. You call this food?” she demanded.

At once, Bobo called Dinku out to explain to the complaining customers. Not knowing what to say, Dinku mumbled, “As he said, it is our speciality. It is very nutritious…and we…we had these…secret ingredients…ordered from far off. This will make your skin glow. Trust me.”

The word ‘glow’ caught their attention and they hesitantly ordered another sandwich and ate them. After paying the bill, as soon as they were about to leave, both of them caught their tummy and howled in pain.

“It must be those horrible sandwiches,” wailed Chinky.

“We will complain. Oooohh…,” Pinky threatened.

“The nutritious food doesn’t agree with some people and maybe you are one of those,” Bobo replied cheekily.

The rabbits, unfortunately, were in no state to argue further, so they rushed from there.

Next day, Sanjah wolf arrived and ordered a vegetable soup. When Dinku got the order, he quickly flipped through the cookbook. Unfortunately, the page with the recipe was torn.

He looked blankly at the vegetables and thought, “What to do now?”

Since he couldn’t back out of it, he just decided to make a puree of vegetables and water.

He picked up some vegetables and pureed them in the mixer. Then he diluted the paste with water and seasoned it. It was ready to go!

Unfortunately, the soup was not well received by Sanjah who felt his stomach churn at the very bitter taste of it.

Similarly, things didn’t go well with the other customers too.

The gravies served were either too hot or too sour, the vegetables uncooked or burnt. Sometimes funny looking things crept up in the plates.

Everyone yelled at them and left, promising to never return.

Bobo sadly went to meet Dinku in the kitchen to inform him about the mess.

Dejected, Dinku lectured, “I warned you before that it would be a disaster.”

Bobo snapped, “Don’t blame me. It is all because of your lousy cooking.”

“Why don’t you simply admit that it is because of your lousy idea that the whole thing flopped? Now, what are we to do with all these vegetables? They will rot if kept for long,” retorted Dinku.

Bobo thought for a while and brightened up and said, “Let us offer a 50% discount. I will put it up on the board outside. Hopefully, we get some customers. In two days, we have only earned `50!”

Their discount didn’t work as the news of their bad food had spread like wildfire. Not a single customer was seen near their eatery.

Tired of waiting, they decided to eat at somebody else’s restaurant and spent `30. With the remaining money, they decided to buy a lock for their eatery!

Sallu Learns A Lesson

Khainchu mule ran a sweet shop in Gopavan forest. He was an expert confectioner. The aroma from his sweet shop was famous to everyone in Gopavan.

Next to his shop lived Sallu fox. His house would always be filled with the aroma of the sweets and he could never resist them.

One day, when Sallu came out of his bath, the smell of tasty jalebis reached him. “Wow! jalebi!’’ he exclaimed in excitement. He could name the sweet just by its scent!

He started thinking of a plan to gobble jalebis as he put on his clothes.

“Mom… Mom,” he called out.

“What is it?” questioned Sallu’s mother, knowing what Sallu wanted.

“Mom, I feel like eating jalebis today,” said Sallu, innocently.

“Sallu, you feel like eating sweets daily! But I cannot buy sweets every day.” explained his mother.

“But I saw you keeping some money in the cupboard yesterday. Give me some,” pleaded Sallu.

Not wanting to argue with him any further, his mother took out a few coins from the cupboard and gave them to him. Sallu was disappointed “This can buy me only 100 grams of jalebi,” he said. “Buy whatever you get for this money. Your teeth will decay if you eat too many sweets,” said his mom.

“Fine! I am going,” said Sallu and rushed towards Khainchu mule’s sweet shop.

He was overwhelmed to see the sweets on display! Kalakand, as white as snow, the jar filled with brown balls of Badusha, a bowl full of spongy Rassogullas. His mouth started watering on seeing all of them! Rassogullas were his favourite. He was desperate to eat them but with the money he had, he could only buy jalebis.

Suddenly, he had an idea! “Uncle, can you please give me 100g of jalebis?”
he requested.

As soon as Khainchu went to weigh the jalebi, Sallu moved to the corner where the bowl of Rassogullas was kept. He glanced around, put his hand into the bowl and quickly gobbled up one piece of Rassogulla! However, he didn’t notice that he had also gobbled up a wasp that was sitting on that piece. As Sallu tried to swallow the Rassogulla, the wasp gave him a sharp sting in his throat. Sallu shrieked in pain!

“What’s the matter son?” he asked Khainchu who was concerned by Sallu shrieking. He then saw the Rassogulla and the wasp that Sallu coughed outlying
on the ground and understood what had happened.

“Oh! This is why you screamed. You do have to pay for your misdeeds,” said Khainchu and smiled.

A huge crowd gathered near the shop hearing Sallu scream. All of them broke into laughter when they understood what had happened! Sallu felt ashamed and promised himself that he would never steal anything thereafter.

True Friendship!

Jumpy monkey and Gingy squirrel were good friends. They stood by each other, no matter what.

But Kaalu jackal envied their friendship. He spread false rumours about them among other animals. However, his actions made no difference to Jumpy
and Gingy.

The animals of the jungle were well aware of Kaalu’s wicked and mischievous nature.

One day, Kaalu was standing outside Blacky bear’s sweets shop. Just then, Meeku mouse arrived, riding his favourite bicycle.

While parking, Meeku forgot to lock the bicycle as he was eager to purchase his favourite carrot halwa from Blacky’s shop. Blacky’s sold the best carrot halwa in the whole jungle. Many customers would go to his shop to buy it.

Kaalu saw Meeku carelessly park his bicycle. This was the chance he had been looking for. He saw the crowd at Blacky’s shop and knew Meeku would take time, which would be enough for him to steal the bicycle and flee.

But as Kaalu was about to ride away, Meeku turned around and saw him
steal it.

Meeku chased Kaalu, shouting, “Thief! Thief! My bicycle! Thief! Thief!” The other animals heard Meeku shout but because Kaalu rode fast, no one could get hold of him. Meeku, too, couldn’t catch him.

The animals surrounded Meeku. A few of them asked, “What was stolen? Did you get to see who was the thief?”

Meeku narrated the entire incident while sobbing bitterly. Jeetu cheetah, Jumbo elephant, Lambu giraffe, Sheru dog, Rattu rat and other animals assured Meeku that they will catch the thief.

Meeku had not seen the thief clearly so they didn’t know where to start. They
just followed the road and looked for the bicycle.

After riding for a while, Kaalu was tired. He saw a children’s park close by and thought he could take some rest. Suddenly, he realised that Jumpy and Gingy stayed near the park.

He saw Jumpy standing in one corner waiting for someone. He grabbed this opportunity and went to Jumpy with the stolen bicycle.

“Jumpy, I need to go to the toilet urgently. Can you please take care of my bike?” asked Kaalu and before Jumpy could respond, he handed the bike to him and went across the line of houses and hid behind the bushes.

Meanwhile, the crowd of animals chasing the thief reached the park. Seeing his bicycle standing there, Meeku screamed, “Here is my bicycle and this is the thief!”

Jumpy was shocked. The crowd of animals surrounded him. The sky above the park started to fill with noisy uproars. No one was paying attention to what he was trying to say. Everyone thought he was the thief! Hearing so much noise
in the park, Gingy came down from her treehouse.

Jeetu had grabbed Jumpy’s collar. He was about to hit him when Gingy cut through the crowd and reached the scene. Howling in a sharp voice, she said, “Stop! If anyone tries to touch my friend, there will be consequences.”

Hearing the sharp voice of Gingy and seeing her rage, Jeetu put his hand down and grunted, “Your friend, Jumpy, has stolen this bicycle. He deserves a beating and then we will hand him over to the police.”

“Jeetu uncle, you know Jumpy quite well. Do you think he can be the thief? I can say with certainty that Jumpy can’t be the thief. I believe in him. At least, give him a chance to explain,” said Gingy.

“She is right. We should give Jumpy a chance to explain. He has been trying to talk but we weren’t listening,” said Jumbo.

Jeetu released Jumpy from his grip and let him speak.

Jumpy narrated what had happened and pointed towards the bushes indicating that Kaalu had walked in that direction.

Kaalu was watching closely from behind the bushes. When Jumpy pointed in his direction, he tried to sneak without being caught. But the moment he moved, Jeetu grabbed him and dragged him out. Kaalu didn’t realise that Jeetu was quick.

Scared of the angry animals, Kaalu admitted to his mistake and apologised
to Meeku who immediately called the police.

Jumpy thanked Gingy for helping him.

“Jumpy, there is no need to thank me. I’m your friend and I will always help you in times of need,” cheered Gingy.

Filled with joy, Jumpy hugged Gingy and they went together for a ride around the forest

A Lesson For The Cat

Bhanku bear delivered milk in Gopavan forest. Every morning, he would wake up early and deliver milk to all the forest dwellers.

Like every day, he reached Moosram mouse’s house to deliver milk. “Moosram ji, it’s me, with your supply of milk!” he called, knocking at the door.

While Bhanku waited for Moosram to open the door, he heard some strange sounds coming inside the house. When the door opened, Bhanku saw a cat at Moosram’s door with a pan in her hand!

“How on earth is a cat here?” thought Bhanku to himself.

He smelled something fishy. “Who are you and what are you doing here in Moosram’s home?” he asked the cat.

“Uh…Mmm…I… I am his relative,” murmured the cat.

“What!” said a startled Bhanku. “How could a cat be the relative of a mouse?” he questioned.

The cat quickly tried correcting herself! “I am not his relative. I am his friend’s relative,” she said.

“Fine!” said Bhanku and thought for a moment. “Where is Moosram? Please call him out for a moment,” he said after some thought.

“He has gone out for some work. He asked me to take the milk from you,” said the cat, extending the milk pan towards Bhanku.

“Is that so? Fine then!” said Bhanku and poured the milk into the pan half-heartedly.

Just then he heard a voice from inside, “No Bhanku! Don’t give her the milk”. It was Moosram’s voice!

“She is a liar! She burried me inside my burrow. Thankfully I dug out another hole and came out. She is my enemy and not my relative. She has been chasing me and wants to eat me up,” shouted Moosram. “Please call the police!” he said gasping as he was now out of his confines.

Hearing this, Bhanku was shocked.

Now that the truth was out, the furious cat flung the milk pan on Moosram.

Moosram ran inside his burrow, managing somehow to save his life. “Bhanku ji, save me!” he screamed from his burrow.

Meanwhile, Bhanku gathered his courage and had acted wisely. He parked his milk-cart at the roadside and rang the police station.

After receiving information about the fraudulent cat, two police cars arrived at Moosram’s house immediately.


Seeing the police force, the cat jumped out of her skin. She fled as fast as she could and never returned to Gopavan again.