A Stinky Save

pelican01Pele was as smelly as a fish. This doesn’t mean he was a fish. No, in fact, he was a pelican who could trace his lineage to 30 million years ago. However, even his ancestors would disapprove of the particularly nasty smell that would emanate from him, spreading disgust and loathing to all who had an olfactory sense.

Nothing could be done about it, for you see, Pele was a storer. Take for example what happened a month ago. Like the rest of his family he was hunting a type of herring called menhaden, when suddenly he spotted an entire family his family had missed. Delicious mother, father and fourteen baby menhadens all swimming blissfully oblivious to the lurking danger.

He swooped down and took the entire family into his large gular sack beak in one deft swallow. Then, instead of doing what normal pelicans do, that is swallow the entire family, Pele gulped mom and dad and stored the rest of the babies in his sack beak.

This would have been fine if he had eaten the fish the next day but that wasn’t Pele’s style. He would store fish for months in his beak. Nobody knew why. Pelicans being polite didn’t want to tell him a)he smelt of rotting roses b)to please immediately eat what he caught c)there are plenty more fish in the water.

Pele would often wonder why none of the other pelicans joked around with him or had conversations. On some days, he would even get the distinct impression that the others were avoiding him. Now, pelican beaks are spacious and can store up to three buckets of fish. Pele, the diligent hoarder, make sure no storage space was ever wasted.

One day a huge cold wave swept down on the lake and froze everything. The birds were startled. They had never seen anything like this in their entire lives. At first, they didn’t know what to do and just focussed on huddling together and keeping warm. It was only in the evening they realised they hadn’t fished for food. They couldn’t for their beaks weren’t strong enough to crack the ice. Starvation seemed to be peering anxiously around the corner waiting for an invite.

Nobody knew what to do. On day two, the mothers started howling, their babies were starving. Their cries reached Pele in his isolated corner in a cliff. He flew down to check what the fuss was about. The frozen lake and the hungry looking members of his flock were not a pretty sight to see.

He went up to the baby creche and opened his beak. The fish were a month old. Nobody minded. Hunger can make any food yummy. The fledglings ate their fill and feel asleep. The mothers stoically refused to dig into the tempting ration.

The cold wave lasted five more days. Many adults, mothers, fathers, friends and foes died in this ghastly weather change but the children survived. Thanks to Pele, not a single baby bird went hungry.

This doesn’t mean after all this misfortune Pele became popular overnight. The pelicans still avoided him. Nobody could take the stink but something had changed. Whenever they passed by him (at a safe distance) they always nodded their heads courteously or yelled a hello and fled before he could return the greeting.

Moral: What you save will save you.

Pele is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com


That Which Can’t Be Told

Scrofa-Boar01 Imagine being considered an environmental threat and an important food source – Scrofa gave a maniacal grin for that’s exactly what he was. One of his continuously growing teeth grew a quarter of a millimetre further in pride. With such impeccable credentials Scrofa had no reason to feel the slightest tinge of despair. However he suffered from a condition called ‘gloom’, which affected 99% of the sub species on earth called ‘youth’. They were known to make rash, impulsive choices without giving a hoot about the consequences. Scrofa, the wild boar was no different, but what he wanted to do was so terrible he dared not speak about it to even his fellow younglings.

It all began because of some eavesdropping. His mother had told him a hundred times not to do it and he had disobeyed every single times. Serves him right you may say but have a kind heart, he is after all ‘young’.

Scrofa was snacking on some wild berries when suddenly he froze. Two hunters were talking about the most delicious way to prepare wild boar. One of them spoke in great detail about his favourite wild boar ragù. He said it was the most delicious slow-cooked stew with juniper berries and black olives, served best with freshly cooked pappardelle pasta and shavings of parmesan. Through Scrofa had no idea what the man was blathering about it sounded so good.

The other hunter not be outdone talked in great length about his wild boar ribs recipe with fig barbeque sauce. Scrofa got a little more excited, he knew the word fig. The hunters soon began boasting about all the wild boar preparations they had ever eaten.

They seemed to have tucked-into every single wild boar dish in the world from the humble wild boar goulash to the exotic wild boar with Sansho pepper served with soba-roll, fresh vegetables and acorn squash puree. What?! Scrofa sighed, he was anyway never ever going to get to eat any of this. He began to slink away like those with access to lesser fortunes, when one of the hunters dipped his voice. In a whisper he said, he wouldn’t recommend this for the chicken-hearted but the best wild boar is that, which is eaten raw after a fresh kill. All you need to do is crush a lemon over it. The meat was superbly flavourful, moist with blood, it had an intrinsic strong, sweet, nutty character you would remember all your life.

Scrofa’s heart drummed wildly. He had to eat freshly killed wild boar, he had to know for himself whether it was as good. For days he carried this burning shame in him, the need to gorge on one of his own. He looked at his father, mother, fiancée, brothers, sisters and wondered how they would taste. He nibbled listlessly at the underground roots. Pah! He wanted meat.

It must have been the devil who placed temptation literally on his path. He was walking listlessly in the woods when suddenly he saw one of his cousin’s bodies strewn on the ground, dismembered by a leopard, who had ambled off for a snooze after having had his fill.

Scrofa didn’t think twice. Without an iota of guilt he ran and got some lemon. Squeezing it over a piece of cousin he took a bite. Chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. No big deal, it tasted just like the mouse he had yesterday. Though, it was a bit insulting to think that he tasted like a mouse, Scrofa was secretly relived he didn’t find wild boar meat tasty. He knew cannibals weren’t popular in his society.

Scrofa soon outgrew the malady called ‘youth’, settled down with a nice sow, had her piglets and one day died of a condition called ‘old age’. However, all his life, in a corner of his heart he carried his unspeakable secret, a secret so horrible, he had to lie to himself in order to live a normal life. His cousin had been yum. Very yum.

Moral: Everybody has one secret they can’t tell anybody.

Scrofa is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com


Loving Would Be Easy If Your Colours Were Like My Dream

chameleon01 He changed from a bitter sweet citrine yellow to a smouldering flaming mahogany to a nervous violet blue to a gloomy battleship grey in a matter of 42 seconds. She was having her periods again. Igu (Friends-call-me-Ig) the chameleon sighed.

His chromaophore cells were feeling extremely tired. The period of her menstrual cycle was always tough on them for they had to relocate their pigment to change colour a zillion times to suit her roller coaster moods on these hormone filled days.

This change wasn’t just restricted to her ovulation period. If Squamata (don’t scoff, that was his beloved’s name) woke up happy, Ig would change into a sparkling yellow of summer light. If she was undecided, his body would have every shade of her unstable emotion.

Squamata hated this. She detested the fact that he could be her mirror. Tell her exactly what she felt even before she sensed it. Once, when her mother passed away (The Creature God rest her soul) before Squamata could shed a single tear, Ig had turned into the coldest, deepest blizzard blue.

Or the other time when she met her schoolmate who stayed in Hawaii and had married the crab millionaire. They had gone to a beach party reunion, thrown of course by her schoolmate’s husband. Much to Squamata’s acute discomfort Ig had turned an unmissable shade of Caribbean green when he met her. Nobody in that party had a single doubt about what Squamata felt for her erstwhile learning buddy. In case anybody had an iota of confusion, Ig had whispered loudly asking her not to feel jealous but happy, so he could change back. Poor Ig, he went home a flaming, fiery, raging, scarlet red.

Squamata finally took her mother’s advice and left him for good that day. He begged, pleaded, cried and even offered to have plastic surgery and get his changing chromaophore cells removed. It didn’t help, she had made up her mind. Next time she was going to date a 100 year old bark of wood. It would at least stay the same shade of burnt sienna for the next hundred years.

Ig was heart broken. The worst part was when she left, his skin was a joyous school bus yellow, while his heart (which nobody could see) was a miserable storm cloud grey. He was so unhappy he couldn’t think. He walked the whole day through various topographies not even registering his colour changing from the copper rose of the rocks to the light spring green of the jungle to the grizzly fawn of the sand. Finally, exhausted he fell asleep.

When he woke he was mildly tickled to see his body was a mix of bright, fluorescent colours – a cheerful cotton candy pink nudged a screaming acid green that elbowed a wild electric blue, which shoved a stunning neon carrot orange. Wow. He had fallen asleep in a bed of blooming flowers.

Now it is impossible to be unhappy when your body looks like something that has dropped acid. It was only a matter of hours before he forgot Squamata and her desertion. He decided to stay in this rainbow of happiness. He knew it would save him and heal his battered heart.

Two weeks passed. Meanwhile, Squamata was having a rough time. All the creatures she dated were so weird. One was a french kiss obsessed frog, another lizard liked getting her to cut his tail and watch it wiggle, together, a third was a shy turtle who would never get out of his shell no matter what she wore. Where had all the normal males gone?

After her seventh bizarre date, she decided to drop the whole ‘finding-a-mate’ process and asked her dad to find someone. He did. A chameleon who would rotate both his eyes in different directions while talking to her. Once she stopped feeling dizzy after looking at him she started running in the opposite direction.

She suddenly paused mid flight. She saw something bright, attractive and so colourful it was impossible to feel sad. She decide she was going to live in that happy colour circle. It would cheer her up and help her forget Ig, whom she confessed to her sad self, she was missing sorely

Ig hearing footsteps looked up. As soon as he saw Squamata he grinned. Not in love but in amusement. His body had turned the most interesting shade of embarrassing strawberry pink.

Moral: When love changes for you, don’t change your love.

Igu (Friends-call-me-Ig) is drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com


Starving In The Time of Constipation

funbeetleButtercup chewed her cud amicably. Looking at that peaceful face you would never suspect anything was amiss. However, dig a little deeper, right up to her stomach and it will tell a different story. It had been two days since poor Buttercup had a dump. To reasons unknown to man or cow, Buttercup was constipated.

The only other creature who knew about Buttercup’s uneasiness was Zambesi, the dung beetle. It was her habit to wait every morning for Buttercup to shed her load. Then with great agility and strength she would roll a giant ball of dung. Using the Milky Way to navigate (the only insect in the galaxy who didn’t need GPS), she would roll the turd into her dining room under the tree. There, she would sink into the shit’s stinking softness and feast the entire day.

It was now two days since Zambesi had a morsel of poo. She racked her brains on how to fix it. Finally, she decided to go to Bark, the farm dog. She had seen him eat something to heal his stomach. Initially, the conversation was a bit stuttered. Zambesi was a delicate beetle and talking about bowel movements wasn’t her forte.

Luckily for her once the subject had been broached, Bark had no such compunctions. He waxed eloquent on the benefits of chomping on grass when the stomach wasn’t functioning properly. Zambesi pointed out Buttercup was a cow and eating grass was definitely not helping her.

Bark searched the crevices of his mind for a solution. Suddenly he lit up. There was this particular mushroom he had eaten once, which had given him loosies for two days. Maybe that would help. He anxiously asked Zambesi whether she minded the texture of discharge being a bit watery till the stomach was set right. Zambesi shook her head and weakly said food in any form is good.

Bark took her to the mushroom cave. Zambesi rolled three mushrooms, which was ten times her weight right-up to Buttercup. Silly little cow, instead of limiting her diet and refusing this tidbit, she gobbled it up in one crunch. Bark and Zambesi waited a full day. Nothing happened. It was now day three of no doo-doo.

Of course, Zambesi could have gone elsewhere to another cow, but she was a loyal little beetle and loved her Buttercup very much. She knew if something didn’t happen soon, Buttercup and she would die. One, from too much shit and the other from the lack of it.

Bark was worried. He had gotten fond of little Zambesi. That happens when you share intimate facts about your poo-poo with someone. He didn’t want her to perish. Suddenly he had an idea (He got it from the thief he had captured the previous night).

He told Zambesi to come to the field at the stroke of midnight. She did, prompt little thing. With the help of the moonlight she could see Bark stealthily moving towards a sleeping Buttercup. When Bark reached up to Buttercup’s hooves, without her noticing, he suddenly gave a blood curling growl.

It shattered the night and the silence lay broken petrified by this intrusion. Buttercup leaped two inches in the air and shat a mother-load. She has never been so scared in her life.

Zambesi immediately dived into the dook and tucked in. Boy, was she hungry and she knew this soft, warm dung had all the nutrients she would ever need. The stars twinkled bright, Buttercup’s heart began beating normally again and her stomach felt a delicious lightness after so long.

Moral: What love can’t do, fear can.

Zambesi and Buttercup are drawn by the fabulous Bijoy Venugopal. You can find more of his wonderful stuff here bijoyvenugopal.com