CREATIVE FICTION : Champak by Rajeev Unni 

Perched high on a lone dry rock inside a small cave sat Champak. It has been raining for three continuous days. 
‘The rain gods have been extra generous this year,’ he thought, ‘ah, after all, this is God's own country. They have the liberty to do what they want.’ 
He started to drift away into his thoughts but was jolted awake due to a commotion he heard far away. 
A group of people were running towards a small thatched hut. 
‘Eh, what are these people running for? Hmmm, strange creatures really. Need to check it out’. 
And, he hopped from the rock on to another and reached the hut, much faster than the others.
 ‘Huh! I am first’ and he stuck his tongue out. While he was celebrating his small victory, he could hear a woman grimacing in pain in the adjacent room. The scene that he saw there was magical. His ears were filled with a shrill voice of a baby crying. The folks inside the house were congratulating each other.
'It’s a girl,' announced the woman with grey hair and saree the colour of Champak’s skin
'Deivame! (Oh lord!), you heard my prayers. I always wanted a girl child, and I had complete faith in you,' said the man who was pacing up and down the corridor couple of minutes ago.
And that was the day when Mini mol and Champak became best friends.
Champak would visit Mini’s house every day. He liked to play hide and seek with her. Some days he used to visit her house during lunch hours and used to eat his favourite vegetable paste made from beetroot, carrots and some sugar. He liked it a lot and used to gobble it up like he has been hungry for days together.
Champak’s parents were very hard working. They used to go early in the morning for their work and used to return late at night with some delicious food to eat. ‘Mmmm! Slurp! This tastes fresh’.
“The meat is fresh. Amma (Mom), what is special today? ”, asked Champak to his mom.
“Nothing special Champu, saw this fresh meat while coming back from work, thought you would like it. And also, it was free of cost. Hee hee!”
“Ah, Angane para (Ah, no wonder)”, and they laughed.
Champak’s family had migrated to Kerala long before he was born. He had heard stories about the lack of rainfall and the shortage of food. His family used to stay in a big mansion back in the days but had to give way for a big structure that was to come up where their house was. His parents had a tumultuous time searching for a vehicle for them to travel to the land which was thriving with food and rainfall. They were welcomed with open arms upon reaching but the search for a safe shelter left his parents breathless. Finally, after days of searching, they got a cozy and warm structure to stretch their legs during nights. This is where Champak was born.
Initially, Champak did not like the smell of his house. It used to be  dusty during summers and there was an eerie dampness in the air during monsoons. But, he liked the rainy season. He would go out to play with his friends and to watch football matches in the nearby ground. He loved to splash around in the muddy water. Sometimes, they were chased away by the men working in the field where they played. Every day after the sunset, Champak would sit on the lone rock near his house and look into the horizon while recollecting the sweet smell in the air. This lone rock served his and his friends purpose of playing The King and his Attendants. Champak would act as a King and all his other friends used to be his attendants. He used to give mock orders sitting high on this rock.
Every morning he used to reach Mini’s house to play with her. Most of the time she would be asleep and he used to wait near her room for her to wake up. ‘How many hours does she sleep’, thought Champak. He was very protective of her and always used to watch her actions like a big brother.
'Mini mole, where are you?' called out Mini’s mom from the kitchen.‘Oh lord, where did Mini go? She was right here. How can she disappear into thin air? I should stop daydreaming from now on, otherwise bad things might happen to Mini. How can her parents be so irresponsible? They should always have one eye on her’, he thought. Champak finally found Mini playing with mud near her front porch. ‘Phew! There she is’ Champak heaved a sigh of relief.
“Mini, don’t go out without informing me. Don’t you know there are bad people around?'Mini did not say anything but just looked at him and smiled while eating the mud off her hands.
'Ayye! Mini, don’t eat that. It’s not good for you. Aunty, look at her, she’s eating mud from the front porch.'
Mini’s mom came out from the kitchen and quickly took Mini to get her hands and mouth washed.
Champak could never get angry at Mini. She had a certain type of innocence which he wanted to protect. He was her big brother, he wanted to be with her all the time. She was always very happy to see him and play with him.
Once when they were playing Catch me if you can, they saw a big vehicle coming towards Mini’s house. Champak was saved in the nick of time by jumping on a small mould of mud.
'Aye! Don’t you have eyes? Can’t you see we are playing here? What if you had squished me beneath those big tyres?' The man did not hear a thing.
‘Why are there so many people in Mini’s house? Who are they?’ thought Champak. He had smelled tasty dishes being prepared earlier in the day, but he was so busy playing with Mini that he did not bother to check that was being prepared. There was a big cake kept on the table. It was Mini’s birthday. ‘Oh my god! I forgot it’s her birthday. I haven’t brought any gifts for her. How can I be so absent minded?’
Champak started to sulk in a corner when his eyes met Mini’s. She was looking very happy and was laughing when someone put a bit of cake on her cheeks.
‘May god give her all that she desires’ and Champak went home.
Days and years went by and Champak started to go with his parents for work. He used to miss Mini and the fun times that they had. He used to wait to get back home so he could go play with Mini. But by the time he reached home, he used to be tired and the last thing that he wanted to do was to cross the big fields to reach Mini’s house.
One fine morning, he could see hordes of vehicles near Mini’s house. He wondered what could be the occasion. It is not Mini’s birthday for sure. She just celebrated her recent birthday amidst much fanfare. Although Champak couldn’t be there, he had heard that the feast served was out of this world. ‘If it’s not her birthday then why are there so many people in her house?’
“Da, come fast otherwise we'll be late to work” said his mom.
 'Illa, No Amma, I am taking the day off today. Will see you guys at night” saying this he hopped on to the fields to see what is happening at Mini’s house.
When he reached there he could see Mini dressed in a saree and carrying some cups of tea and smiling.
'Mini, what is happening, why are there so many people in your house? What’s the special occasion?' enquired Champak.
Mini could not hear him. ‘There is a lot of noise here, I will ask her once everyone leaves’ and Champak anxiously waited near her garden away from all the commotion.
Mini finally came out but this time there was a strange man with her whom Champak had not seen. He knew all of Mini’s relatives and he was not one amongst them. He slyly went and hid near a big earthen pot to hear what they are talking about.
‘My god! This is so wrong. I should not be listening to their conversations.’ thought Champak. But there was no way out because he would have to pass Mini and the strange man on his way out. He stay put where he was trying not to listen to what they were talking about. Occasionally, he would hear Mini’s laughter. ‘She sounds so melodic when she laughs.’
Finally, after a couple of hours when everyone left, he went near Mini and asked her,
'Mini what is happening? I am not able to understand. Why are you dressed in a saree? Who is that man you were talking to? I am sorry I was there but believe me when I say that I did not hear anything that you guys were talking about'
Just then, Mini’s parents came into her room and asked her,
'Mini mole, did you like the guy? He is an engineer in a very big company and he works in Dubai. If you like him, we would like to go ahead with the proposal.' Mini did not say anything but just nodded. Her parents hugged her and left her to rest.
'Mini, you are getting married? How can you not tell me? We have been best friends since childhood. I always looked after you like my own sister.' Champak left Mini’s home sad and devastated.
Champak was only half way through to his house when he saw his parents coming towards him.
'Champak, where were you? We were worried about you,'  his mom said worriedly.
'Amma, Mini is getting married' cried Champak. 'She was my best friend but she did not tell me anything about this. How can she do this to me Amma? I always looked after her like my own sister. We used to play together and still she did not mention anything to me. I always used to tell her everything that happens with me. Yes, it has been a couple of months that I couldn’t meet her because of my work, but that shouldn’t be a factor of not telling me such an important news.'
Champak cried to sleep that night and woke up really tired the next day. When he woke up, he saw his parents next to him. His mom was sitting next to him and caressing his head.
'Amma, you guys did not go to work today?'
'Illa, No Champu, we took the day off today to look after you. Come, I have made your favourite dish for breakfast today. Mone, what happened yesterday was really unfortunate. We know you and Mini are best friends. You were there when she was born years ago. You have always looked after her like a younger sister. You have been with her through thick and thin mone. But you need to understand that everyone is different in the way they express things. You cannot expect everyone to be the way you want. You need to accept the reality that Mini mol would be married and would be going to her husband’s house soon'
'But Amma, I know there would be a day when she would be married and would go to her husband’s place. I just expected her to tell me in advance about all this so that I could be better prepared,' exclaimed Champak while slurping his favourite soup.
'Champu what you are telling is absolutely right. But you need to understand that people change with time. Maybe she did not do this deliberately. You could not meet her for days and months together because of your work. Also, how do you think she could tell you?'
'Why Amma, she can tell me, I am no stranger to her,' said Champak with tears in his eyes.
'Mone, try and understand this, you guys cannot communicate since both your language are not the same. Have you got any response from her when you asked her something?'
'No Amma. Whenever I have asked her anything, she has only looked at me and smiled.'
'Yes. Do you know why Champu?'
'No Amma, why?'

'Mone Champu, how do you expect humans to understand our language or love us. All they can hear are croaks. Mone, don't forget that you are a frog.' Reality hit Champak yet again and he sat there frozen, merely looking his parents and croaking his tears away.

About the Writer: Rajeev Unny is a father to a 6-month-old who discovered the joy of writing while looking at a simple spotlight. He is a singer, a guitarist and an avid traveller.  A finance guy by profession and a dreamer by choice. Rajeev lives with his wife and son in Bangalore.