Little Ivan Wants More

In a land of hot sand, 
A snow flake fell on a boy’s hand.
Plippety-Plap went the snow,
If fell rapidly now.
But, little Ivan wanted more.

From the tiny red window in his room,
Ivan watched the snow boom.
Dots of white turned into spots of white,
And parts of white turned into lots of white.
But, little Ivan wanted more.

Like a carpet, the snow spread,
On roads, On cars, On toads, On stars.
Wind bellowed, Wind growled.
People got scared and closed their door.
But, little Ivan wanted more. 

From the red window at the top,
Ivan saw the snow eat Freddie’s shop,
Freddie yelled until his eyes swelled,
It was no use as the snow fell and felled.
But, little Ivan wanted more.

Huge snow vehicles came with bags of salt for the asphalt.
They rolled and rumbled, the drivers in’em grumbled.
Soon the salt was gone, well before dawn.
And the snow kept on.
But, little Ivan wanted more.

People were upset; there were curses and swears,
Some yelled at their nurses and others kicked their bears.
From a tiny window that was red,
A boy watched his town dread.
But, little Ivan wanted more.

A town in south with a dusty mouth,
Lived a boy named Ivan Strouth.
The town had only sand, only land, no game.
It was a place where Santa never came.
But, little Ivan wanted more.

His dad said - “No snow, no white.
Santa won’t be able to ride in the night.”
His mom said - “Wish with all your heart,
Some snow would be a good start!”
But, little Ivan wanted more.

Behind the tiny window that was red,
A boy sat up with his eyes open on his bed. 
He watched his wish come true.
His town needed a Christmas that was long due.
But, little Ivan wanted more.

As the night died out, a sound came.
“Oho! Aha”, it became.
Outside the red window, far way.
He saw Santa Claus coming to town in his Sleigh.
And, Little Ivan wanted no more.

 

santa

Humphy the Hippo

*I wrote this story for Arjun's second birthday*

It was Humphy the Hippo’s second birthday party. 

Her friends gave her the best birthday gift ever - A pair of stunning rainbow colored shoes.

Humphy was excited. But, there was one teeny-tiny problem. She did not have matching rainbow colored socks.

Humphy was sad. Then, she had an idea. She went to her best friend Sophie the Spider.

Sophie was cleverest of clever spiders. She always had an answer to every problem.

“Can you help me find matching socks?”, Humphy asked. 

“Yes of course”, Sophie said.

Sophie weaved red socks. “No”, cried Hippo.

Sophie weaved orange socks. “No”, cried Hippo.

Sophie weaved yellow socks. “No”, cried Hippo.

Sophie weaved blue socks. “No”, cried Hippo.

Sophie weaved green socks. “No”, cried Hippo.

Sophie was tired. But, she weaved a pair of purple socks. “No”, cried Hippo.

Humphy was sad. She broke down into tears. 

Then, Sophie had another idea.

She took a thread from the red sock, a thread from the orange sock, a thread from the yellow sock, a thread from the blue sock, a thread from the green sock and a thread from the purple sock, and put it in her sock maker. 

Bingo! Rainbow colored socks came out. 

Humphy was ecstatic. Sophie was delighted. They both danced all night. This was the best birthday ever.

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Jerry the Giraffe and Minny the mouse

Jerry, the Giraffe was very tall. His best friend, Minny the mouse, was very tiny. They were always together.

One day, Jerry and Minny were walking in the forest. They came across an apple tree. It had red, green, blue, pink and orange apples. Minny was suddenly very hungry. 

His stomach grumbled - “Grum..Grum..Grum!”

“Oh Jerry..I am hungry for apples. But the tree is very tall”, he said sadly.

“Don’t you worry Minny”, Jerry said. “Climb on my tall neck…all the way to the apple tree”.

Clump..Clump..Clump. Minny climbed up. Clump..Clump..Clump. He climbed more. Clump..Clump..Clump. He climbed some more.

Suddenly there were clouds. 

“Oh Jerry. There is no apple tree here. There are clouds”, Minny said sadly.

“You climbed very far…Remember, I am a very tall giraffe. Come down”, Jerry said.

Thump..Thump..Thump. Minny came down. Thump..Thump..Thump. He came down some more. 

“Stop Minny!”, Jerry cried out.

Minny stopped coming down. The apple tree was right there with all its colorful apples. Red, blue, pink, green and orange.

Oh, how much fun Minny had!

Munch..Munch..Munch. He munched the green apples. 
Munch..Munch..Munch. He munched the red apples. 
Munch..Munch..Munch. He munched the orange apples.
Munch..Munch..Munch. He munched the pink apples.
Munch..Munch..Munch. He munched the blue apples.

Then he was full.

“Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrp”, he said.

“Oh Minny!”, Jerry said giggling. “That was biggest burp I ever heard”.

“Yes Jerry! I am so full. I cannot to wait to play now”, Minny said happily.

Jerry and Minny ran along to the forest park to play on the slides, swings and see-saws. Minny was not hungry for the rest of the day.

Papa, fix the moon

Papa, look under the slide,
A piece of moon lies fallen to the side.
He is some white with some mud,
Last night, he must’ve fell down with some thud.

Moon, moon, why are you down?
Moon, moon, why are you brown?
There is only a piece of you, you know?
Where did your other piece go?

Papa, Papa, the moon is broke,
Papa, Papa, we must fix him before night-stroke.
Papa, Papa, patch him up with some glue,
Papa, Papa, before all of him comes down in a slue.

Fix him now,
Don’t ask me how.
Make him whole,
He shouldn’t have a hole.

Without the moon the night will be dark,
Monsters will be out to bark.
If he is hurt, I will cry.
Please fix him. Please do try.

Let us buy some moon glue,
and find the big bird blue,
He needs to fly into the sky,
And put the pieces together up high.

Papa will fix you moon.
And, I will see you soon.

Animals you see

Animals you see

If you stretch your legs and listen this much,
and you wear your feet in shoes that don’t make slurch, slurch, slurch,
and you put on a cap that makes you smart and such,
and you wait for this old man to come with a limp and a lurch.

There are places we can go that you have never been,
I will show you some animals that have gone unseen,
You might not believe me Master. Billy Boleen,
Because you might think that all the animals are seen.
 
You know of a kangaroo in a zoo,
Or a Panda that does Peek-a-boo,
You might think of a mountain lion and a polar bear too,
Or a really really really tall giraffe called Who!

You say you have seen a tiger that roars growl, growl, growl.
You might even talk about the white snowy owl.
You think all birds are like parakeets that eat out of a bowl,
You will try convince me that all wolfs howl. 

You will tell me that giraffe is the tallest of tall,
You may think that all bears brawl.
You will tell me that all worms crawl,
and all monkeys have gall.

All the animals you have seen Master Billy Boleen,
are far too few and far in between.
Have you seen a Trikkli Brikkli too?
Or a Chakku mooli choo.

If you have seen a Trikkli Brikkli too,
you would say that she looked like a cuckoo.
But her legs were as tall as a giraffe and she had some spots too.
She had teeth the color of midnight blue.

You might not have seen her because she lives far,
in the forest up north called Lubbalar.
I only know because I hit her with my car,
And spent hours being chased by her husband, the Tubar.

Now, Chakku Mooli Choo is not a bird like Trikkli Brikkli,
She is part hippo and part Eli,
She had a trunk that was golden yelli,
and fat legs that could crush me silly.

I saw her when I went fishing in the ocean that was red,
It was early in the morning when she showed her head.
I was hungry and mistakenly thought her head was bread,
and reached inside the water and grabbed her instead.

I tell you she was not happy at all,
She whipped her trunk on my butt and caused me to fall,
I held onto the boat’s wall,
And looked into the sky and cried a loud call.    

How would I know who came listening to my cry,
If I had known, I would never have thought to try,
It was the scariest of scariest, mightiest of mightiest, whose name was Bly,
He was part-dragon, part-seagull and part-fly.

Now imagine a seagull with fires coming out his beak,
Also imagine his skin to have dragon’s streak.
Also imagine that his wings buzzed and beat as fast as we speak,
And also think how much that must have caused me to freak.

Somehow I escaped into a whale know as Parsimonius Farest.
His tummy was as big as the biggest mountain forest,
He devoured everything that swam near him in haste,
Without stopping to think about the old man who could give him bad taste.

It was too late before he realized I was in his mouth,
He had taken the smallest of bite of an old man who was uncouth.
He belched, “Burrrrrrrp…Burrrrrrrrrp…Bouthhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”.
He let me go from his down south.   

I swam and swam and swam and swam with my brain,
under the moon, under the stars, under the rain,
under the sun, over the jelly fish terrain,
I swam and swam and swam until I was in pain.

Blub, Blub, Bllllllllub, Blllllllllllllub,
Everyone knows that is the sound of a fish called Blubub,
He is a purple fish that eats sea-weed scrub.
Blub, Blub, Bllllllllubm Blllllllllllllub.

I smartly grabbed sea weed scrubs for Blubub,
He took me kindly to the shore of a town called Tub,
I thanked him and went to the train hub,
and bought a ticket stub.

Alas! that is when I noticed the conductor,
It was actually a birductor,
or probably an ostrichuctor,
or some weird creatuructor.

He wore a hat that looked like a cone,
but it was actually a strange looking bone.
He handed over tickets in exchange of a stone,
I told him all I had was a blueberry scone.

He shrugged, took the scone and gave me a slip of paper,
and then broke into some sort of caper,
Tippety-tap, his feet danced as light as vapor,
Clippety-clap, his hands turned him into a clapper.

My name is Burstrang and I am here to serve,
Ask me, call me, knock me, I won’t lose my nerve.
Sit, relax and look beyond the curve,
all you need to do is to keep up your joyful verve. 

Take me to my town whose name I cannot remember,
Burlstown is it? Or Basinger?
Charlestown is it? Or Timber?
Walshtown is it? Or Salamander?

He gave a nod with his bone cap,
And flicked his fingers to a snap.
and handed me a gingersnap.
I ate it with relish and fell into a nap.

I woke up and found myself in my bed,
by my side was my dog Fred.
There were so many new animals in my head.
“Hurray, Yippee, Trippee”, I said.

Remember, there are many more to see,
Don’t let people tell you it is all there can be.
Keep your mind and heart opensy,
And keep your feet inside your shoes ready.

The Poet's Word

Once a poet saw words escape his pen and travel into the clouds. He was not going to let that happen. He caught a word by its tail, just before it flew away. The word was determined to escape. The poet had waited long and the word had already fallen  in love with the clouds. It dragged the poet into the clouds. The poet was not going to let go. As he flew into the clouds, his word was met with another, then another and before long, he found himself in a land of words. They say that he still lives in that land composing poems and songs from the words, which come down as rain. 

Becky the butterfly

Becky the butterfly did not want to share. If someone wanted something, she would not care. 

"Mine, Mine" - She cried. She rarely shared.

One day butterfly Becky woke up and looked into the mirror.

To her shock she found out that she had lost her colors.

Last she remembered, she was yellow and bright, with wavy lines and dots. 

Now she was merely gray with few black spots.

She first felt shocked. She panicked and even hid herself in her bed.

Then, she opened her eyes and took a deep breath - "I am going to find my colors", she resolved.

First she needed some yellow. She flew to the daffodil garden right outsider her window. 

The daffodils were smiling at her, much like the morning sun.

She said - "I seem to have lost my colors. I don't remember where. Could you give me some yellow?"

The daffodils said - "Of course Becky! We have more yellow than we need. What is fun if we don't share?". They splashed Becky with a healthy dose of yellow.

Becky said, "Thank you. Now I am no longer gray and bare. It is because you cared to share".

She next flew to the river. The wavy river was humming and singing as it flowed to the ocean. 

Becky asked, "River, could you tell me where I could find some wavy patterns? I seem to have lost mine."

The river said, "You have some from my mine. I could use less". The river sprayed Becky with beautiful wavy lines.

Becky said, "Thank you so much river. I am no longer plain and bare. It is because you cared to share".

She was almost as good as old self and just needed one more help. It was already night and she instantly knew who to ask. She looked up the night sky.

"I have lost my colors, lines and dots. The river splashed me with lines, and daffodils shared their colors. Can you give me some dots. Then, I will be as beautiful as you", she pleaded.

The night sky replied, "Of course Becky. You can have some of my dots. I have lot more than I can count". Saying so, it gave Becky some of its stars.

Becky looked at her reflection in the clear river in the moonlight. She was no longer gray and bare. She was as yellow as the daffodils, as wavy as the rivers and her dots shined as brightly as the stars in the sky. She thanked the sky and went home. She knew that from tomorrow she would share.

Two phoenixes

Two phoenixes wanted to be the first to catch the sun. They flew over the mountains, brooks, oceans and earth without stopping, trying to outrun each other. As they both neared the sun, they got burnt and fell dead. They were reborn as humans. Remembering from their past lives, they did not try to catch the sun anymore and hence lived longer, while still trying to outrun each other.

The non oak

When young Arya opened his eyes for the first time, he saw himself surrounded by magnificent oak trees. “Wow”, he beamed, “I will grow up to become like one of them”. When his first leaves sprouted, the leaves looked like none of the oak trees around him. He thought, “I am too small. Maybe their leaves were like me too when they were young”. He grew up little more. His stems started getting stronger. But, his leaves still looked different. Not only that, his color was not the same and neither were the shape of his branches. He thought, “Why am I not like them? I want to be like them. I should be more patient. I will grow up to be them”. He grew up. But, he still was not like “them”. His leaves and trunk were unlike any oak tree. He got dejected because he was unlike any of the oak trees he admired. They did not talk to him because he was not like them. Arya was lonely.

When fall came, all the oak trees shed their leaves. Arya did not. The oak trees took notice of a strange tree that was full of green and vigour. Arya still felt different. The Oak trees said, “This is crazy. He is not a tree. He is a wizard”. Then, when spring came, Arya broke into a wonderful bloom with white and pink flowers. The entire land surrounding him was filled with fragrance. The oak trees stared at Arya. Then, blooms turned into delicious plums. When summer came, thirsty travelers stopped by Arya.

They said, “What an useful tree in the middle of these useless oaks. How delicious these plums taste..”. More travelers stopped by. Arya became accidentally popular. Then, one oak tree sighed and said to other, “How I wish, I was like him”. It had begun.

Time and the eternal song

Once time was passing by and it met a man along the way. The man was intrigued by time and fell in love with it. He followed time all through his youth and old age but time still kept running forward. One day, the man became tired and sat down on the earth and called out to time, “Time, I cannot follow you any more. I am tired”.

Time said, “Traveller, long have you stayed true to me. Yet, I cannot carry you forward. Speak a poem or sing a song, and I will etch it in my heart and carry it with me, always remembering how dear you were”.

The man sang a song, the only song he had ever sung. Time carried the song forward, making it eternal.

You be king

Three men swam across the river Ganges. All reached the shore at the same time. The first one talked about his scars and the dangers. The people called him a great warrior and bowed to him in respect. The second man neither talked about the scars and nor about the journey. The people called him a monk. The third person hid the scars and told people of the amazing land from where he came from. The people made him their king.

The wind and the windmill

The wind manning those parts of the world had become weak and old. It did not have enough power to turn the windmill. The windmill barely stirred. It had also become old and weak and did not have the energy to turn itself. They had both become old at the same time.

The windmill thought, “When are they going to send a stronger wind that has the power in its arms to turn my heavy blades”.

The wind thought, “When are they going to take this old windmill down and replace it with a new one that does not depress me by reminding me of my old age”.

The both never talked to each other and spent time brooding over each other’s inabilities except at times, when the wind brushed very close to the windmill and both their hearts would admire how similar they were.

The Avocado

Scene1 – Grocery store. A lady is picking up avocados.

The avocado jumped. “Pick me, Pick me”, he cried. “Not him…me…pick me. I am ready to get out of this place.”

All the lady could see was an avocado rolling over in the crate. She continued examining the other avocados.

“Not him…me….”, The avocado sadly fell back into the crate in a corner as the lady left with three other avocados.

Scene 2- Grocery store. An avocado is shouting in the corner of a crate of avocados while the other avocados are as motionless as a stone.

“Guys…come on…don’t sleep…let us play…”, the avocado called out.

The other avocados stirred a little but rolled on the other side.

“Let us sleep…”, one voice came out.

“Avocados don’t play.!”, another voice replied.

“Let us in peace…”, another voice echoed.

Scene 3 – A woman is picking avocados from the same crate. An avocado was jumping up and down in the crate.

“Pick me…Pick me..”, the avocado cried.

He saw that a huge hand was examining the avocados on the other side of the crate. He jumped on a sleeping avocado and bounced off to the side where the hand was. As the hand picked up another avocado, he stretched himself and clung on to the other avocado.

“I have never seen two avocados sticking together…it is funny”, the woman chuckled. She examined the avocado and said, “You are too green, I will take the ripe one”.

She tried to separate them. The avocado clung on to his ripe partner.

“I am not letting go…I am not letting go…”, he said. “You have to take me with you”.

The ripe avocado now started kicking him on the head. “Let me go you fool. Your time will come. Let me go….or else we both will be stuck in this crate”.

“But, I thought you like the crate and wanted to sleep….”, the avocado replied.

“Ahhh..Take this.” the ripe avocado planted a firm kick on his head.

“Ouch…that hurt”, cried out the avocado and fell right into the shopping cart.

“What…? I am not in the crate anymore…Whoo hoo…”, he cried out.

The lady walked towards the checkout without knowing that she had picked an avocado that was still too green.

Scene 4 – A lady’s home. She is unloading the groceries from a bag on to the kitchen counter.

She took a green avocado in her hand and said, “What, how did this come with me? I had placed it back…well, whatever…you my friend go in the fridge. You are not lucky to be part of my awesome Guacamole.”

“What is Guacamole?”, the avocado asked his ripe friends.

“Shut up…”, they turned away from him still angry at the way he sneaked away from the crate.

The avocado shrugged.

The lady took a sharp knife and before the avocados could react cut them in half.

“What….!?” the green avocado called out in horror. The other avocados had become silent.

“Guys…are you still….I mean…there?”, the avocado asked in a shivering voice.

Amidst the silence, the lady took out a spoon and scooped out the avocados from their skins and put them into a bowl. She then sprinkled pieces of onions and pepper and mashed them. The young avocado watched with his eyes open dreading to become a Guacamole.

“Oh I forgot…you…”, she grabbed the avocado and opened the refrigirator. A bone biting chilly wind hit the avocado in his face and before he could comprehend what was going on, everything became dark.

Max wants to fly

Max was a foal born to run. He ran everyday for hours across the fields, river and meadows. It did not matter if the sun was beating down or a storm bearing down. He just ran until sunset before trotting back to the stable where he lived.

It was like every other day in the life of Max. He had run across the vast empty meadows till his hooves were sore. When he returned to the stable that evening, he saw a bird, a kite to be precise, sitting on the fence of his stall.

"Oh Hullo!", said Max trotting to his stall, "My name is Max".

"Yes, hello there. I am Maeve", she was adjusting her feathers.

"Where did you come from?", Max asked

"From there", Maeve pointed her wings towards the sky, "I saw you running in those meadows".

"From the skies?", Max gulped and hesitantly asked, "You could see me? Do you like to run too?"

"What? I don't think much of running...I like doing something far more important and fun. I fly!", she emphatically thumped her feet on the fencepost and crossed her wings and looked above.

"Uh?...Is flying that good?", Max asked.

"Good?", Maeve screamed in surprise. "It is great...in fact, it is the best, it is like...like...this wonderful thing. You can see everything from above. The air is fresh. You can fly above the storms and rains...you can see the almost touch the moon...It is great". 

Max stared at her, wide-eyed in wonder. A small desire crept inside him - What if he could fly?.

"Can...Can you teach me to fly?", he muttered under his breath almost both hoping and not that Maeve would hear him.

"What's that?", Maeve looked at him seriously. Her eyes shrunk to size of a dot. Before they completely disappeared, she emphatically rose in a triumphant manner and said, "Yes of course. It is easy. Everyone can fly....You know, when I was little, my mama just pushed me from the edge of a tree and as I fell down, I just started flapping my wings and whew! I started flying...She is still proud of me for doing that..."

"But...But...I don't have wings, you see...", Max turned his neck left and right and pointed to his sides with a shrug.

"Ah...that is a problem, I think...", Maeve scratched her head with her wings, "How can someone not be born without wings, they are such useful things", she muttered.

Max just looked embarrassed. He started feeling bad about not having wings. 

"Fear not, worry not!", Maeve said in her now familiar emphatic tone. "The magical Maeve always has a solution for the world's depressed".

"But, I am not depressed...", Max started to speak before Maeve put her wings in front of her to cut him off. She flew and perched on top of Max's back. She started pecking him on the sides, calves, hind legs

"Ouch...Ouch...careful there...it hurts", Max winced.

"Come on, don't be silly. It does not", she continued examining his legs with her wings by wrapping them around. Then, when it seemed she was happy with what she did, she got up, dusted herself and then went back to the fencepost. Then, she started muttering to herself. She even started saying things like "a+b", "strong legs", "circumference", which Max had no clue about. He just kept staring at her in anticipation.

"OK", she said finally taking a deep breath, "Max, do you want to fly?"

Max blinked, "Huh? Without wings?"

"Of course. You are talking to Maeve. Are you ready or not?", She asked dismissively

Max nodded. His heart was already skipping few beats. He could be the first horse who flew. He could soar the skies like Maeve did. When it rained, he would still run in the meadows because he loved running in the rain. But, during other times, he could fly above the meadows.

"Now, don't you start day dreaming!", Maeve chided, "We have a lot of work to do".

As Max sheepishly grinned, she continued, "Now, flap your legs like I do with my wings". She flapped her wings couple of times. Max nodded his head, took a deep breath and tried to pick both right front and rear legs off the ground at once. 

"Ow!", he screamed as he thudded to the ground onto a stack of hay, which was supposed to be his supper. 

"Oh, this is going to be tougher than I thought...", Maeve muttered before rising her tone to stern. "Not both your legs, you silly. Just the front ones. Now pick yourself up".

Max got up, shook himself too brush off the hay attached to his body. He stood on his hind legs and tried bringing his front legs to his side, like how Maeve's wings spread across her body. 

"Urrgh...Urrgh...", he grunted trying to stretch his front legs to the side. "How's that?".

"Seriously, you call that stretching? How old are you anyway?", Maeve rolled her eyes.

"Easy now...I...am...trying", Max called back behind his teeth that was clenching from the effort. Thud! He fell down once more. Only this time, it was a pile of water.

"You are the worst student I ever had. But, fear not, Maeve always has an answer to every challenge life throws at her", Maeve made a swooping gesture with her wings.

"How many students did you teach before anyway?", Max looked up from the ground, too tired to even get up.

"Now, let us not get personal, shall we? We don't know each other that well anyway", she replied. Before Max had a chance to say something, she screamed, "Yes, Yes, I know how to make you fly!"

Max's eyes got bigger. He quickly got up and shook himself dry and gave an approving nod.

"Hurry up, hurry up. I don't have all day. I have more pressing things than teaching you how to fly". She flew outside gesturing Max to follow her. 

When Max went outside, he gasped. Somehow, Maeve had managed to drag a plank onto a budle of hay to put together something that roughly resembled a see-saw. "Quick. Get on that side", she gestured.

"What are we trying to accomplish exactly?", he asked.

"Making you fly, of-course", she dismissively replied.

"How?"

"You just stand this side and prepare to be blown away into the skies", she replied chest puffing.

Max got onto one side of the plank not sure what to expect. He watched curiously as Maeve drew a deep breath, closed her eyes, and shot upwards from the plank. To Max's eyes, she had almost become the size of an ant when she turned around and headed towards the plank with extreme speed.

Boom. Max watched the other side of the plank crash to pieces. A dazed Maeve sat up clutching her head. She straightened her beak, which had curved from the fall

"Ow...You barely moved...Ow...It hurt", she cried.

"Seriously, that was your plan? Unbelievable", Max chortled

"Let us not get distracted, we...we just need to find the right plank", Maeve said dusting herself. As she got up, she started thinking loud, "Or, you can jump from a cliff and start flapping your legs..."

"No, you are crazy!", Max cried, "And, I am stupid".

"What? I don't know about you, but I am not crazy. I am Maeve.", Maeve looked offended.

Max shook his head and trotted back to his stable thankful not to have broken any limbs. Maeve flew away into the night sky. Before leaving she said, "You could have been the first horse who flew. Your loss".

Until today we don't know if Max learned to fly after all, or if Maeve successfully taught another horse how to fly.

Mr. Lion's bake shop

Nujra’s birthday was around the corner. Papa wanted this birthday to be most special to Nujra. You see, we don’t get birthdays all the time. It happens only once every year.

Papa thought and thought. He thought until his hairs stood straight, and smoke started coming out of his head and ears. What gift should he get his little Nujra?

Little Nujra was special to Papa. He was more special than the most special thing Papa had — a rock from the moon, from his days as an astronaut. Papa kept walking in the woods, deeply immersed in thought, about what special gift he would get Nujra for his birthday.

Suddenly when Papa lifted his head, he could not believe what he saw. Somehow, he had wandered off far away from his home. He was in a jungle. Not any jungle, but the most extraordinary one.

This jungle was brighter than the most bright things Papa had seen in his life. It was also more colorful than the most colorful things he had seen. It was more amazing than the most amazing things he had ever seen. The jungle did not smell of trees, like other jungles did. It smelled of cakes.

“Wow”, Papa thought. “That is new. I have never been to a jungle that smelled like cakes. I wonder how I wandered here?”.

Papa kept walking. He went deeper into the jungle, following the smell of the cake. As he went deeper and deeper, the smell grew stronger and stronger. When he reached the middle of the jungle, there was the most extraordinary house, that looked like a giant Chocolate cake.

Papa was also hungry. Without realizing, he grabbed a piece of the window and bit it. As he bit the cake, a rush of creamy chocolate filled his mouth. It was the most amazing cake he had tasted. He was dazed and completely forgot that he was in the middle of a jungle, far away from home.

“Who dares eat my window?”, a deep growling voice said.

Papa was startled. He dropped the cake and stared in the direction of the voice. He said, “I am Nujra’s Papa”.

The door opened. Out walked the most amazing lion. Unlike other lions you might have seen, he did not walk on his fours. He walked just like you and me. And, he wore a coat that was whiter than the white moon, and a baker’s hat. He extended his hand for papa to shake.

“Nujra, did you say?”, the lion said scratching his head, “I think I should be expecting you”.

“Who are you?”, Papa asked, forgetting that sometimes that question can be considered rude. But, the lion did not seem to mind that at all.

“I am Mr. Lion, and this is my bake shop”, the Lion replied, leading papa inside his shop.

Inside the shop, papa felt as if he was standing in the belly of the world’s biggest cake. He was surrounded by machines, as far as his eyes could see. The machines were different sizes — some as big as an three elephants standing on top of each other, and others, as small as an ant.

“What are these?”, Papa asked, his eyes popping with wonder.

“Oh, these?”, Mr. Lion proudly looked around, like only lions can look. “They are the finest cake making machines a lion can ever dream to make”.

“Do you bake cakes?”, Papa asked Mr. Lion.

Mr. Lion stared at papa and laughed, “Of course silly. What else a lion would do? We are born cake makers”.

“I would love to give you a tour the next time you are here. We must hurry. My staff is already getting your cake ready. This is a busy birthday season”, Mr. Lion held papa’s hand and started walking.

First they went left, then right, then left, then right, then right, then back, then left, then right, then straight, then back, then right, then left. Papa was exhausted and confused when they finally reached a room that had Nujra’s photo on it.

“Oh, that is my Nujra!”, Papa said. “How come you have his picture here?”

“Yes, this is Nujra’s room. Here is where we make special cakes for little Nujra”, Mr. Lion said, “This is where the magic happens”.

“What is this place?”, Papa asked again.

“This is Mr. Lion’s Bake Shop — The place where special cakes are made for special children”, Mr. Lion said opening the door.

As papa stepped inside the room, he saw the room buzzing with bees. They were carrying buckets of honey, which they poured into a giant bowl in the middle of the room. Three elephants, wearing purple aprons were mixing the honey and flour with their trunks. Two giraffes were squeezing yellow drops from some leaves that was shaped like a star. A hippo was running a machine that looked like a blender. Inside were strawberries and mangos blending to become a mixture that was reddish yellow. Out of nowhere, a monkey came swinging on his tail carrying two large green coconuts. Several grasshoppers were just hopping around merrily. It was festive. 

Papa looked around the room — Toys and books were scattered around the room. Not any random toys or books, these were Nujra’s toys and books. “We look at these for inspiration and ideas”, Mr. Lion beamed. “It is how we can come up with the best cake of a child’s dreams”.

“This is the final stage and my most favorite!”, Mr. Lion said rubbing his hands. Two rhinos came in dressed in white lab coats. They carried the bowl together, balancing it on their horns, to one of the machines outside. They emptied the entire contents of the bowl into a vent. 

“Stay back”, one of the rhinos said and pulled a lever.

The machine started shaking violently. It started making noises that sounded like cars, many cars…like a thousand cars together on a racetrack. Then, magically out of the other side, came out a red and white sports car. It was big; as big as a real sports car. 

“This is the gift for Nujra…A cake from Mr. Lion’s bake shop…the finest cakes for special children”, Mr. Lion proudly said. He was as proud as only lions can be. 

“This is awesome”, Papa said. “But, how will I take this home? I am not even sure where I am”.

“Don’t you worry about it”, Mr. Lion said opening the door of the car made from cake. “The car knows where to go”.

Papa got into the car, still dazed from the day’s events. For the first time in his life, he understood what it meant to be inside a cake. It smelled of strawberries, mangos and coconut. He said good bye to Mr. Lion and his staff. 

“Come again”, Mr. Lion said. “Bring Nujra with you next time”.

The car took off so fast that papa had to close his eyes. When he opened his eyes, the car had already reached his home. It was standing outside his house, in the garden. Papa got out of the car and rushed inside. He could not wait to show Nujra his birthday gift — A race car cake from Mr. Lion’s bake shop.

Man, stones and god

“My feet are bruised and bleeding. There were stones all along the path”, man said.

“They were diamonds. You should’ve looked down once a while”, God said.

“Oh, were they? Did you leave them for me?”, man asked.

“Maybe”, God said.

“Oh, I should have taken them for my efforts”, man replied.

“Then, you would not have come here”, God said.

Man, ego and water

A man and his ego were walking on a beach that they created.

Ego said – “The water is touching my feet. It is pleasant. It makes me want to take a plunge”

Man said – “No, I don’t see any water. Neither do you”.

Ego said – “What do you mean? Don’t you see all these other people, immersed in the waters we created. Look at how they are enjoying. Children, adults, old and young, everyone are basking in the waters we created. Let us take a plunge and immerse ourselves”.

Man said – “No, ego. There is no water. We did not create any”.

Ego said – “Look at how beautiful we have made the sun, who can now rise from under our water. Look how beautiful the moon is when it gets reflected through the water we created. Look at the mountains on the other side. They have floated to be close to our water offering all these people immense gratification”.

Man said – “No, ego. We did not create any”.

The water said – “Damn the man, who cannot listen to his ego. It makes me want to express myself more to him and the others around him. I will make the sun more beautiful, the moon more shiny, the mountains more magnificent. Then, maybe he will notice his creation”

Nothing changed.

Fulfilling work

Work was roaming the streets one day looking for somebody who could fulfill it. It found a beggar sitting under a lamppost eating bread and thought, “Ah…here is a man who could fulfill me”. It turned into a thought and went inside the man’s head. The man mused, “What a wonderful thought. Only, if I had enough bread to eat and a family of my own, I could do this”. Saying so, he went back to eating his bread. Work was disappointed. It thought, “Maybe, I have chosen a wrong person. This beggar cannot fulfill me. I should find a person who has bread to eat and a family of his own ”. It came out of the beggar’s head and started wandering the street once again in search of this person who could fulfill it.

Then, it came across a temple where a man and his wife were feeding some beggars. Work thought, “Here is a man, who can definitely fulfill me. He not only has enough bread for himself but also has enough to feed those who don’t have some. He has a family too.” Thinking so, it turned into a thought again and went into the man’s head. The man paused serving and thought, “Oh, such a nice idea. I should do this after I finish serving food”. Work was happy. It waited for the man to finish feeding the beggars. When the man finished, he forgot about work completely. Work was disappointed once more and started walking onto the streets looking for another person.

Then, work came across a merchant who was known for his prompt service to his customers. Work thought, “Haa, here is a man remembers what his customers asked him. He can definitely fulfill me”. Again, it became a thought and entered the merchant’s head. Merchant thought, “An interesting idea…I would totally do this if it made me richer”. Work escaped his head and walked the streets dejected and confused by the intricacies of man.

It came across a flower and fell in love with it. It entered the thoughts of the flower. The flower woke up and bloomed.  A beggar, an altruist and a merchant walked past the flower admiring its beauty, while their hearts mysteriously lamented for a reason unknown to them.

The cloaked man

Two men were standing at the edge of the river. One looked like you and me while the other’s face was hidden behind a cloak. The cloaked man got onto the boat that took him to some place far and beyond. They spoke –

Cloaked man – “We part ways…at last…You loved me”

The man – “Of course I did. The master gave me you. And you brought more of your kind”

Cloaked man – “But, I never felt strong. Hence, I brought more of my men”

The man – “Oh, You were strong. I felt that several times”

Cloaked man – “Yet, you did not show. How would I know I was strong…”

The man – “The master was there with me, watching my every step, every action. How can I show your strength, when the time was always to show mine, and only mine?”

Cloaked man – “Did I ever scare you?”

The man – “I would be a fool if I said no”

Cloaked man – “I couldn’t tell”

The man – “You were not supposed to see my fear. Nobody except myself is supposed to see it. The master was with me”.

Cloaked man – “Oh…Only if you had weak eyes not to see the master and weak heart not to sense his presence, I could have had the thrills of scaring you”.

The cloaked man, whose name was Problem, climbed the boat and set his sails towards the land where he would be welcomed by a man whose eyes and heart were weak.