It was just another day in the forest, until the children came visiting. The animals were puzzled as well as suspicious about the motives of the children.

The day dawned bright and beautiful. The peaceful forest slowly came alive. Birds chirped happily. Rabbits hopped out of their holes. Butterflies fluttered merrily from flower to flower. Frogs jumped in and out of the pond, while fish swam around in it. Bigger animals got ready to hunt for prey. The lion stretched himself and majestically walked out of his den.

Not very long afterwards, the monkeys on the topmost branches of the trees began to cry uneasily,

“Chitter….chatter….chitter….chatter.”

More monkeys climbed up to find out what made them uneasy. Their eyes fell on the edge of the forest.

“A group of children are coming,” they informed the animals gathered below.

“How many?” wondered the giraffe and strained his neck to see.

Meanwhile the smallest monkey said in a tremulous voice,

“I can see a sea of them coming.”

“Where are they heading?” asked the worried neelgai.

“Towards us,” replied the monkey promptly.

“We’re doomed,” thought the zebra. He never had happy thoughts.

“Are they carrying guns?” queried the wise bear.

“I can see flags in their hands,” answered the monkey.

“I think they have weapons hidden behind the flags,” a pessimistic monkey said.

“They’re going to drive us all out and destroy the forest,” predicted the sullen boar.

“We’ll never allow them to have their way,” roared the lion. “I command all animals to face them bravely and throw them out.” The smaller animals trembled. The bigger animals looked concerned.

“Come on. What are we waiting for? We have to obey our king’s command,” trumpeted the bold tusker.

“Be quick. The children are fast approaching us,” said the monkey.

The animals formed a chain to guard the forest. The bigger animals were at the centre. The smaller animals stood lower down the chain. They watched the children coming towards them.

Intruders

All of a sudden, the animals raised their voices in a chorus and made the loudest possible noise. The forest quaked. The children froze, thunderstruck.

When the animals let their voices die down, the forest became still. Not a leaf stirred.

The oldest bear came forward and addressed the children menacingly,

“Go back as quickly as you can, or else…” The bravest of the children interrupted him. He took a small step forward and spoke in a feeble voice,

“We…we are…not…not going to harm you…believe me.”

Another boy came up and said, “Yes…no…we….” He was too frightened to say anything else.

Just then a courageous girl added,

“Actually we’re celebrating.”

“Celebrating what?” asked the curious wild cat.

“A…a birthday,” she replied.

Annoyed at the reply, the elephant cried, “You can keep your candles and cakes, plastic plates and gas balloons in your homes. Don’t pollute our forest.”

“Oh, no. We’re not celebrating that kind of a birthday,” said the girl. The bewildered animals waited for her to continue.

The children looked at one another, nodded and suddenly burst into song.

“It’s a very special birthday;

It’s what we call the Earth Day.

That’s what it is today.

Greetings to you, dear Earth, we say.

To Mother Earth we will pray,

Please give us water, give us food,

In turn, we promise to do you good.”

No more wasting, no more polluting,

Let’s enjoy with dancing and singing.”

The children held hands and danced around the animals.

“Join them,” roared the lion. The animals obeyed their king’s command.

It was a singular sight to see the forest that day with children and animals all dancing with happiness.