Excerpt for The Homeless Birds by , available in its entirety at Smashwords











Dedicated to Ashok Kumar Datta


**


Text copyright © 2016 to 2017 Gita V.Reddy

All Rights Reserved


***



The Short Chapter Book Series is an attempt to inculcate the love of reading in all children, transitioning beginning readers to more advanced readers

and reluctant readers into beginning readers. 

They are also read-alouds for younger readers who are able to follow a story but have not learnt to read fluently. 

The series also introduces children to different genres. 





All living creatures need one another

even though the connection is not clear.

It is said, ‘When one tugs at a single

thing in nature, he finds it attached to

the rest of the world.’




Chapter 1 : Midnight Visitor

Ranjan’s mother came in to check on him. "Why aren’t you asleep? Stop reading that book. It’s well past your bedtime."

"I’m not sleepy at all."

Ranjan had spent the day in bed because he had caught a cold. The medication had made him sleepy. Now he was better and wide awake.

"If you lie down and close your eyes, you will go to sleep."

Ranjan got into bed and switched on the night lamp. He pulled a sheet over him and closed his eyes.

"Goodnight, dear," his mother said, and left.

Ranjan kept his eyes shut for a long time. Or so he thought. When he checked the clock, only ten minutes had passed. He sat up. To while away the time, he tried making shadow figures with his hands. But his mother had switched off the light and the night lamp was very dim. The figures were hazy.

He remembered another game. He and his cousin had made it up. They had draped the bedposts with a sheet. For one afternoon, the bed was their boat and they were pirates. But a make believe voyage was no fun when he was alone. Once again he lay down and shut his eyes. He would try to sleep. A little time later he got up and played a video game. He again tried to sleep but couldn’t.

The house was so silent he could hear the Grandfather Clock. It was in the living room below. Whenever it struck the hour, Ranjan counted the strokes. He counted ten, then eleven, and finally twelve. He was up even at twelve o’clock!

A sound came from the garden. Happy to leave his bed, he jumped up and ran to the window. A huge bird was drinking water from the tub placed under the dripping garden tap! What an amazing sight. Was he awake or dreaming? He gave himself a pinch. It turned out to be harder than he meant to. "Ouch!" he cried.

The enormous bird looked up. Ranjan held its gaze. When it didn’t look away, he leaned out. "Come here!" he called in a soft voice.

The bird took a step back and opened its wings. Its wings were bigger than the garden umbrella they sometimes used. The bird was also taller than Ranjan. Ranjan was eight but tall for his age. The bird’s size didn’t scare Ranjan because he could tell the bird was scared of him! It kept jerking back its head and looked ready to fly away.

"Don’t be scared! Don’t fly away! I won’t harm you. I can’t harm you, can I? You are so much bigger than I am."

The bird folded its wings but stayed where it was. Ranjan continued to speak to it. "Will you not be my friend? You are big and strong but you’re nice. I once saw a falcon. I was scared to go near it. I very much want for you to be my friend. Please don’t fly away."

Ranjan kept talking in a soft and gentle voice. Slowly, the bird came closer. Its feathers were white and silver and its eyes were red. Ranjan was thrilled. He had never seen a bird of that kind. Its brilliant eyes were like rubies in the temple idol.

"I wonder what kind of bird you are!" he said.

"I am Vajra."

Ranjan looked around. Where had that throaty voice come from?

"My name is Vajra."

The bird was talking! How was that possible? Was he dreaming? About to pinch himself again, he stopped. His arm still burnt from the earlier pinch.

"May I come in?" Vajra asked.

"Can you come in through the window? I can’t open the front door."

"I can, if you move back."

Vajra came in long neck first. When he started to spread his wings, Ranjan stopped him. "Don’t! You will knock something down. The sound might wake up my mother."

"Your mother?" Vajra squeaked and ran to the window. He thrust his neck out. He was leaving!




Chapter 2 : Terrace Meeting

Ranjan grabbed Vajra’s feet. "Don’t go! Please don’t go."

Vajra came in but stayed close to the window. Ranjan shut the door. "There! Now my mother can’t come in. You have nothing to worry."

Vajra came further in. He was careful not to open his wings.

"My parents’ room is on the other side of the house. If we keep our voices low, they will not hear us."

"Parents!" Once again Vajra darted towards the window. He also kept moving his head from side to side.

Ranjan scrambled up a chair and flung his arms around Vajra’s neck. "Stop! My parents will not harm you! Nobody will harm you!"

Vajra slowly calmed down. "I am sorry. I panicked. I came inside because I thought you were alone. But your parents live here too. I must go. It is bad enough I spoke to you. I can’t let more people see me."

"Vajra, you are safe."

"There’s also another problem. The house looked big from the outside but it’s actually very small. I can’t spread my wings in here. I like to spread my wings."

Ranjan guessed Vajra didn’t know that houses had rooms and the inside was different from the outside. Was that why he was restless? He might feel better if he had enough space to flap his wings.

"We can go out into the garden or up on the terrace. I can’t open the front door but if you stand beside the window, I can step down on your back."

Vajra agreed. He went out the same way he had come in and stood close to the window. As soon as Ranjan landed on him, he rose. Ranjan jerked forward and tried to get a hold. The next moment they were on the terrace. Ranjan slipped off his perch and Vajra ran around the terrace, flapping his wings.

"That felt good!" he said, finally coming to a stop.

"Tell me who you are and from where you have come," Ranjan asked, no longer able to hold back his questions.



Chapter 3 : Lost and Alone

"Where do I start?" Vajra asked.

"Start from the beginning."

"That may be a good place. Many hundreds of years ago, my ancestors lived in a king’s palace. They were the royal pets. Story has it that the first pair came from Fairy Land."

Ranjan’s eyes grew round in astonishment. "Fairy Land?" he asked.

"That’s what they say."

"Don’t you know for sure?"

"How can I? I’m only a young bird."

That made sense. Ranjan didn’t know much about his ancestors either.

"They were happy in the palace. The royal garden had tasty fruit and the lake was stocked with fish. No one in the kingdom was allowed to hunt them or capture them. They were free to fly wherever they wished. They learnt to speak like language of men. The royal family doted on them."

"This must have been a long time ago. We have no kings now," Ranjan said.

"I told you this was hundreds of years ago. Those days there were many kings. Story has it that they were always fighting with each other over silly things. Because of this, the people suffered and finally, they decided to get rid of the kings. At least this is what happened to the king in whose palace my ancestors lived. The people attacked the palace and looted it. They killed the king and his family. They did not even spare his pets."

"Do you mean they killed your ancestors?"

"They killed them and they ate them. The few that escaped took shelter in the mountains. They stayed away from human beings but taught their children human speech."

"Why didn’t they go back to Fairy Land?"

"I don’t know. I am a very young bird. I think they did not know how to go to Fairy Land. They were born in the palace, you see."

"How did you come into my garden?" Ranjan asked.

"I came with my flock to the hills beside the town. We came looking for food."

"You came with your flock? Is it outside the garden?" Ranjan asked, eager to see a flock of such majestic birds.

Vajra looked sad as he shook his head. "I’m alone. I slipped away when my mother was not looking. I wanted to have an adventure. I thought it would be wonderful to see how human beings lived. But as soon as I entered the town, a group of people tried to catch me. I managed to escape and found a hiding place. I hid all through the night and the day. When it grew dark again, I wanted to fly to the hills and look for the flock but I was hungry and thirsty. There was no one on your street and in your garden. I came in and ate your fruit."

"You’re welcome to it. What will you do now?"

"I don’t know what I will do. I am sure the flock must have left without me. They do not stay close to towns for long."

"You can fly home. Are you a very young bird? Are you scared to travel alone?"

"I’m not scared! But I can’t fly alone. I have not yet learnt to fly by direction. My home is to the north-east but I can’t keep track of which way north-east lies."

Ranjan couldn’t believe his ears. Were birds not born with the knowledge about direction? Didn’t they travel across oceans to faraway lands?




Chapter 4 : Help Me!

Ranjan knew how to locate the North Star. You did that by finding the Pointer Stars in the Big Dipper. However, he did not know how to locate other stars or directions.

Neither did Vajra. He had not paid attention during lessons. While his friends practiced how to tell direction by the sun, the stars, and the wind, he had fun walking upside down under cliffs. His mother never let him fly on his own and when he flew with the flock, he stayed on the tip of the group and followed the others.

"I have been foolish. How will I get back home?" he said, and tears came into his eyes, making them brighter.

Ranjan didn’t know how to make him feel better except to repeat that the flock would come looking for him. "You can stay with me until they come for you. You will be safe," he added. Then he had an idea. "Vajra, you can use my compass to fly north-east."

"What is a compass?"

Ranjan explained what a compass was. Vajra was excited. But he looked sad again. "It won’t work. I will have to hold the compass with my toes or my beak. How will I look at it while flying?"

"There is nothing else we can do. You must stay with me but I will have to tell my mother about you. You are too big to hide."

"Please don’t tell your mother or anyone else. I’ll look for a hiding place before daylight. There must be someplace where human beings can’t find me."

"Vajra, hiding will not solve your problem. If you hide, how will the flock find you? You must try to fly back home."

"Why don’t you come with me? You can look into the compass and guide me in the right direction," Vajra asked.

Ranjan was stunned by the strange request. He also saw a problem. "How will I come back?" he asked.

"My mother will fly you back. If we start immediately, you will be home before sunrise. Please say yes! Please!" Vajra begged, jerking his head up and down.

Vajra continued to plead. Ranjan was tempted. He could help Vajra and have a wonderful adventure. It was wrong to leave without telling his parents but would they let him fly away on a bird? He thought not.

"I’ll come," he said.

Vajra was so happy he gave him a playful nip on the shoulder. They went down and Vajra helped Ranjan into the room. Ranjan took the compass. Luckily, it had a long chain. He slipped it over his head. He put on his windcheater because the night was cold, and wore his shoes. Even though he was quick, Vajra was hopping from one foot to the other, impatient to take off.

"Vajra, please stand still so that I may sit on you!" Ranjan said.

"Which direction is north-east?" Vajra asked.

Ranjan used his compass to find out. Immediately, Vajra started flying. In no time they were soaring over the tallest building of the town.




Chapter 5 : The Homeless Birds

Ranjan was scared he would fall off. He shut his eyes and gripped Vajra. Suddenly they were losing height. Ranjan opened one eye. Were they crashing down? Oh no! Vajra was coming down on a tree. The tree was tall and was swaying in the breeze. It couldn’t hold their weight. Vajra was such a big bird. He must weigh a lot.

Vajra stopped on the topmost branch. "Let go of my neck!" he croaked.

Ranjan released his hold and clutched the feathers in front of him. The branch swayed. So did they. Ranjan broke into a sweat. He was sure the branch would break or a gust of wind would topple them down.

Vajra twisted his neck to speak to him. "I can’t fly if you strangle me. Sit back and hold me lightly. You will not fall. Your windcheater is also slowing me down. It is trapping air."

Ranjan unzipped the windcheater and slipped a little lower. Instead of lying flat on Vajra’s back and holding his neck, he sat up straight.

"Remember to keep your hold light. You won’t fall. You won’t feel cold either. My feathers will keep you warm."

Once again, with powerful strokes, Vajra flew up. Ranjan now felt bold enough to keep his eyes open. All was still except for the tall trees that swayed in the breeze. They looked like giant creatures, waving their many arms and heads. The town lights glittered below, stars twinkled in the sky, and the moon looked on, with its silver face.

He also kept checking the direction with the help of the compass. After flying for over an hour Vajra started going down. He landed on a rocky hill. "We’re on the right path. The flock stopped here on the onward flight. Ranjan, let’s rest here for a little while."

Ranjan leaned against a rock and gazed at the distant snowy mountain peaks. Bathed in moonlight, they looked as if they were tipped with crystals. "Vajra, I love being outdoors. I love looking at trees and rivers and mountains. Don’t you?"

Vajra looked surprised. "I always thought men did not like such things. I was told they take pleasure in ruining nature. I heard they even chop down green trees."

"Some do, Vajra, but most of us don’t. We like to go for picnics and holidays to such places, to enjoy nature."

"Do you know, Ranjan, our flock has no home. We haven’t had a home for many years."

"Where are we going to? You said we were going to your home."

"I told you that people killed most of my ancestors in the king’s palace. The few who escaped flew to the mountains. They found a green valley with a lake and made it their home. The valley was green and they had plenty of food and water."

"It sounds beautiful," Ranjan said, picturing a tree- filled valley with beautiful birds like Vajra.

"I haven’t seen it. Some years before I was born, human beings built a dam in the mountains. The lake dried up and the water animals perished. In place of green trees, thorny bushes and shrubs remained."

"Where did the birds go? Where do you live? You must have a home somewhere."

"We have a place to live in but that is not our home. We live under the shrubs growing in the dried up lake. It is a secluded place. Human beings don’t come there. But it is a hiding place, it is not home. We wander in the night, looking for food, and hide in the day."

"Are you night time birds, like owls?"

"We are forced to live like nocturnal birds, I mean night time birds, but we would love to fly freely during the day and sleep at night."

Ranjan could not believe what he was hearing. Why could the birds not find another home? They could fly to any part of the world.

Vajra seemed to read his thoughts. He said, "We cannot live by the sea or in deserts because we feed on fruits. We cannot make dense forests our home because it is difficult to spread our large wings among the tree branches. We must find a valley where no human being can find us. Human beings believe our feathers make healing medicine. They will kill us if they know our nesting ground."

Ranjan did not know what to say. It was such a cruel thing to do, to kill a creature for making medicines. He knew human beings did such things. He had seen a documentary about poachers killing rhinos for their horns; the horns were used in some medicine. The poachers used tranquilizer guns to bring the rhinos down. They hacked off its horn leaving the rhino to wake up and slowly bleed to a painful death. If human beings could do that to a strong animal like the rhino, what chance did the birds have?




Chapter 6 : The Magic Feather

"I have broken the rules of my flock. I shouldn’t have let you see me. I shouldn’t have spoken to you. Promise me you will not tell anybody about me and the flock."

Ranjan readily promised. Suddenly, a loud whoosh and a gust of wind hit Ranjan. An enormous bird appeared and swooped down on Vajra. Vajra ran and the bird followed. Vajra flew into the night sky and the bird gave chase. In a few minutes the birds disappeared into the dark. Ranjan stood, dazed. He was stranded on the top of a rocky hill in the middle of the night. How would he get back home?

Before he could think of something, or really panic, Vajra flew back. The other bird flew beside him. It was bigger and stronger. Vajra dived down and landed beside Ranjan. He was breathing very fast but was not hurt. The big bird pecked Vajra and drove its head into his side. Ranjan sprang back to the safety of a nook and cowered. He was terrified.

'Mother, I'm sorry!" Vajra cried.

"Mother?" Ranjan opened his eyes.

"Do you know how worried I've been? Why did you wander off like that? You have disobeyed me and put our flock in danger! None of us have slept. We are afraid humans will follow you to our hideout. Everyone is on guard duty."

"I’m sorry," Vajra said. He told his mother he had been careful. He had hidden himself for a night and a day so that no human being followed him. Then he introduced Ranjan. "Mother, Ranjan is my friend. He has promised he will not tell a soul. He helped me. He's very brave. He was scared but he flew with me."

By now Vajra's mother, Sheetal, was no longer angry. In fact, she gave Vajra a couple of affectionate pecks. Ranjan also got one. It did not hurt at all. She also thanked him.

She looked up at the stars and said, "Vajra, you find a safe hiding place here. I will take Ranjan back home and return for you."

"Vajra, when will we meet again?" Ranjan asked.

Sheetal said, "I am sorry but never. You will have to say goodbye to Vajra. It will be forever."

"But why? We’re friends. Please let him come some night. I promise to keep his visits a secret."

"It is the law of the flock. Even if one bird is seen by a human being, the flock does not visit that place ever again," explained Sheetal.

Vajra didn’t look at Ranjan. He kept scratching the ground with his foot. Ranjan stood in front of him. Vajra lowered his head and Ranjan hugged him.

"Good bye! I’ll never forget you," Ranjan murmured.

"Good bye! Neither will I!" Vajra said.

***

Sheetal brought Ranjan back home. It was still dark but there were streaks of orange in the sky. Day was about to break.

Sheetal plucked a silver feather from her wing and gave it to Ranjan.

"What is it?" he asked.

"It’s a wishing feather. Twirl it and make a wish. If your heart is true and the wish is selfless, it will come true. Or so they say."

Ranjan stood on Sheetal’s back and climbed in through the window. He was tired and sleepy but he wanted to use the feather. He twirled it and watched it gleam in the dark.

What should he wish for? Suddenly he knew.

He twirled it again and wished that the flock would soon find a home and that too among men. They would be free to fly in the day sky, without fear of capture or death.

Keep reading for a special sample of

Krishta, Daughter of Martev.


Chapter 1 : Who’s there?

Suraj was alone in the school chemistry lab. In fact, he was the only student in the building, and in the entire school premises. He couldn’t help notice how strange it felt being there on a holiday. No students filling the rooms and moving in the passages. Silence instead of a babble of voices. Why, he could even hear his own footsteps. And he was wearing sneakers!

Mrs. Kala, his science teacher came in. "Did George give you the apparatus and the chemicals?" she asked.

"Yes ma’am."

"This is an opportunity to make up for the classes you lost. I shall be in the staffroom. Call me if you need any help."

Suraj had missed school for three weeks because of jaundice. His friend had helped him keep up with the class by sharing his notes. But lab work was another matter. So when school was to be closed for three days, for some government related work, Suraj had requested Mrs. Kala to permit him to work in the lab.

Suraj set up one experiment after another. He had the lab manual open and carefully measured out the chemicals. He knew how important it was to follow the instructions. After working for some time, he got the feeling there was someone standing beside him. He could see there wasn’t anybody else in the room but all the same, he sensed a presence.

"I’m imagining things because it feels strange to be alone in here," he said, speaking aloud to break the silence.

One time when he suddenly moved away from the table, he heard footsteps behind him. When he whirled around, there was no one. Could it be George? Was George spying on him?

George was the lab assistant. He wasn’t happy about Suraj working by himself. He was sure Suraj would blow up something and cause extra work for him. George was like that. He was always complaining about the boys. He said they were rude, or noisy, or careless. It annoyed him that the teachers did not take his complaints seriously.

That morning, he had opened the lab for Suraj with a sullen look and a list of instructions. He'd said, "Don’t expect me to help you. I will be in the storeroom next door, updating my stock registers. Take whatever you need from the small cupboard. Wash the beakers and tubes after you use them. You must put back everything in its proper place."

Suraj had tried to tell him he would do whatever he was told. But George hadn’t let him speak. Instead he had gone on and on. "Don’t disturb me with doubts. I know all about you boys. You don’t try out the experiment but keep getting doubts."

Suraj thought it better to remain silent.

But George had more to add. "Bah! You boys! You are a careless lot! You can’t be trusted with anything. I’ll be working in the storeroom but I’ll have my eyes on you all the time!"

After listing out some more dos and don’ts, he’d left with a martyr’s face and the prediction that Suraj would blow up something, preferably himself. Now it looked like he had returned to spy.

"Let him!" Suraj thought and went back to work. After sometime he heard soft movements beside him. He ignored them and started on another experiment. He would need one more beaker. But as he turned towards the cupboard, he bumped into someone. Except that there was no one beside him! He heard footsteps hurrying away.

What was George up to? But it couldn't have been George. He couldn't have walked out without Suraj seeing him. What was happening? There was no one in sight. But his sixth sense told him he was not alone which was absurd because he was alone.

Suraj went back to his experiment but could no longer concentrate. It was as if he was waiting for something to happen. He had to redo the experiment thrice before he got the required yellow precipitate. He heard a soft exclamation right beside him. It was so close he almost dropped the test tube.

"Who’s there?" he shouted, his voice echoing. The only reply he got was the silence of the empty lab and the sound of the breeze in the bamboo trees outside. He waited, straining to hear the footsteps he was sure would follow. The silence continued. It held familiar sounds; the squeaking of a shutter as it moved on its hinges in the stiff breeze, a pigeon fluttering at the open window, the light strains of a film song which he knew came from the watchman’s transistor radio somewhere in the playground.

Everything looked normal. Outside, the bamboo trees swayed gently in the bright sunlight. There was nothing out of the way and yet he was certain there had been someone beside him a few moments ago.


Chapter 2 : Krishta

By three o’clock, Suraj had completed two experiments. He didn’t know when George wanted him to leave. If he could stay for some more time, he could try one more experiment.

He set up the apparatus and went out to look for George. The storeroom was open but George wasn’t in. Suraj waited for almost fifteen minutes. When George did not come he went back to the lab, his sports shoes barely making a sound.

As soon as he entered, he heard a small scraping sound. It came from a worktable behind a screen. He tiptoed and looked over it. A piece of cardboard was sweeping away broken glass from the table into a metal tray. The cardboard was moving to and fro by itself and the tray was hanging in air! Suraj gasped and the tray clattered to the floor.

George was passing by the lab. He heard the noise and came in. When he saw the broken glass, he started scolding Suraj. Just then a strong gust of breeze blew in through the open window and knocked down a jar. Suraj set it right. George shut the window and picked up a dustpan.

"I’ll clear the glass," Suraj offered.

George scowled and briskly swept away the glass pieces. He glared at Suraj. "You should have shut the window."

Suraj let him think it was the breeze that had caused the damage. As soon as George left, he slumped into a chair. Had he imagined it all? At the touch of a hand on his shoulder, he jumped up. A form emerged out of thin air. It was a girl.

What a strange girl!

Her suit of pale violet covered her completely. Even her head and ears were covered. So were her hands. Perhaps she wore gloves to match the suit. All that was visible was her face. It was the shade of pink his sister called shell pink. The suit had a metallic sheen. He had never seen anyone dressed in clothes like that. He guessed she was dressed for a fancy dress event or a play.

The girl placed her hand in front of her mouth. A flat panel, with small shiny buttons, knobs, and dials was attached to it. She said something. Her voice was soft but it was followed by what sounded like a recorded message, "Me forgive do you."

"What?"

Once again the girl spoke into the panel and an expressionless voice came out of the gadget : "I'm reason scolded were you."

"What?"

"That man. He you scolded. I test tubes broke."

"Who are you?"

"Krishta, Martev's daughter."

"Who's Martev?"

"Martev. Martev universe of biggest scientist."

"UNIVERSE!! You mean Universe! Universe of stars and galaxies! I don't believe you. You are playing some prank. Get rid of that costume. You can’t fool me," Suraj almost shouted.

"Which one costume?"

"This violet raincoat, isn't it tight? How did you get into it? And the pink paint? What is it?"

Krishta rubbed her face. "It's paint not. It's my skin of color."

Suraj was a friendly boy. But Krishta’s sudden appearance and garbled speech startled him. He said the first thing that came to his mind, without waiting to think how rude he sounded. "Stop acting. I don't believe you. You messed up my experiment and now you're wasting my time. Just go, okay? I want to work. I don’t have time for your silly pranks."

Krishta stared at Suraj as if she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her mouth quivered, her eyes turned a dark purple, and drops the color of potassium permanganate rolled down her fluorescent face. She said something but didn’t use the panel attached to her hand. The words were soft and fluid but the language was totally foreign.

"What...what's this? Who are you? What are you saying?" Suraj asked.

Krishta once again placed her right hand in front of her mouth. The recorded voice intoned, "Father is told had me that earth of people us different is. They like us polite not is. He is told I no one talk to. I is you with talk because I you to sorry tell want, because I is your test tube broke."

Suraj's felt as if his head was spinning. Or was it the lab and Krishta? What was he to do? The strange girl in front of him kept shedding purple tears. She wiped them away with her gloved hand. Some fell on her violet suit but didn’t leave any trace.

Of course! He should apologize! "I'm sorry. I was rude. I should have believed you," he said.

Krishta stopped crying but still looked upset. However unbelievable it was, Suraj realized Krishta was a being from outer space, an extra-terrestrial. George could come in any moment. It was better if they left. He said, "We must leave. I’ll put back the test tubes and everything."

"Shall I help?"

"George might come in. It will be better if he doesn’t see you. Can you disappear again?"

Krishta answered him by vanishing.


Chapter 3 : Leaping Rose Bush

Suraj washed the test tubes and beakers and put them in the rack to dry. He tidied up his counter. As soon as he finished, George came in.

"I’m leaving," Suraj said, picking up his books and looking around. He wanted to make sure Krishta was leaving with him. Suddenly he felt a hand on his arm. Krishta! She was beside him.

It felt strange, walking with an invisible companion. "Are you there?" he asked every few minutes. He was relieved to reach home. He pushed open the door and called out, "I'm home. I'm going up to the terrace."

The house was at the end of the University Campus. There was a tall mango tree on one side and a row of asoka trees on the other. The vast campus ground stretched behind the house. Suraj had brought Krishta up because the terrace was well hidden from view.

"Krishta, please appear. I want to talk to you. It's strange talking to someone who's not visible."

Krishta slowly appeared. It was like watching a flickering picture.

"Are you sure no one about is? If people to me about know then my father very angry will be," she said, looking this way and that.

"There's no one here. Krishta, where are you from?"

"I'm Ayzeon from is."

Suraj had no idea where Ayzeon was. It must be somewhere very remote and far away.

"How do you find Planet Earth? Is Ayzeon very different from Earth?" he asked.

"Earth from very different not. Ayzeon more clean and crowd less is. Your name what is?"

"Suraj. How did you come here?"

"My father's in craft."

"Where's your father?"

"Here on Earth. I think there's Antarctica named place is. My father and his team Antarctica keep coming. They there some samples study."

"Antarctica! That's very far away."

"No, it's not. Earth on it is."

For someone who had come from another planet, distances on earth were negligible, thought Suraj. He asked, "Krishta, tell me how you're able to speak …er English?"

"My hand this button you speech to understand. This button I press my hand my face front keep. When I speaking my language your language to changed."

"Krishta, the translation is a bit confusing. Maybe the thing is not working."

"Why, are you understand not able to?"

"With difficulty. The words are a bit jumbled up."

"Oh!" Krishta examined the buttons. She looked puzzled. She pressed a button and started to speak into her hand. She held her hand such that her fingers were in front of her mouth and her thumb was close to her ear. She listened carefully and nodded. Suraj realized she was using her hand for speaking with someone. She adjusted a dial on the control panel and spoke. "Can you understand now? Is it ok?"

"Yes, perfect," said Suraj, relieved. He asked what he was dying to know. "How do you vanish?"

"I take on the colors, textures, and shapes of my surroundings. I'm there but I camouflage by taking on the exact color and pattern of what is around me. Think of it as if a picture of my surroundings gets imprinted on me, and I blend perfectly with my surroundings. That’s why I'm not seen."

"Is it automatic?"

"Almost. It's with this button on my left hand. All these buttons have some function or the other. This button is for camouflaging, or making me appear to vanish. But I have to be alert. It happens the instant I press the button but if I don't press the button, I can't vanish."

"It sounds difficult. When you walk or move, you will have to constantly press the button."

"It is automatic. I need to press the button to start the process, that is, when I want to vanish. The space suit also has sensors to warn me of any movement."

"Oh," Suraj said, trying to understand. Krishta made it sound simple but what happened when she fell asleep? How did it work?

"Suraj, where are you?" Sunita, his sister, called. She was come up, looking for him. Immediately, Krishta vanished. Not vanished, Suraj reminded himself, she was hiding. He looked around, trying to spot her but couldn’t tell how she was camouflaged.

"Suraj, why did you come up here?" Sunita asked.

"Er…"

"I had to run up the stairs! Vinay is on the telephone. He said he must speak to you."

"What can be so urgent? Tell him I’ll call back later."

"You tell him!"

"Okay, let’s go."

"I want to stay up here for some time. You go."

Suraj didn’t want to leave Sunita on the terrace. But then he realized he was worrying for no reason. Krishta would follow him downstairs.

But Krishta didn’t.

The terrace was Sunita’s favorite place in the house. A week ago, she had lugged an old rocking chair and placed it in the center of the terrace. She sat on it and rocked herself, all the time humming a tune.

The front part of the terrace was a rose garden and it was the children’s job to water the plants every evening. Sunita decided to attend to it. Taking hold of one end of the hose, she turned on the water and started to spray the bushes. She did her job with enthusiasm. Not a single leaf escaped the jets of water. Suddenly, she screamed and dropped the hose. Still screaming, she left the terrace and collided into Suraj who was coming up.

"What happened?" he asked.

"The plants jumped up and attacked me!"

"That’s not possible. Let me see."

Sunita clung to his arm and wouldn’t let him go. Suraj pried open her fingers and said, "I didn’t know you had such a wild imagination. I want to see for myself."

Sunita raced after him. "Stop!"

Except for the water flowing out of the hose and pooling up on the floor, all was as before.

"You didn’t even close the tap," Suraj said, shutting off the water.

"I told you some rose bushes have gone wild!"

"Gone wild or grown wild? We’ll trim them."

"Aren’t you listening? Two or three rose bushes sprang at me and jumped about, as if they were alive."

Suraj guessed it was Krishta. But why had she played a prank like that? He’d never seen Sunita this frightened. What was he to do? He couldn't tell her about Krishta. It was not his secret to share.

"You may have imagined it. Could it have been a trick of light? The sun is rather bright today. I’ll water the plants and show you everything is normal," he said.

But Sunita wouldn’t let him even touch the hose. She wanted to go down immediately and tell their mother what she had seen.

"Sunita, relax. It was not the rose bush. It was…"


(End of Sample)


Krishta, Daughter of Martev is available on all ebookstores . It is also included in the collection NINE SHORT CHAPTER BOOKS.

Ebook is on sale at $4.99 $2.99

Nine Short Chapter Books is also available in paperback!



Author's Note and Bio


Thank you for reading Daksha the Medicine Girl.


A little about me

I live in India with my husband and son. I was fond of storytelling as a child and later, as a parent, I made up many stories for my son. This led to writing. Seven years ago I quit my day job to become a fulltime writer.

I write fiction for all ages but my books for middle graders and children far outnumber my books for adults. I have written mysteries, adventure tales, fantasy, and general fiction. I have also illustrated two picture books.

Today I have more than twenty published books. A huge thank you to my family and my readers who have made this possible and who keep me going.

Do visit my website, www.gitavreddy.com for news about my books and free offers. I'm assembling a team of beta readers and reviewers. You are invited to join! All you have to do is mail me at kvgr@gitavreddy.com.

Please consider leaving a review for Daksha the Medicine Girl. A sentence or two from you will help other readers discover the book and give me invaluable feedback.

The book has been carefully edited. However, if anything has escaped our attention, please oblige by sending me an email.

For news about my free and deeply discounted books, and new releases, please follow me on Book Bub.

For reviews please visit my Goodreads Author Page . Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. Watch my book videos on Youtube Channel.

Thank you again, for reading my work.


All the Best,

Gita V. Reddy


Books by the Author

Free Books

The Missing Girl

Rangeela Finds a Home

Daksha, the Medicine Girl


LIST OF ALL TITLES

Books for Ages 9-14

Tara and the Giant Queen

Hunt for the Horseman

King Neptune’s Delite

Cinderella’s Escape

The Dinosaur Puzzle and Other Stories

Theft at the Fair and Other Stories

The Unicycle and Other Stories

Rangeela Tales: Book 1

Rangeela Tales Book 2

Rangeela Tales: Book 3

Rangeela Tales: Complete Collection

Books for Ages 8-12

Dearie: A Tale of Courage

Daksha, the Medicine Girl

The Forbidden Forest

Krishta, Daughter of Martev

The Magician’s Turban

The Homeless Birds

Knife and Fork

Make a Wish

The Missing Girl

Nine Short Chapter Books* (This includes all books for ages 8-10)


Picture Books for Kids

The Ant Thief

Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous

Super-Duper Monty

Which is p and Which is q?

Hop and Chomp

The Alphabet Game (Interactive Learning)



BOOK DETAILS

TARA AND THE GIANT QUEEN

A storm lashes nine-year old Tara into Giant Land where she lands on the queen's head. The giants haven't ever seen a human being. One evil giant believes Tara is a magician in disguise and is out to get her.

Tara's journey back to her world is filled will danger and courage and friendship with a boy-giant.


THE DINOSAUR PUZZLE AND OTHER STORIES

What does a great-grandmother know about dinosaur remains?

What should a boy do with an elephant he has rescued?

Seven stories unlike any you may have read before.

CINDERELLA’S ESCAPE

This modern day Cinderella does not depend on a Fairy Godmother or Prince Charming to escape.


KING NEPTUNES DELITE

Maya and her friends find a bottle on the beach. It has a diamond ring and some papers in it. The children put together the clues. It's a distress call from someone held captive on a ship. In an attempt to help, the children get into serious trouble.

What is worse is no one believes them!


THEFT AT THE FAIR AND OTHER STORIES

This is a collection of four baffling mysteries children crack using math, problem solving, and observation skills.


DEARIE: A TALE OF COURAGE

How brave must a deer be? Brave enough to flee from danger, naturally.

Everything frightens Dearie and makes him freeze. When his fear becomes a threat to the herd, Dearie is made to leave. How is he to live alone when everything about the forest terrifies him?


HUNT FOR THE HORSEMAN

Hunt for the Horseman is a treasure hunt game. More than a century ago, a prince hid his toy in one of the secret compartments of his palace. His descendents made a game out of looking for it. They never found it – not surprising given that every room in the palace has two or three hidey-holes.

Now the palace is under threat from the land mafia. Sandy and her cousins are determined to find the toy before their erstwhile royal family loses the palace.

Their search for the Horseman leads them to something far more valuable . . .


THE MAGICIAN’S TURBAN

Jadugar announced he was a real magician. “Tricksters are calling themselves magicians. Soon magicians will be called tricksters! I cannot let that happen so tonight I bring you real magic.”

His act was amazing. But was it magic?

Ismail was sure it couldn't be magic. Magic didn't exist. And then he was trapped in the magician's turban.


THE UNICYCLE AND OTHER STORIES

Two school boys must teach an underprivileged child, or fail.

A young girl makes a huge effort to save her only home – Plant Earth.

A boy goes to great lengths to win the respect of his older siblings.

A princess uses her brains to save her kingdom from bloodshed.

These and other stories make this an interesting collection.

DAKSHA THE MEDICINE GIRL

Daksha lives in a hamlet on the Himalayas. An orphan, she learns native medicine by assisting a vaidya. A chance encounter brings her to the notice of people who move her to town and admit her to a school.

Daksha is unhappy there and wants to return to her old life – until a resourceful steps in.


THE FORBIDDEN FOREST

On some nights, cries of cheetahs and leopards come from the forest. Naturally, people are afraid to enter it. Why are wild animals moving from the dense jungle across the hills to the sparse forest? Has it anything to do with the factory that looks to be shut down but secretly operates?

Abhi and his cousins find out.


KRISHTA, DAUGHTER OF MARTEV

Krishta, of Ayzeon, accompanies her father, Martev, to Planet Earth. She wants to study the sciences as they are still at a very fundamental stage on Earth and easier to understand. Suraj discovers her presence in his school laboratory and with his sister, helps her. But Ikor, banished from Ayzeon for his violent ways, has tracked down Martev and seeks revenge…


RANGEELA TALES

These short stories are about Rangeela the parrot and his human friend. Rangeela is no ordinary parrot though -- not only can he talk as well as any human, but he can also understand human speech!

Together they solve mysteries, have adventures, teach the big bad bully a lesson, and much more.


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