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My Best Friend, Koochi


I trudged home from the bus stop, carrying my heavy school bag and my empty water bottle. I was hot but happy that it was Friday and I could spend the weekend playing with my elder sister, Ruhi. Although she was thirteen, she made playtime a lot more fun. I had a sneaking suspicion that her stomach ache story that morning was all made up. I’m sure she hadn’t done her homework. 


As I entered the gate of my house, I nearly stumbled upon a nest on the ground made of wooden twigs, some feathers, and soft material. In it were four tiny baby squirrels. I was overwhelmed. I looked around for their mother, but she was nowhere in sight. Curious little me picked up the nest and took it to my bedroom. I carefully placed the nest on my bed and went looking for Ruhi. There is one thing about Ruhi - when you need her, she is nowhere to be found!

I tiptoed around the house, searching, and finally, I found her in the living room, fiddling with the television. 


 “Ruhi! Come see what I’ve got,” I whispered excitedly,


Ruhi sometimes behaves as if she were a grown-up. “Oh, you’re back! What have you brought home this time from school? More leaves?” she said in a bored voice.


“No! Just come and see what I have found. It’s a surprise!” I tugged Ruhi by her dress and somehow dragged her to my bedroom. 


“I wonder what my nine-year-old nutty brother has brought home this time?” Ruhi muttered curiously. 


But was she in for a big surprise! She couldn’t believe her eyes. She took one look at the four baby squirrels in their nest and, looked at me, said, "That's a drey!"


I looked at her, baffled. Seeing my look, she stopped behaving like a know-it-all and explained, "A drey is what the nest of a squirrel is called!" I was impressed. This was new to me. Then she spoiled it all by adding, "Mummy is going to be furious!”


 “I couldn’t just leave them there,” I added after explaining where I had found them.


Ruhi immediately charged to the storeroom and dug out a basket. She lovingly placed the drey on a clean, soft cotton cloth and put it in the basket with the baby squirrels. 


“Let’s leave them here for now. We need to find out how Mummy will react,” she suggested. I agreed, feeling the butterflies in my stomach, and we went to look for Mummy.


“Wash your hands and change your clothes. Lunch is ready.” Mummy called out from the kitchen.


Ruhi and I looked at each other and decided to eat first. We were starving. 


After lunch, I repeated my story to my mother. She was thoughtful and said, “Someone did come by today to remove the coconuts. Maybe they fell from the coconut tree."


“So, can we keep them?” we asked pleadingly.


“Well, we don’t have a choice; if we leave them outside, the cat will come by and eat them. I’ll go get some milk for them,” said Mummy.


She looked into the first aid box and found a dropper with which to feed the baby squirrels some milk. 


Drop by drop, slowly and gently, all four babies were fed milk with Mummy’s help.

Every day, Mummy looked after the squirrels while we were at school. Once we were back home, my sister and I fed them and kept them outside in the backyard, so our little friends would get some fresh air. They were so happy! They jumped around and played. We kept a watchful eye for the cat. 


Over time, they grew up. Being babies, no more, they were all over the place. Soon enough, three squirrels left their basket and didn’t come back. I was sad, and so was Ruhi. Mummy said that we had done well and looked after them. But the last one refused to leave.  


“Can we keep her?” I eagerly asked Mummy.


“Oh, alright! But she is your responsibility. What are we going to name her?” Mummy replied.

“Koochi,” I said excitedly.

 

Koochi grew up to be strong and healthy. She loved eating bananas, peanuts, a ripe apple, and any sort of soft fruit. 


We used to spend a lot of time together, starting with meals, playtime, and even bedtime. Koochi slept in her basket next to my bed. At times, she would even wake me up early in the morning with her happy squeaky noises. 


When Koochi was lonely or apprehensive, she would sit on my shoulder and sniff me all over my head and neck and then nibble my ear. Just to seek my attention to tell me that she was either hungry or making sure that, ‘yes, it’s me.’ 


In the evenings, Koochi watched me as I did my homework. But if she were in a playful mood, she would grab my pencil and flee! She was that smart. I had to chase her all around the house if I wanted to complete my homework. It was obviously playtime for Koochi. 


Koochi soon grew up to be a beautiful adult squirrel. And disliked being caged. One morning, before going to school, when I took Koochi to put her in her cage, she jumped out of my hand and started making high-pitched, shrill noises. And her tail shook vigorously. I stopped and looked at Koochi and said, “Hmmm, you are bored, aren’t you?” Before I could say anything, Koochi was in my shirt pocket. As if to say, “I don't want to be caged. Take me with you.” I laughed and said, “Okay, Okay! You can come with me to school. Let me take some food for you.”

"Now, you will have an educated squirrel as a pet!' Mummy said, teasing me.


When I reached my classroom, it was Koochi’s feed time. I gave her some nuts to eat. There was pin-drop silence as all the other students watched us in awe! Once Koochi was done, she jumped out of the window and disappeared amongst the trees and bushes, ready to explore the new world. Now and then, Koochi peeked through the window to see if I was still there. 


For the next couple of months, Koochi went to school with me every day. By now, she even recognized the last bell. She would charge through the window and settle down in my pocket.

One day, after the last bell, she didn’t come back to my classroom. I waited as long as I could, but Koochi didn’t return. Feeling apprehensive and with a heavy heart, I went home and told my mummy everything. I was worried about my little buddy. Koochi had become a part of the family and had suddenly gone missing.

 

The next day, I bunked my class and went looking for her. I went to the playground and started to call out her name while all the other students were inside the classroom. Little did I know Mr. Batta, our principal, was watching me.


The next thing I knew, I was standing outside his office. I knew I was in big trouble now. As I heard Mr. Batta call my name, I knocked on the door and peeked inside.


I stood there before him with my hands behind my back and my heart pounding. 


“What were you doing on the field? Why weren’t you in class?” Mr. Batta asked.


“I…I was looking for something,” I mumbled and shuffled my feet. I could feel my mouth going dry. 

“Explain yourself, Rahul,” he said again as he raised his eyebrows. Just then, he picked up his pen and said, “I’m going to write a note to your parents. You will need to get it signed.”


But there was nothing I could have done to explain myself. All I could think about was Mummy and how angry she would be.


As he started writing the note, Koochi came to the rescue. She came out of nowhere and jumped on his desk, took his pen, and fled. Koochi squealed loudly and jumped straight into my pocket with the pen.


I couldn’t control myself and burst out laughing. 


Mr. Batta looked at me in shock. He couldn’t digest what had just happened. 


I then slowly explained my side of the story from the very beginning and returned his pen. I also wanted to introduce him to Koochi, but she refused to come out of my pocket. 


Luckily, Mr. Batta was an animal lover himself and let me go. But that was not the last adventure I had with Koochi. As time went by, she became familiar with the school staff, students, the gardener, and even the guard. She was all over the place. 


She made herself a new home in the school garden. Now and then, she would come to my class and visit me. I would bring some nuts from home for her to nibble on. 

 

A couple of months later, Koochi came along with her companion. I took a closer look and saw babies hiding behind a big squirrel, squeaking and popping their heads out. They were all alert at the window, keeping an eye on Koochi.


My little friend jumped through the window and landed on my desk. I was always thrilled to see Koochi. She promptly sniffed and nibbled my ear like she used to do. They looked like such a happy family. All I ever wanted was her happiness and safety.


Back home, Ruhi and I found a drey outside our house now and then. It seemed that they knew we had lovingly taken care of them and let them go free when they wanted. But there was never a squirrel like my little friend Koochi!

 

 

 

 


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4 Comments


Beautifully articulated , so v. well narrated

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Aditi
Aditi
Apr 22
Replying to

Thank you so much, Sir 🙏🏻

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Such a warm hearted loving story . All living animals, insects big or small have profound emotions which many humans fail to understand.

You have narrated the story very well Aditi, highlighting Rahul at such a young age expressed feelings of naturing the little squirrels. with the help of sister n mom. Most heart warming was the bond between kochi and Rahul and he letting go his most loved friend kochi to her squirrel mates and habitat where kuchi will live happily ever after. ❤️

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Aditi
Aditi
Apr 21
Replying to

Thank you so much. You are the inspiration behind it all 🥰😍😘

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