Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Short Story for Children: Bushky and the men from Mars

Bushkie is a young sparrow. He lives in the city with his folks on a large oak tree neighborhood. He loves to read books, enjoys watching basketball and is fascinated by big numbers.

CHAPTER ONE: Bushkie begins his day

It was a pleasant Spring morning. Bushkie awoke as usual with the sound of the other birds in the balcony. Bushkie was a small sparrow and along with other sparrow families, lived on a large oak tree. And like every morning, Bushkie found himself cozy between his mom and his dad. Opening only one eye, Bushkie looked around. He was fully awake but did not move. He always enjoyed waking up in the morning and snuggling with mom and dad.

Mom was the next to rise. She did so with a peck on Bushkie’s cheek.

“ Morning Bush !”, she said. “ Time for school”.

Bushkie hugged her and frowned when she said “School!”
“ Aw maann!!” he said.

Dad woke up too, gave Bushkie a big hug. “ Wake up, late already!”

Bushkie knew. But this happened every morning. He would wake up late, rush through his morning wash, bathe , dress and quickly fly off to school while munching his breakfast. Pop would fly with him, carrying his bag of books which was already quite heavy for him.

That’s how Bushkie began his day. Everyday except Sunday, which as we all know is a holiday.

School was a big Oak tree, a five minutes flight from his home. On the lower branches younger birds would read, on the higher ones, the seniors. Bird University was at the tree top!

The learned crows were patient instructors. Patience was a quality all birds needed with Bushkie.

Bushkie loved to read. It was the writing and homework that Bushkie disliked and often got the other birds to do it for him. Even if it meant sharing some of the berries mom packed for lunch.

This day was no different from others. Mathematics, English, bird flight instructions, the patient crows came and lectured on it all. And Bushkie listened to each with great interest. For exactly five minutes. And five minutes was all the attention Bushkie would give to his instructors. And then he would begin his day dreams.

Bushkie would then dream that he was playing with his friends Picklepot and Breadroll. Flying about, pecking berries from trees, or gobbling away on freshly baked pies kept on kitchen windows. On other times they would chase the bees and other colorful insects going about their daily work.

Sometimes Bushkie would dream of the cloud people. He had heard stories of people living high up in the clouds. The elder birds told them so. He was too small and young and could not fly up so high. He was determined that one day he would.

So dreaming would Bushkie pass his time at school.

After four hours at school, Bushkie would fly back home. This time with his heavy books since pop was at work. He flew back with his other friends. They would meet again in the evening after their afternoon nap.

CHAPTER TWO: Bushkie sees the Men From Mars

On this day like any other, Bushkie was flying back. The breeze was gentle and Bushkie glided gently whistling to away to himself. He looked down to see people scurrying around. Squirrels hopping from trees, the neighborhood cats lazing in the shade of trees. Around him, he saw tree tops, birds flying in the distance and a small flying saucer alongside.

A “ Small Flying Saucer??!!” .

“Good Heavens!!” Bushkie rubbed his eyes in disbelief. And stared at the flying saucer. He couldn’t believe it. Distracted by the saucer, Bushkie stopped looking at where he was flying and almost bumped into a tree- quickly dodging it at the last moment. The saucer did the same. And kept pace with Bushkie.

Bushkie was terrified and flew faster. And the saucer kept pace. And Bushkie flew faster. Bushkie flew faster than he had ever in his life and dived into his home entering in his haste through the window. Mom was in the kitchen cooking. She was very happy to see Bushkie.

“ How many times have I told you to come through the front door Bush?” , she said.

“ Mom, Mom......”, was all Bushkie could say. He was panting heavily.

“What are you panting for? Did papa not tell you to fly slowly till you became bigger?”, said mom.

“ But mom”, said Bushkie, “ it was coming after me.”

“ What was?” asked mom, quite sure that Bushkie would once again tell another one of his long and fabricated tales- made from his own imagination. Bushkie did that often and mom knew this well.

“ A flying saucer”, said Bushkie.

“Now that is certainly imaginative. I was telling papa this morning that the new ‘X- files’ TV show would have an effect on you. I was right. Stop wasting my time Bush - wash up and come for lunch.”

Bushkie was not finished yet. “ Mom it was there. A flying saucer. It was following me. I thought it would eat me. You look from the window and see for yourself. Its still waiting for me.”

Mom carried Bushkie and went to the window. “ Mr. Flying saucer”, she said jokingly, “ Where are you? Why don’t you join us for lunch. My cheese pie tastes better than Bushkie.”

In his mother’s arms, Bushkie felt brave. He peeked outside the window and looked around. There was no sign of any flying saucer.

“Bush, obviously you have begun dreaming while flying. I must tell papa about this. One day you will crash into a tree and only you will be to blame”, said mom.

“Aw maan! “, said Bushkie. “I really thought it was there. I guess I ate too much onion stew from Picklepot’s lunch.” Suddenly, he felt very happy about everything. Even he was convinced he had imagined everything.

Lunch was delicious cheese pie with sunflower seeds. Mom was a great cook and Bushkie enjoyed cheese pies. Gobbling them down quickly, Bushkie went to bed. A quick nap after lunch always made him feel better. And prepared him for the games he would play with his friends in the evening.

Soon evening came. Bushkie awoke, drank his glass of milk and giving his mother a peck went to find Picklepot.

“Careful Bushkie and be back before dark. You know the bats terrify you!”, said mom.

CHAPTER THREE: Bushkie meets the Men from Mars

It was summer and Bushkie knew his friends would be at the mango grove nearby. Eating mangoes from the trees was always a delightful event every young bird looks forward to. And Bushkie and his friends were no different.

Bushkie landed on the first tree in the grove. It was the largest and had the sweetest mangoes. He perched on to a large branch and looked around for some mangoes. He spotted one, two.... and another, a flying saucer, and another mango.

“Uh ! Oh!”, thought Bushkie.

“A flying saucer?”, Bushkie almost fell off the branch in fright. And just as he was about to fly off, he saw something peculiar. A door on the saucer opened and out came two tiny creatures.

Bushkie had never seen anything like this. The two creatures were on a higher branch not far from him. They were as tall as acorns. With a large head covered by an even larger helmet, 2 eyes that almost completely covered the face and a small mouth. The creatures were red in colour and wore deep blue suits.

One of them pointed to Bushkie . “@##$% @!@#@323@”, it said. The other creature nodded. In a flash, they leapt off their branch and landed right next to Bushkie. Bushkie was frightened.

“@#@#$$%%^”, they said to Bushkie. Bushkie couldn’t understand what they said but liked the sound of their voice. It was pleasant and soft.

“Hello!”, chirped Bushkie, absolutely terrified . The two creatures adjusted a small gadget at their waist.

“Hello!” said the creature. Suddenly Bushkie understood what they were saying. “Sorry, our translators were not tuned to your language. I am Kwa Kwa and this is my friend Ompa Ompa. We are travelers from Mars. I hope we did not scare you. We often come to Earth but do not ever meet anyone. We are very small creatures you see and on Earth, everybody is much bigger.” The creature seemed very composed and kind.

“Uh! Uh !” , said Bushkie. “My name is Bushkie. I ... I... I... live on the oak tree a little tree away. Nice to meet you. Can I go?”. Bushkie was still frightened out of his wits and wanted to quickly fly away.

“ Please don’t be afraid”, said Kwa Kwa. “ If you tell anyone, they will certainly hurt us or capture us here. We are having some trouble with our flying saucer. If you can help us, we will repair our craft and fly away. Please . Please help us.” Kwa Kwa sounded very troubled.

Suddenly Bushkie was not afraid. Clearly, from Kwa Kwa’s manner, it was apparent that the two creatures were more afraid of Bushkie than he was of them. Suddenly, Bushkie felt bigger. Now, it was his duty to help these two space travelers. He would do so.

“ Don’t worry!”, said Bushkie. Now with a deep voice. “ I will help you and get you going safely. “ He had no idea how, though. “How can I help you?”, said young Bushkie. He was feeling much much better. And definitely kindly towards the two space travelers who a few moments ago had him terribly scared. How things can change!

“We need some sticking material to piece our engine together. And cheese which is our fuel. And some chocolate sauce. That’s our favorite food!”, said Omar Omar very quickly. He was relieved that Bushkie was helping and blurted out everything before Bushkie could change his mind.

“Sure “, said Bushkie. Of course, having said so, Bushkie realized he had no idea how and where he would get all that. Everybody knew that sparrows did not like cheese, mice did and it was the ants that would store chocolates and chocolate sauce. As for sticking material, birds never used gum. Nor did anyone else he knew. But humans used gum and he would have to take it from them.

All this would have been easy if he could ask his mommy and papa to help him. But after the afternoon’s incidents, mommy believed that Bushkie had imagined seeing the flying saucer and would never believe it had actually landed nearby.

CHAPTER FOUR: Bushkie plans the rescue

Bushkie realized he had to do this all by himself. And he had made a promise. So Bushkie would have to find a way to help his new friends.

I will be back in a while. But please stay on this tree and don't wander about. The young eagles also play nearby and will be very interested in you. There are mangoes on this tree- those yellow fruits, they are tasty . You could eat them while you wait.

The little Martians , very happy now since Bushkie had promised to help them, nodded very seriously after listening to Bushkie and immediately went about to pick out some mangoes.

Bushkie jumped off the branch, flew around the tree to make sure he remembered which tree in the grove it was and went off to find Picklepot and Breadroll. “Hey Pickle!” he chirped as he flew about from tree to tree. “C’mon Breadroll, where are you? Stop fooling around guys, I need some help.”

“Here”, chirped a reply from a nearby tree. It sounded like Picklepot. As Bushkie turned towards the tree, “No, here!’, chirped another from behind him. And Bushkie turned back.

“Here”, chirped another bird from a tree to his right, and Bushkie quickly turned right, now confused at all the sounds he was hearing. He realized his friends were out to pull his leg and felt annoyed.

Quietly he landed on the nearest tree and chirped out, ” Guys, please help me. My friends are in trouble. All this hide & seek can wait, you know”. There was no reply. “ Guys, easy’, Bushkie pleaded again. “ C’mon down here.”

Still no reply. Bushkie, felt very unhappy and gently took off! “What friends!!”, he said to himself softly and flew off on his own. Suddenly, Picklepot and Breadroll appeared behind him.

“C’mon Bush, we were just fooling around”, said Picklepot. “No reason for you to fly off just like that. What’s up, you look in a big hurry”. Breadroll’s mouth was stuffed with mangoes- he said nothing but just nodded along with Picklepot.

Bushkie was quite annoyed with his friends and didn’t want to speak with them . But he knew, unless he told them what had happened, they would never agree to helping him. So he landed on the nearest tree closely followed by his two friends.

“Look guys, I need to find some stuff. Glue, chocolate sauce and cheese”, said Bushkie.

“Cool “, said his two friends together. “ The chocolate sauce and cheese part look good , but the glue is uninteresting. Anyway, lets find the chocolate sauce and cheese first and worry about the gum later. All this is exciting. I am getting bored with these mangoes and seeds that we’ve been eating for weeks now.”

“The mice always seem to be happy with their cheese”, continued Breadroll. “And the chocolate crumbs we find are so tasty. I wish we birds could make and eat chocolate all the time.”

They had no idea that all this was not for them to eat but for Bushkie’s friends from Mars. Bushkie decided he would not tell them, lest they start laughing at him and not help him.

“Ok, so you guys are in on this . Cool”, said Bushkie. “ Now here’s my plan. Lets hit the mouse den first. Picklepot, you do this one. Take some mangoes and exchange it for cheese from them. Simple. The mice do like mangoes but find it difficult to climb trees to reach the mangoes. They will like this exchange. “

“ Breadroll ”, said Bushkie, “you get the chocolate sauce from the ants. The ants would really like more chocolate, so you need to first get them chocolate and exchange it for chocolate sauce. I have decided that the easiest way is to ‘ borrow’ some from the candys shop in the big market. That funny shopkeeper sells a lot of chocolates. You should be able to peck some for our friends. “

“And I will do the most difficult bit. I will fly into the human home nearby and try to find some gum. We will meet on the old mango tree over there, the one shaped like a jug!”

The two birds listen to his plan and found it very good. Bushkie was smarter than them! And since he had taken the most difficult job of getting them gum from the human beings, they thought it wise to just go ahead with his plan. But they were still rather uninterested in the gum.

“Sure, Bush”, said Picklepot. “Lets meet back here in an hour. It gets dark after that. And remember Breadroll, don’t start eating your stuff, till we all get here. Right? We’re friends and we share everything!!”

Breadroll was of course saddened by this , but agreed anyway since the best way to eat some chocolate sauce was to share a little cheese!!

Meanwhile, on the mango tree, the Martians were stuffing themselves with ripe mangoes.

CHAPTER FIVE: The Rescue Act

Picklepot flew straight to the mice den. “Hey Pipsqueak, c’mon out. Its me Picklepot. Need some help, buddy”, he said. The sparrows were good friends of the mice and enjoyed good times together.

Pipsqueak came running out with, as usual munching a bit of cheese. “Hey Picklepot, good to see you! Want some cheese?” said Pip.

“ As a matter of fact, I need some cheese”, said Picklepot. “ But a little more than what you’ve got in hand. I have some mangoes for you. You think it’s a fair exchange for some cheese?”

“Sure!!”, said Pipsqueak. The mice always envied the sparrows. The sparrows could fly up to the highest branches and eat all the mangoes they wanted. The mice could only eat what they managed to grab from human dinner tables!! “ How much cheese do you want? Just get some ripe mangoes buddy!”

Before Pickle could say anything further, Pipsqueak ran in and started bringing back small mouthfuls of cheese. Picklepot flew immediately to the mango grove and grabbed mouthfuls of mango. He was happy. His job was done.

In the meantime Breadroll had reached the anthills and spoken with his ant friend Bigmouth. With him, he had arranged to exchange some chocolate for chocolate sauce. The ants are hardworking and looked forward to the effort of converting all the chocolate into chocolate sauce.

Having fixed that, Breadroll flew to the grocer shop. As usual, the grocer had his chocolates ready. Children from the neighborhood would drop bye in the evening and buy some. The shopkeeper was waiting for them. Breadroll perched himself on top of the shop’s shutter. And broke into a gentle chirping. The shopkeeper looked up and smiled when he saw Breadroll.

“ Hello, birdie!, having a nice day? What are you singing about? Heh Heh!!”. He was a miser and not known to share even a single grain of rice with the birds. The birds did not like him very much.

Breadroll continued singing and slowly put the shopkeeper off guard. The grocer went about his daily business , counting his money and admiring all the goods in his shop. Slowly, he walked by all his shelves. Breadroll waited for the right moment when the grocer moved away from his jar of chocolates. And immediately, swooped down softly and perched on the mouth of the jar. The grocer had not heard anything and continued admiring his goods.

Quickly, Breadroll, put his head into the jar and pecked out a large piece of chocolate. And without looking around flew out of the shop towards the ant hills. The grocer looked around after a while and wondered where the bird had gone off to. Always suspicious, he went to check if the covers on his sack of rice were still in place. He was such a miser !!

Breadroll, flew straight to the ant hills and gave the piece of chocolate to the ants. The ants gave him the chocolate sauce he wanted. Thanking his friends, he flew back to the mango tree.

Which brings us back to Bushkie.

Bushkie flew to the nearest human home. He often flew over this house in the evenings and recognized the people living there. There was dad, mom, young Albert and his younger sister Florence. Bushkie flew into the house through and open window and immediately started looking around for some glue. He found none in the first room. So he flew into another.

Just then he heard a voice behind him – “Mom, look !”, said a young voice. “ A small birdie has flown into the house. Lets catch him please!”. It was Albert who had found Bushkie in the house.

“ Catch me!?!”, thought Bushkie. “ This is a bad day for me”, he thought . “ What do I do?” He started flying right back to the window.

“ Let him be, Albert!”, said his mother. “ He is only a little bird. Take this rice and put out it out for him. And don’t you hurt him. Or a spanking is what you will get from me.”

“Wow!”, thought Bushkie. That was so sweet of her. I must remember to thank her.

Hearing his mother, Albert decided to leave Bushkie alone. Bushkie also felt safer and continued his search. In the second room, Bushkie found what he was looking for. A small jar of glue. Bushkie knew what he had to do. He flew straight to the jar and knocked it over. It was nearly empty so Bushkie did not create a mess. The glue oozed out a little. Bushkie then filled it into his mouth. It tasted awful, but there was nothing Bushkie could carry the glue in.

Filling his mouth with the glue, he knew his job was accomplished. He hoped the other two were safe and had also finished their mission. He remembered that he had to thank the lady of the house for her help. So he flew further into the kitchen where she was standing and chopping some vegetables. Bushkie perched himself on her shoulder. She was surprised at the movement on her shoulder, but was really very happy when she saw it was the sparrow that had come into her home.

Bushkie’s mouth was full of glue and so he could not sing. Instead, he gave her a soft peck on her cheek.

“ Oh! You lovely bird. How sweet of you! ”, said the lady. Bushkie also felt very happy.

Quickly, he flew out of the window and back to the mango tree.

CHAPTER SIX: Mission Accomplished

He was glad to find that Breadroll and Picklepot were there waiting for him. Breadroll was already looking at the goodies very greedily, with all intentions of gobbling them up.

Bushkie spat out all the glue on the mango leaf. “Phut!,”, he said. “ This stuff tastes awful. Anyway, this is a job well done guys. Wonderful to see all the stuff together.”

“Yeah”, said Picklepot. “Can we start eating it now Bushkie?”

“No, you idiot. That stuff is for us “, said a gentle voice from behind. The three birds looked around to see the two Martians. Bushkie knew them . His two friends did not.

“Eeekk!”, said Picklepot as he leapt off the tree. Breadroll was quick to follow him. “C’mon Bush, lets beat it! What are these guys?!”, he said. Having flown off the tree, the two looked back for Bushkie. Bushkie had not moved. “C’mon Bushkie !!”, said his friends.

Bushkie started laughing. “ Its OK”, he called out to his friends. “ I know these guys, they’re my friends from Mars.”

“Bush, you’ve gone mad. Now get off that branch before you get eaten up. Friends from Mars indeed!”, said Picklepot.

Bushkie continued laughing, hopped and went closer to his friends from Mars. “Really,“ he said, “they won’t hurt you. They are in trouble and we have all been helping them. C’mon Picklepot, don’t be a coward”, said Bushkie bravely. Not very long ago, Bushkie had himself been terrified by these little Martians!!

Picklepot and Breadroll looked at each other. Well, if Bushkie says he isn’t afraid, no reason for us to start running away, they thought. “ Lets check it out, Breaddie”, said Pickle as they both turned around and returned to the tree. They landed carefully behind Bushkie.

“ Breadroll, Picklepot, please meet Kwa Kwa and Ompa Ompa. They are from Mars. Ompa , Kwa, these are my closest friends. Say Hi! To them”, introduced Bushkie.

“Hi! s”, were said by everyone to everyone.

Bushkie, pleased that he had done well so far continued. “Breadroll, Picklepot, these people are travelers from Mars. They flew here in a small flying saucer. They had a small accident and couldn’t leave. I met them on this tree and that’s how I got to know them and their problem. By the way guys, the chocolate sauce, gum and cheese was not for us. Its for them to fix their spaceship and fly away.”

“Uh! Oh”, thought Breadroll. All that hard work for these little guys. “Chee, this is awful.” He was no longer afraid of the little creatures. He was just disturbed thinking about the goodies he was to give away.


“Well Ompa”, said Bushkie, “we have all your stuff. Get started on your ship. It is getting late and we need to fly back home”.

Ompa and Kwa rushed to Bushkie and gave him a big hug. “Thanks very much Bushkie”, they said. “And thanks Breadroll and Picklepot. You’ve been so kind to us. Thank you.”

With that they picked up their stuff and quickly got to repair their ship. In a few moments they were ready. “Well then Bushkie”, they said. “ Time for us to leave. Thanks for your help. I know we should not meet again. We are allowed only to visit other planets. But not meet anyone. We will always remember you for your kindness. Good bye Breadroll, goodbye Picklepot”, they waved as they stepped into their ship.

“Bye”, said the three little birds. They actually felt sad saying farewell to their special friends.

The ship flew away softly and quickly. The three sparrows headed back home.

“Whew!”, said Picklepot , “that was exciting. And weird. Nobody will believe us”.

“That’s right”, said Picklepot, “ because you can’t tell anyone. We will get laughed at for the rest of our lives if we go around telling the other birds that we met with creatures from Mars.”

“Yeah”, said Breadroll , “ and all that food went to waste!”.

“Which reminds me”, said Bushkie, “ I’m having seeds and earthworm for dinner tonight. Really boring stuff. Wish I lived on Mars. Lots of chocolates and cheese to eat. But it feels good . We really helped them get back home. I would hate to get stranded so far away from my home, you know. But its all over guys. Lets get back. Home work to do and school again early tomorrow. Aw maaan!”

“ Aww Maaaan!!”, groaned the three young birds as they flew gently back to their homes.

……………………………………to be continued……………

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