Two children, Charu and Raghu, dodge a dozing dad to skip out of the house on bright sunny afternoon and explore the world of animals all by themselves.
Not so long ago little Charu and her cousin Raghu had themselves an adventure.
Their mothers had gone shopping, having assigned Charu’s father with the task of looking after the seven year old kids.
Charu’s father laboured in vain to keep his eyes open but kept dozing, the delicious lunch of dal, sabzi, rice and roti in his stomach making it difficult to stay awake on a winter afternoon. As he watched the children play he fell asleep. Soon gentle snores could be heard. The two children looked up from their toys and giggled.
Charu gestured to Raghu to follow her out of the room.
She had a plan.
“Raghu… would you like to visit my friend Gillu?” asked Charu excitedly.
“Gillu? Who’s that?”enquired a puzzled Raghu.
“Come! Let me show you,” said little Charu taking off nimbly.
“Charu… wait for me!” called Raghu following her.
They soon stood under a huge tamarind tree. Its branches spread far and wide. Its huge trunk was knotted in certain places and made homes for various birds and little animals.
“Gillu! Gillu!” called little Charu.
A small squirrel peeped out from a hole in the trunk and looked at the kids with its clever, shining eyes.
“There… that’s Gillu!” Charu pointed to the squirrel happily. “He’s my friend! I bring grains, seeds and nuts for him. He carries them in his mouth and sits on that branch there and eats his food.”
The squirrel scampered down the tree trunk and sat there looking at Charu. She pulled out a handful of roasted groundnuts from a pocket in her dress and threw them for him. Gillu sniffed at the groundnuts. Stuffed two of them into each cheek and took off with a sudden leap. He rushed into his home in the tree them popped out again.
The children laughed.
“Squeak! Squeak! Thank you Charu! Squeak!” called Gillu happily as he sat on the branch high up, nibbling one groundnut happily.
“Wow Charu! He’s so sweet!” said Raghu in admiration. “And, he’s so clever too!”
“Isn’t he?” said Charu with pride. “Let’s meet my other friends! Come!”
They walked a little further and came to a huge banyan tree.
“Look Raghu! Those are owls! Can you see them sleeping in the branches? They sleep all day and come awake only at night. They catch the mice that live around here.” Charu pointed them out for Raghu.
“Are they your friends too?” asked Raghu with surprise.
“Oh yes! Didn’t you hear them calling outside our windows last night while we lay in bed? They came to call me to play but how can I play with them? I sleep at night unlike them,” said Charu.
“But when did they call? I never heard them! You’re fibbing!” retorted Raghu.
“They did call! They said ‘hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo’… Surely you must’ve heard them. They were screeching so loudly and impatiently,” said Charu irritably.
“That scary sound was the owls calling out?” asked Raghu in disbelief. “I thought it was some ghost. They sounded so mournful!”
“You’re a scaredy cat, Raghu!” said Charu laughing. “They were just my owl friends! Now, let’s meet my royal friends!”
“You have royal friends too?” asked Raghu in admiration.
“Oh yes! You may see one of them taking a walk in the lawns and gardens here. Remember to bow in respect when you meet them or they may get offended,” said Charu quite seriously when Raghu looked at her in disbelief.
“Really! Charu, now you’re just pulling my leg!” said Raghu as they walked along.
“Look Raghu! There! What did I tell you? See how majestic he looks with his tail trailing along and that crown balanced on his head!” Charu pointed with her chin in the direction of the open lawns.
“Charu… that’s a peacock!” gasped Raghu. “He’s beautiful! Look there are more of them. There are… one… two… three… four… five of them! And, there are two peahens too!”
“Yes… aren’t they so graceful!” whispered Charu captivated.
“Oh… How I wish I could see them spread their tails and dance!” said Raghu excitedly.
“For that you’ll have to come during the rainy season,” laughed Charu. “They come to my home and perform in my lawn.”
“Charu, you’re so lucky! You have so many friends here!” Raghu looked at his cousin in awe.
“Yes… I am! Come along we’ve yet to meet a few more of them…” said Charu pulling him by his arm. “Hurry now!”
As they walked along the path among the green bushes they heard sparrows chirping and calling to each other in the afternoon sunshine.
“Cheep! Cheeeep! Cheep!” said one of them looking at Charu and Raghu as they walked along.
“O Hello little Birdie!” said Charu happily. “I’ve some grains of rice for you. I saved them for you from my lunch,” said Charu scattering a few grains of boiled rice she had carried along.
“Cheep! Cheep! Thanks Charu! Cheep! Cheep!” the sparrows chirped happily as the children waved goodbye to them.
“Bye Birdies! I’ll come to meet you tomorrow or you can come home to meet me!” called Charu. “I’m going to the lake to meet the ducks now.”
They walked along the path, crossed a field and soon came to the sparkling blue lake. It shimmered in the afternoon sunshine.
“Charu… this is beautiful!” exclaimed Raghu.
“Isn’t it? Look at those ducks, Raghu!” said Charu pointing to a group of white and black coloured birds gently floating in the water.
“Duckies… Duckies… come here!” called Charu waving to them.
“Quack! Quack! It’s Charu!” said the ducks to each other as they raced to the edge of the lake.
“Spottie! Snowie! Blackie! Charlie! Dolly! How lovely to see you all again!” said Charu excitedly. “Here… See… what we have for all of you!”
Raghu and Charu threw crumbs of bread into the lake for the ducks to gobble.
“Quack! Quack! Charu you’re great! Quack! Quack!” quacked the ducks as they feasted on the bread.
“Goodbye Duckies! I’ll come to meet you again!” called Charu as they said goodbye. “Come along Raghu I’ll now take you to meet Grandpa Rat who lives quite close to our home.”
“You know a rat too?” asked Raghu incredulously.
“Yes, of course I do!” said Charu. “But we must hurry! It’s getting late! We must reach home before our mothers come back or my daddy wakes up. Otherwise there will be quite a hullaballoo!”
They crossed the field beside the lake and came on to the path again only to walk right in front of their mother’s taxi. The cab taxied ahead and screeched to a halt. Their mothers poked their heads out and stared at the two kids aghast.
“Charu… Raghu…! What are you two doing here, so far away from home?” questioned Charu’s mother.
“Nothing… just visiting a few friends!” squeaked Charu.
“Get in the taxi at once! Where’s your father?” asked her mother.
“Uncle’s sleeping at home!” said Raghu sheepishly.
“Wait till we get home! You roaming around and he sleeping! I’ll have a few words to say to you all at home!” said Charu’s mother quietly as the cab moved homewards.
Well… Well… the children had a wonderful afternoon and adventure. And, I’m sure you did too! Now, didn’t you?
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