Dotty Dormouse gazed in horror at the never-ending climb ahead of her. Her friend Fungus Frog was going through a Buddhist phase and had taken to calling himself a Disco Buddhist. This simply meant that Fungus did not really practice Buddhism but liked to talk about it to sound wise. The end result – a pilgrimage to a monastery in Bhutan called Tiger’s Nest.
|(Tiger's Nest - Picture courtesy Teena)|
Fungus’ fascination and enthusiasm for the beautiful place had rubbed off on Dotty and the rest of their gang. Alex Spider and Mitsy Millipede made up the rest of the gang. The three of them seemed to have missed the bigger picture, a picture that consisted of a never-ending climb up to their final destination.
Dotty mumbled and grumbled in her head as she dragged herself up the slope. Nobody had mentioned the possibility of being trampled to death by horses and people. They even saw a few horses tumble to their death while navigating the narrow pathway. This was to bring them peace? Dotty didn’t think so but Alex did.
“Just look at those lovely pine trees and the beautiful sky. Feel the silence, Dotty. It’s so peaceful.” said Alex. “That’s easy for you to say, Alex. You are riding on my back and I dare not shake you off lest I trip and fall off the path.” muttered a resigned Dotty. Mitsy Millipede remained curled, fast asleep on Dotty back.
And so they tarried on while Fungus hopped and leaped forward effortlessly. “Dotty, MOVE, MOVE, MOVE! You can do it.” chanted Fungus every five minutes. Dotty’s silence did not echo wisdom, just fatigue. After what felt like lifetimes, they arrived.
Alex and Mitsy crawled off Dotty’s back to stretch their unused legs. Fungus popped his eyes out and gawped in undignified awe. Dotty did a belly-flop and came face to face with the feet of a monk. The kind monk picked her up and spoke to her in a soothing voice. Dotty’s eyelids drooped down only to open wide again at the sound of loud chanting.
That’s when they noticed her. She was cute and cuddly and looked down her hoity-toity nose at them. She wore spectacles and her name was Smitten Kitten. The monk put Dotty down beside Smitten so the others gathered around her too. “Do cats eat dormice, I wonder?” said Alex in a dramatic whisper. Fungus looked at Alex with a frown and Dotty shivered but Smitten did not seem to care.
The monk smiled at them in a reassuring manner and they felt better. Dotty pretended to sleep as she was not sure if Smitten would eat her or not. That rascal Alex had to go and put that thought in her head. So much for peace of mind! Fungus peered down at the book placed in front of their mat and tried to keep up with the chanting. Mitsy Millipede crawled away to explore the new world, which for her was the length and breadth of the mat they sat upon.
Alex couldn’t seem to stay away from Smitten. He tried to spin a web around Smitten’s tail but didn’t get very far. Smitten’s disdainful paw flicked her away without a thought. He then took to chanting. “Momos, momos, momos,” he chanted, trying to get a laugh out of Smitten. What he did not know was that Smitten only laughed at her own jokes. In her mind, nobody was as funny as her so Alex’s efforts to make her smile were in vain.
Alex was determined to win Smitten over and told Dotty so. “Shush, you two,” whispered an annoyed Fungus. Alex disappeared, came back with a pine cone and held it up to Smitten. A pretty yellow butterfly alighted on it just as Smitten glanced down. All hell broke loose as Smitten jumped up in fright, in turn startling the butterfly. It flew up and away and then back onto Smitten’s tail. Alex watched in fascination as Smitten ran around in circles chasing her tail. “I think she loves my gift,” whispered Alex to the gang, “look how excited she is.”
At that moment the butterfly alighted on Alex’s back. The next few seconds were a blur of motion – Smitten swiped at the butterfly but almost killed Alex instead, Mitsy jumped onto Dotty’s back ready for the great escape, Fungus helped a rather dazed Alex up, pine cone and love forgotten as they scrambled out of Smitten’s reach before she killed them all. And all because she was afraid of butterflies!
Alex Spider looked into the distance as he relived his death defying brush with love. “Eh,” piped up a small voice, “so that’s the end of the tale?” Lili Ladybug, Alex’s audience of one, looked expectantly at him. “Yes, Lili,” said Alex, “that’s the end of that adventure but there’ll be more and you can join us on the next one if you’d like.” It was Lili’s turn to gaze into the distance, starry dreams in her eyes.