SURESH RAMPHUL

 

One evening,

Gathering around their grandmother

The children said,

Nani, Nani, please tell us a bedtime tale.

And good-hearted Nani began:

 

Once upon a time, dear children,

In a far-flung piece of land

There lived a vulture. They say

It was loved by one and all.

It loved flying, swishing,

Swirling and rippling in the air.

It relished fluttering

Over the hills and valleys

And rivers and cities of the world.

 

Hardly could it believe

It had been blessed with good fortune.

Siblings and friends strongly

Disapproved and remonstrated.

Nothing doing.

 

What happened next?

The vulture kept flying.

Here. There. Everywhere.

Higher and still higher.

No matter where it went

It got the finest of everything.

 

As you can see

It was like a dream come true.

It felt like being a little Princess.

Till one sparkling day

A black cat emerged from nowhere.

It was sleek and shiny-coated

And the tail was fluffy.

It appeared to belong to another world.

 

The eyes were like those

Of a wily fox.

Something in those eyes

Made your blood run cold

And sent shivers down your spine.

But the vulture, dazzled,

Detected only innocence and

A pure heart.

 

And then, what happened?

 

They became friends.

It continued its flying spree.

It tried to reach closer and closer

To the sun. As you can imagine

Its wings got burnt.

From the enormous height

It fell with a thud on the rocks

Bruising and wounding itself

Beyond words.

 

It died?

 

No, children, it didn’t.

As you know very well

You can’t go through a trial

And come out unscathed.

Can you?

So now it lies in a corner

Alone, miserable, abandoned

Like an old ship

In the depth of the ocean.

It lies there rueing the day

The black cat crossed its path.

(Knowingly or by inadvertence,

I don’t know)

Now, children, can you tell me

This tale’s moral?

 

And in one voice the children said,

Don’t trust anyone blindly and stupidly.

You’ve only yourself to blame

If you do so.