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Stories. 
The Chummy Cloud
by Ramendra Kumar

Have you ever heard of a cloud talking? No. Well let me tell you a story of a cloud, which could talk but also smile, wink and laugh too. Surprised! Well, just sit back and relax and listen to the tale of Bubbles....

Nine-year-old Sneha was sitting in a wheel chair in the park watching her friends play. As she watched them running, jumping, and prancing around she felt sad. How she longed to join them in their fun! But she knew she could never do that. She could not even walk, let alone run, jump and dance.

Suddenly a drop of cool water landed on her nose. She looked up. The sky was clear except for a sparkling white cloud just above her head. The cloud had a funny shape. It was round and looked almost like a human face - two eyes, a nose and mouth curved in a smile.

As she looked carefully she thought she saw the cloud close one of its eyes. Startled she looked away. Was she imagining things? She must be. Who had ever heard of a cloud winking? But she couldn’t help looking up again. Yes, this time it was a clear-cut wink and even the lips and mouth were creasing into a smile. She must surely be dreaming. She pinched herself.

‘Ouch! No. She wasn’t asleep.’

“No, you are not dreaming, little one,” she heard a deep voice which sounded like the distant rumbling of thunder.

She looked up again, her eyes widening in surprise.

“Hello!”

It was now clear to Sneha that it was a cloud which was talking to her.

“B...but clouds don't talk.”

“This cloud does.”

“Ar....are you a g...ghost,” Sneha asked.

“I am Bubbles a nice and friendly cloud. I was a human being like you centuries ago. I loved children and always spent time with them. When I died I begged God not to send me to heaven or hell but to keep me where I could be with all my best friends - the little ones. So he turned me into a cloud. Now I can float wherever I please, for as long as I want.”

“But Bubbles is such a modern name and you say you are centuries old.”

“Smart girl. I have kept changing my name. When I was first created I called myself Meghdut, later, Badal, followed by Sir Nimbus and now Bubbles.”

“Wow! But tell me can anyone talk to you?”

“No. Only the children I want to talk to can hear me and speak to me. For the rest I am simply a plain old cloud drifting in the sky.”

“Why did you choose me?”

“Good question. I found you very sad and lonely so I thought I’ll cheer you up.”

“Yes, you did. It was real fun talking to you.”

“But tell me what is your name and why were you so sad?”

“My name is Sneha. I want to play like the other children but I can’t. I feel I am useless. I will always be a burden on others. I will never be able to do anything in life.”

Bubbles thought for sometime and said, “Okay, let me think of something. See you later.”

As Sneha watched, Bubbles floated away like a swimmer gliding across the blue waters.

~*~

A few days later Sneha was sitting in the veranda of her house reading a book.

“Well little one, how are you?”

Sneha looked up. Just above the neem tree in her garden was floating Bubbles.

Sneha’s eyes brightened and her face split into smiles.

“Bubbles! Where were you all these days? I missed you so much.”

“I was going around doing a little bit of investigation.”

“Investigation!”

“Yes. I have found that you a have a very melodious voice Sneha and you sing quite well.”

“Me! But the only time I sing is in the bathroom.”

“Yes. I know. I also know that both your parents wanted you to learn singing but you refused.”

“I.....I don’t think I can sing, apart from humming a few lines.”

“That is your problem, you don’t have confidence in yourself. Believe me, you can become a great singer. Of course you will have to work very hard.”

“How can you be so sure that I can sing well?”

“I sincerely believe that God is very just. If he takes away an ability then he compensates by giving some special quality. In your case the Almighty has shackled you to a wheel chair but he has compensated by giving you a beautiful voice and an extraordinary ability to sing.”

“I...I ..am not so sure.”

“Please little one. Have faith in me. Today itself go tell your parents you want to learn music.”

~*~

It was Sneha’s 12th birthday. Three years ago Sneha had started learning music. She had worked very hard at honing her musical talent. Gradually she had started giving performances on TV as well as on stage. She had specialized in singing Bhajans and soon there was a great demand for her. Six months back Miracle Cassettes - a premier recording company had approached her with the offer of bringing out an album of her Bhajans. On her 12th birthday the album was released at the Tagore Auditorium. It was called Meghdut.

~*~

The day after the release Sneha was sitting in the Park. Suddenly she felt the all familiar drop fall on her nose. She looked up.

Bubbles was smiling at her.

“Happy!”

“Very much. I have never been happier. And the entire credit goes to you. But where were you yesterday?”

I was outside the auditorium perched on a Banyan tree watching my little one enjoying herself.”

“Bubbles, you know, Mr. Kishore Sanyal of Miracle Cassettes told my papa that he would be signing me for two more albums.”

“That is great news my dear,” Bubbles said and after a pause continued, “Little one, I will now be bidding goodbye.”

“When will you come back?”

“Not in the near future.”

“B..but why? Sneha almost shouted.

“Sneha, there are many other little ones like you who are suffering. And right now their need is far greater than yours. From here I will be going straight to Afghanistan where little Shireen needs my support. She has just lost her father.”

Sneha sat still her eyes growing misty.

“I’ll miss you Bubbles,” she mumbled.

“I’ll miss you too little one,” Bubbles said.

And as the cloud floated away Sneha could feel two drops falling on her cheeks and mingling with her tears. 

Images under license with Gettyimages.com

27-Jan-2008
 
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