Here is a story of little Shyam who lives in Mysore with his parents Santhosh and Nidhi. Five year old Shyam has loved animals ever since he was a toddler and over the years accumulated many miniature figurines in his home. He recently watched the Jungle Book with his mother and was thoroughly spellbound by Mowgli and his life in the wild. Ever since, little Shyam has played Mowgli in his imaginary world with the miniature figurines as his friends.
Because of his love for animals, Santhosh decided to treat Shyam by taking him to the local zoo where he could see some real life animals. Little Shyam had excitedly planned his trip, interjecting many questions like “Will we see Baloo in the zoo?” and how he will scream and run when he sees “Kaa.” What Shyam did not fully comprehend was the meaning of the word Zoo!
On the day of the much-anticipated trip, Shyam and Santhosh arrived at the zoo. The entire ride was spent in Shyam asking questions about what animals they will see and if he could play and swing with them. A worried Santhosh had clearly told Shyam that he cannot go near the animals and must hold appa’s hand at all times. At the zoo, Santhosh purchased two tickets and the duo excitedly entered together.
Soon, they reached the enclosure with the grey langurs.
Santhosh : See Shyama! Here are the Langurs. They are monkeys. Let us count how many monkeys are there in this cage.
Shyam : Appa! Look at that monkey’s tail. It is so long Appa.
Santhosh : Yes Shyama, monkeys have long tails.
Without a pause, Shyam immediately asked “Why?”
Santhosh : Monkeys need long tails to jump from one branch to another Shyama. The long tails give them balance so that they don’t fall down .
Santhosh was very pleased with his informative reply. Little did he know what was coming next.
Shyam : Appa, there are no branches here. Where will these monkeys jump?
Santhosh found the question bemusing yet innocent and couldn’t help but acknowledge a tinge of guilt creeping up as he looked at the enclosure packed with monkeys. He brushed the thought aside and proceeded to answer his curious son!
Santhosh : This is a zoo Shyama. The monkeys are here only for us to come and see them.
Thankfully, Shyam hadn’t fully paid attention to his father’s reply and was swiftly shooting out his next observation, “Appa, look at this monkey. It’s holding something and eating.”
Santhosh was relieved at the move on the subject and responded, “Yes yes, monkeys eat nuts and fruits.”
Shyam : Nuts? Like the nuts in my mechanical set?
Santhosh : No no, nuts like palm tree nuts, figs and bananas.
Shyam : But there are no trees here. Where will these monkeys find their nuts?
Santhosh : Look over there! That is the zookeeper, he will buy nuts and fruits for these monkeys from the supermarket.
The educative zoo trip was proving to be more educative for Santhosh than little Shyam. They finally made a move from the monkey enclosure to an enclosure with colourful parrots.
Santhosh : Look, Shyama, at these beautiful parrots and cockatiels. Look at the colour of their feather and their beak.
Shyam was meanwhile distractedly observing a particularly loud and large crow cawing from a big bin.
He immediately giggled and said “Appa, look at this crow and the way its saying kaa kaa.”
Santhosh : What is there in a crow Shyama? Look at these parrots. They are special and beautiful in colour.
Shyam : The crow is also beautiful in colour Appa.
While Santhosh looked at his son amused and surprised, little Shyama continued to look at the crow, playing a game of caw-caw with very excited squeals and jumps in between.