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Bunis Wishes

By Y.Madhuri

And the animals knew it. They just knew that hard days were upon Buni.
The villagers of Buni believed they werent a bad sort of people at all. Maybe they werent, but they
wished they had more. They wished for more paddy from their fields and more sugarcane and they
wished for more water and more land. They wished for more of everything.
They chased away every insect that crawled in their grains. They shooed every bird that plucked a few
tender shoots. They drove away every animal that trampled, burrowed or ate into their fields.
Chase the hens, dog, Sumpi growled at Kappa. They are eating our grains.
And Kappa chased the hens around. Kappa wasnt a bad sort of dog, but, he didnt know how to say no.
He never touched the hens, not even a feather that had come loose and was blowing about in the wind.
He simply ran after them until his legs ached and his tongue lolled.

One day, elephants entered their fields. It was the smell of the cane. The sugarcane stood tall and ready
to be cut. The elephants surrounded the fields. They snapped the sugarcane off the stalks and munched
the sweet cane.
When a villager shouted, Elephants! Elephants! the whole village came, beating drums, blowing
trumpets and swishing long sticks.
Dog, yelled Sumpi. Drive the elephants out. Cant you see them trampling our sugarcane?
Kappa was too small to drive a herd of elephants out, but he did his best. He barked and howled with
the beat of the drums, until the last of the elephants were gone.
That night Kappa lay down in misery. His heart was heavy. His head hung down, and his eyes were dull.
He couldnt eat. He couldnt sleep. How I wish I could say no, he thought. I wish I didnt have to chase
another animal or bird!
Kappa thought these strange thoughts while the village slept and dreamt of mounds of paddy and stacks
of sugarcane from their fields and tons of fish from Bunis lake. He thought while the monkeys began
chattering.

He continued to think while a giant pear rolled into the village out of nowhere. It was a bit of magic
since there wasnt a pear tree anywhere in Buni or for miles around. And this was a giant pear that could
house a bird.
Magic was upon the village of Buni, it was good magic and it was
w bad magic. It all depended on the
wishes.
When the sun rose, Kappa sniffed and he stood.
stood There was a strange smell in the air, a fresh smell. He
raced to the strange, giant pear. He rolled
rolled it this way and that. He knew it when he smelt a good thing.
He knew there was life beating inside.
But, it was time to chase the hens. Sumpi was yelling for him already. Miserable dog,, where are you
you?
Come here at once! The hens are in the grain hold!
hold
Kappa left the pear behind and ran after the hens.

He was still chasing them when the pear cracked open and out leapt a strange bird. With a long tail of
red, green, blue and yellow feathers,
feathers she leapt up on her thin legs.
Kappa was chasing the hens at a safe distance when the strange bird joined the hens.. Kappa continued
chasing them, he couldnt stop himself once he started. The strange bird was new to this. She didnt
know that Kappa meant no harm. She squawked and fled to the fields where Sumpi was waiting for any
bird or animal that so much as smelt his precious crop.
He was furious and he chased the bird through the field and the village and he chased her right out of
Buni.
The bird ran like the wind.. In moments, she was just a speck in the distance. Buni never saw the bird
again.
Kappa was miserable. He wanted to keep the strange bird safe, but he had failed. He slouched to the
village pond where he sat brooding.
He must say no! He must say no to a bad thing!
thing

Kappa, whispered a trembling voice. It had to call him thrice, before


befor Kappa heard.
He looked up and around.
A rabbit!
Kappa was puzzled. A rabbit was calling
call him. He was Kappa, the village dog, who chased away all the
birds and all the animals. No animal would come near him. He was a lonely dog.
The
he rabbit called him again. Sssst Kappa.
Kappa was up in a shot and in two great bounds, he stood in front of the rabbit at the edge of the lake of
Buni.
The rabbit trembled. Her whiskers shivered as if a great cold wind blew. You... you... must save m
my
friend, she gulped.
Sure rabbit, said Kappa, I will if I can.
can. You arent asking me to save an elephant, are you?
Not an elephant, Kappa, said the rabbit. Her voice settled a bit. You must save the tortoise.
Kappa leaned over the lakes edge but he couldnt see a tortoise. Is the tortoise drowning? he asked.

Of course not, snapped a deep voice. Can tortoises drown?


Well, I dont know if they can, said Kappa, looking around.
On the ground, in front of him, stood a tortoise, neither too large, nor too small. He hadnt seen her
coming. Whats the trouble? he asked.
Couldnt you keep your nasty paws off the fire bird?
Fire bird?
The one thats born of the pear. That one!
Oh, but I didnt, cried Kappa. I didnt do a thing to it. It was Sumpi. He got to that... that... that fire
bird. You must know that! Kappa desperately wanted the tortoise to know the truth.
Havent you chased the birds every day of your life? And the elephants?

I wish I could say no to Sumpi, Kappa hung his head down in misery. If I dont chase them, he would
think I am lazy.
See what you have done now! said the tortoise. The lake is drying up!
Kappa looked at the pond. Certainly, the lake was inches lower than it was yesterday. In fact, it was
lower than when Kappa had stopped by it a while ago.
The lakes drying up! he said in dismay. But why?
The fire bird was good magic and you and your Sumpi drove it away. Its taken the water with it.
The fish will die! said Kappa. And the crabs! He thought a bit. Well, I can take them one at a time to
a river if theres one.
They wont make it, said the tortoise. You can take me across the desert to the river in the valley and
Ill be grateful for that. There are crocodiles in the river, but I can hide better from them than from the
frying sun and from the humans. What are you waiting for?
Kappa held the tortoise carefully in his jaws and walked the long, hot way to the valley across the hills. It
was a far distance away and the humans knew nothing about it.

For a week Kappa walked with the tortoise in his mouth. He barely slept a couple of hours each
afternoon when the sun was too hot to walk, before the tortoise prodded him and he rose and walked
again. There was nothing but sand and more sand. At some places, it reached higher than his ankles. All
he ate were a few ants and lizards.
His jaws ached, his tummy rumbled, his legs threatened to buckle, but he walked and he walked until at
last, he reached the hills and climbed to the hill top. In front of them was the green valley. The river
Davari flowed through it.
What a sight! Deer and elephants were sipping and guzzling the water. Crocodiles dipped and rose and
floated. Birds chirped, monkeys chattered and dark clouds stood heavy in the sky.
Strength came rushing back to Kappa and he broke into a trot down the hill. With great care, he set the
tortoise down on the rivers bank.
I wish... I wish..., said Kappa. He stared with deep longing at the sparkling river and the green valley.
You can stay here if you want, she said.
Kappas face burst into a wide smile. I think Ill do just that, he said.
Youre not a bad sort, she smiled and nodded before sliding quietly into the river.

Back home, the lake was drying up so alarmingly fast that the villagers cried and ran to wise Jambiji.
Jambiji knew a great lot about many things that no one knew about. He knew how to paint the moon, he
knew how to blow the wind about until a great tornado spun and lifted everything in its way, but he
didnt know how to bring the dark clouds back or how to cool the sun or how to bring the great river
Davari to their village. He had seen the river as a child and no longer remembered the way.
But, he knew one thing. He knew how to carry water without letting it dry and he knew places where
water can grow.
He grunted when they pleaded with him and he came to the lake. The lake had dried to a pond and the
pond into a puddle.
Before it could dry to a drop of water and disappear altogether, Jambiji pulled his turban loose. The
moment he pulled it off, muttering strange chants to himself, it turned into a net.
He laid this net carefully on the puddle. Through the magic net, the water now glittered and shimmered.
Jambiji let it settle down at the bottom of the puddle and when all the bubbles were gone, he carefully
pulled the four ends together and tied them in a knot.

He lifted the net. Not a drop of water stood on the ground now. It was safely in the net. Slinging it over
his shoulder, he began walking without a word, away from Buni, away from the valley to which Kappa
was taking the tortoise.
The villagers followed Jambiji. They packed what they could, they loaded all their things on bullock carts
and on their heads and they walked behind him.
When they reach a new place where water can grow, Jambiji will release the water and there will grow a
pond, lake, stream or river. They would settle by that place and live long. It wont be forever, nothing is
forever, but they could live for a long, long time, if they lived carefully and if they didnt wish for more
than what they had and if they shared what they had with the animals and the birds.

***

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