A story for children of all ages
Illustrations by Michah Beahan
The only sound was birds singing their ancient love songs as Princess Isi stared into dancing gems in the lake, the sun’s reflection on its surface. But Princess Isi did not hear the birdsong, and did not even see the lake. She was lost in her own thoughts…
“If only I had a platypus! I would call him Ivor, the Irish Warrior Platypus. He would be so much fun to hang out with! He could swim in the lake while I dance on the shore… Come to think of it, I need three of them!! What on earth does one call three of them? Platypi? Platypuses? All I know is that without at least one platypus there is nothing to do around here!”
This was a common lament for Princess Isi, who had been dreaming of a platypus for a very long time, at least two weeks. Princess Isi knew, she just knew, that she was meant to have a platypus, and that her life would never be complete without one. But how ever does a mere young princess find a Platypus?
She had asked her parents a million times, and they just smiled like she was saying something cute. But it was not cute, and she was not cute. She was serious. Princess Isi needed a platypus (or three)!
“Mom,” she cried, “this is a matter of life and death! I cannot go one without a platypus named Ivor!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, child,” her mother chided. “You are a princess! You have everything a girl could want. Why do you think you need a platypus so much? Or platypi? What is the plural for platypus, anyways?”
“I don’t know,” Princess Isi mumbled dejectedly, “and besides, without a platypus, I am not a princess. I may as well be a pauper…”
You see, Princess Isi was lonely. She didn’t seem to know how to make friends at school. She and her parents had come from a faraway land. Their skin was a different color than the other kids, and they spoke with an accent. More importantly, Princess Isi and her family lived and even understood the world differently than the other kids. Isi thought the platypi might be easier to understand than the kids she knew. The Princess moped for days, thinking of nothing but Ivor, her destiny.
The Princess had just had a big fight with her parents!
They were sitting at the table eating. Well, her parents were eating. The Princess refused to eat the disgusting Roast Beast the chef insisted on making. It was obviously gross. They had to smother it in some sort of horrible sauce just to eat it. But her father, the king, loved it.
So, there she was, trying to impart how important it was that her parents get her some platypi (or was it platypuses?), that in fact without them she was a mere pauper, when her father burst out laughing!
“Honey,” he said once he caught his breath, “just put it out of your head. You’ll forget platypuses (or is it platypi?) in a few weeks and you can go back to playing with your dolls and matchbox cars like a good Princess.”
Her father was so mean!! And he didn’t even know her! If he knew anything, it would be that she abhorred dolls and matchbox cars and had not played with either in months.
She slammed down her napkin and ran out of the palace, straight to the lake where she just knew Ivor would someday cavort and promenade. She flung herself in the grass facedown and pummeled the earth with her hands and feet until she exhausted herself, lying sobbing.
Suddenly, a flower appeared under her nose, where none had been a second ago! “Wh…wha…,” the startled Princess stammered as she looked up to see a porcupine smiling kindly and holding the flower out to her! And this was not just any porcupine! No, this was a porcupine in 1960’s Beatles style sunglasses, wearing a big peace symbol pendant, surrounded in some sort of sweet perfume.
“Who are you?” the Princess wrinkled her nose, “And what is that smell?”
“Oh! Do you like it? It’s my essential oil, patchouli.”
“Essential oil? For a porcupine? How on earth does a porcupine apply patchouli oil without pricking herself?”
“That, my dear, is a secret for another day,” the aromatic porcupine answered enigmatically, “But do you like the scent?”
“Yes, no, I don’t know…who are you? Some kind of hippie porcupine?”
“Who, me?,” she said sweetly. “We’re all One, lovey. I am you, and you are me, and we are All That Is…”
“Whatever!” The Princess turned her back on the strange sight.
But the porcupine was not to be put off. She came right around to shove the flower under Isi’s nose again.
“Ok, Ok, I can see that was not what you meant. My name is Clover Astralride Lovehaze. But you can call me Clover. And you are Princess Isi,” Clover said with a bow and a flourish.
“Clover Astralride Lovehaze? Seriously. Did your parents name you that?” the Princess asked incredulously.
The porcupine simply smiled. Reluctant but curious, the Princess took the proffered flower. “Nice to meet you,” she stammered politely.
Quite suddenly, without the slightest advance notice, the hippie porcupine broke into song– the classic Beatles song, in fact, only the Princess didn’t know it:
Oooh wah ooh,
Do you want to know a secret, Oooh wah ooh,
Do you promise not to teeeee-eeell?”
“What? Tell me already,” for patience was not among the Princess’s considerable virtues.
“Closer,” the porcupine went right on singing,
“Oooh wah oooh,
Let me whisper in your ear,
Tell you what you long to heeeeeear…”
“Enough already, tell me!” our pugnacious little Princess was not much of a charmer, either.
“I’m trying to. Just hang on and let me finish!” the porcupine chided before resuming her song:
Oooh wah ooh,
Do you want to know a secret, Oooh wah ooh,
Do you promise not to tell?”
“Yes, yes, I promise not to tell, but only if you STOP SINGING,” the Princess yelled with her hands tightly covering her ears.
Clover only sang louder,
“All’s in love with you,
Oooh ooh oooh oooh ooh.”
“What! Paul’s in love with me? Paul who?” the Princess asked eagerly.
“No! Not Paul, All. All’s in love with you.”
“What kind of name is All?” the princess scoffed.
The hippie porcupine sighed and sat down. “You know, All. All That Is. The Light,.The Source. The Creator.”
“Creator?” Princess Isi said with a wrinkled brow, “You mean God?”
“Yes, God or Goddess, if you prefer.”
“So that’s the big secret? That God loves me? My parents have been telling me that since I was little. That’s no secret!”
“No, my dear, that is not the secret. But what you may not know, and this IS the secret, is hat All That Is– or God– or your own Higher Self if you look at it that way– wants you to have all that you have ever wanted or needed or dreamed of. And there is just one simple thing you must do to get it.”
“All that I dream of? Really? Even a platypus named Ivor, the Irish Warrior?”
“And his faithful pals?”
“Yes, and Ivor’s faithful pals. You, my dear, have plentiforous platypi at your fingertips, all for the asking.” “Really?”
“Yes, all that your heart desires,” Clover intoned majestically.
“No, I mean, that’s great, but is the plural of platypus really platypi?” Princess Isi enquired.
“Well actually, both platypi and platypuses are correct, but don’t you want to know how you can have plentiforousness?”
“Are you going to tell me?” the Princess asked skeptically.
“The answer lies in your heart,” Clover answered cryptically while spraying a mist of patchouli in front of her and walking through it before settling down in a lotus position.
Have you ever seen a porcupine sit in lotus position? Ouch!
“Come on! My heart is already certain of the truth! I know that I must have platypi! My life will never be complete until I have them!”
The porcupine sat still, neither looking at Princess Isi, nor saying a word. A breeze blew the grass around them, the leaves rustled in the trees. Far off, birds sang. The two sat in the warm afternoon sun, a perfectly-at-peace porcupine and a petulant Princess who perceived herself a pauper.
Minutes passed, and finally Clover spoke. “My dear. The problem is perception. Your predicament is in your pauper perception that what you have is a mere pittance. Your heart is full of what you don’t have. Look around you. Look at what you do have. For you are not a pauper princess, but a Princess with a profusion of plentiforous prizes. I want you to tell me, right now, what are you grateful for?”
Pugnaciously, the Princess replied, “Porcupine platitudes…”
“Do you need me to start singing again? No? Then describe for me your plethora of presents!” Clover settled back down into the lotus position (ouch!) and said more gently, “What do you appreciate about your life today?”
“Well,” the princess replied tentatively, “I am a Princess with parents who love me. I have this beautiful meadow and lake to play by. I have food and a warm bed to sleep in. I have flowers to gaze at and to smell.”
“Go on,” Clover encouraged.
“I can dance. I can sing.”
“You can listen to me sing!” They were both getting into it now.
“Oh no! I am grateful that you stopped singing,” the Princess replied giggling. Soon they were both rolling in the grass laughing until their stomachs ached.
Finally, Clover sat up, straightened her glasses, fixed the flower chain around her neck, and straightened her peace pendant.
“Plentiforousness, my dear. You have plentiforousness. The key is in your perception,” pontificated the perspicacious porcupine softly. “Close your eyes for a moment, dear Princess,” instructed the porcupine. “What do you hear?”
The wind blew gently, rustling the leaves in the trees. Birds sang. Waves lapped quietly at the lake’s shore. “It’s beautiful!” the Princess whispered with awe. “I never noticed before how beautiful it sounds out here.”
The porcupine smiled.
“So to paraphrase,” the Princess pondered, “if it’s all in my perception, what you are pointing out is that we must not see what we don’t have, but what we do have.”
“Om…” the porcupine intoned peacefully. “All things bring us joy.”
“But how does that get me my platypi?” the Princess earnestly enquired.
Clover turned then and gazed into the princess’ eyes. “Lovey, everything we do, everything we think, everything we are is a prayer. You may be praying to God or Goddess or the Universe or the Light or All That Is or your own highest self, or that tree right over there. Your prayers go out to anything you believe in, the ocean, the wind, the concept of goodness, anything at all. The point is that your whole life, my dear, is a prayer. And when you pray, ‘I have a paucity of platypi, I am a poor Princess who will never know plentiforousness and will never open up to joy,’ then that is what is granted to you. Remember that All is in love with you and answers every prayer.”
“So how do I get my platypi?” the Princess was becoming petulant again.
“Princess Isi, you must stop worrying about the platypi. It does not mean that you don’t want them, and that you won’t have them. But instead, focus on two things.”
“Gratitude is the first,” said the Princess, “but what is the second?”
“The second, dear girl, is Love.”
“Love? I don’t get it, I’m too young to date.”
“No, my dear, not love with a small ‘l’, but Love with a capital ‘L’. Instead of thinking of your own needs all the time, give time everyday thinking about and doing for others. How can you show them Love? What can you do to bring joy to others, to help others? For example, when was the last time you pestered your parents for platypi?”
“Umm…about an hour ago?” the Princess mumbled.
“When was the last time you did something thoughtful for them?”
The Princess realized it had been a long time, “I guess it would be nice if I would bring a bouquet of wildflowers to them.”
“A little love goes a long way,” Clover agreed.
“This is all very pretty, but what does showing Love to others have to do with getting me plentiforous platypi?”
“Why do you want platypi? Be honest.”
“To play with, of course!”
“And tell me, why do you never play with other kids?”
“They don’t like me,” the Princess said sadly.
“Are you sure? Have you done anything to let them know you’d like to be friends?” “Errr, I don’t know..”
“Might they be concerned that you, an exotic foreign princess, might not like them?” “I, I, I never thought of it that way,” Isi stammered with surprise.
“Mmmm-hmmm,” the porcupine said sagely.
“I think I get it!” the Princess exclaimed, “I have been focusing on all the wrong things!
Instead of trying to get what I want all the time, I should look at what I already have, and look for ways to help others find happiness.”
“Precisely, my Princess, precisely.”
The now-peaceful Princess and the paladin Porcupine gazed at the sky and saw something very special! The clouds were shaped like playful platypi promenading above them!
“Plentiforousness,” the Princess put forth. “I had it all along.”
And the two laid back to watch the clouds roll by, content in the here and now.
© Story copyright Indra Lahiri, 2019, ©Illustrations copyright Michan Beahan, 2019. Do not reproduce without written permission. For permission, contact email@example.com
Once a lonely peacock lived on a magical farm. Actually, he still lives there, but he’s not lonely anymore. And it is not actually a farm, but a sanctuary for farm animals— a farm sanctuary…But I am getting ahead of the story.
Once a lonely peacock lived on a magical farm sanctuary. He wasn’t a lonely, sad peacock. He was, for the most part, a lonely, happy peacock. After all, he did live on a magical farm sanctuary.
His name was Majja the Fabu, and he was a beautiful, beautiful bird, even among peacocks! And he was a happy bird, for the most part. He spent his days wandering free, wherever he chose. As the self-appointed protector of the magical farm, and all of its magical inhabitants, Majja considered it his duty to visit every inch of the farm every day. He also spent lots of times in high up places, like barn roofs and tree tops, and called out his beautiful, magical, super-loud warning if ever danger lurked. But as I told you, it was a magical farm so pretty much everyone was safe there anyways.
Majja was very popular and had lots of friends. There were several chickens in particular that Majja was very close to, but he also enjoyed time spent with the giant pigs, the little pigs, cows, sheep, and especially the horses. Actually, the horses were the only ones good-looking enough to truly be seen with. After all Majja was so handsome, everyone else looked a little, well, not as glamorous in comparison.
So Majja had lots of friends, and a good life on the magical farm. But he was still rather lonely. You see, he spoke every language fluently—pig, cow, sheep, goat, chicken, turkey, goose, duck, horse, mule, English—but no one spoke his language. And every once in a while, it is lovely to hear one’s own language spoken.
Once, there was someone who spoke peafowl with him. Her name was Mother Superior, and she was so much more than the word chicken might convey, unless you know a lot of chickens personally. Simply put, Mother Superior was a hen among hens. She was vast in her inner beauty, compassion, wisdom, and sense of humor. Mother Superior’s keen eyes took in everything that happened on the magical farm sanctuary, and she always understood it through the eyes of Love. She kindly mothered her flock day in and day out for many years. She showed them where to find yummy tidbits of food, shepherded them in the barn every night, and took care of them in many more ways.
By the time Majja got to the magical farm, Mother Superior was an elderly hen, and had handed over her active mothering duties to several younger chicks.
On the day that Majja arrived, he was a bit nervous. He had never seen so many other animals, all speaking different languages. But luckily, Mother Superior was there. She took him under her wing (figuratively of course– a peacock is much too big to fit under a chicken’s wing!) and taught him all the languages on the farm sanctuary, while he taught her peafowl.
Mother Superior and Majja enjoyed discussing the nature of things around them, and through comparing their experiences, they often learned a lot about the world.
“Why, they come from clouds, don’t they?’
“It does seem to me that they do. And Majja, you can fly a lot higher than I can, so please tell me, are clouds made of raindrops?” Mother Superior persisted.
“No, I mean yes, I mean, sort of. Clouds are like rain in the form of air, like moist air. Well, you have been in fog, right? Fog is a cloud that is nearer to the earth.” Majja struggled to explain.
“Ah! So clouds are not made of raindrops, but they are made of water in a different form, yes? And yet raindrops are also made of water.”
“And what happens to the raindrop when it falls to the ground? Does it stop existing?”
“Er, no,” Majja puzzled, “The ground gets wet, so the water the raindrop is made of still exists, but it just changes form again.”
“Ah! So the essence of the raindrop– the water– exists even when the raindrop as we know it is gone.” Mother Superior sounded happy about this.
“Yes, yes that is exactly right.” Majja agreed.
“Majja, my dear friend,” Mother Superior said, “I will be changing my shape soon, too, and I want you to understand.”
Remember, Mother Superior was no spring chicken, in fact she was a winter chicken. What I mean to say is, Mother Superior was super duper old. She was nearly ten, and that is much older for a chicken than it is for a human little girl or boy.
“Majja,” she said softly, “just as a raindrop melts into the ground, evaporates into the air, forms clouds in the sky, and then rains down again, I, too will be changing form soon. I will no longer be here in the same way, to travel the sanctuary with you, and to have lengthy conversations in peafowl about the meaning of life and other important things. It is my time to travel on. But just as that raindrop remains water, no matter what its form, I remain me, even when I leave this form. And my Love will remain with you,” she explained gently. Majja cried quietly as he listened.
“Everything changes, my friend. Everything changes.” she cooed.
The next morning, Majja awoke at dawn without his lovely friend. Mother Superior had died in the night. Of course he was sad and he missed her, but Majja remembered that her Love lived on. And he also realized he had many more loved ones and much to be grateful for.
For two long years, Majja the Fabu wandered the farm alone. Of course he stopped to play and visit with all of the animals, just as he always did, but he never found a friend as close as Mother Superior, and he had no one with whom to speak pea fowl.
Not having any close friends, though, was not for a lack of trying! In fact, Majja the Fabu tried really hard, everyday. He followed Thelma and Louise, the turkeys, around but they just ran away. He tried to befriend Lou C. and Lucy Goosey, but the geese simply hissed at him. The pigs were very kind to him, but their interests were just so different! So, Majja remained a lonely peacock.
Until one day, a car pulled in the driveway and two shiny happy people got out. Peacocks have very keen hearing and sight, so Majja was able to sit on top of the barn and observe the proceedings. The shiny happy people said their names were Joy and Tom– can you believe it, this lady was so happy that her name was Joy! Majja felt that boded very well.
And wait, what’s this? Who was that in the back seat? Could it be? No! Majja flew down and hid behind a tall bush where he could watch and listen without being spotted.
It was! It was! Majja could hardly believe his ears!
“Hwaaah!” he let out his eery mating call, “A girl, a girl, and not just any girl! A peahen!” Majja could not even remember the last time he heard a peahen! The shiny people carried her into the barn in a dog carrier, and then they opened the door.
Majja peered into the barn from the back doorway.
First one scaly, gray foot emerged, the talon-like toes daintily outstretched. Majja gulped. The way her scaly leg pulled his heartstrings, I cannot even describe, but pull them they did.
Next, her body and head appeared. Silver body and wing feathers with an iridescent green head, a Burmese Peahen! Majja, being a Peacock of Indian descent, had never met a Burmese Peafowl before, but their beauty was legendary.
The gorgeous peahen straightened to her full height, stretched her wings, and shook her feathers out. As each feather settled perfectly in place, the majestic peahen turned her head and looked right at Majja. Majja did what any red-blooded male who draws the attention of a woman in whom he has interest would do. He ran away.
Sheba paid him no mind. Instead, she stood still for a moment so everyone around her could admire her beauty. She understood that it was difficult for others to take in a sight as glorious as she, and that they would need a moment.
Next, she wandered off and began exploring.
After a few hours, Majja worked up his courage and perched next to her. She turned to him and their eyes met. “Finally, I’ve found you,” she said in peafowl.
“Y- you’ve been looking for me?” the regal peacock, king of the barn, was reduced to tears at hearing his beloved language again.
“I was captured as a peababy and forced to perform in a traveling show. Everywhere we went, I sought someone who could understand me, someone with whom I could ponder the mysteries of the ages.”
“How did you escape?”
“I was rescued by a gaze of raccoons–”
Majja interrupted, “– excuse me, but could you tell me what a gaze of raccoons is, I am not familiar with the term.”
“Certainly. I didn’t know either, until they explained it to me. A gaze is what raccoons call their group, just as we call a group of us a party of peafowl.”
“Fascinating, thank you for that explanation. And now, please do tell me more,” Majja requested.
“The raccoons were lovely and treated me quite well but alas, life with a gaze of raccoons was simply not for me. I summoned assistance from Beyond to find the Life I was meant to live. Joy and Tom then came for me and brought me to Lasa Sanctuary. Whilst it is a wonderful place, with many happy animals, I did not find any one to bond with among the chickens, cows, and sheep there. Oh, I did love them all, but there was no one I felt especially close with. Joy and Tom understood, and they began to seek out an appropriate mate for me. Joy consulted her magic box– have you seen one of these devices? It is similar to a crystal ball and allows humans to communicate over great distances.”
“Yes, I am familiar with these magic boxes. Our humans have them, as well.”
“That is how Joy found you, and so they brought me here, to Indraloka.”
“You came here for me?”
Mother Superior, from her place Beyond, embraced the two with changeless Love. And with Love– capital L– the two peafowl found themselves connected to each other and All That Is, never more to be lonely, for none of us is ever truly alone.