A Peacock Song
Amita was trying to juggle, but she felt that her hands were stiff. Something was very wrong. Amita the Juggler caught her reflection in the mirror. The juggler’s heart was pounding like crazy. Her mind refused to believe it. A wooden doll in a bright sari stared at her from the mirror. The girl cried in horror. “What has happened to me? Who am I? A doll?”
The juggler stomped her feet in an attempt to distract herself from the image she saw.
“Don’t panic. I can still think, talk, and walk. Not bad! Under these circumstances. I have to remember every moment of the previous days that led up to this moment.”
Her mind was muddy water, and one idea splashed up from it, clear and exclusive. “I shouldn’t have eaten so many gulab jamuns at the party! They did taste weird! I felt dizzy and sleepy after the treat. Oh, but those soft spongy flour and milk balls, fried and soaked in syrup, were so sweet. So wickedly irresistible!” Amita’s thoughts were confused; her mind hummed. The girl flinched as she heard someone knock on the door. She asked with caution, “Who is it?”
“It’s me. Barry the Parrot.”
“Come on in,” the girl said, “but you have to swear not to tell anyone about what happened to me.”
“You have my word.” Barry replied and snapped the door open. He stared at her with undisguised amazement.
“Well, you’re amazing as ever, but I won’t deny that you look a little bit different,” the parrot added with caution.
“I know I look weird. But I can’t imagine who did it to me and why. My body is stiff; my thoughts are mixed up.”
“Don’t give up. I’ll find out. That’s what friends are for!”
“I’m normally not a morning person – in fact, I hate mornings and don’t really want to talk to anyone,” Krish the Peacock whooped.
“Really? Why? Mornings are bliss – quiet and cool; the traffic is light, and the rickshaws are running like fine-tuned machines. I love India in the mornings more than ever!” Raja the Chipmunk said, sipping his masala tea. “It’s the best time to drive a rickshaw on dusty roads.”
Krish was somber and asked, “Where’s Barry the Parrot?”
“I’ll find him, eventually, but I doubt he’ll be much help.”
“Why not? He speaks Hindi. None of us can.”
“You’re right. We should interrogate the locals. They might have seen Donut the Elephant. Let’s go!”
“Don’t rush me. You know, my shoulder’s still sore from when that crazy chimp hit me with a stone.”
“Sorry, that was my fault. I had to warn you that the chimp was dangerous. I’m not good enough to be your partner.”
“Are you kidding? You’re the best I’ve ever worked with.”
“That’s good to hear, and encouraging! Let’s get back to work then! And you won’t have time to get all weepy over a couple of scars. We’ve got a big case. Big as an elephant. I mean the mysterious disappearance of Donut the Elephant in the Jaipur Circus. No witnesses or clues. The elephant has been missing for six hours.”
“Could a gigantic elephant have disappeared?”
“Precisely. Odd, or what?”
“To tell the truth, I’m worried.”
“It seems we’re going to deal with a kidnapping.”
The circus was overcrowded. That was the time of the performance. Acrobats, clowns, jugglers, conjurers, mimes, and rope-walkers scurried back and forth.
“We must find Donut’s dressing room,” Krish assumed.
“I think it won’t be very hard. His dressing room should be the biggest in the circus!” Raja smiled. He saw a pony with a braded mane and asked him, “Where is Donut’s room?”
“Over there. Just turn around the corner and you’ll see it on your left,” the pony replied, and galloped away.
“That’s fabulous! I mean…the circus atmosphere,” Krish said. “I just like to smell the sawdust when I walk in here!”
“Should we knock?” Raja the Chipmunk asked.
“What for?” Krish whispered, “The owner has disappeared. If there is a stranger in the room, we’d better catch him off guard.” So they walked in, without knocking.
The dressing room was huge and full of bright circus outfits; gigantic hoops and balls were scattered around.
“Well, zany outfits…Just look at that pillbox hat!”
“It’s fun. Everything is SO HUGE! I feel myself a tiny bug!”
“Let’s not waste time. Look for clues!” Krish said.
“What exactly shall I look for?”
“I don’t know… Weird things that don’t belong here.”
Raja went to a large chest by the window. He opened up the lid and examined the contents. There were two yellow buttons, a fake clown’s nose, and a few silver garlands there.
“What is in there?” Krish asked him.
“Nothing important,” Raja said with disappointment.
“Keep looking! The clues have to be somewhere here.” Raja came to a shabby wicker basket. The chipmunk looked into it. And he felt his heart miss a bit. A note-book! The word “DIARY” was written in large letters on the cover.
“I think I’m lucky today! I’ve just found Donut’s diary! “This diary is the key to success!” Raja said with a victorious smile. He opened the note-book and frowned. “It’s like chicken scratch! Hard to read. Impossible to understand!”
“Let me take a look!” Krish the Peacock said, “The last diary entry was written yesterday. Great! It can give us leads that we may follow. But I can’t make out what he wrote either.”
“Perhaps, Donut was in a hurry writing this,” the chipmunk suggested. Krish nodded as he flipped through the pages.
“Being able to read Donut’s writing is a gift!” Raja laughed.
The peacock bowed his head and said, “There is a peculiar rhyme about lions in the diary. It seems relevant to our case. Listen, Raja!” He read the rhyme out loud.
I WOULD’T BE MUTE!
“Hi, guys! Busy working? I’m sorry for being late. Taking a cup of spicy lassi is an essential part of my way of life, you
THE LIONS WERE GOOD,
BUT TURNED INTO SOOT.
TO FIND THAT BOOT,
MIME BURNT THE WOOD.
I DO WHAT I SHOULD…
“Any ideas what it means?”
“No, I can’t guess any…”
“All right. We’ll think about it later.”
The door snapped open; Barry the Parrot darted into the room with his scooter.
“Why are you late? Your vehicle is small and can squeeze through little spaces between cars in any traffic jam!” Raja the Chipmunk said in a loud voice.
know,” the parrot replied cheerfully.
“A joyful belly is half success,” Krish giggled.
“Any progress? Where are we with the case?”
“We’ve just started. Raja has found a diary with cute rhymes. I noticed a tiny figurine of an elephant. It seems to be carved from sandalwood. I think someone else left it here because it’s too small to be Donut’s belongings!” Krish the Peacock said, “I’m going to show the figurine to our experts.”
“Well, what’s about Sparky? Have you questioned him?” Barry the Parrot tweeted.
“You mean Sparky the Clown?” Krish whooped. “Why?”
“I see you’re once again one step behind me in this investigation. Gossip is buzzing about the bizarre incident with the clown’s boots.”
“What? Tell us everything you know!” Raja pleaded.
“Well, there was a confrontation between Sparky the Clown and the lions the day before yesterday. A big and nasty quarrel, I should say. The next day the clown’s boots were found chewed and torn. The lions had escaped from the circus without being noticed. Is there any connection with Donut’s disappearance? I wouldn’t hesitate a moment to say “Yes”. We have to find the link between the two crimes.”
“You’re absolutely right.” Krish nodded. “If there is any link, our priority in the investigation is to find it.”
Raja said excitedly, “Do you really believe that lions ran away? What’s about Donut? It seems we have to deal with cunning and treacherous criminals.”
Barry agreed, “Once is an incident; twice is a pattern.”
“In my opinion, the gang is operating in the city!” Krish added. “We should be cautious. The criminals involved in the kidnapping must be hostile and very dangerous.”
“First, we must find the clown’s boots!” Raja was persistent. “It can give us clues to the lions’ disappearance. We may find out something about missing Donut as well.”
“You’re right. We shouldn’t exclude the fact that the clown might be involved.” Krish nodded. “We have to go to the circus and take a good look around.”
“Let’s separate. We shall watch with the peeled eye.” Krish the Peacock suggested. “I’m going to the circus. You’ll talk to the locals, maybe somebody saw something. Take Barry the Parrot with you. He speaks fluent Hindi and might be of great help.” Raja the Chipmunk nodded.
“Come on, Barry, let’s go. We’ve got work to do!” Raja cried, and jumped off the sidewalk.
“Look out!” someone screamed.
A paw grasped the chipmunk at the tail and pulled him back, just as a big and fast-moving truck swept past.
Raja swung round to face his savior. A blue gray lizard was gawking at him with great curiosity. Barry the Parrot ran to the chipmunk; his beak was wide open of anxiety.
“That was close. You’re lucky,” Oliver the Lizard said.
“Thank you!” Raja the Chipmunk exclaimed in agitation; his eyes were huge. The bright turban, he was wearing, crooked.
“Trying to get yourself killed, silly you?” Barry was furious.
“I’m all right, Barry. Stop fidgeting!” Raja begged him.
Krish the Peacock was running to them at full speed. He was whooping and flopping his wings.
“The peacocks are adorable creatures. But the voice sounds hilariously awful.” Oliver the Lizard complained when he turned his head and saw the peacock.
Barry lowered his head onto one side and smirked. He said, “Krish doesn’t think so, and he might be severely offended.”
“Um… I’m sorry for being that rude. I’m just a depressed lizard with nothing to lose because I’ve already lost my tail!”
“What?” Raja the Chipmunk cried out in bewilderment. “How do you feel about that? I mean…losing your tail.”
“I feel awful. Put that in capital letters: AWFUL!” Oliver the Lizard moaned, his eyes filled with tears.
“Come on, don’t cry!” Krish said, “A good song may help! I know so many cheerful songs, there’s one…”
“Krish, wait a moment. Let’s ask him a few questions first,” the parrot said. “Where are you from? And what are you doing in the city of Jaipur?”
“I’m from the forests of Mizoram. It’s in Northeast of India where the atmosphere is cool, fresh, and quiet. I came here to find the famous magician Sparky,” Oliver said, “His magic is powerful enough to make my tail grow again.”
“You must be wrong with the choice of the person that you are looking for. Sparky is a clown. This is the first time I’ve heard that he does magic!” Krish the Peacock giggled.
“Is Sparky a circus clown?” Oliver the Lizard exclaimed. “No. Look, no…that can’t be the truth.”
“We aren’t circus-lovers, but we go to the circus quite often now. We can prove that Sparky is not who you think he is!” Raja was thrilled with this news.
“All right. But first, I need some water. I’m very thirsty. How could you tolerate the day’s heat?” Oliver grumbled. “It’s unbearable! I was sure I would have gotten used to it eventually, but it sapped every bit of energy out of me. I haven’t been myself since I lost my tail.”
“You should start doing something new and exciting!” Raja the Chipmunk suggested. “The most fun we ever have is when we’re doing something we’re not really supposed to!”
Barry the Parrot and his scooter
“Perhaps, it will help and you’ll stop complaining until we find a way to solve your problem with the tail.” Krish the Peacock said to the depressed lizard.
“Sorry, but I can’t really sugar coat my feelings all the time.” Oliver said with a sad smile. “By the way, talking about new experiences that can distract me from my problems…Can I drive your rickshaw, Raja?”
“Are you crazy as road lizards? Sorry, you ARE a lizard! Now I realize the reference is lost on you.” Raja the Chipmunk was confused. “No way! I won’t let you drive my rickshaw!”
“Why? Driving a rickshaw isn’t riskier than the other stuff I do. Of course, I’m aware of Indian traffic and the lack of any rules,” the lizard said, staring quizzically at the chipmunk.
“If you’ve got no experience, my best advice to you is NEVER, and I mean NEVER try to drive yourself in India…it’s suicide!” Raja replied in a confident voice.
“Did you notice who was driving that crazy truck that you had hardly escaped from?” Krish asked.
“Well, I didn’t really see his face. But I did notice the red orange wig and the bright clown cap!” Raja replied.
“Coincidence?” Krish wondered. “No, I don’t think so.”
“No trace of the missing elephant and the lions!” Barry the Parrot said, and flopped into a chair beside Raja the Chipmunk and Krish the Peacock. He wrinkled his nose in a quizzical expression. “What’s about the diary? Have you guessed the meaning of the rhyme?”