Children

WHY do they do this?

The Hoppers scratch their heads hard this time as they try to solve the mystery of the diving birds!

Slowly-slowly Kakuli clung tightly to a hanging root of a large banyan tree. In the pale moonlight, her large luminous eyes shone like mirrors. She gazed at the Hopper detectives for a while before she spoke.

“I am a slow loris living in the forests of Assam. Yes, it was I who beckoned you to come here to solve a mystery that intrigues us all. Personally, I am really saddened by it. I wish it did not happen year after year.”

Rock, the penguin, coughed politely to interrupt the tiny primate’s chatter. “Ahem, I wish you would explain the case clearly. It might help if you answered some of our questions, umm… yes?”

Diving deeper

Kakuli nodded as she swayed gently on the root. Rana, the frog, shot off the first question. He hopped impatiently around the tree trunk. “You say that this mystery happens every year. Can you tell us exactly when it occurs?”

Slow loris looked quite confused. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe, when it is foggy or rainy or maybe when the sun shines…”

“Fruitcake!” muttered Rana under his breath. “Rock, let us leave before she wastes more of our time!”

Let-it-be, the little grasshopper, was not too sure of that. “No, Rock. I am sure there is a mystery to solve. Let us continue with our questions.” He turned to the slow loris and asked, “Have you seen the mysterious thing happening?”

“Yes, yes,” she spoke softly, “I have seen it with my own eyes. They just fall from the skies. I don’t know why. It makes me tremble…”

Rana rolled his eyes, as if to say ‘I told you so’.

Rock, however, ignored the frog, as he moved closer to Kakuli. “Don’t be afraid. We are here to help you. Now, think carefully and tell us who falls from the skies.”

“Birds, all kinds, all shapes, all colours - birds that come from the northern valleys after the rains have stopped,” she explained, trying very hard to remember all that she had seen.

Let-it-be encouraged her, “Go on! Are you talking about birds that come to Jatinga in Assam during the months of October and November?”

Kakuli nodded. She shivered as she remembered seeing kingfishers, bitterns and herons, and many more dive towards the ground only to crash-land and die. The monsoon may have flooded their homes and nests in the valleys, but there was no reason really to crash into the well-lit buildings of the village.

“Hoppers, aren’t they confused and disoriented like me?”

“Yes, you make sense for the first time since we came here,” said Rana. He still didn’t think there was a case for them to solve. He looked around gloomily, wondering why they had agreed to come this far to solve a case that perhaps couldn’t be solved at all. Rock and Let-it-be though were still keenly interested. The more they thought about it, the more difficult it seemed. Who, but the birds that died, could tell them why they dived to the ground? But obviously they couldn’t, as they were dead.

“I have an idea,” leaped Rana into the air in joy. He pulled out his phone and dialled a number. With suppressed glee, he spoke into it. “Hello, Asadu, we have a case of Jatinga birds that we think only you can solve, because you are the smartest detective on the planet… hehe.”

Asadu’s voice crackled over the phone. “Rana, we have already solved the case, because we found that it can’t be solved!”

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:42:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/WHY-do-they-do-this/article17013170.ece

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