Perspectives from the Himalaya

Cloud Story 8: How to Untie your Belly Button

It turned out that the town Professor Goat lived in was at the fringe of Nutty Hill, Canada.

Finally reunited, Arlo, Spot and Spino decided to accompany him back home. As many young readers may know, Nutty Hill is also home to Grizzy and the Lemmings. Spot, Little A and Big A had watched these hilarious animations on youTube together, many a time grasping their stomachs and howling in laughter. Mature readers may recall the Looney Tunes’ Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote for a flavour of these similar fast-paced slapstick pranks that the characters play on each other, tagged with immortal lives for a never ending story. Anyway, Spot understood that this visit meant an opportunity to try the famous chocolate spread of Nutty Hill that is stocked infinitely in the kitchen cupboard of the big-bellied bear and his cohabitant of 40 furry lemmings.

Spot tickled the shooting star to open up her latch as she hovered over the isolated house of Nutty Hill. Down they came diving through the opened roof window of Grizzy and the Lemmings. Spino and Spot landed comfortably on the sofa – with Spot on Grizzy’s right and Spino on his left. Grizzy was in his usual fix of tucking in a platter of fish, spread generously with thick lashings of chocolate. Spino eyed curiously at the dish that was on its way into Grizzy’s mouth. Unmannerly as he was, he slipped the dish from the claws of the bear into his crafty hands but was mortified when the smell of chocolate spread brought back nightmarish memories of the chocolate ice-cream gluttony at Oh-No Valley. With a nimble flick of his wrist, he tossed the platter to Spot. When queasiness surfaced upon sight of the gooey brownness, Spot too, returned the platter to the startled bear whose paws were still held up, holding the absence of his meal. Grizzy, stunned by these unsuspecting visitors, was not amused with the play of his fish.

Arlo found a shelf of books and was turning the pages of ‘Foraging the Canadian Wilderness’, when Spino saw Linda, the female bear by the river bank. In that instantaneous moment, she looked like a fetching companion for a fishy affair. There was a whiff of fishiness, of slippery slime, of glittering scales, and of shapely fins about her. She had paws which clawed the fish so ever gracefully, a delicate nose that sniffled teasingly into the earthy river water rubbed in the scales of the wriggling fish, and glistening white teeth that quivered into the soft flesh. The sight of Linda was like a dance between a bear and a fish. Out he went, outlandishly to the calling of his heart, to collect wild flowers for her.

Grizzly saw what was happening. His eyes darkened. His brows came together. Nobody was going to mess with his girl, he thought. He stomped for the vacuum cleaner in the closet, set it on bazooka mode and bolted out towards Spino.

In his disorientation stemmed from jealousy, and his singular aim of stopping Spino, Grizzy crashed into Linda with a mighty show of mortification. He had yet to install the brakes on the vacuum cleaner.

Linda could never comprehend the dim antics of the male bear which was, once again, projecting a pea-brained gesture, slapped with a confused show of affection.

Meanwhile, the Lemmings saw a playful silhouette of Arlo’s smooth curvaceous neck and long tail taking shape of a slide. The mischievous fur balls made a scram for the crown of Arlo’s head with speedy little steps and plunged down in joy. They caught Spot’s attention and he took to joining their fun. Spot sat himself steadily on Arlo’s crown and head butted the Lemmings every time they reached the top. The fur balls tumbled and rolled from Arlo’s head, neck, body, and down to the tip of his tail. A harmonious arrangement had seemed to settle in quite delightfully. Arlo was well into his book and was rather enjoying what felt like a massage for him with Spot and the Lemmings’ acrobatic antics on his back.

Just as the sun was beginning to set in the horizon, Spot and the Lemmings decided to look for Grizzy and Spino. They found them in a furious fight not without thump, thwack and trash. Three Lemmings went back to prepare popcorn and marshmallows, having a good feeling that the action-packed scene of bear and dinosaur may go on all night. Spot started a wood fire to keep warm and the other Lemmings arranged logs in an amphitheatre-like setting.

The scene was getting fired up. And fired up it did indeed. Grizzly had set Spinosaurus’ tail on fire. The disgruntled dinosaur, just before making a decision to thrust himself off the cliff to extinguish the flame in his tail at the river below, managed to poke Grizzly’s belly button with a hot twig.

Now, according to the book of ‘How to Untie your Belly Button and Make Your Buttock Fall Off’, the consequence of such an action was ill-fated for the bear.

Grizzly’s butt cheeks, as the book advises, dropped to the ground like coconuts. Feeling rather exposed and buttock-less, he carried his rear end home in search for a tube of Superglue. Spino made a speedy dive for the river. Spot and the Lemmings gave a rapturous applause for what they perceived as an entertaining piece of cinematic performance.

On his way home, Grizzly picked up the sweet scent of Linda. The bear could not bear another embarrassment for the day if she was to see him buttock-less. He decided to make for the cliffs. It wasn’t such a bad idea for Grizzly landed on Spino who was just about to tuck into his freshly caught supper. With the buttock-less bear weighing down on the back of his neck, and luckily for Grizzy that Spino had his spikes tucked in, the dinosaur heaved the bear to the ground with fuming annoyance.

But something occurred on that mesmerising moonlit night. A river of anguish swept over Grizzly and plops of salty bear tears smothered the fish. Then quietness was shed.

Spino felt the sobbing of the bear’s aching heart, the despair, the humiliation, the grief in his sniffles, the throbbing of a disheartening pulse.

“I can’t seem to be myself when I see her. I become a nervous wreck, a nincompoop, trying too hard to please. And then I end up doing something dreadfully stupid, only to drive her away.” Grizzy sobbed his way into Spino’s arms.

Spino offered the bear half of his supper and they ate together till they fell asleep, arm in arm.

Meanwhile, Spot and the Lemmings found the Chinese troops camping around a cluster of trees at the foot of Nutty Hill. To their amusement, they discovered the rifles and could not help prodding at the row of these curious contraptions.

A trigger was pulled innocently from a rifle and the bullet saw a shower of hazelnuts rained from above. Thrilled by what the contraption could do, the Lemmings collected all the rifles from the camp and Spot replaced them with cardboard cut outs. Lady Buckshot had the privilege of having hers replaced with a mop in her harness.

Unaware of the dinosaur pursuit by Lady Buckshot, Colonel Shen and his army, Arlo was merrily preparing a plant based dinner in the house. Spot and the Lemmings arrived famished. On seeing 5 large silver platters enveloped by 5 shiny dome covers laid on the dining table, they were expecting a grand feast. When the covers were removed, the culinary composition of berries, leaves, herbs and nuts left the Lemmings faint. They fell off the edge, and fell asleep in disbelief. Arlo and Spot feasted on the sublime offerings of the Canadian forests, wiping away every trace of the meal.

When dawn approached, Lady Buckshot aroused fresh from rest. She was determined to hunt down the apatosaurus and spinosaurus. She tread quietly up Nutty Hill and discovered the house perched precariously on the edge of the cliff. Arlo, being an early riser, was reading at the balcony. Lady Buckshot caught sight of the long neck tucked in the pages of a tiny book. It was a perfect setup to gun the dinosaur down. She reached for her rifle in evil elation, dreaming of another achievement in her list of insensitive and insensible doings. She could just smell the taste of glory, the acclamation and accolades that would come knocking on her door. For a brief moment, she just wanted to bask in the glorification and the special honour of acknowledgement presented by the Fraternity of Illegal Hunters.

But her elation turned into a screeching scream of vexation when she discovered the mop in her hands.

Colonel Shen and his army sprinted toward the hunter in distress. Spino and Grizzy, who were lumbering back to the house from the river began pounding up anxiously. Arlo dropped his book and stretched his neck out. Spot and the Lemmings bounced out of their sleep. Lady Buckshot became an instantaneous spotlight of attention at the threshold of the house. Her anger had turned her complexion into a hideous crimson.

By this time, Spino and Grizzy had appeared from the other end of the hill, Arlo and Spot had stepped out of the house to see what the commotion was about. Colonel Shen and his army had reached Lady Buckshot by her side, pointing their weapons at Arlo and Spino.

“Err…Spot, have you been busy sharing your cardboard cutouts with these gentlemen? All of them seem to have a piece of your artwork sling on their shoulders.” he mumbled to Spot.

It was a rather awkward moment of terror and comedy.

40 Lemmings armed with the stolen rifles counteracted to the unwelcoming gesture of the men in uniforms. The Chinese dropped their cardboard versions and raised their arms in surrender. All was awkward again.

But not for long.

In a distance, the soft purring of an engine from a delivery van with a load of chocolate spread was heard. The familiar comforting sound left the Lemmings tossing their rifles. They sped away with Grizzy in the direction of the vehicle that was coming up toward Nutty Hill. In a fraction of a minute, the army had regained control of the situation, reclaiming their rifles and isolating the two dinosaurs. Colonel Shen informed the pilots of their location and without delay, Arlo and Spino were captured in nets thrown from 2 hovering helicopters.

Spot stood there in despair and alone, without his brotherly companions.

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