Ring…ring…’ the doorbell was ringing. Jambu, the jackal was shaving his beard. He came out with shaving cream still on his face.
“Who is it?”
Again he heard, ‘Ring… Ring…’
“Yes, I am coming.” Opening the door, he recognised his friend.
“Bhalla! When did you come?” He hugged his close friend so tightly that Bhalla’s neck was smeared with half of the cream.
Bhalla, the bear had taken a day’s off from his job. Early that morning he had thought of meeting his old friend.
Jambu caught hold of his hand and pulled him in, saying “Are you going to stand outside? Come in. Have some snacks and tea before going home.”
Bhalla started smiling while drinking tea.
“What is the matter?”
“I am recollecting our childhood days. Leave the snacks aside. Come, let us go and kick up a racket in the forest just like the good old days.”
Both of them looked at each other and within minutes they were off.
In front of the bazaar where the four tamarind trees stood, a monkey selling icecream shouted, “Milk, frozen milk. Buy one to feel cool!”
The naughty friends looked at each other. Bhalla asked, “How much is the mango bar?” “Ten rupees!” “Oh! This is daylight robbery!” Bhalla said and sat down. Now Jambu took over and said, “Brother, have some pity on him.”
“Uncle, this is the rate,” said the monkey.
“Okay! Take this.” Jambu took out money from his pocket and handed it to the monkey and gave the ice cream bar to his friend.
Bhalla was enjoying the ice cream with closed eyes. Now Jambu nudged him and said, “Greedy old man! Will you eat alone? Give me some of it.”
Bhalla turned his face away.
“Will you not give me some?” asked Jambu facing him. This went on for quite a while. Jambu started circling Bhalla.
“Sir, you also take ice cream,” said the monkey, trying to pacify him.
“You will give me one?” Jambu acted surprised.
“Yes, why not?”
Jambu was delighted. He took the ice cream from the monkey. Then the monkey extended his hand and asked, “Sir, money. Please pay for it.”
“Money for what?” Both the friends asked slapping their chest.
“Oh! For the ice cream. What else?” The terrified monkey stammered.
Both their voices grew loud. “You gave it yourself. Did we ask you?” Jumbu shouted.
The monkey was shocked. He shouted, “You tried to trick me!”
The two mischief makers laughed and walked away. In the same way, they cheated the snacks vendor. They were playing their childhood pranks even now.
Finally, they reached the playground where the children of the hippos, wolf, rabbit, and kangaroo were playing gulli danda.
Bhalla asked his friend, “Would you like to play?”
“Why not? I am no beginner.” Jambu replied stroking his grey moustache.
“Hey, just give me the stick. Watch how we play.”
Bhalla threw the gulli. Jambu swung and hit it so hard that the children were astonished. The game progressed. Then Bhalla picked up the stick. He tossed the gulli in such a way that the children were speechless. Oh! These old men were good. They could compete with anyone.
The gulli shot like an arrow from Jambu’s hand. Bhalla struck it really hard. The gulli flew like a hawk. Far away on a mango tree there hung a honeycomb. Instantly the gulli hit it like a bullet. Within minutes an army of honeybees emerged… Booo… booo…
“Run! It’s dangerous!”
The children started to run away. The two old men also started to run. But could not run as fast. Both of them suffered from pain in their legs. They were groaning and running.
Soon they started panting. The bees were chasing them too. The news of the broken beehive spread in the forest. Everyone came running. Mr. Hippo, Mr. Wolf, Mirza, the rabbit, and Babu, the kangaroo were very angry. “Whose mischief is this? Our children were playing quietly. Who did this?”
“These two are the culprits.” All the fingers, of the children and the snacks vendor, were pointing towards Jambu and Bhalla.
“Is this your doing Uncle? What a shame!” said Mirza, the rabbit.
The monkey also chipped in saying, “Brother, they took an ice cream from me and ate it. They did not even pay for it.”
The two friends stood downcast. The other animals of the forest surrounded them.
Jambu quietly asked, “Did you hit the honeycomb on purpose?”
Bhalla said shamefacedly. “Yes. The moment I saw the honeycomb my mouth started watering. Instinctively I hit the gulli on the honeycomb.”
“You have long hair. The bees got entangled in them.
Think about me? See my state?” said Jumbu. Big rashes had appeared on his body.
“Sorry friend, but what is a bear’s child if he does not put his life at stake for the sake of honey?” said Bhalla.
They apologised to all for their behaviour and the ice-cream monkey.
All the animals walked away.
Jambu winked and said, “If the end is sweet then everything is sweet. Isn’t it true? Come friend we will soon eat honey and not create any mischief in the future.”