Amazing Kids! Magazine

One Big Family

By Sehen Dilkush Gamhewa, Age 12, Kuwait

 

NOTE: This story contains a little Sinhalese vocabulary, there’s a glossary at the bottom…

Editor’s Note: This story comes in 3 parts. You can choose to read all 3 parts in one sitting or read one part at a time.

PART 1

I glanced out of our run-down cabin. It was a cold day here in China. I could only see snow, snow and more snow. It covered the mountains, the trees, the frozen lakes, everything.

“Walt, stop looking out the window! Come and eat already!” Someone yelled, probably my mom. Ever since I had come to the peaceful mountains of China, I felt some magnetic force drawing me to the window. Maybe it was the beauty of the snow. I was an artist, and I loved art, so I guess I found the surroundings a type of blissful art. I pulled myself away, regretting having to leave my world of outside snow to go to the breakfast table.

Breakfast was strangely silent. Everyone was picking at the food; no one seemed to have an appetite. We were like a group of flies, sitting at a distance watching food, but not even trying to feast. Bored, I glanced at the clock. It was then that I suddenly remembered I had set up an appointment before 8, and there were just a few minutes left! I took a bite of food off my plate, hurriedly swallowed it in one gulp and rushed out, grabbing my jacket on the way.

As I ran, the clouds mercilessly covered up the sun. It was cold enough without the wind, so with the wind, not even my biggest jacket could keep Jack Frost from chilling me to the bone. Naturally, I was freezing as I ran. I kept puffing out warm clouds that blew into my face as I ran straight through them. I was against the clock, but maybe, maybe I would be able to make it, if I was fast enough….

There she stood on a rock. She looked amazing, as always. White trousers and a simple, yellow T-shirt. It was simplicity at its best. She stood perfectly balanced, as still as a statue, not moving.

“Eliza!” I called to her, after an awkward silence. “Okay, I’m sorry I’m late. Happy?”

She liked it when others apologized to her, and I knew she’d reply now. “A bit late, aren’t you?” She said, while turning around, slowly.

I grinned. I was right about her.

We sat together on the rock that she had been standing on a few seconds ago. She leaned against me as we both stared at the sky. It was a brilliant blue, with the clouds having cleared away, and the sun shining as brightly as ever. But it was still very cold.

Eliza had been my friend from childhood. She was my best friend, as our families were always together. Eliza nestled closer to me. “Ayye, don’t you think we could draw a picture of this place? I’ve wanted to do it, ever since I stepped inside our cabin.” She looked at me with that sweet begging face of hers.

“Sure, Nangi,” I smiled. Drawing China would be the best and the hardest sketch I’d ever do.

Eliza beamed back at me. “Give me a second.” She got up, grudgingly like a hibernating polar bear, and ran to get the paper and pencils.

The China sketch was magnificent, and Eliza had colored it better than usual. It was a bright piece of art, and both our fathers posted it online with pride.

One night, as I struggled to get some proper sleep, a bright moonbeam sliced through my eyes. I sighed and got up, cursing the curtains for not doing their job. I might as well look out the window again, I told myself, and much more cheerfully, I drew the curtains apart. And then, I saw it: a flash of colors. I rubbed my eyes and stared more intently, this time managing to spy a slight ruffle of leaves. That’s it, I will find out what that is, the more mad part of my mind yelled out. Unfortunately, right now, it was in control. However, the less-in-control but saner part of my mind yelled the exact opposite, with no avail. I put on two jackets and plodded out into the cold, a small, fat figure with flip-flops.

Wearing flip-flops outside of our heated cabin was the worst idea I’d ever had. I honestly would not have been surprised if my legs ended up being frostbitten—I’d be quite surprised if they were normal. Even though I was frozen to the bone, my stubbornness kept me going. I crept towards the bush in which I had last seen that flash of movement, like a very noisy and not-at-all thin cat. On all fours, I crawled straight into the snowy bush, and then I saw it, the most beautiful thing in my life. As soon as our eyes met, a bond had formed, one that I never wanted to break.

PART 2

It shone. The white fur stood out, and glittered in contrast with the drab rocks. Its eyes narrowed, it was looking at me! I was close to it, so close to it. It could ruin me, kill me, but I nevertheless moved towards it. I was a madman, but, we had formed a bond, so fragile. I trusted the sleek leopard, I knew, I was sure that my snow leopard would never hurt me. I stretched out my hand, and the tips of its glistening fur just touched my palm. I stroked it, slowly and lovingly, and then our fragile bond strengthened in that very moment.

I regretted leaving that bush. To me, it was outright heaven. But when the curtains of darkness were being gradually drawn open by the dutiful sun rays, I had to leave.

“Good-bye….” I ran back to our cabin and vaulted straight onto my bed. I had to say, ‘It’s worth my best pajamas…”

In a few hours time, as soon as everyone was up and about, I jumped out of my bed and ran straight into the bathroom. I brushed my teeth and, scurrying to the table, ate like a glutton. Within minutes I rushed out, just like yesterday, except this time I was the one calling the meeting.

Eliza’s cabin was the exact twin of our cabin; the yellow paint, the wooden door, the windows, the chimney, the second story, everything is the same. However, its only difference was its location, I thought of it like two identical twins. Like others, they differed in location rather than fingerprint. I knocked on the cabin door nervously, wishing that Eliza opened the door. Unluckily, her tall father opened.

“How are you son?” he asked me.

“I’m good, and you?” I politely answered.

“I’m good as well, and do you need Eliza?” he asked and I nodded my head.

He smiled and shouted, “Eliza, come down!”

All of a sudden, there was a bang and a whoosh, a scrape and a yowl, and God knows what else was going on up there. It seemed as if a few hundred dogs and cats were having a WWF match there. Soon, a yellow flash came zipping down the stairs and before I could even start counting the seconds, Eliza was down. Today, she was wearing a stylish pink jacket and a red skirt to match.

“Hello Nangi!” I waved cheerfully.

She beamed at me, and then told her father, “Thaththe, I’ll go then!”

We walked away and I started relating the amazing incident of the snow leopard. She gasped at some moments and once nearly slapped me, but at the end, she stood amazed.

“Well I never….Can I see your snow leopard too?” she asked me, with her baby begging face.

With her dress and face, she was irresistible, I had to say “Yeah, sure.”

We walked leisurely to the bush. We knelt down, and I tried to find any clue of my snow leopard. But it seems he had disappeared, I got up and dusted my jeans. “Come on my leopard, I’m here.”

Eliza laughed at my pathetic attempt, but I guess it was a bad day for Eliza.

“Rawr!!!”

It was upon me! “Whoa…Calm down my leopard, calm down.” I stroked its head as it licked my face. He only spared my eyes from his drool, apparently, he had great intelligence.

Eliza started to stroke him softly on his furry, white, black spotted back.

He got off me, and I got up. After a few minutes of having around 36 kgs on you, your chest will probably be flat out. So was mine….Snowy, as I’m calling him has found a new friend it seemed.

“Snowy, over here bud.” I beckoned to him. He crawled stealthily to me, and pulled me up. As a reward, I gave him a scratch behind his ears. Snowy managed a kind-of snow-leopard-type grin.

That was the best day of my life…

“Ayye, have you noticed? Ever since our daddies got a job here in the same company, every day in China has been amazing. Strange, don’t you think?” Eliza asked.

“Yeah, you’re right Nangi.” I replied, still in deep thought about Snowy.

That night, I couldn’t sleep, that eerie saying about your best friend walking over my grave was coming true, it seemed. I remembered that fairytale about a guy who wasn’t scared by anything and wanted to feel how it was to shudder. In the end, a sack of live fish had ended up near his back, enough to keep him shuddering for a long time…I bet my life I was shuddering worse than that.

I thought about Snowy, and then, I heard him calling out to me, “Help!”

I am mad, I know that, but what I did next would surely have made you think I don’t have a brain.

Glossary:
Ayye – Elder brother
Nangi – Younger sister
Thaththe – Dad

PART 3

I searched for a pocket knife and a torch from my drawer and then I slipped out in leather boots.

It turned out that people were on the round. I was nearly caught by a group of 2 men. I shadowed them and heard them cursing the train driver.

“That baboon of a driver let the snow leopard escape the circus train.” Man 1 told to Man 2.

“He’s just good for lying, that sneaky little….” Man 2 said.

“He’s put us in enough trouble already, that nitwit.” Man 1 said again.

“FIZZZ…Hello, come in 009, snow leopard found. Stop patrol!” the walkie talkie fizzed out.

I stopped, my heartbeat felt like it slowed down, everything was going in slow-mo. That is, everything except my thoughts…Is Snowy the escapee? I must protect Snowy. Are they illegal? I could report them to the police. No, all circuses torture animals. If I could capture some footage, they’re busted!’ This very thought gave me a bolt of energy, and it lightened my flame of hope which had been drenched by the fact that it’s a circus. After all, they owned the animals technically, but that footage, at least a few seconds of it, could save all the animals. I hate circuses. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll go around the world shutting down animal circuses. I need to get that footage and save the animals, I guess that’s why they say, ‘Tech these days can be the difference between life and death.’

I suddenly remembered Eliza, she would kill me if I didn’t tell her this. “I better get home quickly,” I told myself out loud.

“Who’s that?” Man 1 asked.

“Uh Oh….” I had forgotten I was in the middle of a forest with patrollers.

“Maybe, you’re just hearing that baboon driver spinning stories to save himself and toss us into the fire,” Man 2 said.

“Yeah, you’re right. I still do wish I could grind his bones to dirt, though.” the other one said.

I slipped out of the forest, secretly, and as soon as I was home, I whistled at my narrow escape.

For the third time, straight, in a perfect row, I rushed out of my house and was at Eliza’s before I knew it. This time, however, Eliza was there.

“S’up Ayye?” she asked me.

I replied, “Quite a lot of clouds and a sun.” I laughed, but both our faces went sour after the previous night’s details.

“How…?” Eliza managed, “That…that-” She was all up for her supersonic scream, quite angry at the circus.

“Nangi, calm down! All we have to do is record them and they’re busted!”

She immediately started smiling wickedly, “I have a camcorder at home! I’ll go get it!” And before I could say a word, she had gone. Then, in another flash, she was back.

“Where were they?” she asked, ready to start running with a giant camcorder dangling from that neck.

“Wait! First, we have to find where the circus is,” I explained to her. “And then, we try to get behind the scenes.”

“OK! I’m ready for it,” Eliza stated defiantly, and that was the start of plan ‘Destroy the Circus.’ We worked hard, and finding the circus was a piece of cake…the parts after it, well….

The night was vibrant, little quivers and sounds and tweaks went right through you and out. My camcorder was on the roll. “Here is the so-called circus, right beyond the bushes,” Eliza spoke, acting like a journalist. She made a pretty good one too.

We crawled and crawled. Soon we were inside the circus premises. The dogs were no problem. One steak was enough for all four. The birds fell for the crumbs, and the wall – one rope was enough.

“SMACK!” A terrible sound followed the smacking sound of the vicious whip, the howling of an animal.

“Jump, you dirty animal, JUMP!” a man shouted, very gruffly, and slashed again.

I spied a crack in the wall. I pumped my fists with joy. The camcorder lens easily fit in the crack and I recorded all the action inside, with Eliza adding in at useful times. But then, our luck ran out.

Apparently, the dogs had run out of steak and followed us.

“WOOF! WOOF!” They barked, loud enough to wake everyone up.

The man inside jumped at the sound of the barks. Snowy took the opportunity and it was a good thing – he bit him. Luckily, I had switched off my camera before the bite. We ran, the dogs barking at us.

“Eliza, the camcorder’s slowing me down!” I yelled. “Just tell me, this is in mp3 format, right?”

“Yeah!” She yelled back, both of us running for our life.

I took out the file chip, and then, “Bye Camcorder” I whispered as I threw it back. It turns out that was my lucky day, because one of the dogs was hit in the face and the others got interested with their new toy.

We ran like the wind, and as soon as we reached Eliza’s home, both of us jumped in and slammed the door. We sat near the warm fire like pale, frozen ghosts. The warmth soon returned to our frozen bodies. I took Eliza’s MacBook onto my lap, Eliza put the chip into her IPad and she plugged the IPad into her MacBook. I copied the file and we viewed it, it was perfect. With a few edits, it was ready.

“Daddy, send this to the government, please.” I gave him my USB.  He sighed and took it. That day, the only thing I did was eat and slept. Soon, vacations would be over and school would start. Well, better enjoy the remaining holidays…

A few days later, I found out what had happened. The circus was shut down, the owners sent to prison and the animals freed. As a reward, guess what Eliza and I got? That’s right! Snowy! The remaining holidays were the best of my life. That big, furry cat and Eliza were better than even being the king of the world.

EPILOGUE

Five years later…

“Mom, I’m home!” I yelled as I came in,

“Hi dear, your food’s on the table,” my mom replied.

I finished my food and stretched. It was a good day for a walk. I changed and out I walked. The white cat was waiting. And then, it pounced on me. Eliza was waiting too. Snowy calmed down, and then laid down quietly. I sat down on the ground, leaning onto the gentle beast, with Eliza, snuggling into me. The three of us, together, we’re one big happy family.

Glossary:
Ayye – Elder brother
Nangi -Younger sister
Thaththe – Dad