stories, plays, rhymes and other things for children and childlike adults

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How the Tiger Got his Stripes

Jungle animals, both big and small, were gathered around King Sher Khan’s lair waiting anxiously for news of the royal birth. Suddenly, they heard a mewing cry, followed by a triumphant roar. The animals began to whisper excitedly outside the King’s lair.
Half hidden, in a corner, the tiger stood alone.

In a few minutes, the proud father came out of his lair holding his little prince up for all to see. The animals cheered and burst into a spontaneous song and dance about the birth of their Prince “What a beautiful morn
Our prince is born
Praise all the jungle gods
For our furry little lord.

Tell each reptile, fish and bird
Tell every insect, rodent and boar
The tiny mew we just heard
Will soon become a ROAR!

Hail to you, our little prince
Hail to you, our future king
May health and happiness fill all your days
May all your nights be full of sweet dreams”

“Thank you, my loyal subjects, for your good wishes and blessings. Thank you for sharing my joy,” the King beamed with pride. “In honour of my first born son, I announce a grand ball to be held on the night of the new moon—the darkest and most auspicious night in the forest. Every animal is individually invited.”

Queen Sherni came up behind her king and gave her new baby a loving lick. “And what is a grand ball without a grand contest?” she asked. “ I will give away my priceless antique necklace of genuine human skulls to the best-dressed animal at the ball! Better hurry up, all of you. You have just 12 days to get your costumes ready.”

The animals cheered wildly.

The next day, the ball was the only topic of conversation at the water holes of the jungle.
“I just love green—I’ve decided on grass-green, glossy feathers—they’ll look sleek, don’t you think?” Parrot squawked.
“It’ll look really good. But if you take my suggestion, you’ll add some colour somewhere—how about a ruby-red choker? And wear the same colour lipstick—that’ll really make you stand out,” Chameleon suggested.
“Thanks, Cham! That’s a wonderful idea. I’m so excited—I can’t wait to describe it to Minki so she can make it.” Parrot gave Chameleon a grateful hug.

“What are you wearing Eli?” asked Zebra, who was quite a dandy and thought himself to be very debonair. The staid old Elephant thought for a moment then decided, “I’ll just wear my grey suit, I guess. It’s a bit wrinkled and loose but it’s the best I have. What about you?”
“I’m wearing a 1’st prize dress— a special stripped jacket” said Zebra, preening and checking out his gleaming teeth in the water’s reflection.

And so it went at all the watering holes. Someone was wearing spots, another was going in spectacular feathers, some had decided on radical spikes and yet others were wearing scales. Everybody was getting a new outfit; everybody except for the tiger.

As they walked away, Zebra and Elephant noticed Mr. Tiger sitting next to the pond looking very sad indeed.
“Poor creature. He really does look miserable.” Elephant remarked.
“Poor-Shmoor! He’s such a grumpy beast, Eli! Snob! Thinks he’s better than everybody else! He deserves everything he gets!” Zebra sniggered.

The tiger heard Zebra’s loud remark and retreated to his den.

The tiger was quite a recluse and all the animals thought he was a grumpy snob, so they left him alone. What they didn’t know was that the tiger was painfully shy. He hated the only drab yellow suit he had and he never went to any parties because nobody ever invited him. The tiger was a very lonely and sad animal.

On the day of the ball, the jungle was abuzz with the busy sounds of animals preparing for the festivities. Thousands of glow-worms had been called to light up the King’s lair. An orchestra of crickets had been hired to play for the guests. Minki monkey had worked her fingers to the bone making special clothes for so many animals.

Minki was late for the party. She had been making last minute adjustments to the finicky Zebra’s jacket. Now she had no time to get ready herself! She hurried to the waterhole with some red paint. If she could just paint her face red, she might make it to the party on time!

But at the waterhole, Minkistood shocked as she saw the tiger staring silently at his reflection in the water. Was the grumpy snob crying? Great big tears dropped from his beautiful green eyes into the pond. The kind monkey went up to the tiger and asked him why he wasn’t at the King’s party. “Because I don’t have anything to wear!” howled the tiger. “Well, don’t look so sad,” said Minkie. “Come to my tree and I’ll see what I can do!”

At her tree, Minkie brought out some black hide that was left over from the Zebra’s new suit. In just a few minutes, she had dramatically changed the tiger’s appearance! “Don’t you look handsome! Now Mr. Tiger, would you like to escort me to the party?”

The tiger’s new clothes stunned everybody at the ball. He won the first prize, much to the Zebra’s disgust. And he loved his stripes so much, he never took them off!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The sadhu and the Loin-cloth

Sadhu Jeevandas, we all agreed,
Was an ascetic beyond compare—
He sat under that Banyan tree
His face showed no care

He owned nothing, he was totally free
Day and night, rain or shine
Hot or cold, whatever the degree
You’d never see him sulk or whine

One night a rat began to gnaw and nibble
At his loin-cloth—his only possession
The Sadhu’s mind showed signs of trouble
The rat disturbed his meditation

The Sadhu got himself a cat
To rid him of the worrying vermin
But after the cat had killed the rat
It still needed feeding night and morning

So the Sadhu got himself a cow
And then some land so the cow could graze
Before too long, he picked a plough
And tilled the land and grew some maize
In time he had to build a shed
To store the grain that he had grown
And that’s where he now laid his head
So the cow wouldn’t have to sleep alone

To plant and till and grow and sell
Soon became the story of his sorry life
To get out from his lonely hell,
The Sadhu got himself a wife

Now Jeevandas, we all agree,
Is a pitiable figure beyond compare
He sits under the banyan tree
His wrinkled face is full of care.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Bogs, Fens, Quagmires, Marshlands and Swamps,
Wilds that make your heart beat in THUMPS!
They’re dark and mysterious places,
Get lost here—there’ll be no traces!

There is no place on earth that’s stranger;
In every nook, there lurks a danger.
Toads, newts, owls, crocodiles and snakes,
Hungry insects in all shapes, colours and makes

Call these lowland sloughs their home.
In some mangroves tigers roam,
Reeds, ferns and mosses set up their traps
To capture the hapless—you perhaps?

This is where Guru Gharial resides
Meditating quietly until—woe betides! —
You cross his path and disturb his rumination.
Then that’s that! His stomach’s your destination!

Ranee Kaur Banerjee