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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mariposa


Can you write a story for me ?’, my six year old daughter asked, ‘An awesome butterfly story ...’


She loved butterflies, ‘ I want to be a butterfly when I grow up’ , she  would say.

‘What do you want in the story ...?’, I smiled.

‘An awesome princess. Lots of awesome Monarch butterflies. Not too many words and a lot of pictures…’


So I tried to find out more about the Monarch butterflies. And I was amazed by what I found out !


Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a beautiful princess, who lived in a beautiful palace that was in a beautiful kingdom nestled around beautiful mountains of central Mexico.  Her name was Mariposa.

The princess loved butterflies. ‘I want to be a butterfly when I grow up’, the princess would say.

‘You will be a queen when you grow up , my dear’, the King would laugh.

‘No I want to become a beautiful butterfly and fly away!’  

***

One day the King got a message from another kingdom that was far far away.

‘Help us ! The mighty tribes of South are going to attack us in the Harvest season ! Please send your army to help ’

‘But your  kingdom is so far far  away …’, The king said ‘ How will my army reach there in time ?’

The King did not send help.

Next year, the King got a message from another kingdom that was far away.

 ‘Help us ! The mighty tribes of South are going to attack us in the Harvest season ! Please send your army to help ’

‘But your kingdom is so far away …’, The king said ‘ How will my army reach there in time ?’

The King did not send help.

Next year, the King got a message from the mighty tribes of South.

‘We are going to attack you in the Harvest season !’

 The King was sad. The mighty tribes of South had a big big army. He would need help.

‘But I have helped nobody so why will other’s help me ?’  

***

‘We can ask help from the mighty tribes of the North’ , the queen suggested .
   
The King and the Queen were sitting under the royal Oak  tree in the royal garden. Princess Mariposa was chasing butterflies that were flying around the garden.

 ‘You are right my Queen. The Harvest season is only four months away. I will go to them personally and ask for help.  ’

‘My princess Mariposa …’, the King  said to his daughter, ‘Take care of your mother while I am away’

 Mariposa nodded as a Monarch butterfly settled gently on her head.

That night, the King and his sixteen strongest soldiers headed north on their fastest horses.

Two months passed but the King did not return.

***

‘The harvest season is so close!’, the queen thought  impatiently, ‘And there is still no word from the King !!'

The Queen and Mariposa were sitting under the royal Oak tree in the royal garden. The oak tree was Marposa’s favorite tree . The tree always had a lot of Monarch butterflies fluttering around  it.

Mariposa  held her mothers hand gently to comfort her.

‘What if the King does not return with help before the harvest season ?’ 

‘The Northen Tribes  are so far far  away …’, The queen  muttered sadly ‘ How will they reach there in time ?’

The queen began to sob. She got up and hurried back into the palace, hiding her tears.

Mariposa sat under the royal Oak tree. She was also very sad. She missed her father.

‘I wish I was a butterfly’, she thought as a tear dropped down her rosy cheek ‘ I would fly to the Northern tribes  … and find my father!‘

‘You will get what you wish, dear ..’ , a gentle voice came from above her.

She looked up. There was no one.

‘W-Who are you ?’, she asked , looking around her.

‘It is me dear …  the Oak tree  !’

***

The magical Oak tree told Mariposa that it could turn her into a butterfly !

‘I will give you a magical word..’, the tree whispered, ‘Hold the hands of someone you love and say the word ...  you will turn into a butterfly !’

Mariposa’s eyes gleamed with delight.

‘What is the magical word ?’

‘It is - IAM'

Mariposa ran inside the palace to her mother’s chamber.

‘Mother I will be back soon ’, she said holding her mother’s hand.

IAM!’, she said softly and turned into a beautiful Monarch butterfly

***

Mariposa fluttered out of the window into the royal gardens. She was greeted cheerfully by all her butterfly friends. The Oak tree gave her a smile.

‘Which way should I fly to reach the mighty tribes of the North ?’, she asked excitedly.

‘That way my dear', said the Oak tree pointing with a branch,' But it will take you many many days to reach there ..'

‘My friends will help you find your way ..’, it said,  ‘..the first one is the sun - just listen to what he has to say and you will  stay on course.

‘What if the sun gets hidden by the clouds?’ , Mariposa asked.

‘Then listen to the sky. The sky knows what the sun has to say. It will convey its message’,  the tree smiled.

‘And what if the entire sky is covered with clouds ?’

‘Wait. Don’t fly’, the oak tree smiled,’ The clouds will eventually go away. Then you fly again !’

***

Mariposa rose up in the warm air. Up and up and up.

She listened to the sun and kept fluttering her colorful wings towards the direction it asked her to. 

Sometimes It was a bit difficult to hear the sun as it moved across the sky, getting obscured by the clouds. But then the blue sky conveyed sun’s message to Mariposa.

On the days when the entire sky was covered with clouds, she waited patiently for the clouds  to clear – just enough to get a glimpse of the blue sky.

She kept on flying for days and days, resting occasionally to snack on milkweed plants.

‘I have to get back with help before the harvest season!’ , she thought with her eyes trained towards the northern  horizons.

Then one day, the Sun told her in a cheerful voice.

‘You are there ! ’

***
The huge kingdom of the mighty northern tribes lay sprawled under her. As far as her eyes could see.

And then she saw her father! He was standing in front of a big group of warriors.

‘Help us ! The mighty tribes of South are going to attack us in the Harvest season ! Please send your army to help us’, said the King.

‘But your kingdom is so far far away …’, A big northern warrior said with a booming voice ' ..how will our  army reach there in time ?’

‘We can find a way if we want to …’ , the King appealed.

‘There is no way we can reach your kingdom in one month ... even with the fastest horses ..’, the big northern warrior replied ‘ It took you more than two months to reach here with just sixteen soldiers. We have one hundred and sixty thousand  ...’

The king looked down, crestfallen. He recalled the appeal for help he had received from other Kings – the messages he had ignored because he did not try hard enough to help.

‘The Chief is right. How can I get one hundred and sixty thousand soldiers to my kingdom in one month’

Just then he saw a beautiful butterfly descend from the sky. She flapped her wings and settled down on the King’s right ear.

‘Its me father - Mariposa’, she whispered.

***
‘I know a way to get the warriors to our Kingdom before the harvest season’, Mariposa  whispered excitedly.

‘Make them hold the hand of the person they love and say the magical word  …’, She said settling down on his fingers. She then told her father the story of the Oak tree and how she got here.

The mighty northern tribes believed that the butterflies were the spirits of their ancestors. ‘It is a good omen’, the big northern warrior said to the King, ‘We will help you - tell us what to do’

‘Get your best warriors – along with a person he loves’ , The king said with a twinkle in his eyes.

Soon the vast expanse of the northern plains was covered with the mightiest of the warriors, each with a loved member of their family.

‘Repeat after me’, the King said as Mariposa settled down gently on his hand.

IAM!’

***
One hundred and sixty thousand and eighteen butterflies rose up in the chilly northern air.  Up and up and up.

‘Listen to the sun’, the King Monarch ‘s voice rang in the air ,’And the blue sky’

The butterflies flew southwards. Sometimes It was a bit difficult to hear the Sun as it moved across the sky , getting obscured by the clouds. But then the sky conveyed sun’s message.

On the days when the entire sky was covered with clouds, they waited patiently for the clouds to clear – just enough to get a glimpse of the blue sky.

They  kept on flying for days and days, resting occasionally to snack on milkweed plants.

Then one day, the Sun told them in a cheerful voice.

‘You are there! ’

The people of the beautiful kingdom nestled around the beautiful mountains of central Mexico were amazed to see thousands of beautiful butterflies descending from the sky just before the harvest season.

THE END

Authors Note:    


Yes, the butterflies did turn back into warriors and defeated the mighty tribes of South  :)

The residents of the kingdom nestled around the mountains of central Mexico still get millions of colorful visitors every year. The migration of millions of Monarch butterflies from Northern US and Southern Canada to central Mexico continues to amaze everyone.


About four hundred million of them travel more than three thousand miles every year to an area less than seventy square miles in central Mexico ! 


How do they do it ? Well it is still a puzzle, and researchers are trying to figure out all aspects of the migration. Of course, Sun , Sky and sensors in the butterflies are involved  (more)

I also discovered some amazing facts like the  people in the region have welcomed the arrival of monarchs since pre-Hispanic times. In the language of the native Purépecha Indians, the monarch butterfly is called the harvester butterfly, because they descend from the skies just before the harvest season (more )

So ... how did it all start ? I wondered.

7 comments:

Varsha said...

That is lovely. Very motivating, beautiful, positive and full of hope. All this in a gentle story.
May you be crowded around by little children from far and near listening to your lovely stories.

Irina said...

Very well written, so much said in so few words. Will read out to DnD today.

rachna said...

I guess it started with a little girl who told her baba she wanted to be a butterfly when she grew up :) Lovely story.

banved said...

Loved it. Beautiful! ....160 thousand monarch butterflies rose up in the air....could almost hear their wings flap.

triloki nagpal said...

What a story Banna... just fantastic. I marvel at you and your imagination, and of course, the child within you.

Nisheeth Srivastava said...

Banna what an imagery you've helped conjure - simbly beautiful. Clean, innocent and pristine. Hat tip.

(Story Contd...) That mighty north wasn't much further than present day California with its charming weather, great coastline and a certain merry plant. Even before one could say, "I AM", just playing the flute with this merry plant would help you fly, without wings, and paint the environs with a myriad hues. With the great migration towards Mexico also came the great pollination, and Mexico became an extremely merry nation from there on, and everybody lived happily ever.

:-)

BEG said...

Beautiful story and awesome cartoons! The little girl really did get what she had asked for :-)

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