(Short Jungle Story)

It’s the third day of monsoon and it’s been raining heavily and continuously. The trees are soaked in water and are very moist. The jungle full of trees and wild animals have not witnessed the sunshine since then. The water level in the rivers has started rising increasing their currents.

Little mama bird Rehana is put up in her nest with her little birdies Sameena and Suman. They are very worried and scared as papa bird Varun has not returned since the day rains started. The climate has become very cool; and the nest is also moist and is almost wet. Their worries are increasing by every passing moment. Rehana fears the snake, ‘Judas’ who on finding an opportune moment may crawl up on the tree to eat her little birdies.

Rehana had seen Judas around the area on the first day of monsoon. She talks to herself, ‘Neither am I able to provide warmth to the birdies nor am able to fly in this heavy rain to get something to feed them.’ With sadness in her voice, she asks, ‘Where are you Varun? Please come back soon. I know you are stuck somewhere in the rains, I hope and pray that you are fine.’ Suddenly there is a deafening loud thunder and she realizes that the rains are not going to stop anytime soon. Then she sings a song of sorrow with words of prayer.

On the other side just a kilometer away the king of the jungle popularly known as ‘Raja’ by the residents (animals) of the jungle, woke up after a long sleep and realized that it is still raining the same way as when he went to sleep two days before. The first thought that crossed Raja’s mind was how the jungle fellows must be doing.

He comes towards the edge of the cliff and growls loudly in pain and worry. He announces with his thundering roar facing towards the jungle, ‘Anybody from the Jungle is welcome at my den to take rest and shelter, please do not fear and stay safe.’ The residents of the jungle are able to hear the roaring announcement loud and clear. They all feel a sense of security.

But ‘Chatur’ the fox expresses his opinion and says, ‘Raja is trying to make a clever strategy to find his prey without any hard work’. To this opinion deers, blackbucks, wild buffaloes, zebras, feel scared. ‘Bashir’ the largest elephant of the jungle hardly feels bothered about Chatur’s opinion as he doesn’t feel the need to go to the den for any relief anyways.

Hippos, crocodiles, alligators are very happy to swim in ponds avoiding rivers fearing to be carried away by the water current. They miss basking in the sun.

Rehana inquires about Raja’s announcement from Bashir who confirms it to her with the suggestion to not go there and take any chance. Rehana says to Bashir, ‘Bashir Bhai, Varun is not here, my daughters have not eaten anything for the past two days. Moreover, I am not able to keep them warm and above all, I feel threatened by Judas all the time.’ She pauses for some time and with a sudden spark in her voice asks Bashir, ‘Bashir Bhai, can you please carry me and my daughters on your trunk and drop us at the den?’ She pauses with sadness and says, ‘Even if Raja eats me and my little birdies he may not be able to satisfy his hunger. I may die so let me take a chance to save my family.’

Bashir hesitates a little but then feels, what if it can save Rehana and her tiny daughters. He softly picks up Rehana and the birdies in his trunk protecting them from heavy drops of rain and starts walking towards the den, when he reaches the opening of the den and puts them down he sees a black big figure approaching from the dark den. Bashir holding his breath with his eyes wide open observes Raja for his next move, but what he sees in Raja’s eyes surprises him. It was mercy and pain.

As Raja reaches the door of the den, he asks Bashir in his firm, commanding but soft voice, ‘’Bashir, put Rehana and her daughters on my back’’. Rehana was feeling too cold to be scared, her daughters totally unaware of the situation. Bashir immediately picks them up and places them on Raja’s back. Raja turns his back on Bashir and walks inside the den.

Bashir is scared and also surprised that he went unnoticed by Raja. Raja comes to the warmest part of the den, sits, and gently places Rehana and her daughter on dry grass and sits there hugging them close to his furry chest. Rehana feels the comfort of the warmth for the first time in two days and sleeps immediately for a while. The small nap and the warmth not only gave her comfort but rest to get some energy back.

She gets up after a nap and looks around and notices ticks on Raja’s hair, excitedly she picks up the ticks and feeds Sameen and Suman. Rehana thinks, that at some good protein-rich the food is available at last. The birdies ate the ticks but are less demanding and are very silent. Rehana fears to lose them and keep feeding them from time to time.

The next day when Rehana gets up she finds Raja still sleeping. It was a happy day for her as not only she could hear her daughters chirping loudly but also she slept so well in a warm place and now feels refreshed above all good food. Rehana was thinking about her decision, she remembers and misses Varun with the hope that he will return safely soon. Raja gets up with the chirping of the little birdies who by now already started hopping on around his nose, Rehana has little fear but by now she is also feeling safe and what she could read in Raja’s eyes is all love and mercy for her and her daughters. Rehana who is observing them from a distance then shouts at her daughters to stop disturbing Raja.

Raja is surprised to see Rehana sitting at a distance and asks her, ‘Rehana, Can you please taking out this tick in my ear which keeps hurting me a lot’. Rehana feels within ‘Me’. ‘Yes Sure, why not Raja’, she flies and sits near his ears. She puts her beak inside very carefully, tries to pick the tick which is holding strongly with its claw like teeth.

Finally she manages to pick not only one but a bunch of five ticks. After picking out the ticks from one ear she manages to do the same from the other ear and then asks Raja, ‘How are you feeling now?’ Raja replies with relief ‘I am feeling light in the ears.’ Rehana thinks to herself, ‘What a healthy Breakfast’ and gives the ticks she collected to her daughters.

Rehana hesitates a little but finally asks Raja ‘Why didn’t you attack me and Bashir for food in this crisis.’ Raja laughs and tells her ‘You are too small to satisfy my hunger’. Making Rehana feel worthless. But Raja continues to speak and says, ‘You are meant to be cared for and I care for others’, Rehana feels a little twinkle in her eyes. ‘Ok, what about Bashir?’

Raja straightens himself a little gets up and walks a little and raises his head high and says, ‘You both trusted me, I am the Raja of the jungle, only if I can be trusted.’ He turns to hers and goes on ‘I hunt to survive; I do not cheat to hunt.’

After this, he walks outside the den. Rehana affirms and feels happy about her decision that she made yesterday morning. In her happiness she sings the ‘Song of Joy’ hearing which Bashir feels delighted to dance, now knowing the fact that Rehana and her daughters are safe and alive.

He informs all the other fellows of the jungle, all of them decide to go to the den for shelter, and ‘Monica’ the most beautiful monkey of the jungle is the first one rush to get the dry place along with her baby hugging and hanging on the chest for the shelter. Soon the den is full of vulnerable residents.

When it was the seventh day the rain stopped and the sun shone out bright. All the residents started walking back. Rehana collects her little grown daughters and looks at Raja in his eyes and tells him, ‘Thank You, You will be always be remembered for your kindness and mercy.’ Raja looks at her flying away with her daughters. As Rehana reaches the nest, she finds Varun sobbing and crying. Rehana calls out ‘Varun’ and they both look and hug holding their wings around each other tightly and cry with happiness.