There was once a butterfly named Lila. She was very beautiful. She had colorful wings, a lovely glossy body and a pair of the cutest antennae. Early each morning, she flew far away from her home with her younger brothers and sisters visiting one flower after another– busily collecting nectar for herself and the family. But there was something wrong. Lila felt very sad. Even in the bevy of beautiful butterflies, she was very lonely. Lila longed for a friend. So, every time she went out to look for nectar, she hoped to meet a friend. She got nectar as expected but a friend was nowhere in sight. So as days went by Lila became sadder and sadder.
Then one day, something really exciting happened. Lila was searching for nectar with her swarm as usual. They were near a small pond where beautiful pink and white lotuses bloomed. One of them was Tutu. She was the loveliest lotus ever. She had pinkish white velvety soft petals, a thick and long stem, mossy green leaves and the sweetest smell on earth. Yet, like Lila she was very lonely too. As she could not move from one place to another, she could only talk to someone who was near her or flying past her. That was her problem! Unlike Lila, Tutu could not roam about searching for friends. When Tutu saw Lila, she just could not help staring at her as Lila was so beautiful. Tutu thought she was the loveliest butterfly ever. As Lila flew past her, Tutu called out to her ‘Oh hello! Wait a moment please!’ At this Lila looked over her shoulder and was surprised to see the loveliest lotus she has ever seen in her life.
The beautiful flower smiled shyly as Lila looked at her and asked, ‘Oh, such a lovely butterfly you are! Do you have a name?’ Lila answered, ‘Well, of course I have a name and it is a lovely name too! My name is Lila. Do you like it? Err… May I ask you something?’ Tutu said, ‘Your name is really lovely. I like it very much. By the way, my name is Tutu. What is it that you want to ask me?’ ‘Oh, nothing much actually! It’s just that I am very lonely and I was wondering … if you would like to be my friend?’ asked Lila shyly. Tutu said eagerly, ‘Why not? I was about to ask you the very thing. I am very lonely too.’ Lila felt so happy that she just could not speak for some time. Tutu felt very happy too – at last she has found a friend. That too such a lovely butterfly! Lila was also thinking the same thing. At first they both felt a bit shy and didn’t know where to begin – they both had so very to talk about, you see! But after that, once they started talking, they simply couldn’t stop. Soon they became best friends.
Then one day Lila got a tiny surprise from Tutu. Tutu was very proud of her nectar and wanted Lila to taste it. But Lila still took nectar from other flowers. It made Tutu very sad. Tutu had thought of a plan to make Lila taste her nectar. She wondered how to call Lila as she lived far away from Tutu’s home. She remembered that the day when she met Lila, Lila had introduced all her younger brothers and sisters to Tutu. There were twelve of them - the oldest girl butterfly of the swarm was Lila and the oldest boy butterfly was Ricky. Ricky was the oldest of all so he went to find nectar on his own. Suddenly Tutu saw one of Lila’s younger sisters buzzing around her neighbor. It was Minnie. Minnie was the messenger in the butterfly family. Tutu called Minnie and told her to take a note to Lila. She gave Minnie a small torn piece of bamboo leaf that had fallen into the pond from a bamboo plant nearby. In it she had quickly written a message especially for Lila with a tiny stick with blueberry juice on it. Minnie took the leaf and flew away to Lila’s home. As soon as she reached home, Minnie gave the letter to Lila. Lila took it eagerly and read:
This is an invitation to you for a dinner party tonight. Please do come at midnight while everyone is asleep. It’s a secret. If Minnie has read it, please tell her to keep it a secret.
Your loving friend,
Lila read the letter three times. She wondered why Tutu had called her for dinner and why she had told her to keep it a secret. She called Minnie and asked her if she had read the letter. Minnie answered angrily, ‘Why should I read your letter? No messenger reads other’s letters.’ While Minnie was talking, Lila was writing a letter to Tutu on another tiny bamboo leaf. She wrote:
Thank you very much for your invitation. I will surely come at midnight while everyone is asleep. Minnie has not read it. The secret is safe with me. Do not worry.
Lila handed the letter to Minnie and said, ‘Take this letter to Tutu.’ Minnie flew away. Later at midnight Lila flew to Tutu when everyone was asleep. When Lila reached Tutu’s lotus pond, Tutu handed Lila a bag of honey. The bag was made of bits of lotus leaf sewn together with grass. It looked like a tailor bird’s nest. Then Tutu said to Lila, “This is a bag of honey. If you wish, you can drink it now with me or take it home & drink.” Lila replied, “Why would I ever think of going home & drinking? I would like to drink with you. Do you know that I have decided to build my house near your house?” Tutu asked, “Then why do you take nectar from other flowers?” Lila paused and then replied, “I thought that lotuses don’t have any nectar.” Then Tutu said, “Is that so? Okay, I understand. But from now on you will take nectar from me, won’t you?” “Yes, of course I will. But I will have to take some nectar from other flowers too. You see, only your nectar won’t be enough for me.” answered Lila. “Then let’s drink.” said Tutu. And they drank merrily.
The next day too Lila took nectar from Tutu & stayed in the hollow of a tree near the pond where Tutu lived. Tutu was so pleased. Everyday Tutu and Lila spent hours together playing & joking. So from that day onwards they became the best of neighbors. But Lila also had to collect nectar from flowers with her swarm. So early each morning Lila flew here and there gathering her swarm together and only came back in the evening just before the sunset to Tutu. They dined together, as Lila got bags of honey for herself and her family.
Meanwhile when Lila was away collecting nectar Tutu made friends with a small fish whose name was Goldie who also lived in the same pond. She had silvery white scales, a small and slim body, golden fins and a golden tail. When she jumps up in the air her body gleams in the sun. When Lila came back Tutu introduced her new friend, Goldie. Tutu told Lila, ‘You know, I feel rather lonely when you are away so I made friends with Goldie.’ Lila liked Goldie at once. She made friends with her. Soon the three friends were busily chatting away and sharing their stories.
Then something really terrible happened to Lila. One day, as she was going with her swarm to collect nectar, a boy with curly hair came along and caught Lila and her swarm. Minnie and Reema were the only ones to escape in time. Minnie rushed to Tutu and Goldie and Reema rushed to Ricky. Panting, they told their story to Tutu and Goldie and Ricky. When Tutu and Goldie heard that Lila and her swarm had been caught they thought and thought how to get Lila and her swarm out of the boy’s hands until Tutu said, ‘Minnie, please call Ricky and Reema here so that we can discuss together.’ Minnie rushed off to Ricky and Reema. She found them talking busily and worriedly at her home. The other butterflies loved Lila very much and if something happened to her they worried tremendously. Lila also loved her family very much. The boy, whose name was James, had put the butterflies he had caught that day in a glass jar and kept it on his window sill. Lila was now trying to comfort everybody in her swarm as they were very frightened in the glass jar.
Meanwhile at the lotus pond Tutu, Goldie, Minnie, Ricky and Reema were thinking hard how to get Lila and her swarm out of the place. Tutu and Goldie knew that only the butterflies will be able to help. Then suddenly Ricky remembered something. He cried out, ‘Let’s call Jinni. Once he told me that he knew a cruel curly haired boy who caught insects just for fun.’ ‘For fun!!’, shuddered the others. ‘We don’t have a moment to lose’, saying so Ricky rushed off to find Jinni. ‘Who’s Jinni?’ asked Tutu. Reema answered, ‘Jinni is Ricky’s best friend.’ And they waited impatiently. At last Ricky came back with another butterfly. It was Jinni. As soon as they reached, Ricky panted out, ‘Here’s Jinni. He will help us get Lila and her swarm out. He also knows something.’ Jinni said ‘I know a boy, James, with curly hair who goes out every day to catch insects. I live in his garden. Today I saw him put a huge glass jar full of butterflies on his sill. When I looked closely I saw that it was a swarm I knew. I thought and thought which swarm it was. Then I understood it was Ricky’s swarm. Then I flew off to find Ricky. We met midway.’ Hearing this Tutu and Goldie shouted out, ‘Take us there!! Take us …..’ Ricky stopped them, ‘Calm down please, and don’t get too excited. Jinni you can go now and keep a watch on the jar. Come here tomorrow morning please.’ ‘OK’, Jinni said and went away. Then Ricky turned to Tutu and Goldie and said, ‘You two cannot go there as you are flowers and fishes.’ Tutu and Goldie said, ‘We forgot’ Reema said, ‘Then don’t forget in future.’ And the worried butterflies left the lotus pond.
Next morning Jinni came. With him were Ricky, Reema and Minnie. Reema had got something with her. It was a bag full of leaves and sticks. Minnie then said, ‘This is our plan. We will have to make a very beautiful butterfly out of leaves and sticks. It should attract James so that he should come and try to catch the butterfly. When he is far away Jinni and his swarm will get in through the window, open the glass jar and let the butterflies out.’ ‘But the main problem is how to make the butterfly fly?’ said Jinni. Tutu said, ‘Goldie and I will take care of that. We will tell you afterwards what our plan is.’ And they started to work on their secret plan.
Days and days went by but they could not finish the butterfly as it really was hard work for them. They could not make it simple or it would not attract James. At last it was done. Jinni said, ‘Now tell us your plan, how to make the butterfly fly?’ Tutu said, ‘Wait a minute.’ and she whispered something to Goldie. Goldie swam away. After sometime she came back with a very long tape grass leaf. Tutu took it and tore it up to make two very thin strips that you can hardly see. She said, ‘We will tie these two very thin strips of the tape grass leaf to both the edges of the wings. Two butterflies of Jinni’s swarm will carry them and will go on moving back and forth.’ ‘Good idea!’ said Minnie.
The next day they all went away while Tutu and Goldie waited impatiently in their pond. When Ricky, Jinni, Minnie and Reema reached the garden, they were welcomed by other butterflies from Jinni’s swarm. When Jinni told them the plan, they nodded in agreement. Marie and Ninny, who were twins, were asked to carry the butterfly made of leaves and sticks. They did as they were told. James had just opened the window for some fresh air. Seeing their chance, Marie and Ninny flew about swiftly with the butterfly held high – trying to attract James. James saw the butterfly and he liked it so much that he went out and started to chase it. The others saw this and rushed in through the window and unscrewed the cap of the jar. Lila and her swarm rushed out and flew away just before James came back. He had found out that the butterfly was not real. He had tried to catch Marie and Ninny but couldn’t as they were too fast for him. Free at last, Lila and her swarm couldn’t stop asking questions about everything that had happened after they were captured. When they reached the pond Lila was delighted to see Tutu and Goldie waiting for her. They all hugged each other and did nothing but talk that evening. Like good friends, Lila, Tutu and Goldie helped each other in need and shared the good times and the bad times together. And so the friends lived happily ever after.