Toontooni and the Naughty Cat
Translated from Bengali by Indrani Chakraborty
The Wicked Tiger
There was a brinjal plant at the back of the householder’s house. A toontooni bird had built a nest weaving together the leaves of the plant with her beak. There were three small chicks in the nest. They were too small, they couldn’t fly, they couldn’t open their eyes. They just opened their mouths and cried, ‘chi chi’.
The householder’s cat was a devious one. She thought of feasting on the chicks. One day, she walked up to the brinjal plant and asked, ‘What’s up, O Toontooni?’ Toontooni bowed her head and said, ‘I salute you, O Maharani!’1
The cat went away, very pleased. Thereafter, she came everyday and everyday Toontooni saluted her, called her ‘Maharani’ and the cat would walk away pleased.
And then, Toontooni’s babies grew up a bit; they sported nice little wings. They didn’t keep their eyes shut anymore. So, Toontooni called out to them and said, ‘My little ones, can you fly?’ The chicks said, ‘Yes, mom, we can.’
Toontooni said, ‘Great, then why don’t you try and fly to the palm tree there?’ The little birds flew right away and sat on the branch of the palm tree. Toontooni smiled and said, ‘Now I know what to do with that horrible cat.’
And before long, the cat was there. She asked, ‘What’s up, O Toontooni?’
Toontooni put up her feet, threw a kick in the air and said, ‘Off you go, you mean, wretched Pussy!’ And then she took off in a jiffy and disappeared.
The naughty cat bared her teeth, climbed up the tree, but she could neither catch the toontooni nor eat her chicks. She got pricked by the thorns of the tree and came home bruised and battered.
Maharani: formal address for a queen.
Published in Parabaas, March 20, 2006
The original story "Toontooni Pakhi aar Dushtu Biraler Katha"
[TunTuni paakhi aar dushhTu bi.Daaler kathaa*] by Upendrakishore Raychaudhuri
is included in the collection Toontoonir Boi, first published by Upendrakishore's own U. Ray & Sons; Calcutta, 1910.
Indrani Chakraborty. Indrani holds an MA in English literature from the Jadavpur University. She ....
Illustrations by Upendrakishore Raychaudhuri himself, taken from Toontoonir Boi (Subranarekha Edition; Subarnarekha, Kolkata, 2002).
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