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A Dream Come True
by Ramendra Kumar

This is the story of a cute little pig. She was pink and fat with a funny little tail which went round and round and ended up as a question mark. She lived in the house of a farmer on the outskirts of a village in north India. Every time she ran her tummy would roll form side to side much to the amusement of all the kids. Everyone called her Tum-Tum. The kids loved her and she loved all of them. But most of all she loved Mini - Ram, the farmer's three year old daughter. Tum-Tum and Mini would play the whole day and were the best of friends. Tum-Tum had only two ambitions in life. She wanted to sing like a cuckoo and fly like an eagle. Every morning she would get up and sitting under peepal tree listen to Koyal, the cuckoo sing her sweet melodies. She simply loved the Koyal's lilting voice. She would then watch Cheel, the eagle, spread her wings and glide beautifully in the air. Her eyes would widen with admiration as Cheel would soar high up and up and up..... till she was a mere speck of black in the bright blue sky. How she envied Koyal and Cheel!

One day she went behind the farmer's house to a secluded spot. She had decided she would try her hand at singing. She then raised her head a little, just as she had seen Koyal doing, and let herself go. After a few seconds she stopped. 'Not, bad. Certainly not as good as Koyal, but considering this is my first time, not bad at all,' she thought to herself.

She raised her head once again and started singing with renewed vigour.

Just then there was a sound of footsteps and Mini's mother Sita came running with her father in tow.

"See, I was telling you something is seriously wrong with Tum-Tum. See how she is howling."
"Yes, Sita, you are right, the poor creature must be in real pain, or else she wouldn't be making such weird sounds."

Poor Tum-Tum, that was the last time she ever tried her hand at singing.

All the birds knew of Tum-Tum's aspirations and would frequently indulge in some friendly leg pulling.

"Don't worry Tum-Tum, I am sure one day you will win a singing competition," the nightingale would say.
"How?" the ever optimistic Tum-Tum would ask.
"If ever there is a competition for the most cacophonous voice, you will win hands down or rather paws down," the nightingale would reply and all the birds would roar with laughter.

Poor Tum-Tum, would make a face, waddle away and sulk for some time. But she would soon be back in her usual form - prancing, jumping and playing with the kids and birds.

Tum-Tum was a kind, little pig and would come to the rescue of any animal, bird or child in trouble. She was always on the look out for opportunities to help others and this made her everyone's favorite.

Once a baby sparrow fell down from the tree. It was too small to fly. It kept screaming for its mama which had gone for collecting food. Tum-Tum, who saw her fall, came rushing and stood on guard.

Pilly, the cat, was on the prowl and if it wasn't for Tum-Tum's presence she would have gobbled up the baby sparrow. For two hours Tum-Tum sat beside the little bird till the mother sparrow came back.

Close to Tum-Tum's village was a forest in which lived a Hyena. He was a rogue who roamed the villages in the night picking up small animals.

One summer night, Mini was sleeping on the baby cot outside her house with Sita sleeping beside her on the larger cot. Ram had gone to the town for a couple of days.

It was nearing mid-night when Tum-Tum woke up with a start. She had heard a noise. She looked around. Everything was still and quiet. As she prepared to settle down she saw something shining.

A pair of eyes were glistening in the dark. She could make out a shape moving towards Mini's cot. Tum-Tum sprang up. The moon which had gone behind the clouds came out to reveal the hyena advancing towards Mini. Tum-Tum did not hesitate. She knew there was no time to warn either Sita or Mini. She ran with all her might gathering speed as she went. She had never run so hard in her life. Hearing the sounds of running feet the Hyena turned. Tum-Tum rammed straight into the Hyena's stomach, knocking down the beast. The Hyena quickly recovered and lunged at Tum-Tum. Raising his paws he gave a vicious whack sending the little pig crashing into the wall. Tum-Tum's head banged into the concrete and she fell down limp.

Just then Sita woke up and picking up a stick lying beside the cot sent it hurling at the Hyena. The stick caught the Hyena on the side of its ugly head and he ran howling into the jungle. Sita rushed to where Tum-Tum was lying. As she gently picked up the little pig's head her worst fears were confirmed. Tum-Tum was dead.

***
The whole village gathered for Tum-Tum's farewell. There was not a single dry eye in the village. The same evening all the bird's gathered on the branches of the peepal tree. "Friends, we are all proud of Tum-Tum who gave up her life to save Mini. Her greatest ambition in life was to sing like Koyal and fly like Cheel. She couldn't fulfill her dreams in this life. Friends, let us all pray to God to make her wishes come true in the life after," said the mother sparrow. All the birds bowed their head and prayed. The next morning they were all surprised to see a new visitor. It was a small bird with fluffy feathers as white as snow and a beak as red as rose. It was singing gaily. Its voice as lovely, as melodious as the gurgling of a stream. As it flapped its wings and rose in the air, Koyal asked, "O! Beautiful one. What is your name?" "Didn't you recognize me my friend. I am Tum-Tum," the bird said spreading its wings and soaring high in the sky.   

17-Feb-2001
 
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