Growing up in the concrete jungles of Mumbai, Chaithanya yearned to visit his grandparents who lived in a special village called Kumbalangi, where greenery is the theme; near Kochi, in God’s own country – Kerala. It had become sort of customary for him to celebrate his birthday, every year, with Appupan (grandpa), & Ammuma (grandma) and then enjoy a week-long vacation.
Appupan and Chaithanya shared a very special bond. They engaged in myriad activities together. Canoeing in the backwaters, fishing, coconut harvesting, clay-pot making, bird watching, and whatnot! Ammuma prepared Chaithanya’s favorite meals with prawn thoran and pineapple curry. Every year, Chaithanya would receive some surprise gift from the grandparents, for the only and darling grandchild that he was.
But the year 2010 was very different.
The year before, on his 11th birthday, Appupan had gifted Chaithanya a pet turtle whom he so fondly called HokeyPokey. However, it died an unexplained death, only a few days before his 12th birthday, leaving him devastated. Mom and dad were very sad to see the lack of excitement in him for his upcoming birthday. One more year before he turned into a teen. They wanted to make his 12th, one of the most memorable birthdays. But how, when he was so grief-stricken.
Still, they reached Kumbalangi, hoping that his favorite place might bring some happy change.
After the cake cutting, everyone finished their dinner and went off to bed. Appupan, however, couldn’t bear the gloomy version of Chaithanya. All night he was restless thinking about what he could possibly do to get the boy back to his jovial self; the one who is ever inquisitive and playful.
Finally, an idea hit him.
Soon after sunrise, he quietly walked into Chaithanya’s room and softly rubbed his feet. He woke up. “There’s a surprise for you in the garage”, Appupan gently whispered. He knew Chaithanya’s love for surprises, particularly the ones which came from him. He noticed Chaithanya’s lips slowly turning into a curve and his big round eyes popping up with curiosity.
Hand in hand, they headed out.
Appupan’ s garage was a vintage building which was now used to store two things, his beloved canoe and his old bike “Rajdoot”, which Chaithanya had never seen him driving.
Appupan opened the lock. Sun rays teared through the crevices on the old walls. The dim light, however, was enough for Chaithanya to spot the mammoth structure hanging from the ceiling over to the wall right in front of him.
He screamed with wonder and excitement. “Oh my God! It’s a bee-hive…and how big!!! I had only seen them on TV, never in real.” He was clapping his hands with joy.
Appupan said, “Bees are nature’s best architects and opportunists too. They will construct their elaborate hives wherever they can”.
The bees brought back Chaithanya’s precious smiles. The house was once again filled with the sweet noises of his laughter and banter. Through the rest of his vacation, he kept singing- “Let it Bee”.