Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Nyah & The Balloon Herder

The day dawned as beautiful as it can ever be for six year old Nyah. She and her Papa spent the whole day at Solberg Airport watching thousands of hot air balloons lift into the sky, like huge colourful marshmallows. It was the most breathtaking scene Nyah had ever witnessed. Also the fact she didn't have to share her darling Papa with her baby brother was an added bonus. Not that she disliked him but sometimes she wanted her Papa just for herself.

Then Papa had bought her the prettiest red balloon and the day just went from beautiful to Fantabulously Greatest Day EVER! Well, it was so until now. Nyah looked wistfully at the sky at a red speck fast disappearing into the dusk. A lone tear fell on her cheek. One moment she was holding onto her red balloon and the next, a strong gust of wind had stolen it from her small fingers. Her Red Balloon. 

As she looked into the slowly darkening sky for the miraculous re-appearance of her balloon, her sad eyes saw a flickering light in the distance. For a moment Nyah forgot about her balloon and looked at the light, which much to her surprise seemed to be coming towards her.  Could it be a shooting star? She opened her mouth but no words came out. The small light grew bigger and bigger and finally came in through her window, tumbling onto the floor with her. 

Nyah stared in disbelief at the girl on her floor. Can girls fly? Before she could open her mouth and call for her mom, the intruder spoke.

"Water...please...water", she gasped.

Nyah finally sprang to life and got her guest the glass of water on her table. She wanted to run for help but something about the girl made her stall. She looked at her guest as she gulped down the water. She was a chubby little girl, not much older than Nyah, with a pair of pigtails tied with the flashiest pink ribbons. The girl wore a plaid skirt and white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Everything about her was plain and ordinary if only Nyah could ignore those glowing wings on her back. 

"There you go. Thanks for the water," said the girl. "My name is Mayalou. I'm a herder in Loonydom." 

"A what? From where? Why are you in my room?" Nyah couldn't stop the questions. 

Mayalou smiled. She walked to the bed and plonked herself on it. The soft cushiony mattress  moved with her and she started jumping on it.

"Hey this is fun! Whee!" shrieked Mayalou. "Can I do this again?" she asked Nyah but jumped more before there was any answer from her host.

Nyah stood flabbergasted by the door. She looked at the chubby girl jumping on her bed

"Whoopsie! Whee! Come, join me" shouted Mayalou.

Finally the little girl in Nyah gave in and soon both the girls exchanged information as they tumbled and rolled on her spring mattress. 

"I am Nyah. I am six years old. I love..."

"balloons," finished Mayalou.

"How do you know that?" gasped Nyah.

"I told you. I am a herder of balloons. When The Master saw you cry as your red balloon left you, he decided to send me down to cheer you up.”

"Really? A balloon herder? Not a fairy?" Nyah tried her best to come to terms with all that she was hearing. 

"Oh no! Me? A fairy?" Mayalou laughed till tears started streaming down her face.Then she continued with her story.

"Who would want to be a boring fairy? Life as a balloon herder is much funner. You see every single balloon that flies into the sky is brought home by herders like me. We nurse them, play with them and finally send them back down to another little kid."

“What games do you play with the balloons?” asked Nyah. The story was getting more interesting. Maybe she can go with this herder girl to that Loony place. 

“We put them in a room with a huge fan and as they try to fly away we catch them. They love jokes so we tell them jokes and make them giggle. But these red ones are too silly. At the hint of a joke they would burst out laughing, and then we would spend hours stitching them up and filling them with air. The red ones are too much trouble, if you ask me.”

Nyah laughed aloud imagining a red balloon bursting open with laughter. She longed to see how the herders went about their jobs. 

“Can I come with you? I want to see Loonydom. Papa can take me and baby in our old Chevy.”

Mayalou sighed. Sometimes she wished kids just didn’t believe in fairies and gnomes and balloon herders. But where would she be, if everyone thought a torn balloon was trash? It was kids like Nyah who kept her alive, in their hearts. 

She gently took Nyah’s hands into hers.

“I’ll make you a deal. Next time you get a balloon, whisper your name into it as you set it free and I’ll come and visit you. Maybe I’ll bring some friends along and we can jump on this bed?”

It wasn't what Nyah wanted but she didn't want to lose her new friend. So she smiled and clapped her hands in glee.

“I’ll send you a balloon tomorrow.”

Mayalou smiled and slowly climbed onto the window. With one final wave, she flew into the dark sky and soon all that Nyah could see was a dull, flickering light.

Just like that, the day turned beautiful once again.

Post-Script: Maya loves balloons. Any given day, you can find atleast one balloon in our house. This story sounded a lot better when I told it to her. But when you write it down weeks after it was originally thought, all those lovely ideas don't sound as good. I guess she wouldn't mind :)


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its beautiful and as creative as ever!
And you are the reason for putting an end to some 1000 potential arguments in my household over the next 16 yrs.
The other day my daughter said "It smells hot" when I showed her what I was cooking for her. I found it cute and a genius expression and told the husband. Who corrected her. We had a huge debate and words such as 'stifling creativity', 'out of the box thinking' and 'flunking basic exams' and 'teaching whats right' were exchanged. Then I thought its not worth it. If she is going to be creative, she is going to be. Nothing can stop it. Like you. Have been reading your blog long enough to know that you excelled in the Indian education system. But you remain the most creative person I know in real life (u know what I mean)

3:05 PM  
Blogger Meera said...

Honestly i wanted to write that your post was damned creative and Maya would love such stories but after reading the previous comment i started to stumble for words for praise :))
Keep at it.. i'm lookin forward to Maya growin up so the stories get more funny!!!

8:24 PM  
Blogger Ramya said...

you should definitely publish your own children's book.. this was such a cute story!!! hope you blog many more of these!

11:42 AM  
Blogger Jira said...

maya is so sweet in the pattu pavadai...just too cute....

3:10 PM  
Blogger Kumari said...

@tearsndreams: *blush* You're too kind with words. Thanks a lot and for de-lurking :) Well, I'm sure Aarzu will learn to ignore the things she doesn't wan't to hear :)

@Meera: Ahem, appo intha kathai was not at all funny-a? Thanks a lot dee :) I have a feeling Maya is going to be the one making up funnay stories about me.

@Ramya: Thanks a ton! Will do but publish is too much effort and I am frankly lazier than creative:)

@Raji: Thanks Raji :)

6:24 PM  

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