‘Mumma! So many children in my class have pets at home. I wish we could have one too’, Shona complained.
By Sheeshu Hee
Shona came back from school very upset.
‘What’s the matter dear?’ his mother asked. ‘You don’t seem your usual cheerful self.’
‘Mumma! So many children in my class have pets at home. I wish we could have one too’, Shona complained. ‘Roshan has a dog and a cat, and Leha has fish in an aquarium. Today, Rena brought a tortoise to school. I also want a pet Mumma. Please!’
Shona’s mother handed Shona his glass of milk and said, ‘It’s expensive to keep a pet, dear. We can’t afford it.’
Shona kept silent. He knew his mother was right. His father worked very hard as a gardener, and it was with great difficulty that the family managed their finances.
‘But wait! I’ve got a great idea!’ Shona’s mother suddenly exclaimed. She rushed into the kitchen and came out with a loaf of bread and a handful of peanuts. ‘Come dear, let’s go up to the terrace!’, she said.
When they got to the terrace, Shona’s mother laid out bits of bread and the peanuts on a plate. She filled a bowl with water and placed it nearby. ‘Now, let’s sit here and watch,’ she said excitedly.
In just a few minutes, a pair of pigeons flew in. They went straight for the bread and began to munch hungrily. After they departed, it was the turn of a team of mynahs. Then came a pack of bright green parrots, who were followed by a majestic-looking raven. Soon, the bread was over!
Shortly afterwards, a family of bushy-tailed squirrels leapt out from a nearby tree and raced down to where the peanuts were. They looked like the chipmunks that Shona had seen in a story-book!
Shona and his mother watched the birds and squirrels eating with great delight. ‘How sweet they are Mumma!’ Shona cried out. ‘How innocent they look!’
‘And so well-mannered too!’ Shona’s mother added. ‘They don’t fight over food like we humans sometimes do!’
‘Mumma, how did they know there was food here?’ Shona asked his mother.
‘God has fixed where every creature will have its food, dear, and God directs everyone to exactly that place,’ Shona’s mother answered.
‘Mumma, could we please lay out food every day here for the birds and squirrels?’ Shona requested.
‘Oh, that’s such a wonderful idea!’ Shona’s mother beamed. ‘We may not be able to afford to keep a pet at home but we can certainly keep some food on the terrace every day for visiting birds and squirrels. We can even put out our left-over food here, instead of throwing it into the bin. The creatures who’ll come by to eat can be our pets, and we can enjoy watching them! Who knows, if we’re lucky, we’ll even have monkeys, bandicoots and many kinds of insects stopping by for a meal once in a while! That way, we’ll have not just one pet but many, many different kinds of pets!’
‘Oh, that would be wonderful Mumma! Thank you so much!’ Shona exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around his mother and gave her a tight hug.