Friends in Need

Image Credit: Anjali Rao

In the beautiful town of Pearlwich, close to the railway station, lived a little girl named Moubani. She was sweet and sprightly, and always helped her parents in and around the house. Whether it was carrying clothes for her mother while doing the laundry or assisting her father in laying the table for dinner, Moubani was always ready with a smile. Her parents loved and cherished her. She was the apple of their eye.

One winter, there was a big fair in Pearlwich. It was the first of its kind. All the townsfolk who visited the fair spoke highly of the beautiful items being sold, including vases, wall hangings and souvenirs. It was a big basket of delight, spoiling everyone for choice.

Moubani heard about the fair and decided to go there. However, she did not want to return empty-handed. She wanted to buy a vase for her home, which could be placed in the living room to add to the beauty. With this in mind, she sought some money from her father who gladly gave it to her. And then, off she went.

It was late afternoon when Moubani started her journey. The sun was still strong and so she carried an umbrella and frisked along, happy and gay. But when she turned round the bend, there was a little dog sitting in a corner of the road, looking sad and lonesome. The girl felt sorry and so went over and asked, “Is something the matter? How can I help you?”

“I have nobody to play with,” replied the dog. “So I’m feeling sad. I don’t know how to spend my time.”

“Well, I’m going to the fair. You can come along.”

“Really?” barked the dog enthusiastically.

“Yes. Come, walk with me,” smiled Moubani.

So the dog joined her and she carefully held the umbrella such that the animal was under the shade too. And they kept walking. Some distance down the road, both of them heard a voice.

“Where are you going, little girl and doggy?”

Moubani looked around. But there was no person to be seen.

“I’m here on the branch.”

And they spotted a green parrot seated on the branch of a guava tree. The parrot repeated the question.

“Well, we are going to the fair. Would you like to come along?”

“I sure do!” chirped the bird. “I’ve heard so much about the grand fair but did not muster the courage to visit it on my own. Thank you for allowing me in your company.”

“No problem. We will all enjoy the fair together,” said Moubani.

The parrot flew down from the branch and perched on the girl’s shoulder and they continued the journey. The weather was pleasant now and the sun no longer had its glare. Moubani folded her umbrella and kept walking. But after the company had walked a few steps, there was a buzzing sound. The little girl swatted her hands instinctively.

“Oh, please don’t hit me!” said a little voice. It was a small bumble bee, with black and yellow stripes.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” spoke Moubani gently.

“Everybody tries to get away from me. Nobody likes me.” The bee sounded plaintive.

“Well, we are going to the fair. Would you like to come along?”

“Oh yes! I would love to,” buzzed the bee happily and joined the trio.

Image Credit: Anjali Rao

And so they continued the journey – Moubani walking, with the dog alongside, the parrot on her shoulder and the bee buzzing closely. Soon they reached the fair. It was as good as they had heard. There were festoons of multi-colored lights, fun and laughter. The foursome enjoyed the sights and sounds. The shops sold all kinds of things, ranging from furniture to clothes and wall hangings. Moubani headed towards a big souvenir shop and started examining the vases. She wanted to pick a nice one for her home. At last, she decided on a beautiful blue and golden porcelain vase. It looked amazing and the girl couldn’t wait to show it to her parents once she returned. She knew they would be elated.

She paid for the vase and the shopkeeper wrapped it carefully in a brown box and handed it to her. Moubani held it close and told her companions, the dog, parrot and bee that it was now time for her to return. They all had their fill of excitement and were somewhat tired. And all now wished to go back home.

But little did they know what was about to happen. Now, there was a thief who had been observing Moubani for quite some time. And after she bought the beautiful vase, he set his mind on stealing it from her. “She’s just a little girl,” he thought. “I can easily overpower her and snatch that box containing the vase. And she will not be able to chase me much either. I can run way faster than her.”

So, when Moubani and her companions had exited the fair and were heading home, suddenly there was a push from behind. It was the thief who had sneaked in behind them. The girl fell and lost hold of the box, which landed on the ground. Immediately, the thief made a grab for it and made a swift turn, ready to run. “Oh no! My vase!” cried the poor girl, who was struggling to her feet. The rogue laughed wickedly. But no sooner was he about to run than he felt a sharp pain in his leg. “Oww!!” he yelped and turned to look. The dog had dug its teeth in his leg and was holding steadfast. The thief hit the dog with the box and freed his leg. Then he started to run. But now the parrot attacked him, flapping its wings in front of him and pecking him on the head.

“Get away, you foolish bird!” cried the thief, whose leg was already throbbing with pain. He tried to drive away the parrot with his hand but it pecked him there too, making him shriek.  Still, the thief tried to get away. But then the bumblebee buzzed close, stinging him in the neck, cheeks and hands. It was too much pain for the man. “Leave me alone, you filthy creatures!” he shouted.

“We will leave you alone,” chirped the parrot, “once you leave what does not rightfully belong to you. Return the vase to our friend.”

Image Credit: Anjali Rao

By now, Moubani had caught up with the thief. The man was in a sorry state of affairs, rubbing his arms and legs, and wincing in pain. But he was greedy and still held on to the box. Then all the animals attacked him together. The dog bit his other leg, the parrot pecked his head hard and the bee stung his eyelid. The thief couldn’t take it anymore and dropped the box to the ground and ran as fast as his legs could carry him.

The animals rejoiced and Moubani picked up the box. She thanked her companions. “All of you have been my friends in need. Thank you so much,” she smiled. “Well, you took us along with you to the fair. So why wouldn’t we stand by you?” they said.

And so, the foursome returned to their homes. Moubani showed the vase to her parents and narrated the incident at the fair.

And she remained friends with the dog, the parrot and the bumblebee, bringing them to play in her garden and taking them with her when she went to run errands. Many were surprised to see such an odd friendship but little Moubani treasured it deeply because she never forgot how these animals had been her friends in need.

***

The central character is based on Moubani Jana.

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