Funny bedtime story of the ghost on a bicycle

One late evening, two brothers, Mahesh and Ramesh were passing through a dense forest where Balluji, the prankster ghost lived.

The ghost noticed that Mahesh wore dark sunglasses even though it was dark. And Ramesh carried small wheeled luggage on his head, although he could drag it behind him. They were into some heated discussion when the ghost hovered near them to eavesdrop.

Ramesh: Mahesh, it’s your turn to carry the luggage. Don’t try to be a hero and make me do all the work.
Mahesh: Ramesh, stop complaining and walk properly or the curry tiffin for our Daadi would drop…

Balluji, the ghost was delighted. He loved curries and had not eaten them for centuries. So he planned to trick the foolish brothers.

The ghost disguised as a veiled woman and created a bicycle with his supernatural powers. He cycled near the brothers and spoke in a shy feminine voice.

Woman/Balluji: Young men, can you help a poor woman in this forest? It’s night and I am tired. I want someone to take me to the nearby village on this bicycle.

Both brothers began to fight to help her but the woman stopped them.

Woman/Balluji: Look, there is a way to decide who will help me! I will show my face to both of you. So, whoever praises my beauty first will get a chance to help me.

The brothers nodded and were eager to see her face. The woman came back to his original ghost form of Balluji.

Ramesh screamed in horror to see the ghost’s blank face with dark hollow eyes and red teeth. But Mahesh couldn’t see properly because of his sunglasses.

Mahesh: You are more beautiful than the sweetest angel…
Ramesh: What..sweetest angel??? …Mahesh, can’t you see… run, I am leaving…aaaaaa…. bhoooot…

Ramesh abandoned the cart and ran for his life. But Mahesh thought Ramesh was jealous because he had won the bet by praising the woman first. So he planned to continue his journey. He attached the luggage to the bicycle and lovingly asked the ghost to sit behind him.

As they rode the bicycle, he heard chewing and slurping sounds from behind. He turned and his sunglasses fell! What he saw was terrifying – the woman had vanished and Balluji, the ghost was slurping down his grandma’s curry.

Balluji’s red teeth were stained with yellow curry. When Balluji saw Ramesh looking at him, he made a disappointed ghost face. He even offered some curry with his skeletal hands…

Mahesh screamed with horror! And abandoning his stuff, he started to run. But the ghost chased him half of the way. “WAIT!!!” yelled Balluji.

“PLEASE LET ME GO BHOOT JI. I WILL BRING MORE CURRY FOR YOU TOMORROW,” begged Mahesh.

“I JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU THE CURRY HAD TOO MUCH SALT!!!” Mahesh continued to run but could hear the prankster ghost doubling over with laughter.

(As told to my kids as a bedtime story. @stories by shivangi)

Small Things #35 – Do authors make enough money?

It was a delightful break when I went to my kids’ school for an Author Visit. I have virtually visited a class before but this was the first opportunity where I was directly interacting with my little readers. My sons have been quite proactive in marketing my children’s books in their school and most of their friends and teachers know me as a writer.

When I went to the elementary class, I found all the little ones eagerly awaiting my arrival – a real author! My son looked proud and embarrassed (I know the feeling). I felt all eyes on me and it made me smile. I knew they were evaluating and trying to understand me. They might have thought my Indian-English accent funny & different’. But most of them wanted to know – How do I put my books on Amazon? So, I chose to answer that question at the very end of our interaction to keep them hooked.

Although a little shy and reluctant in the beginning, they opened up after I finished reading ‘The Boy Named Joy’ to them. Their amazing teacher had projected the book on the smart screen and it was quite an immersive experience.

Do authors make enough money?

Almost all kids had questions for me but we were running out of time. However, one particular question by a curious kid stood out to me – Do authors make enough money?

Honestly, we all know how hard it is for an author to make a living out of books (traditionally or self-published). It’s even more difficult for a self-published author to make a set income because there is less support and validation. Unless, of course, with a strange quirk of luck, amazing things can happen and a book becomes a bestseller (Peter Rabbit and Legally Blonde are great examples).

But the problem was how to tell the kid the cold, blatant truth without discouraging him. I wanted to tell him that it’s all about perspectives. Realists would call an author a failure in terms of material gains while a dreamer would worship him for being visionary, motivational, and inspiring. It’s a truth that only a handful of people stay dreamers throughout their lives. They remain a child. While everyone around them grows up and looks at them with contempt for being ‘impractical’ in the ways of the world.

Isolation, derision and rejection are an integral part of an author’s life. And authors often feel pulled in two different directions – the classic money vs dreams story.

He sat there with his question, eager to get an answer. And I was weighing the pros and cons of my answer.

After a pause, I told my little reader – Authors may or may not make enough money but what they do is meaningful – they touch lives.

As I headed home after explaining to the kids about publishing on Amazon through the Kindle Direct Publishing program, I was smiling. It was a smile borne out of sheer joy and meaningful interaction.

Images courtesy Google

Paw Things#5 – The Bridgerton Connection

“A Visa holder and the Green Card make a lovely couple”…that’s my mom talking. She has been binge-watching ‘Bridgerton Season 2’ on Netflix and finds a ‘Bridgerton’ connection to everything.

I don’t know what Visa holders or Green Cards have to do with that drama series. But she finds a bizarre connection.

“Just like the lead couple in the Bridgerton romance series, where the hero and heroine are at odds with one another, visa holders play the ‘love-courtship-delayed romance’ game with Green Card all the time.”

Hmmm… woof! Funny, how mom gets influenced by TV shows and movies and finds a personal link. My brothers totally get annoyed when she puts on her ‘fake’ British accent and pretends to be a ‘Lady’.

But I like her like this – in ‘doing nothing’ mode. These days, she is not in a hurry to finish assignments or dive into research. She seems on some kind of break.

It has been a cold Spring this year. Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog has seen his shadow, meaning we’re in for 6 more weeks of winter. Thanks but no thanks, Mr. Groundhog! We’re all itching to go out to play.

I am blogging after a long time through ‘Paw Things’. And I have a lot to share with you but I will restrict myself to Bridgerton season 2. We are loving this season because of Kate Sharma, an Indian character played by Simone Ashley. Mom says it’s the first time a South Asian character is playing the lead in a British period drama. It’s an entertaining and inclusive show.

The story is quite gripping and we love Lady Whistledown’s letters, scheming mamas, Queen Charlotte’s whims, grand costumes, vibrant settings, elaborate mannerisms. But my mom does not quite like the make-up of the lead actresses. She thinks the makeup is too glossy…sort of oily and the foundation is not right. It spoils the natural charm of Kate (Simone Ashley) and Edwina (Charithra Chandran).

Hmmm…I do not have much idea about make-up.

For me, the star of the drama is Kate’s dog – Newton, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I like him. He is sass and adorable, like me. He has a ‘Happy’ face. We do look similar, don’t we?

Apart from the ‘Bridgerton’ craze affecting my mom, there is another exciting news. Happy’s Hairy Tale – Part 2 is in the making! Yay bark!

Guess, what? Mom likes to write about me in her books and I like to write about her and my family in ‘Paw Things’.

If you want to check out my first book – Happy’s Hairy Tale – The Corona Cut, please go here. My second book is based on some real-life incidents and my brothers have been brainstorming on it.

I will be back again with more great news for you. Till then, love bark from Happy Singh!

Small Things #34 – Dog Man and Cat Kid Club series books are super hilarious

I enjoy reading funny, giggly books with my kids, and Dav Pilkey’s books frequently make them laugh aloud. These are fictional, entertaining, and informative graphic novels for kids and tweens.

The latest in these fan-favorite series include Dog Man: Mothering Heights, Cat Kid Comic Club, and Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives.

Published by Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic), Dog Man series books are based on a “crime-biting canine who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!”. On the other hand, Cat Kid (Li’l Petey) books have the secondary protagonist of the Dog Man series – a smart but innocent orange kitten as the main character.

What I like about these books – The books make kids laugh and have a good time. I often see kids going for these books in the library or at book fairs. I overhear my kids laughing while reading the books. Although it may seem these books have no educational purpose, the books have lovely and inspiring messages. The illustrations are innovative, informative and these books just resonate with the kids.

What I don’t like about the books – The humor borders on crass sometimes. 

What my kids have to say – According to my second grader, “I love the books because they are funny and easy to read. My favorite book is Cat Kid Comic Club Perspectives and I like Li’l Petey because he is weird. This book teaches you how to draw as well. “

According to my fifth-grader, “I love the illustrations and the unique idea behind them. It is supposed to be written by George and Harold – characters from Captain Underpants. There are stories within stories which is really awesome. These books have some great messages.”

My kids are excited for Dav Pilkey’s next – Cat Kid Comic Club: On Purpose, which is coming on April 5th! I hope it has all the ingredients that guarantee a hearty laugh!

Disclosure – Review copies of the books were provided by the publisher.

#bookreview #books #scholastic #bookblogger

Small Things #33 – What’s the meaning of HAND?

A while back, I asked my kids to write something interesting. I felt the children were being too comfortable with digital writing and ‘dear old’ handwriting was taking a backseat. After a little protest, they finally agreed.

So, the older one decided to write a letter to his cousin sister telling her about his summer vacation while the little one began to write the story of a dog.

After giving a long lecture on cases, grammar and punctuation to the older one, I turned towards the little one. He was frantically editing his work to escape my lecture. I took his copy and read the story of the dog-

One day a small dog was HAND when he saw something.”

“What is the meaning of this? I don’t understand the sentence.”

“Mumma, what’s there to not understand?

“What’s this HAND doing in the middle of a sentence?”

Mumma, it means the small dog was HAVING A NICE DAY (HAND) when he saw something. There was no space to write so I used short form. You understand short form, right?”

This was hilarious and the older one gave a thumbs up to lil bro. I told him short-forms are not acceptable in formal writing.

But would it be acceptable in the future? I thought.

English is changing so much, digital texting language may become more acceptable in formal English by the time my kids grow up. Good or bad, I don’t know (IDK).

Although many are not happy with the changes in the English language, some linguists say kids, far from destroying English, are innovating and enriching the language. This adaptability is the greatest strength of English. Words change forms, names becomes ACRONYMS and best of all English takes on local flavors. Don’t you agree?

This episode also made me realize – I need to keep up with the new lingo of this generation before I start receiving lectures.

Well, G2G at the moment, will BRB soon! LOL.

Image courtesy Google

The Man Who Sold Happiness – A Bedtime Tale

Story of a man selling happiness at a village - stories by shivangi

One day, an old turbaned man arrived at a colorful, bustling bazaar in India. He set up a signboard at a corner – I Sell Happiness for Two Paise.

Many dismissed him as a con man, but a lot came out of curiosity. A man selling happiness was rare! “Hmmm, happiness for two paise? Can you show me happiness?” One mustached man said sarcastically.

“Sure, come sit by me”, said the happiness seller. By now, a small crowd had gathered to see the “tamasha”.

The customer threw two paise at him. The seller took out a carved mirror from his “potli” and put it in front of the man. The customer’s face contorted at first, and then he burst out laughing.

“Bravo! It’s strange, but he does sell happiness!” The customer announced.

Bedtime Story - Graphics of a man selling happiness - stories by shivangi

Another customer came, and he went away laughing too. Some customers smiled, some laughed and, many rolled on the ground with laughter. Everyone thought the happiness seller was a magician.

One little orphan boy watched the seller from far, and thought – “The mirror seems magical, but what does it show?”

By evening, the crowd around the seller lessened, and he noticed the boy.

“Son, do you want to buy happiness, too?” he called out. The boy nodded but explained, he had no money.

“Well, I can always barter,” the seller said.

“Seller, I have just hardship and sadness to offer!” said the boy.

“Well, no harm in offering that to the magical mirror. Let’s see how it conjures happiness for you,” the seller said, kindly.

The boy sat and offered his hardship and sadness to the mirror…

What ensued was laughter… unrestrained laughter… from the child! His infectious laughter came from his pure heart, and soon, it spread all over the village. No one knew why everyone else was laughing.

Bedtime Story - Graphics of a boy experiencing happiness - stories by shivangi

The happiness seller had no idea the mirror could give THAT kind of happiness. After the boy stopped laughing, he asked – “Son, I am amazed. I am 100 years old now but I never saw anyone experiencing such BLISS! What happened, tell me?”

The boy smiled and said, “Dear seller, thank you for this great opportunity. Let me explain the reason.

The first man’s happiness came from jealousy. The mirror showed his enemy falling into the ditch. So, he laughed. The second man’s happiness came from ambition. He saw himself traveling to a new land and earning wealth. So, he laughed.

Everyone’s happiness came from something they wanted – their desire! They got happiness in the same proportion.

My happiness was based on the act of surrender – of my hardships and sadness. I let go of my burden, stress…and what stayed in me was …nothing…just peace. This inadvertently filled me with ecstatic laughter. The mirror showed me so free and joyful, and I laughed. And it spread everywhere.”

The turbaned man folded his hand and said – “My child, a divine being told me I will meet my successor here. And I found you! All my life, I sold happiness, became rich but never understood it. Today I saw it. So, will you be my companion in spreading real happiness…?”

The boy smiled and nodded.

The next morning, people from far and wide rushed to the bazaar to buy a fresh dose of happiness. Who doesn’t want happiness for two paise? What they didn’t understand was the priceless truth – real happiness does not come from what we GET but what we LET GO of…

Villagers desperately searched for the happiness seller. But he had already left with his successor.

Happiness Quote - Stories by Shivangi

Story & Images – @storiesbyshivangi

Why is the Sky so up above the Earth? – A Folk Tale

Here is a very imaginative bedtime folk story to spark your kids’ imagination!

Once upon a time, the Sky was very close to the Earth. You see, they were married! They were so close that humans could actually touch the clouds in the Sky. 

Since there was little space between the Earth and the Sky, humans were smaller in size. They were so little, that they used rats to plow the field instead of oxen. And they kept ants as pets.

Sometimes life would become inconvenient for men and women. If they jumped, their heads bumped into the clouds, causing rain. They could not even lift their hands while dancing. The trees could not grow big because there was no room to grow. And the Sun was too close, causing extreme hot weather.

Although, some kids loved having the Sky so close at night. You see, they could check out the stars closely! But on moonlit nights, it was difficult to sleep since the Moon glowed so much that all of them had to cover their eyes.

One day, a very old, grumpy granny was sweeping her courtyard with a broom. Accidentally her hand hit against the Sky. This made her lose her temper. Angrily, she gave the Sky a very hard push. 

The Sky was already scared of the granny’s temper. And it went up like a rocket, and reached where it is today to be safe. 

The Earth began to weep since her husband had gone far from her. But the Sky said they could always meet when the rain would fall! They would also be together, somewhere in the horizon. He was not ready to come down because of the angry granny.

So, the Sky stayed up and the Earth down. Also, this was convenient, since there was more room for everyone to grow taller. The grumpy granny lived longer than two hundred years and came to be known as – The angry granny who pushed away the sky.

-Inspired by a folk story of Muria Tribe from Madhya Pradesh, India

Graphics – @storiesbyshivangi

Small Things #32 – Summer of 2021 (in pics)

The Summer of 2021 brought hope, normalcy and fun after a grim summer last year. The kids went for camping and on a vacation up North in Minnesota – a getaway, they cherished because it felt divine after the gloomy, uncertain and restricted time they had spent during the Summer of 2020. Here are some Summer fun pictures, which makes the idea of ‘normal’ so real.

I Can Camp – Minnesota’s I can Camp program is great for the first-time campers. All the equipments and support is provided to put up a tent, make food, go hiking and other camping activities. We went there with our friends and had a thrilling time. Here are some pictures of the camping trip.

Duluth – Here are some vacation pictures from along the shores of the mighty Lake Superior – the largest fresh water lake in the world. We also went up to the Lutsen Mountains with family friends and tried the Gondola – an amazing experience to say the least.

Jumping Time – The Summer of 2021 also brought fun birthday parties, jump time and Soccer.

Here is a prayer and hope that soon we will get to see more pictures of kids laughing and having fun everywhere in the world!

Small Things #31 – A Gift of 21 Inspiring Thoughts for Every Child

Today, I came across a treasure of inspiring thoughts for kids in my notes app. These thoughts are great for character and confidence building. I guess I had put it together for my older one, when he was probably 5 and the little one was a toddler.

As I read the list today, that is four years later, I felt the thoughts are still relevant for them. I thought of sharing it with you, my blog friends! I hope this gift of 21 inspiring and positive quotes help you and your kids in some way. ( Copy and take a print out if you wish).

For Dear Kids

1. I never, never, never give up. I keep trying until I achieve what I want. I am successful because I try.😍

2. I am creative when I paint, write, dance, play music, draw or do any form of art.🤡

3. I am responsible and my parents trust me.✌️

4. I know how to listen. When I listen, I show others that I care.😸

5. If I am kind, I have kind friends. Friends are attracted to kindness.👬

6. I think for myself. I know that in every situation, I have a choice. I know that smart choices are choices that are good for me, that do not hurt anyone including myself.🙋🏻

7. Sharing with others makes me feel good and makes them feel good too.🤝

8. Smiling is contagious. I smile at everyone. I smile at the bus driver, at my teachers and at people on the street. When I smile, others usually smile back.😇

9. When I am not happy, I can always choose to think of the good things that have happened to me and change my mood.😎

10. I am honest and say what is on my mind in a nice way without hurting others.😉

11. When I am in trouble, I can ask for help. Many people around me can help me.🤗

12. It is normal to have good and bad feelings. Bad feelings go away eventually.🌈🌞

13. Sport is for fun. When I lose in a game, I am still happy for participating and having fun.🏃🏻🏃🏻

14. When something goes wrong instead of feeling bad about it, I concentrate on what I can do next time to make it better.☃️

15. I know what good attention is and what bad attention is. I attract good attention by being kind, successful, friendly, supportive and happy. It is the better attention to attract.✨

16. I take care of my body by eating healthy and resting enough.🥙

17. I am unique and special in this world.🤴🤴

18. I am grateful for what I have and every night before bed time I say words of thanks for something I have.🙏🏻🙏🏻

19. When I need to do something that seems hard, I break it down to small tasks to make it easier for me.🙃

20. I have good manners and healthy hygienic habits🧴

21. My parents and family love me the most!👨‍👩‍👦‍👦

Images courtesy Google

Small Things#30 – English, Indian Istyle

Indian English is quickly carving its own space in the world. The tone, accent, colloquialisms, vocabulary, sentence construction, and variations are slowly being accepted rather than laughed at. Various localization projects worldwide treat Indian English separate from British, American, or Australian English, and …that’s a relief!

Because since long, we Indians have been so self-conscious and focused on using the English language correctly, that we have hardly been able to express ourselves at all. We have stayed segmented and almost mum in many ways.

It has been like always pretending to be someone else – a caricature of something we believed to be ‘grand’. But now, Indian English is finding its own footing. We no longer need to blush with shame for using the Queen’s English in Indian style. The self-consciousness in using English is lessening as we personalise and Indianise English. Indian English is now spoken by 125 million people and it is high time the language gets its own stature and dignity.

In my home, here in America, the boys often notice my English and ask about my ‘different’ pronunciation. They find my English accent strange and dissimilar from their American way of talking. I say, “I have studied British English, so, my English is a little bit different from yours.” Actually, my English is ‘very’ different from theirs, it is full of Indian words and Indian ways of sentence construction. It is decidedly Indian English!

A few days back, the word ‘opportunity’, gave me the opportunity to talk to my kids on the subject of different types of English. I was reading a book and when I said – ‘OP-POR-CHUNITY,’ I had their attention.
“But Mumma, it is ‘aa-pr-too-nuh-tee,” the little one said.
“But Mumma, in British English, “it is op-uh-tyoo-nuh-tee’. You spoke it differently.” The older one said.
And I found myself saying – I speak Indian English, you know! A few years back, I would not have done so because nothing was clear-cut then. Indian English had no properly defined presence at that time.

It is now time, that Indian English gets properly defined guidelines of its own. This does not mean – distorting or meddling with the original beautiful, flexible language. This means, using the language as an Indian rather than being an Indian and using it as a foreigner. English has the rare flexibility and ability to adapt, that’s why it has survived and thrived for so long. It should be used for our advantage rather than being overwhelmed by it.

By giving dignity and support to Indian English, we will have a new generation of confident kids who would not feel conscious in speaking English, in Indian style.

(Image courtesy Google)

Christmas Gift For Kids – The Magical Guest

Under a leafless apple tree, sat a little girl named Shrivi. She wore loose, worn-out clothes and torn footwear that barely had soles on them. Her small bare hands looked frost-bitten and she tucked them often under her armpits. Her face looked red and her eyes had a vacant stare as she took in her snow-filled surrounding.

Her stomach growled and she realized she had not eaten since the past two days except a half leftover chapati. For the thousandth time, she wished her father returned from the town where he had gone to sell carpets. He had promised to return within a month with money, food, and clothes. But he didn’t, and they were starving. Her mother was sick, they had no food and perhaps, her father was in trouble.

A tear trickled down her cheek as she remembered her resolve to pick twigs and buy food early that morning. They needed food and oil in their lamp as it was frightening to stay in the dark every night. But unfortunately, it was afternoon and she hadn’t found twigs because of a sudden snowstorm. 

The world looked dark and hopeless.

A gentle tap on the shoulders aroused her from reverie. A tall middle-aged man in a flowing brown beard stood there holding the reins of a handsome brown stallion. What did he want?

“Hello,” he said gently. “Will you please help me?” he asked. Shrivi looked at him with strange eyes. How could she help someone when she herself needed help?

“My horse needs water and rest. Where is your home? Can I stay there for a while? I have a long journey to go and I will leave as soon as the biggest and brightest star in the sky will be visible,” he said politely.

Shrivi reluctantly got up and asked him to follow her. While walking, Shrivi felt bad. She didn’t want the guest to see her poverty and her poor, sick mother but it would be rude to deny help. She was also ashamed that she had no food to offer to the stranger according to the village tradition. In there village, any traveler looking for help, was welcomed as God himself.

“Tell me, little girl, what are you grateful for?” asked the stranger, all of a sudden, while walking towards her hut. 

“How can I be grateful; when I have nothing?” said the girl.

“Well, it’s a game I play with children – The Gratitude Game. Come on, make an effort, just find any reason… even a bad reason to be grateful would be wonderful,” he said.

Shrivi thought for a moment and said, “Well, I am grateful for my legs as I can walk…”

“That’s great, isn’t it?” he said.

The stranger coaxed her on and little by little, she found many other reasons to be grateful for on her way back home – her eyes, arms, her mother, the tree by her hut, her pet hare, mother Earth, the sky…

Lo and behold… she didn’t know how, but by the time she reached her hut, it felt like Summertime. Everything looked magical. The tree and the ground by her house were filled with berries while the sun shone brightly.  

Filling her mouth with berries and offering some to the stranger, she laughed and asked – “What miracle did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything. You did it!” said the strange stranger.

She picked up berries for her mother too and invited the guest inside the hut. 

When they entered the dilapidated hut, Shrivi’s frail sick mother was startled. “Mother, I have brought a special guest. You know he is a miracle man. He and his horse need rest till the evening. He is on his way to meet the holy ‘King of Kings’, being led by the biggest star in the sky.”

Shrivi’s mother hid her anxious emotions and mustered energies to get up and welcome the guest. He looked so grand, dignified, and resplendent while she felt ashamed of her poverty and the humble hut. What would she offer him? She was relieved to see that Shrivi had picked up plenty of berries.

But the guest looked perfectly at home as he rested on the mat which she spread on the floor. Crushing the berries, she made juice for herself and their guest while Shrivi went outside to give water to his horse.

“Thank you for helping me out. In return for your hospitality, I would like to give you something,” said the stranger after a while.

“You are welcome, Sir. But we do not take gifts from our guests. Thank you for the offering.” the lady said politely.

“Well, it’s not riches or money. But just a lesson. Will you accept it?” The lady nodded reluctantly. 

“Well, first tell me one thing – What are you grateful for?” he asked.

“There is nothing to be grateful for,” the lady said, shocked almost angry. She felt it was impolite to ask a poor woman to be grateful when she was suffering so much.

“Believe me, any small thing to be grateful about would work to begin your lesson.” the guest insisted.

The lady thought and thought. But only her trouble, sorrow, and poverty came into her mind. What could she be grateful for when everything looked so dark. Everyone in the whole world was better off than them. What had happened to her husband? Why was God so cruel to them? And then the image of a little girl came into her mind and her perception shifted. “I am grateful for Shrivi,” she whispered.

The wise man coaxed on and the lady found several other little things to be grateful about – the hut, her neighbors, the berries… While talking about those little things, she smiled. This caused a ripple effect in the universe – her universe. She realized, she was feeling quite good and her fever was gone. She felt energetic enough to begin work on an old carpet.

“What miracle did you do?” she asked. “I didn’t do anything. You did it,” he smiled.

When the biggest star was visible in the sky that evening, the magical guest took leave to continue his journey towards the ‘holy infant’. “Thank you for helping me. I bless you both with the gift of the highest and noblest of all emotions – the feeling of gratitude. That emotion is the very fountain of fulfillment and joy,” the wise man said before leaving.

There was something about that wise man’s lesson that changed the lives of Shrivi and her mother. Every day, they began to follow that simple method of gratitude and things began to look good. Her mother found work with a decent income, and some sheep, within a few days their living conditions became better.  

And on one glorious night, when a luminous baby was born on a different side of the Earth, someone came knocking at their hut. 

At last, Shrivi’s father had returned with riches, food, and clothes. It was a joyous reunion for the family. That night, as they shared their respective experiences and adventures, one particular story stood out – Shrivi’s story of the magical guest, who was following the biggest star in the sky.

(I hope you liked this gift. If you will ask me – what makes me grateful? I will say I’m grateful to you, my reader for your presence here. Here is wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you get many reasons to be grateful every day of 2021.)