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.

Meeku’s Fridge

Long, long ago, in Champakvan, the animals were not aware of any advancements in technology. They lived simple, happy and satisfying lives in
the forest.

Meeku mouse was a resident of the forest. He had completed his education in England and recently returned to Champakvan.

He had brought back with him a box, three times larger than himself, and called it a ‘fridge’.

After he settled in, his neighbour Skippy squirrel came to visit him. “Oh! What have you brought with you? It is huge! What will you keep in it?” she asked, laughing heartily.

“This? It is called a fridge. It will cool things in no time. I can keep whatever I want to store, like vegetables and fruits. Open it and see,” Meeku replied, looking proudly at his shining new fridge.

Skippy opened the door of the fridge and was filled with joy when she got a cold blast of breeze. “Wow! This fridge is wonderful!” she exclaimed.

She was called a tale-carrier in the forest as she was good at spreading news. So the news of the new fridge spread in the forest like a wildfire.

Soon crowds started gathering outside Meeku’s house to see the fridge. After all, it was the only fridge in the forest. Everyone would enter the house one-by-one and enjoy the cold blast of air from the fridge.

Meeku was forced to demonstrate his fridge to everyone. He would say to himself, “If only I had not told Skippy about the fridge! I should have told her that it was a simple box to store things. Then the word would not have spread this fast. So many animals wouldn’t gather and I would use my fridge for storing
my food.”

Soon, as time passed the number of visitors to see the fridge declined and now he could easily use it for storing.

One day, Skippy said, “Meeku, do you know my house is under the open sky?”

Meeku nodded his head in agreement.

“The tree I stay on is placed right under the harsh sun. My house becomes an oven in the afternoon and I get baked like bread. Can I live in your fridge instead?”

“How can you live in a fridge?” Meeku was shocked at this unusual request. “That is a fridge, not a hotel. You will be frozen inside.”

“Oh! I have enough warm clothes with me,” said Skippy, waving her sweater. “I will squeeze in a small corner, please….”

How could Meeku refuse her? “Okay. Bring your luggage,” Meeku frowned.

Skippy was overjoyed. She ran and quickly gathered her belongings. She came and dumped them in the vegetable container of the fridge and closed it from inside.

The very next day, Cheeku rabbit arrived at his house. He was a farmer and Meeku bought vegetables from his farm.

“Hello, how are you? I need a little help from you,” he said and Meeku understood, looking at the juice bottles in his hand that he needed his fridge for storage.

“This is carrot juice. Will you keep these bottles in your fridge? In my home, we all are very fond of cold drinks.”

Meeku was frustrated and it was now visible on his face.

“What happened, Meeku? Any problem?” asked Cheeku.

Meeku didn’t want to refuse Cheeku’s request. What if he stopped selling him vegetables. So, he managed a weak smile and said, “Keep them inside and consider it your own fridge.”

Cheeku promptly filled the fridge with his containers and made this a daily routine.

Skippy loved her stay in the fridge. She only went out to gather food and quickly returned. All the vacant place in the fridge was taken up with Cheeku’s juice jars. Meeku was unable to completely utilise his fridge.

Frustrated with the situation, he went to Blacky bear’s ice shop.

“Oh, Meeku, why are you here? You have a fridge at home, don’t you? What do you need here?”

Meeku narrated his plight.

“You are too nice, Meeku. These people are not bad, however, they are taking advantage of your hospitality. Sometimes you have to learn to refuse,” said Blacky.

“They have been good to me. I don’t understand how I can refuse them,” Meeku said to him.

“I have a plan. Come close and I will tell you.” Meeku’s face brightened when he heard Blacky’s plan.

He quickly reached home and set the freezer at maximum. Soon Skippy came out shivering and almost frozen.

“How did this fridge suddenly become as cold as Antarctica?” she asked.

Continue reading Meeku’s Fridge

Unity Is Strength

Champakvan forest was quiet and peaceful. The animals and birds lived happily. They shared and helped each other in times of need.

A few days ago, a group of hunters came inside the forest and started hunting birds and animals, using guns. The animals were scared and cried over the loss of their friends. The fear of being hunted down troubled them the most.

They all decided to go and meet the king of the forest, Shersingh. King Shersingh heard them patiently and said, “I too am worried about your safety. But these hunters are armed with guns. Even I am afraid of guns. We will have to find a way to fight these hunters,” said Shersingh.

Honey hippo who was listening quietly said, “Your Majesty, I have a plan that can drive the hunters away from the forest.”

“What is you plan Honey?” asked Shersingh “Your Majesty, we must all stand together and fight these hunters. We must show – Unity is Strength,’’ said Honey.

“But even if we stand united, we can’t fight them. They have guns to shoot us,” said Lamboo giraffe.

“I know. We must plan cleverly before we act. My thick skin makes it difficult for the bullet difficult to pierce through it. I will go towards the hunters and distract them by walking towards them and the rest of you can attack from behind,” said Honey.

“If I get hurt, Dr Damru needs to be there to quickly remove the bullet from my body,” said Honey.

“You are putting your life at risk. Let us hope we don’t fail you,” said king Shersingh.

As planned, the next day, the crow took up the duty of a spy. He found out the camping spot of the hunters and passed the message to king Shersingh. All the animals hid in different places as planned by Honey.

Lamboo giraffe hid behind a tree, Fatty elephant hid behind a cluster of tall trees and Jumpy hid behind the bunch of bushy leaves. Cheeku rabbit took cover inside a bush. His Majesty, King Shersingh concealed himself behind a big mound.

The hunters were walking with guns in their hands. They looked alert and ready to shoot at the slightest sound.

As planned, Honey came before the hunters, then turned back and started running in the direction of his friend’s hiding places.

The hunters chased Honey, but Honey quickly gave them an escape and hid between the tall grasses.

One of the hunters reached the mound, where king Shersingh was hiding. As he climbed onto the mound to take a better look, his gaze fell on Shersingh. A chill ran down his spine. He dropped the gun and fell down rolling over the mound. The hunter managed to run away. Seeing the plight of the hunter, King Shersingh could not control his laughter.

The other hunters too were shaken when they saw their friend running. Taking charge of the situation, all the animals came out of their hiding places and attacked the hunters. In the chaos that followed, the hunters dropped their guns and ran away. The animals chased them out of the forest.

When the animals returned back to the forest, they saw the guns lying there on the ground. Jumpy collected all the guns and started imitating the hunters. He held a gun in his hands and by mistake pulled the trigger. The animals were in for a shock when they heard the sound of the gun shot. King Shersingh hid himself in a pit.

All the animals started laughing when they found out the reason behind the gun shot. Lamboo said, “We too have guns to fight now and need not be afraid of anyone.”

But Shersingh was lost in his thoughts. He thought about what could have happened if Jumpy had shot anyone.

He said, “We don’t need these guns that take the lives of others. I don’t want any of us to be killed by a gun shot. Let’s not create a situation where someone thinks they are more powerful because they have a gun. It’s better to dump them in the lake.”

Everyone agreed with Shersingh and they collected and threw the guns deep into the lake.

Trip To The Moon!

One day Baddy fox announced in Champakvan that he would like to take all the animals on a trip to the moon.

Everyone became very excited.

“Are you really taking us to the moon?” Damru donkey asked in amazement.

“Yes. All, but the big and heavy animals. Otherwise our rocket will not be able to take off from the ground.” Most animals started laughing at Baddy’s words.

“But where is your rocket?” Cheeku rabbit enquired. “And also, what would be the cost of taking us to the moon?”

“Our rocket is on an island not far from here. And for the cost, my motive is not business or to make money. I just want to give you the joy of going on the moon.
So you do not have to pay anything for the trip,” replied Baddy.

All the animals started shouting in joy.

“There seems to be something fishy here,” whispered Cheeku to Jumpy monkey.

“We have to be careful.”

Both went to king Shersingh and told him about Baddy’s trip to the moon.

“If Baddy wants to do this, then it is a very good thing. Why are you troubled by his offer?” asked Shersingh and told them to leave the matter.

Cheeku then said to Jumpy, “We will have to keep an eye on Baddy on our own.”

Meanwhile, in the forest there was a fierce competition among the animals to go to the moon. Most of the small animals had registered their names with Baddy.

“Please be ready for the trip tomorrow. I will take you on the motor boat, to the island. From there we will go on the rocket to the moon. If the weather remains favourable, then we will be able to go on the moon tomorrow itself,” said Baddy and all the animals became all the more excited.

“I will take my favorite dress with me,” said Titu butterfly excitedly.

“No, please don’t bring any clothes or anything else. You will have to wear space-suits to the moon that we will provide. And yes, one more thing, leave your money and jewellery back in your house,” Baddy said. “We will return in a week.”

All the animals waited impatiently for the evening.

In the evening Baddy came with a motor boat to take them.

“Cheeku, why are you not coming?” asked Baddy.

“Baddy, please go ahead. I have got some urgent work to finish. My friend Jumpy
will go with you,” said Cheeku with a smile.

As soon as the motorboat left, Cheeku rushed to King Shersingh.

“Sir, here is something very interesting,” said Cheeku opening his laptop. He started the search engine and typed Baddys’ name. Soon many web pages came on the screen. He selected one and clicked on it.

“This is Baddy,” said Cheeku. “But why has the police caught him?” King Shersingh spoke out.

“Because he and his companions had looted the animals of Sonavana. He was even sentenced to jail. But he tricked them and ran away. Now he has come here,” said Cheeku.

“What does this mean?” asked Shersingh.

“It means that Baddy and his friends are thieves. They promise to take the animals to planet Jupiter or to the moon, and take them away from their houses. Then at night his companion steals all valuables from the locked houses. As soon as Baddy is informed that all the valuables have been stolen, he escapes to another forest. And his companions join him there,” explained Cheeku.

“This is a big conspiracy!” exclaimed Shersingh. “Why didn’t you inform me earlier?” asked Shersingh who was visibly angry.

“I tried to warn you earlier sir, but you felt it was alright for Baddy to take the animals to the moon,” replied Cheeku.

“Now what shall we do?” asked Shersingh.

“Don’t worry sir. Nothing will happen. I have sent my friend Jumpy, with them. Tonight Baddy’s friends will try to steal from the houses of these animals. We can catch them red-handed. And with their help we can catch Baddy,” Cheeku explained.

“But we have to be very careful. If Baddy gets the wind of this, he may harm our citizens,” Cheeku continued.

“You need not worry. I am going to talk to Inspector Blacky Bear,” Shersingh assured Cheeku.

At night Inspector Blacky and his team spread out in the forest. They hid outside the houses of the people who had gone on the trip.

Suddenly some movement was seen outside Damru donkey’s house. Inspector Blacky gave the signal, and his team caught Laptu jackal from there and on questioning him they were able to catch all the others.

“But how do we catch Baddy? He is very cunning,” asked Shersingh who was really worried.

“We have a plan for that, too,” said Cheeku and whispered something in Shersingh’s ear.

Laptu jackal phoned Baddy, “Hello Baddy, we have collected all the treasure. Please come here quickly on your motorboat, so that we can get out of here immediately.”

“That’s perfect! I have mixed sleeping powder in the food of the animals. They are all sleeping soundly. I am coming on the motorboat. Meet me at the riverside,” Baddy said on the speakerphone, so that, Cheeku and Shersingh could hear whatever Baddy said.

In a few hours, Baddy was in police custody.

The next day when the animals woke up, they could not understand anything.

“Have we reached the moon?” asked Meeku rat looking around.

“No, you are not on the moon. You are in Champakvan. But Baddy who was taking you on a trip to the moon, is on a trip to jail,” said Cheeku. Shersingh and Inspector Bear started laughing. The other animals could not understand anything and they started looking at each others’ face.

Later when Shersingh told them what had happened, they all praised and thanked Cheeku.

Forgive And Forget!

Cheeku rabbit and Meeku mouse were playing cricket with their friends on the playground.

Meeku wasn’t paying attention to the game because he was busy talking to Jumpy monkey.

“Meeku, catch! It’s your turn to throw the ball,” said Cheeku, throwing the ball to him. The ball hit Meeku’s head as he didn’t hear Cheeku.

“Ouch! Cheeku, why did you hit me?” asked Meeku, angrily.

“Meeku, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I threw the ball for you to catch it. You weren’t paying attention so it’s not my fault,” said Cheeku.

“Who throws like this? Couldn’t you wait for me to look at you? You knew I was busy talking and still, you threw the ball at me!” shouted Meeku.

“Are you here to play or to talk?” asked Cheeku and they started arguing.

Cheeku pulled Meeku’s tail and Meeku pulled Cheeku’s ear.

Their friends somehow pulled them apart and stopped the fight. Angry, the two of them went home.

They did not talk to each other for several days. One evening, Cheeku went to the playground and saw Meeku sitting alone.

Cheeku picked a corner on the playground and sat there without talking to Meeku. Their other friends hadn’t come.

They both waited for some time for others to show up but no one did.

Bored, Meeku decided to leave the ground and go home. Just then, Cheeku asked, “Meeku, if you want, we can play.”

“You want to play with me?” Meeku replied, shocked.

“Why is that shocking? We used to play together before,” replied Cheeku.

“I thought you were angry with me because we fought,” said Meeku.

“Meeku, you were angry because I hit you with the ball,” said Cheeku.

“No. I know you didn’t hit me purposely and it was my fault too. I should have concentrated on the game. I was hurt that’s why I yelled at you. I am sorry,” apologised Meeku.

“Ah! It’s alright! How foolish of us to not talk to each other for so many days,” said Cheeku.

“Let’s forget what happened in the past! We are friends again and that’s what matters,” said Meeku, smiling.

“Yes. We should try not to fight and if we do, then we should forgive each other,” said Cheeku.

And they both started playing together again.

Soon, their friends came and saw the two playing, just like before. “We purposely didn’t show up as we wanted you two to forgive each other today as it is World Forgiveness Day. Your friendship is so strong. You should not let any small fight break it,” said Jumbo elephant.

Saying this, Jumbo lifted Cheeku and Meeku with his trunk and everyone cheered for them!

Our Jungle?

There was chaos and confusion in Champakvan.

“Don’t crowd around him. Leave him alone. Look, he’s frightened,” said
Jumpy monkey, asking everyone to move to the side.

“He is a stranger. He is not from our jungle. We should send him away,” said Vivi wolf.

“Vivi is right. He could be a spy from another jungle,” agreed Baddy fox.

“We shouldn’t give shelter to refugees. Outsiders shouldn’t be allowed in our jungle,” added Jugoo jackal.

“Friends, let him rest and let his wounds heal. Then, we can find out who he
is and why he has come here,” said Cheeku rabbit.

All the animals stepped back. After a while, Blacky bear came in running and said, “This is a panda. He fell from a tree into the river and ended up here. I don’t think he’s a threat to Champakvan. We should be kind and helpful towards him.”

“Who told you this?” asked Baddy.

Hopping forward, Harry squirrel replied, “I saw him fall into the river. He struggled to get out. Before I could tell Blacky, he came here. I think we should feed him. He looks tired and hungry.”

“We cannot just share our food with him,” retorted Baddy.

“Why not? We don’t have a shortage of food and we should try and do everything to save a fellow being,” said Blacky.

“Harry and Blacky are right. Panda is helpless. We should save him first,” added Cheeku. Baddy, Vivi and Jugoo walked away. Harry, Cheeku, Jumpy and Blacky began cleaning panda’s wounds and dried his wet fur.

“He is shivering. I think because he was in the water for so long, he is also finding it difficult to breathe,” said Jumpy.

“You are right. Let’s take him to my den. We can keep him safe there. I do not trust Vivi, Baddy and Jugoo. They might try to harm him,” said Blacky.

Charmy eagle, sitting on the tree, said, “I too will help. I will sit near the entrance of the den and let you know if anyone is coming.”

Many animals visited the den to see panda and one day, after he had recovered, they asked him his name.

He said his name was Poh and he was from China.

Next day, Baddy said to Blacky, “Now that panda has recovered, ask him to leave Champakvan. Otherwise, it will not be good.”

“Is this your jungle? And his name is Poh. Don’t call him panda. If Poh wishes to leave, then he will go. Till then, we’re his friends and we will take care of him,” said Jumpy.

“Till when will you keep him coddled inside the den? He doesn’t belong here. The day I get my claws on him, he won’t be spared,” threatened Baddy.

Poh had grown stronger, he played in the den and started climbing the tall trees around the den. Blacky showed him where he could get bamboo, Poh’s favourite food.

One day, Baddy saw Poh step out of the den and walk towards the hill. He called Jugoo and they followed him silently. “Today, we will finish Poh. The moment he climbs down the tree, I will grab him. His caretakers are busy bathing in the river,” hissed Baddy.

Suddenly, they heard Poh scream, “Move aside, move aside, a huge rock is falling from the hill.”

Baddy and Jugoo ran out of their hiding places, just missing the huge rock by a second. Otherwise, they would have been crushed under it. Charmy came flying towards Baddy and Jugoo and said, “You should be ashamed. Poh, who you were planning to kill, saved your lives. If he hadn’t warned, you both would have been crushed to death.”

Baddy and Jugoo wondered how Poh knew they were on the hill behind him. As if reading their minds, Poh said, “I could see you both following me, but didn’t want to say anything.”

“We did leave Poh alone on purpose. After all, till when could we protect him. In the end, he has to learn the laws and dangers of the jungle,” Blacky said.

“The Earth belongs to all of us. Thinking that this is ‘my jungle’ or ‘your jungle’ is incorrect. This is ‘our jungle’,” added Charmy.

Baddy and Jugoo walked away after thanking Poh who climbed up the tree to complete his meal!

Cheeku’s Reformation!

In Nilgiri forest all the animals lived together. All the kids of the jungle went to the forest school to study. Jumbo elephant was the teacher and the students enjoyed learning from him.

But Cheeku rabbit was very lazy. Neither did he like to study, nor did he like to go to school. He only wanted to roam around and to eat carrots the entire day. He would postpone doing both his homework as well as housewash.

The thought of sitting to study made him giddy and whenever his mother would ask him to study, he would make some excuse and get away from there.

His parents were very worried about Cheeku’s dislike for studying. Although Cheeku had reached Class VII, he could not read or write well. He managed to scrape through the exams by copying or looking into his classmates’ notebooks.

His classmates made fun of him. But it did not bother Cheeku.

After his final exams, Cheeku decided to visit his maternal uncle for the holidays. He urged his parents that no matter what happens he would go to uncle’s house this year.

Festival season was fast approaching and Cheeku’s father had a lot of work at office, so he could not go to drop Cheeku. His mother also could not accompany him as his grandmother was unwell.

Cheeku decided to go alone and asked his parents for permission.

His parents allowed him to go alone and Cheeku’s mom accompanied him to the bus-stand. On reaching the bus-stand, Cheeku noticed that there were many buses stationed. His uncle lived in Kajrivan. Since he could not read well he had to ask the people standing there which bus went to Kajrivan for the journey.

Everyone was busy and could not believe that Cheeku could not read. He was ashamed. “You are quite a grown-up boy and yet you can’t even read what is written on the bus? Hasn’t your school taught you anything?”, mouthed Baddy Fox.

Meeku mouse who was at the bus-stand to see off a relative, felt sorry for Cheeku and said, “There, that bus is going to Kajrivan.”

Cheeku thanked Meeku and quickly got on the bus.

As soon as the bus started and was on the road, Blacky bear, the ticket conductor, came to Cheeku and asked him kindly, “Yes son, where do you want to go?”
Cheeku replied, “Please may I get a ticket for Kajrivan.” He handed Blacky his purse and said, “Please take the money for the ticket from here and give me back the rest.”

Blacky stared at Cheeku and said politely, “Son, this bus is not going to Kajrivan; it is coming from Kajrivan and is going to Haritvan via Champakvan. You have boarded the wrong bus.” Then he added, “Also, you should not hand over all your money to anyone. A thief or a cheat would take it and run away. Don’t you know how to read and to count?”

Cheeku became red with shame. He felt bad that he had not paid attention at school and could not read and write. Had he learnt reading, writing and counting, he would not have to face the situation he was in today. No one would have laughed at him.

He felt like crying. Also he was worried because he had boarded the wrong bus and feared that the conductor would be rude to him.

He told Blacky bear that it was true he did not know how to read and write well. He promised that he will do so now.

Blacky felt sorry for Cheeku and asked the driver to stop the bus. Then he stopped the bus that was going to Kajrivan and asked Cheeku to board it.
Cheeku thanked him and when he reached his uncle’s house he told his uncle about what had happened.

Cheeku’s uncle, Shersingh was a teacher. He explained to Cheeku, “Son, to be able to progress in life, studies is necessary. It makes us independent. In current times, one has to be not just literate but also educated. So work hard and study well.

At the start of the new session, Cheeku started working hard in school. He was no longer lazy. Soon he not only surprised his parents but also his teacher and his classmates with his performance in school. He started scoring well in all his tests and no one teased him anymore by calling him lazy or illiterate.

Senior Citizen Award!

Pihu pigeon was everyone’s favourite in Champakvan for her kindness and manners.

She was adventurous and flying off to faraway places to experience things and new lessons. She loved watching trees, hills, rivers and fields while flying. Her dream was to fly like an eagle above the clouds!

Pihu was friends with Mittu maina who lived in the village near the forest, at a farmer’s house. She would visit Mittu with sweet fruits. Once in a while, Mittu would visit Pihu in Champakvan with corns and wheat grains from her house. Mittu understood human language very well and thus, Pihu was able to learn a lot about human lives as well.

One day when Pihu came to Mittu’s house, she saw her relaxing on the branch of the golden shower tree at the courtyard of the farmer’s house. Pihu sat near Mittu and gave her some fruits. At a distance, she could see a small gathering of villagers. They were discussing something very seriously but happily.

Pihu was curious to know and learn new topics. Mittu knew her friend’s habit. So, she took Pihu to the old mango tree under which the meeting was taking place. Pihu requested Mittu to listen carefully and translate it into bird’s language.

Pihu and Mittu sat quietly on a big branch of the mango tree listening.

Pihu could not understand anything, yet she enjoyed the actions and reactions of the villagers. Finally, there was a huge applause and the crowd dispersed.
Now, it was Mittu’s turn to explain to Pihu.

“The villagers were discussing about celebrating World Senior Citizens Day,” said Mittu.

“When is that?” asked Pihu.

“Hey Pihu, please don’t interrupt. I may forget all the points,” warned Mittu and continued – “I heard about it for the first time. World Senior Citizens Day is celebrated on 21st August every year. The idea of celebrating this day is to raise awareness about the factors and issues affecting older people and also to study issues that affect their lives. Elderly people, these days, are abused in many ways and hence activists have come up with assistance to protect and shelter the elderly.”

Pihu got excited and asked Mittu – “Why were a few people clapping and cheering at the end of the meeting?”

“Your observation power is really praiseworthy,” appreciated Mittu.

“It is also a day to recognize and appreciate the contributions that older people make to the society. Hence, the Village Head has approved the proposal of honouring such important personalities during the celebration,” Mittu stopped her talk and took a long breath.

“This is really wonderful. We must always respect, support and love our elders. I am lucky to have visited you today or else I would have never learned about it,” said Pihu.

Mittu and Pihu flew back to the golden shower tree. Both of them enjoyed swinging to the waves of the cool breeze. Red dragonflies and yellow butterflies were fluttering around the wheat fields. Sapna, the farmer’s little daughter came out of the house and called Mittu with strawberries in her hand. Mittu asked Pihu to join her to eat the delicious strawberries. Sapna greeted Pihu as well. After a while, Pihu left for Champakvan happily. Her mind was full of thoughts and plans.

Pihu shared the information about Senior Citizens Day with her parents and beloved friends Pyaree peacock, Princy parrot, Sweety siskin and Chinju cuckoo. Pihu too wanted to celebrate the day in Champakvan for the first time by giving a surprise to the older animals and birds. Pihu’s parents loved the idea.

Pihu took up the responsibility of inviting all the birds and animals for the occasion. The big banyan tree near the waterfalls was selected for the venue. Pihu requested Princy parrot to accompany her. Pyaree peacock and Sweety siskin took up the responsibility of arranging food and gifts.

Finally, the Senior Citizens Day was here. All the animals and birds were clueless as to why they were invited. While the birds sat on the branches of the trees, the animals sat under the trees and a few on the black rocks near the waterfalls. There were little monkeys and squirrels who played around joyously.

As soon as Raja Gabru lion came with his minister Jambu elephant, the function began. Chinju cuckoo welcomed all with a melodious hymn.

Pihu told the crowd about the significance of the day and the purpose of the celebration. All were quite surprised on hearing about Senior Citizens Day. There was a big round of applause when Pihu announced about honouring the elderly and old members.

Chinju cuckoo invited the very old Mottu monkey, Bittu bear and Cheeru crow on the stage. Pihu read out the contributions made to Champakvan. Regardless of age and other health issues, Mottu, Bittu and Cheeru had worked hard for the betterment of the inhabitants and the development of Champakvan.

Pyaree peacock and Sweety siskin requested Raja Gabru to present the awards to the honourable guests. All the animals and birds clapped for the guests of honour.

Raja Gabru appreciated the organizing committee for their initiative and goodwill. He presented a bouquet to the little pretty Pihu who had introduced the idea of celebrating Senior Citizens Day in Champakvan. Everybody enjoyed delicious food and chatted happily.

Suddenly, Pihu heard the flaps of her dearest friend Mittu main a. “Well done, Pihu” appreciated Mittu. Pihu and her friends welcomed Mittu to join their celebrations

Goodbye Tokyo!

Cheeku, Damru and Lily were in the stadium together when Lily intently looked at Cheeku.

Lily: What happened to Cheeku? Why are you staring at Damru?

Cheeku: I was just seeing if there are tears in his eyes today! It’s the last day of the Olympics and Damru had become our guru these past weeks.

Lily: (Laughed softly) Hey Cheeku, don’t pull his leg! Damru is sad because he had a strong desire to cover the Olympics this time and he got that opportunity, which has come to an end now.

Cheeku: Yes! He did a great job covering the Olympics!

Cheeku placed a hand warmly on Damru’s shoulder.

Cheeku: Damru, can you say something? You are too quiet! It doesn’t suit your personality.

Damru: Ahh! This was such a special opportunity to meet these brilliant athletes from all across the globe over the past 17 days. Now I will only be able to meet them again in 2024.

Cheeku: Yes, that is true! We will take a flight from Delhi to Paris in 2024 now.

Damru: (Smiles) Four more years! Isn’t it too far away?

Cheeku: Hey, let’s not be sad. Shouldn’t we instead celebrate that our country (India) won 7 medals this time and all the athletes gave such a great performance, and after 12 years, we are returning home with a gold medal.

Damru: India finished 48th in the Olympics with 7 medals, this is our highest ranking in our Olympic history. For India, Neeraj Chopra won a gold medal in javelin throw, Mirabai Chanu and Ravi Kumar Dahiya won silver medals in weightlifting and wrestling respectively. While badminton player P V Sindhu, wrestler Bajrang Punia, boxer Lovlina Borgohain and the men’s hockey team won bronze medals. So, we do have many reasons to celebrate! Let’s aim for even more medals in 2024!

Cheeku: We will! We will!

Just then the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 started with beautiful fireworks. Damru, Cheeku, and Lily, all three looked up in the sky and smiled.

Post that the Japanese flag was hoisted on the stage. And the flags of all the countries that participated formed a huge circle around it. Seeing the Indian flag all three of them started chanting India, India, India! one last time.


Silver Ravi Dahiya

Standing in the stadium,  Damru acted as if he was slamming his friend Cheeku.


Damru: How does it feel to be beaten? How do you feel rolling in the dust?

Cheeku: Why are you so dramatic?

Damru: Don’t you see how Indian wrestler Ravi Dahiya slammed every wrestler in the Olympic ring this time?

Cheeku: The 14th day of Olympic day was spectacular for the Indian audience, wasn’t it?

Damru: Yes! The 14th day of the Olympics was also a lot of fun for India. After 41 years, India won the bronze medal in hockey, and now Indian wrestler Ravi Dahiya has won the silver medal in the 57 kg weight freestyle wrestling category.

Cheeku: Yes, how hard are our players working for these medals?

Damru: They are all giving it their all! Look at Ravi Dahiya, despite being defeated in the finals by Russian player Zavur Uguev, he won a silver medal in wrestling because of his excellent performance.

Cheeku: Hmm. Russian wrestler Zavur Uguev defeated Ravi Dahiya 7-4 in the gold medal match.

Damru: Nevertheless, he still managed to win a silver medal.

Cheeku: Why don’t we go celebrate his medal with ice cream?

And so both the friends walked out of the stadium towards the cafeteria for a much deserved celebration!

Women’s Hockey Team!

Indian women’s hockey match is on. Damru is cheering for India, along with Cheeku.

Just then, Lily butterfly, who is part of Damru’s media crew, comes ther.

Lily butterfly: Damru, will you be watching all the matches with your friend Cheeku or will you also cover them with the team?

Damru:  Argh! Lily, don’t you see what a thrilling match this is! Indian women’s hockey team can totally defeat the Australian team.

Cheeku: Yes Lily, please allow him to enjoy it.

Lily: Are you serious?

Cheeku: (Laughs meekly) Fine. Damru please go and start working.

Lily: Yes please. Come along let’s start capturing the match!

Damru: Alright. I cannot believe I have to work instead on enjoying this crucial match?

Lily: Crucial? From what I am seeing, it looks like players running after one another.

Damru: Oh! How can I forget that you simply don’t understand Hockey.

Lily: Well, now is a good time to explain it to me!

Damru: Yes, I’ll explain it. But, please let me watch it first.

Suddenly both Damru and Cheeku jump out of their seats and start cheering loudly!

Lily: What? What just happened? Why are you both jumping so wildly?

Damru: Didn’t you see?

Lily: What?

Damru: The Indian women’s hockey team has created history by making it to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics, Miss Lily.

Lily: Really?

Damru: Yes! This is for the first time that the women’s team has made it to the Olympic Games. They have defeated the three-time gold medal-winning Australian team.

Lily: Oh wow! Amazing.

Damru: Yes, the women’s team worked so hard for this victory. The Indian women’s hockey team has made the entire country proud.

Hip-hip-hooray! All three of them hooted!

Why is the Lion here?

Meeku mouse was playing hide and seek with his friends.

He counted,”.1, 2, 3, 4, 5……10’’ and asked aloud, “I hope all of you have hidden? I am coming out to catch you.’’ said Meeku as he came out from behind the tree.

There were a lot of bushes near the trees but Meeku could not see anyone behind them.

“I am sure that Baddy must be hiding inside the bushes. I know him very well. He is very lazy and won’t go too far to hide,” thought Meeku as he entered the bushes. 

It was Laptu jackal and not Baddy who was actually resting there. Seeing Meeku, he got annoyed. 

“Sorry Laptu, I didn’t mean to disturb you. I was searching for my friends.” apologised Meeku, ready to run. 

“You’ve disturbed me and you will have to pay for this,” said Laptu as he leapt towards Meeku. Hearing him say this, Meeku started to run. 

“Ha…ha …. ha…’’ laughed Meeku as he left Laptu behind. Just as he was catching his breath, he thought he saw something that looked like a pair of ears behind the bushes. 

“These look like Baddy’s ears”, Meeku said to himself and then watched closely. He noticed a tail outside the bushes.

“Caught you! I have seen your tail outside the bushes, Baddy. Come out of your hiding.” said Meeku. 

Baddy came out of his hiding, looking like a thief caught in the act.

“I thought Laptu wouldn’t let you go off easily,” said Baddy laughing.

“Stop laughing Baddy … I have to catch Cheeku rabbit. Let’s see where he is hiding,’’ said Meeku and set out again.

Suddenly, Meeku heard a voice from behind the rocks.

“I caught you Cheeku!” he shouted putting his hand behind the rocks to pull Cheeku out.

“But …this is Blacky bear.” he realised when he put his hand.

“Sorry uncle. We were playing hide and seek and when I saw a figure behind the rocks, I thought it was Cheeku hiding there,” said Meeku and ran off, barely giving any chance to Blacky to speak.

 “Oh! What an escape!” said Meeku to himself panting. “I should be a bit more careful. I may land in trouble, searching for Cheeku.”

Just then, Meeku noticed a white-coloured ear behind the tree.

“Now, you have been caught, Cheeku! I have seen your long white ears behind the tree. Come out.” said Meeku. Cheeku came out of his hiding on hearing Meeku.

“Too bad! I have been caught because of my long ears.’’ said Cheeku angrily.

“Come on. Both of you go and hide now. I will count till 10.” said Baddy and went behind the tree to close his eyes.

Meeku and Cheeku went into hiding.

“I am coming for you.” said Baddy and set out to look for them.

Suddenly Baddy heard a lion roar at a distance, and he started to sweat.

But he had a feeling that his friends were playing a prank on him. So, he shouted loudly, “Look, don’t you dare try to scare me.”

Baddy felt really scared when he heard the roar the second time.

“Cheeku and Meeku, you had better stop scaring me.” warned Baddy.

“I am not making these sounds.” said Cheeku coming out from behind the bushes. “I am also wondering where the sound is coming from.’’

“That means this is Meeku’s prank.’’ said Baddy and set out to look for him.

He could hear the roar over and over again. Both Baddy and Cheeku stopped on their tracks, as they turned pale with fright.

“Believe me, it’s not me whose letting out these roars.” said Meeku as he came out of his hiding. “This sure is the roar of a lion, which is coming here.” said Meeku filled with fear.

Hurry! Let’s go and hide somewhere.” said a worried Baddy.

“Yes.” shouted Cheeku and Meeku. They leaped into the bushes without wasting any time. 

All three of them hid in the bushes for quite a long time, waiting for the lion to come.

“Hey? Where is the lion?” The three friends spoke among themselves.

“Haa … Haa …….’’ Just then they heard Damru donkey laugh.

“Damru, go and hide in some place safe. A lion is coming here.” said Cheeku on seeing Damru.

 But Damru continued laughing.

“Stop laughing …We will all get killed because of you.” shouted an angry and irritated Meeku.

“Stop Damru’’ warned Baddy.

“Oh, please stop panicking.” said Damru trying to control his laughter. “I am that lion who was trying to scare you! Let me also play with you or I will keep making these sounds to frighten you.”

Saying so, Damru let out a loud roar again.

“Okay, join in for a game. But stop roaring. Else, a real lion will surely pop up from somewhere.” said Baddy. Everyone burst into laughter.

Rainwater Harvest!

This summer had been very hot in Champakvan. All wells and ponds had dried up. 

Due to water scarcity, King Shersingh announced, “All citizens of our forest are requested not to waste water. Until the rains start, water will be supplied just for one hour in the morning and evening everyday. Everyone will have to manage with it.”

All the animals of Champakvan realised that the water problem was serious and started using water sparingly. 

But Titu butterfly did not care, and would wash the leaves of her plants and sprinkle the ground with water daily. She loved playing with water.

All tried to persuade Titu not to waste water but she continued to use water carelessly. 

All the animals complained to King Shersingh who called her.

He said, “Titu, you are so small. You need just a little water for drinking and bathing. Then why do you use so much water? Though you are using the water given to you, when you use it for this purpose, it makes all the others angry in the jungle. 

Titu said, “I suffer from dust allergy. When dust is around, I get sick and start sneezing and am unable to breathe well. I cannot sleep. That is why I have to sprinkle water around my house.”

“Even then Titu, try to save water as much as possible. If you can, instead of washing the leaves, wipe them with water. 

In front of the king, Titu agreed but when she went home, she kept using water as per her wish. 

All the animals wanted to go to King Shersingh to complain against her. 

Cheeku rabbit lived near Titu’s house. 

He said, “It is not wise to trouble the King for every small thing. I have thought of a plan so that Titu can continue playing with water and yet it will not be wasted.”

“How is that possible? asked Meeku mouse.

“Let’s see. I will not talk about it!” said Cheeku.

Next day, the animals saw that Cheeku was burrowing beds under Titu’s tree. After two days, he planted vegetable seeds in the beds.

Titu did not realise that she was watering vegetable plants because she was busy watering her leaves and home. 

In a few days, small shoots appeared from the beds. The vegetable garden grew under Titu’s home. 

When Shersingh learnt about it, he too was happy. 

At that moment, he received an invitation from Dara rhinoceros, the Minister of their neighbouring forest, Kanchanvan.

The invite said, “Like every year, this year too, we are organising water sports in our big pond. We request you to be Chief Guest at this year’s water sports.” 

Shersingh was bewildered. He asked the messenger, Nitu porcupine, “In our forest, with great difficulty, we are able to provide water. Our wells and ponds are dry and you are having water sports. How have you kept your ponds full of water?”

“If you too celebrate the Forest Festival like us, then there will be no scarcity of water in Champakvan,” said Nitu.

“Forest Festival? What is that?” asked Shersingh.

“We plant plenty of trees in our forest. And we take care of our existing plants and trees, make the best possible use of objects made from wood. Pencils and paper that are made by cutting trees, are not wasted, so as to avoid cutting trees. Because of this, our forest is quite cool and we don’t need to run air conditions and coolers. That way, we have water and electricity. Most importantly, we collect and store rain water by water-harvesting. We use the stored water for all our needs, and the wells and ponds in our forest never dry up. All these help us in organising water games even in summer.”

“Now I understand. We too will plant trees in abundance in our forest and will collect rain water by water harvesting. We too will celebrate Forest Festival. Please tell Dara that I will surely come and enjoy the water sports. I thank him for the invitation.”

Toto’s Nest!

One day Toto, a tailor bird, thought of building a nest for herself. She flew around and found a garden on the banks of a river in Champakvan forest. She was delighted to see a variety of plants and trees and animals and birds in the garden.

Toto made introductions with the residents of the garden and thought, “This place is beautiful. I should make my nest here.”

Toto chose a large tree and started to build her nest on it.

She finished stitching half of her nest in no time.

Kallu crow who also stayed on the same tree saw her nest and thought, “Her nest is so artistic and mine looks shabby in front of hers. Anyone who sees our nests, will only praise hers.”

Kallu flew over to her and started to caw mockingly.

“Why are you cawing?” asked Toto.

“Why wouldn’t I?” replied Kallu. “You are working so hard to build a nest on a tree that is not safe at all!” he continued.

“Why do you say that the tree is not safe?” asked Toto.

“This tree is home to many predatory birds who keep coming here,” said Kallu.

“But your nest is here too?” she pointed.

“I too, am looking for a new tree to build my nest,” replied Kallu. This was enough to convince Toto and she left her unfinished nest and started looking for a new tree to build a nest on.

She looked around and saw a mango tree and started to weave a nest on it. While she was still stitching her nest Kutty cuckoo visited her and said mockingly, “O Toto, you are being so stupid!”

“Why do you say that?” asked Toto. 

“This river floods whenever it rains heavily and the nest will get washed away into the river when that happens,” Kutty explained. Toto looked at the rapid river flowing near the tree.

“Look, even I haven’t made my nest. I just hide among the leaves of the mango tree and spend my days here,” said Kutty.

The fear of getting carried away by the flood waters, Toto gave up her unfinished nest and started looking again for a new place.

She saw a cluster of shrubs nearby and decided to build her nest on a nice shrub. As she was weaving her nest, Jumpy monkey came and started looking at her nest in amazement. “What are you looking at?” asked Toto.

“I am observing how hard you are working to build your nest by bringing twigs over one by one and then weaving them into your nest. But, did you check whether the timing was auspicious to do so? You started building your nest at a time which is not lucky,” said Jumpy. His words scared Toto.

“I am a priest; I can tell you the right time to build your nest and can perform the necessary pujas too,” he offered.

Toto was swayed by Jumpy and she broke her nest in the fear of it being unlucky for her and requested, “Jumpy, please tell me the correct time to build my nest.”

Jumpy took out a thick book from his bag and picked out an auspicious time
for Toto and took his fees and left from there.

When the time was right, Toto performed the required rituals and then started to build her nest.

Cheeku rabbit, who stayed nearby, had been observing Toto since morning. He had seen her destroy her nest at Kallu and Kutty’s insistence. 

It was the third time when Toto had broken her nest in the shrubs after being fooled by Jumpy’s words. Cheeku felt sorry for her.

He went to her and said, “You have been trying to build a nest but you leave it unfinished because of what others say.”

Toto looked at Cheeku with tears in her eyes.

“You look tired. Come to my house for the night and take rest. Then start building your nest tomorrow morning,” offered Cheeku, kindly.

“But then the auspicious time for building the nest will be gone,” she said worriedly.

“All this is nonsense! Jumpy fooled you but that’s his business,” Cheeku explained.

Toto was exhausted after repeated attempts at building her nest and had no energy to build a new one. She was extremely hungry too.

She thanked Cheeku for his offer and went with him to his house. Cheeku served her food that she ate to her heart’s content.

“You are sincere and hard working. And you are skilled at making nests.” 

“But…?” asked the Toto looking at Cheeku questioningly.

“You don’t believe in yourself. Anyone who doesn’t have faith in themselves gets easily swayed by other people’s opinions. Not having self-belief makes us think that we cannot finish anything successfully. A person who believes in herself can do things even before starting a project,” explained Cheeku. 

He further added, “You listened to Kallu when he scared you of predatory birds, but the truth was that he was jealous of your beautiful nest. When Kutty told you that your nest will be destroyed by the floods, she said so because she too was jealous of your nest-building skills as she has never built a nest in her life. Later you got carried away by Jumpy’s words of superstition. If you had kept faith in yourself, your nest would have been ready by now and you wouldn’t have to
go through so much trouble.”

Toto understood what Cheeku was saying.

Next morning, she woke up early and built her nest with self-confidence. Her nest was ready in a hours and she hosted a party. 

She did not forget to invite Kallu crow, Kutty cuckoo and Jumpy monkey for the feast. After all, they too had made her realise her shortcomings!