Chinnu stealthily entered the tree-house with a steel dabba balanced in each hand.
“Munchies to pull us through the day.” Chinnu beamed.
“Did anyone see you coming?” Meenu peeked from the balcony, her gaze running down the sturdy iron stairway that ran in an arch all the way to the ground. The heavy frame of Lakshmitai pulsated with each snore, at the bottom step. Coffee and cardamom plantations stretched all around, dancing in the breeze.
Gabbu frowned, “They let us have a tree-house as our play-pen and then keep her guard. How does one seek adventure?”
Meena reasoned. “But isn’t it lucky we are the only occupants of this resort. We have the tree-house to ourselves for three days! Our parents are a half hour drive away, attending a conference in the city. Obviously we need an adult watching over us.”
Gabbu snapped his Enid Blyton book shut, limping as he rose from the sofa. “There ought to be sandwiches and biscuits, not Laddoo and Mathri. And there has to be a dog in any kids’ adventure story. This tree-house is a disappointment.”
As if in disagreement, the tree-house shook. The terrified kids huddled together in the middle of the room, worried it would tip over to one side. As the shaking ceased, Gabbu looked down from the window. Nothing suspicious.
You must be looking for me.
The kids leapt in fear, as a guttural voice spoke from behind them.
A plump creature about 3 ft tall in a gossamer green wrap-around gown walked in from the door and sat cross legged on the floor.
You guys should settle down too. Why are you staring open mouthed?
The kids huddled together on the wooden floor. “Who are you?”
I am Manga, the tree elf. You did summon me, didn’t you?
Longing for a pet,
Uttered on one foot, at noon half past three. The exact spell to beckon me.
Don’t tell me it was accidental!
Gabbu was quick to recover. “You don’t have pointy ears, and are rather chubby.”
Aah, the body stereotypes. We evolved beyond pointy ears long back. We don’t need them in this era of bluetooth earphones.
Can you do magic? Chinnu jumped excitedly.
A golden retriever manifested, clenching a basket with biscuits and sandwiches.
Ready for an adventure?
The boys shrieked in joy. Meena cautioned, “Our parents will be back soon.”
Ah well! Tomorrow then. We can go visit my Grandma in the pixie village. We are hosting the elfin fair this weekend.
“What time should we expect you?” Gabbu persisted.
This is my home, dearies. Come whenever you are ready. But remember the spell, a new insult this time! Take away those sandwiches, but could you leave the homemade snacks, please?
The tree shuddered once again. This time, Manga huddled with them. As Gabbu peered from the window, he saw Lakshmitai, their maid, heaving herself up the stairway.
While you seek thrills outside, adventure awaits you within. Until tomorrow, children.
Dabba : Traditional Indian steel container
Laddoo: Indian dessert
Mathri : crisp Indian savoury snack
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