Category Archives: Story for children
Many years ago, at the foothills of the Kaatskill (Kat-skill) mountains, was a little village. In the village lived a simple, good-natured fellow named Rip Van Winkle. He was a kind neighbour, ready to help anyone. Everyone in the village liked him. The children of the village shouted with joy whenever they saw him because he played with them, he taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories.
The only problem with Rip was that he was very lazy. He did not work on his own farm and just idled away his time. His fences were falling to pieces. His cow was going astray. Weeds grew on his farm. Rip’s constantcompanion was his dog, named Wolf. To avoid work, he would walk away into the forest with his dog.
One day. Rip just walked on and on and reached the highest part of the mountains. It was late in the afternoon when he reached there. Tired after his long climb, he lay down and began daydreaming. It was soonevening and he realised it would be night by the time he reached his village.
Suddenly, he heard a voice calling out, “Rip Van Winkle, Rip Van Winkle!’ He looked around and saw a short, old man, with thick hair and a grizzled beard walking towards him with a barrel. He made signs to help him carry the barrel. Rip hurried to help the stranger who caught his hand tightly. Together they reached a place where there were some more odd looking men, playing ninepins. They were all dressed the same way and all of them had beards of various shapes and colours. Even though they were playing a game, their faces were serious and there was silence! The only sound was the noise of the balls, which echoed in the mountains like thunder.
As Rip and his companion reached them, they stopped playing and stared at Rip with a fixed gaze. Rip was really frightened. His companion emptied the contents of the barrel into glasses and made Rip drink it.Rip obeyed as he was trembling with fear. Since he was thirsty he drank a few more glasses and slowly fell into a deep sleep.
On waking up, he found that he was at the place where he had first met the old man. He rubbed his eyes — it was a bright sunny morning. “Surely, I have not slept here all night,” thought Rip.
He looked around for Wolf, but he was nowhere. Rip whistled for him. “Wolf! Wolf!” he then shouted. No dog was to be seen. “Where has this dog gone?” he muttered to himself. He began to descend the mountain to go back to his village.
As he neared the village, he met a number of people but he didn’t know any of them. The villagers also stared at him equally surprised. “Who is this man?” said one.
“I’ve never seen him before,” said another, “look at his long white beard and his wrinkled face.”
On hearing this, Rip stroked his chin and, to his astonishment, he found his beard had grown a foot long, and it was all white!
An old woman walked up to him and looked at his face for a moment. Then she exclaimed — “It is Rip Van Winkle! Welcome home again, old neighbour! Where have you been these twenty long years?
One day, when I was going towards my boat, I was surprised to see the footprint of a man on the sand.
I stood amazed! I listened; I looked around me; I could neither hear nor see anything.
I went up higher to look down; I went up the shore and down the shore, but it was no good;
I could find no other footprint but that one. I went to it again to see if there were any more footprints
and to tell if it had been my imagination. But I was not mistaken, for there was exactly the print of a foot — toes,heel, every part of a foot. I could not imagine how it came there.
I stayed a long time thinking, but became more and more confused.
At last I returned home very frightened, looking behind me after every two or three steps, mistaking every bush and tree to be a man.
When I, came to my cave (which I called my castle), I ran inside it, as if I was being chased.
I do not remember whether I used the ladder or went in by the hole in the rock, which I called the door. I ran for cover, faster than any animal could run.
I did not sleep that night. The more I thought about what I had seen, the more afraid I became. I thought it
could be one of the savages of the mainland who had wandered out to the sea, in a small boat.
Luckily I was not on shore at that time, but what if he had seen my boat! If he had seen the boat he would have realized that someone lived on the island and would soon return with others to kill and eat me.
And so I lay fearful for many days and prayed for protection. In doing so, I was much comforted and began
going out to investigate. But even now as I went forward, I looked behind me frequently, because I was still very frightened.
However, as I went about for two or three days and saw nothing I became a little bolder. I decided to go down o the shore again and examine the footprint once more. I decided to measure it with my own footmark.
As I came closer to the footprint, I realised that it could not be my footprint because I had not come to this part of the beach since a long time. Secondly, as I placed my foot alongside that footprint, it seemed larger than my own.
My fear returned! I went home again, believing that there was someone there.
The island was inhabited!
The dining table was loaded with goodies – cake, pastries, pies, halwa, laddoo and yes, her favourite cookies. Nina wanted to eat them all. The 10-year-old stuffed a couple of cookies in her mouth but the cookies tasted a little different. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t gulp them down.
The dream broke at that point.
Nina woke up with a start and found herself chewing on a bed sheet. She was in her dormitory bed and it was pitch dark. A grumbling stomach reminded her of how terribly hungry she was. All because of Mr. Katiyaar, the poker-faced warden of the residential school which had been her home for the last one year.
He had found Nina talking during dinner time and had punished her by asking her to go hungry to bed. Nothing escaped the eagle-eyed warden.
And now this dream which had made her hungrier. Nina paced up and down her dormitory in desperation. She looked enviously at roommates, peacefully asleep with their stomachs full.
Suddenly Nina remembered a box of cookies sent by her mother, that was lying in her locker. She had been hiding it from her friends for an emergency. Clearly, this was an emergency.
The locker room was at the extreme end of the long corridor, and venturing out in the dark and creepy hallway was nothing short of climbing Mount Everest. Nina took her first trembling step towards the doorway and almost ran back. She remembered a boy from her class bragging about his encounter with a ghost while he was on his way to the toilet at night.
But her stomach egged her on. The same hallway in the morning never looked so eerie, thought Nina. Pale with fright, the girl scout walked on and tried not to think about the ghosts and witches that could lurking around in a corner somewhere.
At last she reached the locker room. Slowly turning the doorknob, Nina stepped into the dark room, let out a sigh of relief and walked towards her locker. So familiar was she with her locker that she could locate it with her eyes shut.
Then a sound almost made her jump with fright. “It’s nothing but my imagination,” she assured herself. Again something rustled and moved in the room. Someone was there in the room, and Nina trembled with fear. Probably it was that ghost who frequented the corridor. She decided to grab her box of cookies and run back to her room.
Sweating with fear, Nina gripped the locker door and yanked it open. And she got the fright of her life – someone was sitting inside her locker! Even in the dark she could make out a pair of eyes like hers. So the corridor ghost lives in my locker, Nina thought in horror.
She let out a piercing scream. And to her surprise the ghost started yelling back. Hey, ghosts are not supposed to scream but make frightening noises, she thought. Nina’s mouth fell open in surprise and there was a silence in the room for a moment. The locker door swung back into its place.
Before she could think of anything, the door burst open and a swarm of students and teachers flooded the room. All the lights were switched on in a minute.
“What’s the matter?” growled the warden. He certainly looked displeased at having been woken up from his deep slumber. “There there… is a ghost in my locker,” Nina mumbled.
At the mention of the word ghost, half the students stepped back. Only the brave ones remained to witness the historic event.
“There is no such thing as ghost in this world,” said Mr. Katiyaar, looking more furious than ever. As everyone waited with bated breath, he took a hesitant step towards the locker and yanked open the door.
The ghost looked familiar…It was Rajan, Nina’s classmate, sitting inside the spacious locker, her box of cookies clutched in his arms!
“What the hell are you doing here?” Mr. Katiyaar shouted, momentarily forgetting the ‘no swear word’ rule made by him. The boy dropped the box on the floor. He was shaking with fear. “He can’t speak, his mouth is full of cookies,” said one of the students, helpfully.
Nina suddenly remembered that Rajan, too, had been given the ‘no dinner’ punishement that evening for reaching the dining hall late.
“I can see that his mouth is full, but eating cookies and walking down the corridor at this hour defies every logic and rule, and as a punishment both Nina and Rajan will stay away from breakfast tomorrow morning,” roared said Mr. Katiyaar.
“Hold on for a minute, Mr. Katiyaar.” It was Mrs Verma, a teacher. “Do you realise that keeping children hungry for their mistakes leads them to do such things? A day begun without breakfast would make them more desperate. They might try to force some more lockers open, even yours.”
She had a better idea. “Why don’t we ask Rajan to make everyone’s bed for filching the cookies. And Nina can serve food to everyone at the breakfast because she got out of her room at night. That would solve your purpose, would it not,” she asked looking at the warden.
To everyone’s relief Mr. Katiyaar seemed to understand and moreover, surprised all the students and teachers alike by treating them to a warm glass of milk and the remaining cookies from Nina’s box!
There wasn’t a happier girl in the hostel who went to sleep, stomach full, that night!
Somu loved to read ghost stories. Every time he paid a visit to the library, he got back a teeth-chattering horror tale. It was a signal that he was getting ready to play a scary trick on his friends. He was 10 years old.
His parents had learnt to recognise the signs now. The days on which the slim boy’s cocker spaniel eyes shone brighter than ever, and his brown wavy hair seemed to have a movement of their own, they knew that he must have read a ghost tale and was hatching a plot to scare someone.
The problem was that Somu loved reading. And so he did a lot of scaring too. But he was liked for his funny jokes and his helpful nature, so no one really minded. Though a few friends had often thought of making him feel a sense of fear. Fear that was very different from sitting in bed with a whole lot of munchies, bedsheet pulled up to the chin and reading a story for the pleasure of its thrills.
One day Somu’s friend Pavan asked him over to his house after school. Somu’s mum and dad said he could go – but they told him to come home before dark.
“Remember, now,” said his dad, “you’ll have to walk home through the park.” (something about the park….)
Promising he’d leave early, Somu set off for his friend’s house. He had a great time reading stories and looking at the pictures in some of Pavan’s exciting monster books. Time flew by and when Somu looked up he saw it was pitch dark.
“Oh no!” he gasped. “I have to get home”!
Somu began to walk along the path through the park that had fallen eerily silent. How dark it was. Why couldn’t the park officials put some lights? And then remembered that most of the park lights had been broken by them during their inter-locality cricket matches. In fact, if a boy succeeded in breaking a park light with a soaring sixer, he was considered a hero! Now it didn’t seem a bright idea any more. Especially when the chirping sound of the crickets had become deafening. If someone came up behind him, he wouldn’t be able to hear their footsteps.
And then he heard that noise. It came from behind.
It was a human voice.
“Guess what I can do with my long bony finger and my long pointed teeth”?
Somu yelped and started to run, but the pounding footsteps followed him. Finally, out of breath, he stopped and asked in a quavering voice:
But all he heard was the voice saying:
“Guess what I can do with my long bony finger and my long pointed teeth”?
Somu started running again. The footsteps followed behind him. Once more he stopped and asked, “Who’s there”?
“Guess what I can do with my long bony finger and my long pointed teeth”? Again the same thing. Why couldn’t he say something else!
Poor Somu took to his heels again. As usual, when he got a stitch in his stomach he stopped and asked, “Look, who is it?”
“Guess what I can do with my long bony finger and my long pointed teeth”?
Somu ran down the path and found himself at his doorstep. But it was locked! And the footsteps were right behind him. With no more strength left in him Somu stood there and asked, “Who’s there”?
“Guess what I can do with my long bony finger and my long pointed teeth”?
Somu gulped and gathered his last bit of courage to ask, “Who are you and what can you do with your long bony finger and your long pointed teeth”?
BmBmBmBmBmBmBmBmBmBm…Hahahahahahaahhaha, went the monster.
Somu closed his ears and eyes and sat on his doorstep in fear. Then he opened his left eye a teeny weeny bit. The monster was right before him. He seemed to be wearing black trousers turned up at the end, as was fashionable. As his eyes climbed up the ghost’s figure, he got a shock.
It was his father!
“Somu, did I not tell you to come home before dark?” said dad.
“You did, Daddy”, sniffed Somu.
Well, I thought I would sneak up on you and give you a scare for a change, just like you do to others after reading one of your horror tales!”, said Somu’s dad.
Somu looked at his father for a long time. And then they went inside the house making monster noises.
It happened on the day school started after a heavenly two months of summer holidays. Shankar refused to wake up at 6 am. He wanted to dream more about his visit to his grandparents’ home. They lived in the picturesque city of Mysore in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. He particularly wanted to remember his two trips to the Bandipur National Park. It was a magical forest in the shade of the Nilgiri mountains which always seemed to have their heads in the clouds! Shankar had been lucky to see the stately Asian elephant, the Mugger crocodile, the four-horned antelope, and the leopard. The tiger had been elusive. “Next time,” Shankar told himself happy at the thought.
He wanted “next time” to be now! But first, his mother and then his father kept talking in his ear till he was forced to get up. Have you ever had anyone droning into your ear while you tried to sleep? It can be terrible. However, once Shankar saw his friends in the school bus, he felt happy to be back from his dream.
When Shankar returned home in the afternoon he saw his mother standing at the door. That was strange. He wondered, “Why hasn’t Amma gone to office today?” When he saw the worried look on her face he felt a flash of fear.
Amma gave him a tight hug and two kisses on the forehead. “Shankar, I wanted to tell you myself. Your father had an accident while driving to office. The good news is that he will be out of hospital in two weeks. He will be absolutely fine. But I think it is time to get a driver for him. You and I shall select a fine young man to drive Appa carefully to office.”
Amma’s words calmed Shankar. He felt happy at the thought of helping out Appa. In the next few days he sat next to his mother while she interviewed several men for the post of chauffeur to Appa. They both decided on Raj. He was 30 years old and had a pleasant way of speaking. “Raj will take good care of Appa,” Shankar thought.
Finally, Appa returned from hospital. He told a worried Shankar that Raj had driven very carefully. A lot of exciting things happened on that Sunday. Raj’s family came to stay with them in the small flat in their backyard. That’s how Shankar met Raj’s eight-year-old son Bablu.
Bablu had a monkey face, with bright eyes and spiky hair. From the day he met Shankar, he became his fan. To eight-year-old Bablu, 11-year-old Shankar seemed to be a big boy. He would always follow Shankar around. Whenever Shankar looked up from the book he was reading, he would find Bablu’s face staring at him through the window. While brushing his teeth he would often get confused when he saw another face staring back at him from the mirror! And when he walked back from the school bus stop in the afternoon, he would have two shadows – one was his own and the other shadow was Bablu walking a few paces behind!
Bablu did not go to school. Of course he was admitted to a local government school but he refused to go. He told Shankar shyly that the teachers only made them copy words from the blackboard. Since he had not learnt to read he could not understand anything that was written on the board.
Shankar felt sorry for him. One Sunday, Shankar decided to ride his bicycle to his friend’s house nearby. As he wheeled out his bicycle from the garage, he saw a strange sight. Bablu was sitting under a tree holding a book in his hands. Shankar tip-toed closer and discovered that Bablu was holding one of his books. What’s more, Bablu was holding the book upside down. Since he could not read it, did not matter which way he held the book.
Shankar took the book out of Bablu’s hands and turned it the right side up. “This is how you are supposed to read,” he told Bablu in an affectionate tone. Two big tears rolled down Bablu’s cheeks. He looked like a sad little monkey. Bablu told Shankar, “I want to be like you but I can’t do anything.”
The bicycle went back into the garage. Shankar walked back to the house. His parents were reading the newspapers over steaming cups of delicious south Indian filter coffee. Shankar told them they had to help Bablu get into a better school.
It was not very easy to get Bablu admitted to a new school, because the time for admissions was over. But one principal looked at Bablu kindly and admitted him to her school. The next day, Bablu went to his new school a very proud boy – wearing a brand new shirt, shorts and a tie!
When Bablu returned from school he was a bit tearful. The other children in his class had teased him. He told Shankar, “They all said I am much older than them but in a smaller class. I don’t want to go to school.”
Shankar said, “Don’t cry Bablu. I will teach you to read and write. Very soon you will be as good if not better than your classmates.” From the loft the older boy took out all the books and kids magazines that he had read years ago. The kids magazines were in Hindi and in English, and Shankar’s favourites wereChandamana, Champak, Twinkle and Target. There were fairy tale books, from the Grimms Brothers to Hans Christian Anderson. There were several volumes of Panchatantra for kids, ‘Mahabharata for kids’. And, best of all, he still had his entire collection of early reading books. These would be ideal for getting Bablu to practice his reading. “Shankar thought to himself, “There is enough reading for kids here for Bablu to get over his fear of reading and writing.”
Shankar went to the stationary shop which kept kids magazines, books, craft kits for kids in the 4-8 age group and worksheets for kids up to Class VIII. He bought two interesting worksheets. One worksheet taught the Hindi alphabet. Each letter had a picture of a bird, animal, eatable, flower or tree next to it. There was also a story attached to each letter. The English worksheet was also similar. Bablu had a great time colouring the apple while chanting A for apple. Shankar read out the story of William Tell and the apple. He also read stories from Hindi kids magazines like Champak and Chandamama and from English kids magazines like National Geographic Kids’ magazine. When he wanted to reward Bablu for working hard he would read from his favourite fairy tale book for kids.
Two months later, Bablu returned from school with a beaming face. He kept his school bag on the chair and without eating his lunch ran to Shankar’s school bus stop. The moment Shankar got off from the school bus Bablu hugged him hard. He rattled on, “Shankar bhaiya, the principal praised me in the school assembly today. She told everyone that I am one of the best students in her school now! I have become the monitor of my class.”
Shankar picked up Bablu and did a war dance right there and then.
Now Bablu has another wish. He wants to work on the computer like Shankar. He wants to visit reading websites for kids, and he wants to play the online treasure hunt games that his Shankar bhaiya plays.
Go for it, Bablu!
Among the Ashta Diggajas in the Bhuvana Vijayam of Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu, the King for his ingenuity, quick wittedness, and fast filling of stanzas when at test particularly favoured Ramalinga. Rayalu was renowned as Andhra Bhoja and Poets’ Paradise. With his inherent qualities of wit and sarcasm, Ramalinga was growing big and closer to Rayalu day after day.
With no change in the rule, the more you grow the more envious you become, the other courtiers like Rama Raja Bhushana were against the growth of Ramalinga’s association with the King Rayalu. Whenever there is a possibility, those courtiers, and Rama Raja Bhushana had been working out for damaging Ramalinga’s image and sling mud on him before the King. Ramalinga efficiently countered these efforts and trials of courtiers all the time.
At one stage, as these personalities were unable to compete with Ramalinga in wit and ingenuity decided to humiliate Ramalinga. They handed over the responsibility of insulting Ramalinga to the main entrance guards. Those poor soldiers were lured by the bribe amount courtiers had offered them. A line was given to those guards for stopping Ramalinga at the entrance itself. The line was “Kunjara Yudhambu Doma Kuthuka Jochen” meaning an elephants’ fleet is stuck in a mosquito’s throat.
Ramalinga as usual was walking into the Bhuvana Vijayam premises and the guards stopped him. He questioned why were they blocking the way. The soldiers told Ramalinga about the line and asked him to enter the premises only after reciting the first three lines for the last line they recited to him. Ramalinga boiled and trembled with anger on those soldiers. Immediately he understood what and who was behind the soldiers. With harsh words he completed reciting,
Sanjathamu Goodi Kallu Chavi Gonnava?
Lanjala Kodaka! Yekkadara!
Kunjara Yudhambu Doma Kuthuka Jochen.”
Long before those guards could understand the meaning of the poem, Ramalinga walked stiff into the main court hall.
After sometime, while the King Rayalu was into one of the pleasure rounds of literary discussions, the guards entered the hall and complained that Ramalinga disgraced them with the poem at the main entrance. After listening to all the details narrated by the guards, Rayalu ordered Ramalinga to extempore compose a poem taking the same end line with a situation in Mahabharatha.
Ramalinga raised from his seat and after salutations to the King Rayalu recited,
Bhanjanulai Viratu Golva Palapadirakata!
Kunjara Yudhambu Doma Kuthuka Jochen!”
Pandavas in Mahabharatha are like a fleet of powerful elephants. Losing in the gamble with Kauravas, they had to live incognito for some time. During this period they served a weak ruler Virata. By all Gods! It is the fate of those Pandavas to serve such a weak person in spite of being renowned warriors. This is similar to a fleet of strong elephants being stuck in the throat of a small mosquito.
Rayalu clapped in all praise of Ramalinga for his ingenuity and wit filled narration. In the full house, Rayalu hugged Ramalinga and appreciated him agreeing that Ramalinga’s words are like double-edged swords. This state of affairs brought Ramalinga more close to Rayalu.
All the attempts to trap Ramalinga and cut down his image before the King Rayalu by the envied courtiers and poet Rama Raja Bhushana blew off like a piece of raw cotton in Ramalinga’s intelligence whirlwind.
During the period when Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu was ruling the Vijaya Nagar Empire with Hampi as his capital, Mohammedan Sultans were ruling Delhi. The Sultans were powerful and were ruling many parts of Northern India. They were always attempting to invade on Hindu ruled kingdoms and grab them into their fold. For declaring war the Sultans used to find one or the other ploy.
The Delhi Sultan once got an idea to insult and instantly he sent a wedding invitation to Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu. Going through the contents of the invitation, the royal court Bhuvana Vijayam and the King Rayalu went speechless. The invitation read as:
The tremor did not stop there. A warning letter was attached along with the invitation. The warning letter said that in case the King failed to send all the wells in the concerned kingdom, such action would be treated as an insult and will be liable to face the fury of the Delhi sultan.
Rayalu, on receiving the invitation along with the letter through a personal messenger from the Sultan of Delhi could not understand what to do about this invitation. This is because; everyone knew that sending wells from one place to another is practically above impossible. Rayalu was in total confusion what to do and what to reply. Thinking for sometime to find a solution to this problem, in vain, Rayalu forwarded the puzzling wedding invitation and warning letter to the Chief Minister Thimmarusu and sent a message to come out with a viable solution.
Thimmarusu found the invitation to be too strange and the problem like a complex puzzle. What an invitation? Thimmarusu thought, inviting wells of Vijaya Nagar Empire to the wedding of a well at Delhi! Even Thimmarusu could not draw out any thought close to solution that can be effective in avoiding any rift between the two kingdoms.
Thimmarusu approached King Rayalu and expressed his inability to draw out any solution. Rayalu was much more tensed on hearing his Chief Minister. Then, Thimmarusu convinced Rayalu that there was no need to get so much worried, as there is a man in the service of the King, who can draw a best amicable equation. Rayalu asked about the person Thimmarusu was referring to. Immediately, Thimmarusu told the King that it was none other than poet Ramalinga.
Taking the King’s permission, Thimmarusu headed to Ramalinga’s residence and explained the whole sequence along with the worries of the King Rayalu. Ramalinga in a cool fashion studied the invitation and the warning letter. He told Thimmarusu, “Dear Chief Minister Thimmarusu! The Delhi Sultan must be attempting to humiliate the Hindu rituals and customs. You know Hindus have a ritual of performing enlivening (Prathistha) to the newly dug wells. A wonderful thought must have struck the Sultan’s mind to perform marriage to the well instead of prathistha to the well.”
He continued thinking for a moment, “There is no problem either with the invitation or the warning letter. There is nothing to worry. You go home peacefully and relax.” Ramalinga assured Thimmarusu, “I will give out the best solution to this problem in the Bhuvana Vijayam tomorrow.”
As usual, the Bhuvana Vijayam started its session the next morning, but there was no charm or shine in anyone’s face including the King Rayalu. All of them were worried about the solution to the Delhi Sultan’s created problem. Amid the gloomy atmosphere, Ramalinga rose from his seat and started reading a reply prepared by him on behalf of King Rayalu to Delhi Sultan,
The total gathering of the Bhuvana Vijayam cheered at once on hearing the reply intellectually composed by Ramalinga and appreciated him.
This reply was sent to Delhi Sultan with a personal messenger. Sultan of Delhi was shocked with the reply received and questioned the messenger, “how can we send the wells with you?” Receiving no reply from the messenger, without any second thought Sultan dropped the proposals of humiliating Hindu rituals along with the thought of waging war unnecessarily on Hindu ruled kingdoms.
Moreover, the Sultan appreciating the intelligence and wit King Rayalu had in replying his invitation and warning, sent many gifts and Farmans with the messenger to Rayalu.
It was a summer’s day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the flies were buzzing. All the cows were grazing in the pasture — all except Mama Moo.
Mama Moo had sneaked away from the others and jumped over the fence. She had taken her bicycle and rode off toward Crow Forest. She was carrying something in the package holder on her bicycle.
Mama Moo knocked on Crow’s branch. “Hi, Crow!”, she whispered.
Crow stuck his head out of his nest. He cried out so loudly that he could be heard a long way off.
“Hi, Mama Moo, is that you!
What are you doing here in the forest?
You should be out in the pasture chewing your cud and staring around like a normal cow.”
“SHHH!” whispered Mama Moo,
“Don’t talk so loud, I don’t want the farmer to hear us.”
FLAP, FLAP, THUD.
Crow flew down from his nest and landed on the handlebars.
“Have you run away again?” he asked.
“I just wanted to ask you if you could help me with something,” Mama Moo said.
Just then Crow caught sight of something.
“Caw! Well what have you got in the package holder?” he wanted to know. “A board and two pieces of rope!”
“It’s to make a swing with, Crow,” said Mama Moo.
“No way,” said Crow firmly.
“Yes, it is,” said Mama Moo quietly.
“I want to swing, you see.
I have long ropes. They’ll reach up to the first branch, and you can tie them there.”
“ME!” he cried “TIE! Well, pull my tailfeathers!”
The crow flew off the handlebars. He flew around Mama Moo’s head as fast as he could.
“I’m not setting up a swing for a COW!”
“But I can’t tie it myself,” Mama Moo answered sweetly.
“But you have wings that are like hands.
And I can’t reach up to the first branch, but you can because you can fly.”
Crow landed on a branch right in front of her nose.
“You are a cow, Mama Moo,” he said. “A strange cow, but still a cow. Cows—Do Not—Swing.”
“That’s just the point,” said Mama Moo. “It’s a pity that poor cows never get a chance to swing.”
“Pity!” cried Crow. “Caw!” Cows walk around grazing, and then they lie down and chew their cud and stare at things. And then they go inside and get milked. They are quite satisfied with things the way they are.”
“Would you be satisfied with that?” Mama Moo asked.
“Not me!” cried Crow, “I’m a crow.”
“I’m not satisfied with it either,” said Mama Moo.
“It doesn’t matter what you say,” said Crow.
“I’m simply not going to do it. Let’s not discuss it any more.”
Mama Moo looked at the crow with her big kind eyes. She spoke in her softest voice.”Children do so many things that are fun,” she said “The farmer’s daughter told me that she likes to swing, so I wanted to try it too. But then she said it probably wouldn’t work because no one would want to put up a swing for a cow. But I told her that I have a friend, a good friend who is very kind and helps me whenever I need him. He won’t say no when I ask him.
My friend’s name is Crow, and I like him very much.”Crow sat still and looked at her.
He didn’t say anything for a long while.
Then he sighed.
“Should I put it on the lowest branch?” he asked.
“Oh, you are so very kind, Crow”, cried Mama Moo.
“The lowest branch probably would be best.
Then I can swing out in both directions.”
The crow flew up with the ropes. He tied them around the branch. He tied them fast with his strongest knots.
“Well done, Crow,” said Mama Moo. “Now I’ll test the swing.”
Mama Moo took a few steps backward and then sat down on the swing. Everything went fine for a moment, but then she was sitting still.
“Crow, it’s not swinging. You’ll have to push me to get me going.”
“Push!” snorted the crow. “You expect me to push a cow on a swing. Well, Pull my tailfeathers! If anyone is going to push, it should be you.”
“But, Crow, I can’t push myself when I’m swinging, can I?”
“Forget it then,” said Crow. “I’m not pushing.”
Mama Moo wagged her tail, but that didn’t help.
The swing would not swing.
She wagged her tail and lifted her back legs. But she only lifted one leg at a time, so the swing would still not swing.
Then she wagged her tail and lifted both the back and front legs, but she lost her grip and nearly fell off.
Finally she shook her horns, wagged her tail and stretched out both back legs and leaned back and then
The wind whistled by Mama Moo’s ears.
Her hair flew in the wind, and there were butterflies in her stomach.
“Now it’s your turn, Crow!” cried Mama Moo.”Caw!” the Crow answered.
“My turn! To swing? Well, pull my tailfeathers! You’ve talked me into a lot of crazy things, but to swing, no way!
Crows don’t swing. Children swing.”
“And cows,” added Mama Moo as she swung back and forth.
Rumble… Crow heard the rumbling sound of a motor.”The farmer is coming!” cried Crow.
“Stop the swing! Get off! Hide!
If he sees one of his cows sitting on a swing hanging from a tree in the forest, he’ll have a wing stroke!”
“Stop the swing?” said Mama Moo. “How do I do that?”
She stretched out one leg forward and one leg backwards.She turned over and lay on her stomach, but the swing would not stop.
“You must help me, Crow,” she said.
“If you stand in the way, it will probably stop.”
“Me stand in the way!” cried the crow.
“And have a cow fall on my head. I’d have a wing stroke! Pull on the brake!”
Mama Moo looked around.
“I don’t believe that there are any brakes on this swing,” she said.
Crow heard the sound more and more clearly. The tractor was getting close now. “If you can’t stop it, you’ll have to jump,” he called out.
Mama Moo covered her eyes and jumped. She landed on the ground with a crash.
Mama Moo stood behind a little birch tree.
“Hide behind the tree!” Crow hissed.
“But,” said Mama Moo, “I’m already hiding behind a tree.
“What’s the farmer doing here in the forest?” wondered Crow.
“He should be in the barn. It’s very strange.”
“Yes, what is the farmer doing?” said Mama Moo, and she peeked out from behind the tree.
“Don’t look!” hissed Crow. “He can see you! Back with your head, otherwise he’ll see at once that it’s a cow. Hide your horns.
“Hide my horns? But, Crow…”
“Pull in your tail, cow. It’s sticking out from the other side of the tree. At least stop wagging it!”
“I’m trying to pull in my tail…”
“Caw! You are too fat, Mama Moo.”
“I’m not fat at all, Crow.
This tree is too thin.
Crow peered out from behind a stone. He gave her a sharp glance.
“Hmm, I understand exactly more or less,” he said. “But if I’m standing here I can’t see anything at all,” said Mama Moo.
“It’s not necessary for you to see,” said Crow.
“I can see everything. The farmer has climbed down from his tractor. He’s walking up to the swing. Now he’s scratching his head. He’s looking up into the tree. Very strange.”
“It’s not strange at all, Crow,” said Mama Moo.
“He doesn’t understand what a swing is doing hanging here in the middle of his forest.”
“He’s sitting down on the swing!” hissed Crow.
“No! Don’t swing! Get up! Get out of here! Scram!
Go home and milk your cows. Plow! Take in your hay! Leave! Thanks for coming. That’s it for today. Good bye!”
Crow calmed down a bit.
“The farmer is getting up,” he said.
“He’s leaving. Stay where you are, Mama Moo.
Don’t move, I’ll sneak after him and see what he’s up to.”
Crow crept behind the bushes. He crept over the stones. He ran from tree to tree and hid behind the branches.
The farmer noticed nothing. He just shook his head.
Finally, the farmer climbed back onto his tractor and drove home.
The rumble of the tractor motor disappeared into the forest.
Crow crept back to Mama Moo.
“He’s gone now,” he said. “Great! We made it.”
“Was it fun sneaking after him?” asked Mama Moo.
“Fun! what do you mean fun!,” the crow cried.
“Of course I have to check up on mysterious men who go trailing around in my own forest!”
“The farmer may be going back to the barn to milk the cows,” said Mama Moo. “So I’d better get going too.”
“Caw! Look at that!
The farmer dropped his hat!”"How nice,” said Mama Moo.
“I’ll take it. I’ve always wanted to try on the farmer’s hat.” She climbed up on her bicycle.
“Shall we take down the swing?” she asked.
“Why should we do that?” answered Crow.
“It can stay here in my forest in case anyone else wants to swing on it.”
“But I thought you said that crows don’t like to swing.”
“They don’t!! Absolutely no crows! I just meant cow might come along who wanted to swing”.
“Good-bye, Crow,” said Mama Moo as she rode off through the Crow Forest.
The other cows had already gone into the barn. The farmer had already begun milking. Mama Moo sneaked in through the back door.
“Ho hum, ho hum, just because I’m a cow doesn’t mean I have to stand around chewing my cud and staring of nothing all the time…”
This is one story from the book “The Best Thirteen: A collection of the best stories from 13 languages of India”.
You know that a pearl can be so valuable that it is said to be without price. Pearls are formed inside oysters who live on the ocean-bed inside their shells. This is the story of one such oyster.
This oyster was very pleased with himself because he believed that he was the most important creature in the world. Of course, the silkworm was quite useful too, but silk did not fetch the same price as pearls, so the oyster felt that he had good reason to think well of himself.
One day, there was a great storm in the sea. The waves were high and rough, and the elements so frightening that our friend, the oyster, clamped down the lid of his frail shell, and stayed firmly on the sea floor. He thought it beneath his dignity to try and move towards the shore for safety. The waves were so strong though that, in spite of his resolve, he and his shell were picked up and flung on to the shore. Finding himself on an open beach, he cautiously lifted the lid of his shell and, through the slit, peeped out at the world. As he was peering about, another big wave picked him up, and threw him further up on to the sand. Now, this was really alarming! The waves washed over him and rolled him about, but none of them was powerful enough to pull him back into the sea; and the poor oyster stayed where he was. There was no way of getting back into the sea, and he became extremely angry.
There was a small tree near the shore. A crow sat on it for a long time, watching the plight of the oyster. Finally, he flew down and knocked on the shell with his beak. “Who’s inside? Open the door,” he asked sharply.
The oyster was displeased. “Some vulgar wretch is trying to disturb me,” he said to himself, then shouted, “Who is it?”
“I am not a wretch. I am a crow. And a clever crow at that. Open the door and come out.”
“Why should I come out?”
“Just to have a little chat, that’s all,” said the crow smoothly.
“I haven’t time to chat — and I’m not coming out.”
“Well, all right then. But what are you doing in there?”
“I’m busy making a pearl. And anyway, why should I bother to talk to a nasty, ugly thing like you,” said the oyster grandly.
“Oho — how superior,” laughed the crow. “My dear friend, all I wanted was to ask you a few questions about the shape and size of the sea and I wanted to tell you a few things about the wide world outside.”
“Because I’m very interested in Science. I live on the roof of a university and I hear all the lectures of the Science professor, so I’ve become fond of Science. That’s why I want to hear about the sea, and what happens there. Do you find doves’ and sparrows’ eggs there?”
“What rubbish!” said the oyster curtly. “As if you have doves and sparrows in the sea.”
“But that’s just what I wanted to know from you.”
“Don’t ask such silly questions,” the oyster said. “The sea has millions of shells — like mine. But I am the greatest of all, so I don’t talk to the other shells. There are thousands of varieties of coloured fish, and thousands of different plants, and that is all. And there are no silly, stupid animals like you down there.”
The crow laughed. “I don’t mind you calling me stupid, but actually I’m not stupid. I’m a crow — and a clever crow too. But, old pal, you are telling me all this from inside your little den. Why don’t you come out?”
“Haven’t you any manners? How dare you be so familiar. I’m no pal of yours.”
“Well, you do talk as if you were the king of the sea!”
“Of course — I’m the one who makes pearls which make the sea famous. It’s all because of me,” said the oyster.
“In that case,” said the crow with a chuckle, “I simply must have a look at you because I’ve never yet seen such a wonderful thing.”
“I’m not a thing — I am the oyster that makes pearls.”
“All right, all right. But please, Your Majesty, won’t you come out, and give me the opportunity to have a look at you?” the crow said good-humouredly.
“No. No. No. No. I can’t open the door. I’m very busy.”
“You can make your pearl later. Just open the door — I’m only a poor, ordinary crow who wants to look at someone as important as you — someone who can make a pearl. I want to see the pearl too. You see, I’ve never seen a pearl before in my life.”
“I’ve just told you that I won’t open the door. And if you think you’re so clever, why don’t you open it yourself.”
The oyster could taunt him like this because he was sure that the crow would never be able to open the lid of his shell.
But now the crow was angry.
“All right, if that’s what you want,” he said. “I’ll show you. And don’t blame me if you don’t like what happens.”
The crow picked up the shell in his beak and flew off with it — high, high up. He reached a ledge of rock; and from his great height he dropped the shell straight on the rock. The shell splintered into a million fragments. The crow swooped down after it. He grabbed the oyster in his beak, and in one gulp, swallowed it.
The crow then caught sight of the pearl as it was rolling away from him. He watched the priceless pearl as it fell into a blob of cowdung. Then he lifted himself once more into the air, and flew away, cawing happily.