Inside a deep, dark jungle, hidden to the outside world was the beautiful monkey city of Vanarapuri. It was home to hundreds of monkey families belonging to different species.
One such family was Mr. Angad’s. Mr. Angad was the Head of Security of Vanarapuri. His wife, Tara, was a teacher in the solitary school of the city. They had two kids – Nila, their nine-year-old daughter, and a little tyke called Suri. They lived in a pretty little tree house perched atop a mango tree in a sleepy part of the town called Marmoset Drive.
It was a day of celebration at Mr. Angad’s house. Suri, had turned five and a party had been organized for his friends.
Tara had prepared a variety of dishes that the young monkeys liked. Pitchers of fresh fruit juices were kept for refreshment.
Tara had baked a huge Strawberry fudge cake for her son. Suri beamed at the importance showered on him. His little eyes shone with joy as he saw the pile of gifts increasing in its size.
Everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ in chorus as Suri blew the candles out and cut his cake. He felt important – it was his day.
There were fun and games arranged for the kids after everyone had supped on cakes, sweetmeats and drank their fill of juices.
The toddlers played puzzles, hide and seek, climbing trees and musical chairs. The grand finale was the tree race – a competition whose winner was decided by the fastest to race a carefully planned circuit across the trees.
Suri was looking forward to the tree race. He wanted to cap his grand day by winning the race. He had been learning the art of swinging between trees and branches and was keen to show it to everyone.
The adults were placed at strategic locations to prevent any falls by the over-enthusiastic kids. Mr. Angad waved his green flag and it was ‘go’ time.
Suri started at a sprint, leaping recklessly between branches and making several awe-inspiring jumps. From the Mango tree he swung onto the mighty banyan tree, leaving the competition behind. His speed was complemented by his ferocity to win.
He was three quarters of the way when disaster struck. The last leg of the race involved a leap from a fig tree onto a tiny gooseberry tree. Suri, in full speed, overshot the jump and fell into the soft mulberry bushes below. He could only watch with dismay as, one-by-one, the other racers overtook him to the finish.
Suri was heartbroken. He had finished last on the race he was leading and that too on his birthday. Overcome with sorrow, he started bawling. Mr. Angad ran to pick his son and held him close to his chest as Suri cried his eyes out.
‘Shhh! There, there kiddo! Don’t cry.’
‘Puppa, I finished last in the race! I was leading…waaah!’
‘It’s ok, son. Winning and losing is all part of the game.’
‘But it’s my special day and I wanted to win. All the other goobaloos overtook me. Waaaa…!’
‘There will be many more races in the future, Suri. I’m sure you will win quite a few of them.’
‘Not fair, Puppa! They were all way behind me and every one finished in front of me.’
‘These things happen, my boy! Consider this failure as a lesson for the future.’
‘But, but Suzy won! How can a girl beat me?’
‘Suzy won because she was the best in the race, Suri. You should not think that just because Suzy is a girl, she cannot beat you. She won fair and square. You made a mistake and you lost. Don’t blame others for your mistakes.’
Suri sniffed back his tears. ‘I’m sorry, Puppa. I will go congratulate Suzy.’
Mr. Angad beamed at his son, ‘I’m very proud of you, my son. I wouldn’t have been this proud even if you had won the race. What you said now proves that you have sportsmonkeyship.’
‘Thank you, Puppa!’
‘Now, how could I let my son cry on his birthday! I have a very special gift for you.’
Suri squealed on opening his gift. ‘A GAME-MONKEY handheld! Thank you, Puppa!’