Chimpu, an inquisitive but adorable baby monkey, lived with his family and friends in the dense jungles outside the city.
His best friends were Jumbo, a big, fat elephant and Pinky, a thoughtful woodpecker. They would often play in the evenings when Pinky and Jumbo would come home from their day’s task of searching for food.
During the day, Chimpu was often alone and would play all by himself. He was always running around here and there, scampering up and down the trees, plucking flowers and fruits, and making noises. Chimpu was also very mischievous and even played pranks on his neighbours. All the animals in the jungle loved Chimpu for his innocent antics. They also knew that he would always hide away in the cedar tree if he had been naughty. All the animals loved Chimpu a lot and they always laughed at his cute, innocent pranks and loved him even more each time.
Once Chimpu ate a banana and filled up the empty peel with mud. He gave it to Bunny, the mother rabbit who lived under the nearby tree, in exchange for some berries.
When Bunny discovered that the banana was empty, she laughed and told Teega Tiger what Chimpu had done and then, they both laughed. Teega Tiger told Blacky, the bear who lived near the river, and then they both also laughed. Blacky told Jumbo, when they were drinking water at the river-side. Mama Monkey, who also happened to be there, overheard their conversation.
That evening, Jumbo and Mama Monkey scolded Chimpu, as he chattered noisily and looked around with big, sad eyes. All the animals came to his rescue and told Mama Monkey to not scold Chimpu. Blacky, the bear even admired his resourcefulness and intelligence at managing to procure a bag of berries. Bunny admitted that she should have checked the banana herself and Chimpu was smart to have fooled her. Pinky and Jumbo apologized to Bunny, who just laughed and hugged Chimpu lovingly.
Since then, they all call Chimpu, their smart baby.
One day, Chimpu was very sad. He was hungry but his mommy was nowhere to be seen. He scampered up and down the tree, looking for berries or pines but he couldn’t find any. His stomach growled loudly. He looked around for a fruit tree but there was nothing nearby. He was scared to go far in case he got lost.
Chimpu decided to walk a little bit further for bananas. He met Jumbo on the way. Jumbo raised his trunk and trumpeted. “Where are you running away, Chimpu? There are no forest rangers here today.” Chimpu was scared of forest rangers. Even though mommy had told him they were helpful.
On hearing Jumbo’s words, Chimpu scratched himself and looked around worriedly.
Jumbo put his trunk on Chimpu’s head. “Tell me, Chimpu,” he said lovingly.
Chimpu chattered his teeth and whispered, “I am hungry. But I am scared to go far. What if I get lost?” He looked at Jumbo with big, innocent eyes. Jumbo laughed, then thought for a moment and spoke again.
“There is a fruit orchard, on the other side. But that is the big, bad place. I have often seen men with guns.”
A very frightened Chimpu chattered even louder and scratched himself again.
“I will come with you,” said Jumbo and both of them set out towards the fruit orchard.
They were a pretty sight. A big, fat elephant lumbering down with a baby monkey scampering next to him.
When they approached the end of the forest, they became more careful. They started hiding behind trees and took turns at running forward. Chimpu would run forward and hide behind a tree. Then he would wait for Jumbo. Slowly, they managed to get closer to the fruit orchard. They had reached the end of the forest. Beyond the last line of the jungle trees, was a small stretch of open grassy land and then rows and rows of big, bright green trees lined up neatly one after the other.
Chimpu could see the big apples, bright red and juicy. Just a few steps more, he thought excitedly and ran forward without waiting for Jumbo to catch up.
“No, wait!” Jumbo shouted, but Chimpu had already started.
Just then they heard a loud shout. “Hey, Joe. Monkey alert! Looks like he is headed toward Jake’s farmhouse.”
Chimpu and Jumbo looked at each other, alarmed. They were behind different trees and Chimpu was further ahead of Jumbo, closer to the source of the voice. Jumbo raised his trunk half-way and jolted his trunk up and down, telling Chimpu to duck behind the shrubs and bushes. Chimpu quickly went inside the bushes at the base of the tree. The leaves around him rustled noisily.
BANG! A gun shot rang out, in the direction of Chimpu’s tree. Fortunately, it missed Chimpu by a wide margin. Terrified, Chimpu started chattering loudly. He moved further behind the taller bushes. He wondered whether to climb up the tall tree and pointed upwards to Jumbo.
“No, he has a gun. He may aim,” Jumbo hissed.
They heard some commotion and peeked from their hiding. A man with a gun was running towards them.
“Run!” Jumbo shouted. Chimpu leaped in the air and ran.
Whoooosh! Another bullet whistled past him. Chimpu chattered noisily but didn’t stop. Angry and worried, Jumbo trumpeted loudly and flapped its ears. Running after the man, Jumbo trumpeted again and again.
What if Chimpu hadn’t managed to hide?! Jumbo panicked and charged forward.
Pinky and his family were collecting wood some distance away. Hearing the commotion, Pinky came to investigate.
“Chimpu! Gun man after Chimpu. Save Chimpu!” Jumbo panted loudly. Pinky chirped anxiously and fluttered away.
Jumbo ran faster and faster and faster. He had almost caught up with the man with the gun.
The man looked back and saw an angry elephant charge toward him. He pulled out his gun and took aim.
Just then, a flock of birds pounced on him. He raised his hands to protect his face and tried swapping them away but they were everywhere. He tried using his gun to scare him away but they were too swift. They were pecking at his head and they were pecking at his shoulders. He dropped the gun and raised his hands to protect himself better.
He saw the angry elephant loom up in front of him. It was about to trample him to death.
Where were his friends? He needed someone to gun this beast down. He would definitely buy a tranquilizer dart if he got out of here alive.
The elephant was now circling him, stomping his foot, sending up clouds of dust. The constant trumpeting and chirping of birds was beginning to hurt his ears and his head. His heart was beating loudly.
Jumbo looked at him, fury blazing from his eyes. The man stepped backward and tripped over a shrub. He struggled to regain his balance. Jumbo gently pushed him with his trunk, sending him stumbling to the ground.
They all heard a strange sound and looked up to see Chimpu hiding behind a tree, trembling and chattering. He had covered his eyes with his hands. Immediately, Jumbo stopped trumpeting and the birds stopped chirping.
Jumbo extended his trunk and shook it in front of the man. The man was too scared to react and didn’t move. Jumbo wrapped his trunk around the man and lifted him up in the air. The terrified man opened his mouth to scream but only breathless gasps came out. He knew the elephant would throw him to the ground, killing him instantly.
Jumbo swerved his trunk upwards and gently placed the man on his wide back, as Chimpu watched in relief. He scurried up to Jumbo. Jumbo saw a low hanging branch with ripe, juicy berries and plucked it. Exhausted from hunger, Chimpu happily grabbed the berries from Jumbo.
The man now safely sitting on Jumbo’s back watched all this in amazement. Chimpu plucked a berry and offered it to the man, then quickly popped it in his own mouth and grinned mischievously.
Jumbo turned around and started walking towards the farmhouse. Chimpu walked forward and held Jumbo’s trunk with his hand, as they both set out to safely drop the man home.
Special thanks to Rashmi Menon and Dr. Meg Sorick.
Hugs and kisses to Aditya Menon (9 yrs) and Kriti Karmakar (12 yrs).