Archive for the ‘stories’ category

Bukbuk’s Sleepytime Adventure

17 August 2016

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Bukbuk was not sleepy. He lived in a burrow with his parents on a mountain meadow in the Ladakh Himalayas near a place called Dras. It was the first winter of his lfe. He had drunk lot of his Mamma’s milk and eaten crunchy greens, bulbs, roots and shoots and now he was fat, soft, round and furry. But he was not sleepy.

Pa Buk and Ma Buk had told him all about it. That it would snow for many months, and that they had to sleep through all of it. It was a great adventure called “HIBERNATION”.

Pa Buk said, “Bukbuk. its time to hibernate. All Himalayan Marmots hibernate. You have eaten enough and all you need to do is go to sleep. Just take a small nap, and you will fall fully asleep without realising it, and once you wake up, it will be spring.”

Naughty Bukbuk was not happy. As usual, he loved doing “masti” (which means mischief in Hindi language). He was full of energy and wanted to play. He did not want to sleep. Not just yet.

Ma Buk said, “Bukbuk, this is not a normal sleep through the night. When you fall asleep, you will only wake up after a very long time. Pa Buk and I are sleeping on both sides of you. If you do get up and its dark, check if we are sleeping or awake. If we are sleeping, just curl up again next to me and go back to sleep. I will wake you when the warm winds melt the snow in Spring.”

But naughty Bukbuk only thought “Arre waah, if Ma and Pa are asleep, I can do masti and have fun without any-one coming to know!”

But Pa Buk knew Bukbuk very well and he warned him.

“Bukbuk, the winter is a very dangerous time for marmots. The safest thing to do is sleep, becuase it is dark, cold, windy and snowy. And there is still danger. The Snow Fox comes out in winter and catches pikas. If any marmot gets up and goes around in winter, he can die. And we won’t be awake to help you!”

Bukbuk had no choice. Pa Buk closed up the burrow. Ma Buk made a cosy nest of grass and straw, put Bukbuk on it and patted him to sleep while singing a lullaby. Though Bukbuk didn’t want to, slowly his eyes drooped and he slept!

Time passed. Outside cold winds blew. Snow fell and blanketed the mountainside. The rocks, earth, plants all got covered under snow, and every where, if one was awake, one could see a smooth white landscape.

Then something happened! The sun shone for a while and a little snow melted. It made its way through the earth into the marmot burrow. And a single drop fell from the roof of the burrow onto Bukbuk’s head!

“Plop!”

Startled, Bukbuk awoke. He rubbed his little paws on his eyes and looked around. It was totally dark. Beside him, he could feel and hear Ma Buk and Pa Buk sleeping deeply. Slowly his eyes adjusted to the dark. The air was cold, but not too cold.

He shook Ma Buk but she didn’t respond. He shook Pa Buk and he did not wake up either. Ma told me, I should go back to sleep, thought Bukbuk!

But wouldn’t it be fun to just have a look-see at the world in winter?

So he made his way from his cosy nest, through the living burrow and passage to the front door. Pa Buk had blocked it with some mud and plant material and it was frozen. Bukbuk gave a soft push. The block moved a little but sprang back. He pushed harder, and it shifted slightly. A little light was now visible. Bukbuk squeezed through and went out onto the front porch of the Buk burrow. This is Bukbuk’s favourite place and he likes to sit out here and look all around him.

Bukbuk had been here before, but it now looked and felt different. First of all it was very cold not warm. There was a thin layer of snow and the porch felt slippery. Sitting on the porch froze Bukbuk’s bottom but he was curious and looked all around.

Bukbuk was used to seeing all green and brown both all around him and on the mountain opposite, but now it was white, brown and black everywhere. All around him, the snow shone where the sun rays reflected off it and it hurt his eyes to look there. So he looked at the stream next to his burrow on the right – it was gone except for some small ice patches.

The wind now began to flow gently, it was very cold and gave Bukbuk the shivers. But he was not done looking around as yet.

High across the valley, the shining blue lake called as Pariyon ka Talaab (which means the Lake of Fairies in Hindi) had not frozen though it was mid-winter, but the waters now looked dark and mysterious.

The wind picked up more and now the chill went into Bukbuk’s bones. His paws, ears, feet, tail and nose began to hurt. But Bukbuk still looked around.

The sun was shining; the sky was blue but about a third of it was covered with a dark cloud which promised even more snow. It was growing darker, soon the clouds would cover the sun. All over the wind now began to howl, and the wind began to freeze Bukbuk and it also pushed him slowly towards the edge.

Bukbuk realised he was in danger. He desperately scrambled back into the burrow and was barely able to make it when the sun was covered by the dark clouds. The wind roared and if Bukbuk had remained there for just one second, he would have been blown off the mountain to his death. He squeezed in through the slightly open door and stood trembling. He was very, very cold.

After he got over his fright, he pushed the door shut. Fortunately the door was intact. Bukbuk crawled back into the burrow and cuddled up to his mother. Feeling a cold body next to her, she reached out, half-asleep, pulled him close to her. She held Bukbuk to her breast and fed him milk. Slowly Bukbuk thawed, and his mother’s warmth made him feel better. The warm milk filled his tummy and he felt drowsy. Soon he fell asleep.

When he awoke, there was light around, the air was fresh. Ma Buk and Pa Buk were not next to him. And he felt hungry. It was not cold anymore. Bukbuk rushed to the entrance of the burrough where his parents sat looking out.

The snow was melting, green grass was showing in some places. The streams were flowing full. The sunshine warmed his back. The lake on the hill opposite was a shining summer blue again.

The world looked friendly and harmless. Soon he would need to eat.

Then he remembered his experience on that dark winter day. He wondered should I tell Ma and Pa Buk about it? He thought, if they ask me, I will tell them, otherwise not. Bukbuk realised that his parents had told him what was right and protected him from danger yet again.

Do you think Bukbuk has learnt his lesson or will he continue to be a naughty marmot?

THE END

Bukbuk’s First Adventure

8 August 2016

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There never was a naughtier marmot than BukBuk. He lived in a flowery meadow high up in the Himalayas with his Pappa and Mamma!

Bukbuk loved his home. It was under a large rock on the mountain and faced the South. A stream nearby gave them water to drink. Grasses and plants all around meant there was a lot of food for them.

Best of all there was a flat rock just outside his burrow. BukBuk and his parents sat on this rock and enjoyed the sun in their face. It was on this rock that Pappa Marmot taught Bukbuk each day. Bukbuk learnt about the way marmots whistle when they see an enemy such as an eagle.

But most of all, he loved to sit alone on the warm rock, with his nose high in the air to smell the wild flowers and let the wind tickle his whiskers!

But Mamma Marmot would not allow him to sit alone!

“Why can’t I sit on the rock in the sun?”, Bukbuk said crossly.

“Because its dangerous for a young marmot to sit alone out there!”, said Mamma.

Bukbuk didn’t believe it. He had sat there so often and nothing had happened! He had not even heard a real emergency whistle in his life!

One day Bukbuk’s parents went in search of lily bulbs for the larder. Bukbuk was alone. Immediately he thought, “This is chance to sit in the sun alone! After all its so close to the door. I’ll come in very soon and nobody needs even to know!”

Bukbuk went out. He sat on the rock and looked all around. There was a warm sun and a light wind. “This is so much fun, he thought!” The warm rock felt so good that he began to feel drowsy. Bukbuk dozed.

All of sudden, he heard an emergency whistle. He woke with a fright and looked up. A dark shadow blocked the sun. The shadow grew in size. Bukbuk suddenly realised that a very large bird was diving towards him shrieking. It was an EAGLE!!!! Claws held forward, the eagle descended on poor BukBuk. There was no time to turn and run back home. Bukbuk rolled off the rock ro the right and down the slope.

The Eagle narrowly missed him, hitting the rock instead. Bukbuk rolled into a grass patch. For a split second, he was hidden from the Eagle’s view. His heart thumping, he ran as fast as he could downhill towards a hollow rotten tree trunk. The enraged eagle flapped his wings, changed direction and streaked after Bukbuk. He did not mean to miss his meal today.

Bukbuk ran through the grass. He dodged around the stones. In panic, whenever he felt the eagle was about to catch him, he changed direction. He managed to remain just out of reach of the eagle’s claws. Bukbuk reached the log safely.

But the eagle reached there too! Screaming and shrieking, it tore at the soft crumbling wood with its claws. The log began to come apart. Very soon the log would break and Bukbuk would be caught!

Bukbuk looked around frantically! What to do next?

He saw a small burrow nearby. It was narrow but large enough for a young marmot to enter. But it was five feet away. The eagle could catch him on the way. But the eagle was about to finish tearing the log apart. Bukbuk was sure to get caught if he stayed.

Bukbuk fled for the hole! Immediately the eagle pursued. It looked like Bukbuk wouldn’t make it. He dived strainght into the hole. As Bukbuk entered the hole, sharp claws pierced his back and blood spurted. But he was safe. The eagle’s claws could not hold onto Bukbuk who was already deep in the hole.

The enraged Eagle shrieked and tore at the entrance. Deep inside, Bukbuk sat in the dark, bleeding and trembling. Bukbuk felt soft muzzles and whiskers on all sides. It was the Pika family who lived in the burrow.

Time passed. A light rain began outside. A mist descended on the meadow. Marmots could be heard moving around, whistling. Mr Pika accompanied a trembling Bukbuk back to his horrified parents.

Bukbuk’s mother licked off the blood and comforted him. Bukbuk’s father complimented him on his quick thinking. They both asked Bukbuk to be very careful as marmots have many enemies.

Do you think Bukbuk learnt his lesson?

THE END
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This podcast / script has been written by Ashwin Uncle specifically for the Painted Storks Nature Club. On the request of the club members, this is being shared with all the kids of the world. And so the podcast and the script are licensed under Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution-required Sharealike license, which means you can use and distribute this podcast freely and also derive works from it but you must attribute me (Ashwin Baindur), you cannot change its license and all the works derived from this podcast need to be under the same Creative Commons license or an equivalent free license.

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* Narrated and recorded by : Ashwin Baindur
* Story by : Ashwin Baindur
* License for podcast and script : Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution-required Sharealike ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ )
* Short url for podcast –  http://bit.ly/2bbyAlW
* Short url for script – http://wp.me/p4f3X-Rv
* Image copyright : Christopher J. Fynn / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8058274

* Find Bukbuk’s stories on Soundcloud at this link : http://bit.ly/bukbukall

 

Man’s best friend!

13 July 2009

(A work of fiction)

It happened during Op VIJAY in 1999. Tololing had just fallen. I had moved my field company to Drass. We moved into the heights of Sangro between Tiger Hill and the long Manpo La Ridgeline. I shared a bunker with a Maj Ajay, the company commander of Sangro Main where we were constructing field defences.  Maj Ajay  belonged to Alpha company of the GRENADIERS battalion which clung onto the Sangro ridge despite everything the Pakis could throw at them. Our post, Sangro Main,  was regularly shelled by the Pakistani Observation Post at Pt 5109 to the North.

The Company Commander’s bunker at Sangro is on the crest of an exposed knoll connected by a hundred yard corridor to the nearby mountain side. Each day we had to get out of the bunkers carefully at unexpected intervals and scuttle along the ridge to the mountainside. For, if we dawdled or were seen, the ever watchful Pakistani OP would lob a few arty shells at us. On each of these hair-raising excursions, we were accompanied back and forth by Bozo.

Bozo, was a large biscuit-coloured Bhutia. He, and not Ajay, was the real king of Sangro.  He would sit on top of  the Company Commander’s bunker basking in the warm sunlight while we cowered inside or crept along the mountainside. When shelling began, he would yawn, stretch himself and cock his head to peer at the explosions. If he felt they were a mite close, he would amble inside the bunker. Not for Bozo were the jawans bunkers nestled safely amongst the rocks. No, his domain was the company commander’s bunker, the most exposed of all and the favourite target of the Pakistani Mountain Howitzers whose life’s sole mission, it seemed, was to land a shell squarely onto it and blow us all to smithereens. So far, it had not happened and Bozo being the Raja of Sangro naturally chose the Company Commander’s bunker as his home.

Bhutias - fierce protectors and loyal companions. (Image credit - Ms Kishmish)

Being the Tiger’s dog, Bozo was the mascot of Alpha company and the choicest scraps were reserved for him. These he accepted with great dignity from Ajay’s hand only. The rank and file he ignored. It took me a long time and much effort before he deigned to grace me with the permission to pat his head!  Bozo would lord over the other dogs who dare not show their snout anywhere near our knoll. Bozo accompanied Ajay everywhere. He was the apple of Ajay’s eye and they were inseperable. I marvelled at their affection for each other.

In war, bunkermates become bosom-buddies and I soon came to know Ajay quite well. A courageous and competent officer, Ajay was undergoing great personal strife – he was accused of failing to press home an attack on a nearby feature.

Ajay’s company had been tasked to crack a particularly difficult nut, Pt 5200 which had a long flat exposed approach. Just as his company attack had reached the objective,their stealthy approach was noticed by one of the ever-vigilant Pakistani OPs and Ajay’s company were straddled by salvo after salvo as they tried to bunch up for the final assault.  Ajay was knocked unconscious by an arty shell. After the accurate arty fire forced the company to retreat with a large number of casualties,  the local commander blamed Ajay for this debacle, ignoring the fact that the next attack by an infantry battalion was also repulsed by the Pakistanis. Ajay was to face a Court of Enquiry and a possible Court Martial. In those dark days, Ajay seemed to have no friend in the world, except for Bozo who lavished affection on him.

The type of terrain where the attacks go in! RIP our brave martyrs!

One fateful day, Alpha company was ordered to capture Pt 5109, our nemesis. As the troops moved up after dark, Ajay soon found that he was not leading just a company but also a large brown dog. Bozo, happy to do something new, was following him. Shooing him away had no effect. A well-aimed stone drew a whimper and it seemed that Bozo had returned to Sando. An hour later, as Alpha company crouched behind rocks with fixed bayonets, Ajay was startled by a warm wet tongue licking his face. Bozo was intent on assaulting with the GRENADIERS. There was nothing to do but go on. The company moved out silently and soon battle cries and barks surprised the Pakistani outpost which was quickly overpowered. Alpha Company tasted victory for the first time and that too without a casualty. The troops attributed this to the luck that Bozo brought with him and this time Bozo permitted all and sundry to pat him on the head.

Pt 5109 is ten yard narrow ridge with sangars on both sides and a trench in between. The Pakistani shelling soon began but either overshot or fell short. Later that night, a fog crept up and it became very cold.  The troops huddled together, tired and miserable after the gruelling climb and adrenalin rush of battle. An hour passed. Suddenly Bozo stared into the fog and began barking loudly. Ajay immediately stood to with his men just in time to repulse a Pakistani counter-attack which had used the cover of the fog to get close to the post.  Once again the GRENADIERS pushed back the enemy without a casualty.

Except for one, that is. Bozo was found bloody and cowering at the bottom of the trench after the attack. A piece of shrapnel had neatly sliced off his front right paw. He was quickly fitted with a first field dressing and the Company waited for daylight when a company of SIKHS climbed up to relieve them. Bozo was carried down by Ajay in his own arms, no mean feat since Bozo weighed over 20 kgs.

Victory!

Bozo healed rapidly and soon adapted a three legged gait. He moved slowly, but with the same dignity and once again accompanied Ajay everywhere. He was still the Raja of Sangro. With Pt 5109 falling to the GRENADIERS and Tiger Hill falling soon after, we could now sit in the open and enjoy the sunshine on Sangro knoll along with Bozo.  I can still recall, in my mind’s eye, Ajay and Bozo sitting beside me as the last rays of the evening sun fell on our faces and the waters of Pariyon Ka Talab glinted in the distance.

Soon, Ajay had to leave for his Court of Enquiry and he bid a tearful farewell to his best friend. I assured him that I would look after Bozo for him till he returned. Soon I shifted to a bunker on the nearby hillside next to the camp of my field company. Bozo continued to live in Sando but often visited me at mealtimes to the great delight of my sahayak who kept the choicest marrow bones for him.

In early October, Ajay returned. He had finally been exonerated, but his battalion was moving out to a peace station in the desert. He resolved to take his best friend with him. I kept silent as he first retrieved his luggage, then collected Bozo’s collar, dish and blanket and loaded them in the 1Ton. As he turned to get Bozo from where he was basking in the evening sun at his usual spot atop the bunker, I placed my hand on Ajay’s arm. He looked back enquiringly. I quietly reminded him that Bhutias are dogs of cold weather and high altitude and that Bozo would definitely not survive the desert summer. Ajay’s eyes mutinously but silently refused to acknowledge the truth of what I was telling him. But in the heart of hearts, Ajay knew that what I said was true, and now deep sorrow filled his eyes. My hand dropped from Ajay’s arm. He walked over to the knoll and sat next to Bozo. They spent a few moments together and then after petting him for the last time, Ajay returned. He shook hands with me. We could not look each other in the eye. Without looking back Ajay got into the 1Ton and drove away. Bozo was still sitting on the knoll enjoying the evening breeze,  the undisputed three-legged king of Sangro.

..like Bozo, a well-earned rest in the sun..(image credit - Ms Kishkish)

Soon after, my field company finished our task and we too moved on.   I have not yet been able to find anyone who could tell me how Bozo is at Sangro. Thus ended one of the finest friendships I had seen between man and beast. Truly, in those dark days, Bozo had been one man’s best friend.