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Kids Desi Inspirational

Once upon a time, in the dense forests of Western Ghats, there lived a grey langur, Giria.

Giria lived with his troop. He had just been weaned off from his Ma. And was still learning to use his tail to balance himself.

One summer evening, as he tore the tender green leaves from the jamun tree and chewed them with his eyes closed, and dreamt of a paradise where he could sit on a tree throne and be offered the succulent leaves on a platter, he was jolted by screechy alarms from his family. He too joined them and made a feeble sound. But wasn’t quick enough to run with them. Instead, he kept gawking at the herd of deer grazing below. Tyrell-the-tiger sprang from the nearby cardamom bush and charged towards the herd. Giria, shocked by Tyrell’s ferocity, lost his balance and fell on Daria-the-deer. He gripped her neck as she galloped away, through the meadow, across the stream, and deep into the forest. The herd stopped only when it was sure it had lost Tyrell. Giria got down and scampered to the nearest tree.

“Some langur you are, falling off a tree like a fruit!” Daria scoffed at him.

“That’s a funny way of saying thanks, Welcome!” Giria glowered back at her.

Mama Deer intervened.

“We are thankful for your warning, young one,” she said and nudged Daria.

Daria snorted and turned her back.

“Like the young langur, you still have many things to learn!” Mama Deer chided her as they moved away.

Giria heard the gurgle of the river. He remembered Ma saying there was a waterfall deep inside the jungle. And it was dangerous for their tribe to go there. He was sure to get a good rap for straying away from his troop. But since he was already there, he decided to make the most of his freedom.

He swung across the low branches. Fell down a few times. Plucked, tasted, and spat out the ripe red fruits on the trunks of cluster fig trees. The cool mist caressed his cheeks as the roar of the waterfall grew closer. He closed his eyes and dreamt of a big fountain outside his palace in paradise.

A python slithered up. An Eagle circled down.

A gliding frog grazed past Giria’s tail, tingling him out of his reverie. Just in the nick of time. The python looked poised to strike him. Giria hopped onto the next tree as the python hissed and uncoiled after him jutting out its pinkish-striped head.

Ma had warned him. ‘A daydreaming monkey didn’t live to see his children’- she had stated plainly. What could he do? The daydreaming spells hit him at random. They offered relief from his boring home life. But he began to appreciate her words after the day’s troubles.

The setting sun took the chirping of the birds with it. The night fell and Giria was no closer to getting home. The stars twinkled in the black velvet sky. He moped around, thinking about his troop. Would his Ma be missing him? Would he be able to find his way back?

After fidgeting for some time, he snuggled close to the branch of a huge banyan tree. It was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. He missed the warmth of his Ma’s belly and stayed up for a long time. The orchestra of the cicadas reverberated across the blue hills, playing one piece after another, from different corners. At last, he fell asleep, listening to their rhythmic tunes.

***

Something sharp poked his head. He cracked open his eyelids and saw two wide brown-black fans shielding him from the bright sun. An eagle! Was it a dream? Another sharp peck on his arm confirmed it was not a dream.

“Oh! Are you the great one?” he squealed.

The bird gave him a dismissive look and prepared for its flight.

“Wait! Please, are you the one who appears in my dreams and takes me to the Monkey Paradise?”

The bird squawked,

“Listen, little monkey! I don’t know what you are talking about. But if you know what’s good for you, you will scoot back to your family before you become a meal,” and flew away.

Giria was heartbroken but didn’t get to dwell too much on it as his stomach growled. He had to forage and eat if he wanted to gain energy to go looking for his troop. He jumped to the next tree and examined its leaves. They smelled familiar, but he was not sure. He wished he had paid more attention to the little things around him. With his mother around, he had thought about getting to paradise all the time. Now, all he could think was to get back to his troop.

By noon he had swung with gossamer-winged butterflies, ran away from a bear, and gone in circles looking for his troop—twice. He was no closer to getting home but had figured out what to eat. And had not gagged on it, yet.

***

A week went by. Giria had noted the patterns: the hornbills and kingfishers feasting on the worms by the sunrise, the herds of deer and elephants visiting the waterhole at noon, and the crickets and cicadas singing at moonrise. He kept himself alive as well.

He fervently hoped Daria’s herd would pass by the banyan tree he had lodged himself in. Maybe her mother knew the way to his troop? Meanwhile, he was careful to sense the signals carried by the rustling leaves on the forest floor, the fluttering wings in the blue sky, and the warning calls in the wind.

Another week went by. He roiled at the thought of his troop abandoning him. But kept exploring the forest a little further every day, excited to find clues to unlock its secrets. With each passing day, he belonged a little more to the forest. A violet vanda, a black scorpion, or a prowling leopard kept his days and nights interesting.

Rory-the-rat, in particular, definitely made his days interesting. They met when Giria crashed on the crispy brown leaves of the forest floor. Rory peeped out and laughed at him.

“Some langur you are, not owning your swing,” she squeaked.

He walked away in a huff. But ruminated on her words later. And went back to her to ask,

“Will you help me?”

***

A few more weeks went by. He came across a few troops. They were not his and didn’t want him in theirs. Whenever he felt hopeless, he remembered Ma’s words – ‘As long as you have your grip, you will always find your troop’.

His grip had ‘improved a lot’ in Rory’s words. He believed her. For she has chosen to believe in him.

The monsoons rumbled in. The mosses came alive, plastering the trunks of massive trees florescent green. Pink, yellow, and white flowers carpeted the meadows on the slopes. On most days, rain poured for hours on end and then stopped, making the forest air heavy and pungent.

Giria found a tree hole for himself. He climbed up the mossy trunks without slipping and rarely fell down while swinging. He swung up and down, far and wide, and felt powerful when Rory and her friends picked food peacefully with him around.

He still dreamt, but with his eyes open.

On one such damp dreamy night, as the sky blanketed the forest, tiny stars rose from the undergrowth. They swirled up in a slow dance and circled a plum tree. Their heads bobbed up and down to a tune Giria couldn’t hear. Then, at one magical moment, they all landed on the tree, turning it into a sparkling emerald!

What was in front of him was beyond anything Giria had dreamed about.

Ma had been right. The forest was neither good nor bad; it was… fantastic! All it demanded of him was to own his swing. If he did it with all his heart, it would take him to places where he could witness its miracles. Maybe even create his own, someday!

Like the fireflies lighting up a plum tree.


April 13, 2023 06:32

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17 comments

Russell Mickler
03:28 Apr 21, 2023

Hi Suma! A very dreamy and colorful story, set in a real - yet unreal - space. I really liked the voice of your narrator in this piece. Loved this para: "A week went by. Giria had noted the patterns..." The magic of the forest and self-discovery ... it's my kind of writing :) An absolute pleasure to read. R

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Suma Jayachandar
05:15 Apr 21, 2023

Russel, Thank you so much for your kind words. Appreciate it.

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Zack Powell
00:34 Apr 21, 2023

I'm late getting to this one, Suma, so forgive me for that. But I'm glad I got a chance to read this, because it's the type of cute, bubbly story I needed after a long day. Sometimes it's just fun to sit back and read about talking animals, y'know? Anyway, having read a few of the comments, I have to say that the decrease of your usual lyricism/flow didn't bother me at all here. I'm of the belief that prose should reflect the genre/story that you're trying to write, and I think it's germane for a Kids story to have this kind of sentence str...

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Suma Jayachandar
05:04 Apr 21, 2023

Zack, you know I love to hear from you regardless of how early or late( On an interesting side note it took forever for this piece to be approved, so you are not late😂) because it never fails to light up my day. Thank you so much for your knowledgeable and heartfelt review, Zack. I'm going to miss this when I may no longer be a regular on this site. Thank you SO much.

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Susan Catucci
14:35 Apr 20, 2023

Hi Suma! Reading this felt much like a daydream, something separate from everyday things, and with a touch of magic I look forward to finding in your beautiful prose. I read Del's thoughts and I would agree, but it's an easy fix, I would think, with a talent such as yours. I have difficulty with flow and so I like to read, read, read and reread a story until I'm happy with the feel of it - and that's only if given the luxury of time. I do love the message and the beautiful imagery it took to get there. Wonderful work, Suma, wonderfu...

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Suma Jayachandar
14:58 Apr 20, 2023

Thanks for the read and your kind words, Susan. I greatly appreciate it, always. Maybe I'll lose the 'kids' tag and take a crack at it( atleast in my folder) at a later date. Time is the luxury I don't enjoy right now😂

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RJ Holmquist
19:54 Apr 18, 2023

You do a wonderful job of bringing the jungle to life. I particularly like the description of the monsoon and the fire flies. This is great: "He still dreamt, but with his eyes open" This line seems like it could carry a whole jungle of meanings itself. Thanks for posting!

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Suma Jayachandar
02:35 Apr 20, 2023

Thank you for the read and appreciation, RJ. You are very kind.

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Delbert Griffith
10:28 Apr 14, 2023

Nice fable, Suma. Own your swing. I have to admit that when I first read the title, I thought of golf. I used to coach golf when I taught, and this is one of the things I'd always tell my golfers. You have to make a commitment to your swing or bad things will happen. Though the life of a young langur and the efforts of young golfers are vastly different, the truth is the same: you have to commit to your actions in order to achieve something. Your fable, you see, has a universal appeal. I love that. If I may offer a critique: This tale doesn...

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Suma Jayachandar
14:06 Apr 14, 2023

Thank you so much for the read and the comment, Delbert. I appreciate it, especially the critique part. You are right. This doesn't have the lyrical quality for the most part. It was done deliberately. I wanted to make it as kid-friendly as possible. Use of choppy sentences too is a part of it I am afraid. I could use comma and eliminate sentences beginning with 'and'. ( Which I usually ask the kids to do in their essays) but where is the drama in that?😂 So I'm going to stick to my swing this time I guess.

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Delbert Griffith
14:46 Apr 14, 2023

LOL Own your story! I love it! :)

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Aeris Walker
03:50 Apr 14, 2023

This was a sweet story with a vibrant and whimsical setting. The forest you describe feels enchanted, maybe a little treacherous, but full of beauty. I really enjoyed it :) Some favorite sentences: “The setting sun took the chirping of the birds with it.”—fresh way to describe sundown. “With each passing day, he belonged a little more to the forest.”—love this. “The monsoons rumbled in. The mosses came alive, plastering the trunks of massive trees florescent green. Pink, yellow, and white flowers carpeted the meadows on the slopes.”—reall...

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Suma Jayachandar
04:02 Apr 14, 2023

Thanks for your lovely comment, Aeris. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. Enchanted and treacherous- much like life, yes, I like it.

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Michał Przywara
20:45 Apr 13, 2023

This is a fun story about growing up. It didn't end the way I expected - that he finds his troop - but the ending is fitting. It's about the lesson. So what does he learn? All that boring stuff his Ma talked about turns out to actually be really useful. I got the sense he learned the *what* of it from her, but he only learned the *why* of it once he was stranded on his own - and of course by then it was too late to ask for help. Though, he does get help from Rory, so there's a lesson here too, about pride and asking for aid. Then there...

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Suma Jayachandar
03:41 Apr 14, 2023

Thanks for your terrific insights, as always, Michal. And the edits too. I have reworked those bits.

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Mary Bendickson
14:11 Apr 13, 2023

A colorful world. Will he find his kind again? Or be content to make his own way?

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Suma Jayachandar
03:56 Apr 14, 2023

Either way he will learn to ride the wave and own his swing (hopefully). Thanks for the read, Mary.

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