The Dinosaur Is Free
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A dinosaur is still roaming in our midst. But, he does not want to destroy anything. He has a unique story to tell.
"Mom! Can you tell me a human story today?" asked Emma, the baby squirrel.
"Don't you want a doggie or a kitty story?"
"Not really. Why do humans live in such big houses?"
"They have more needs, dear. And they have money with which they can buy houses."
"What is money?"
"It is made from paper and it can buy you anything you want."
"Imagine getting a lot of tasty nuts, berries, and worms with money, mom."
"Why bother when we can have them for free?"
"Mom, how do they build these big houses?"
They destroy trees, plants, and forests to build them."
"Oh! That is why many of our kind have no place to live." said Emma, bristling.
"Yes dear. But there are many good humans too. They fight against these evils."
"Okay. Now tell me the story."
So, Mom squirrel began her story.
"Once upon a time, there lived a 7-year old human girl called Nina. Her family moved from their home town to another country. They rented a big home with 3 rooms. Imagine having 3 big rooms for just 3 people. There were no buildings nearby and all they could see was a big mango tree and a few small trees.
On the first night they moved in, Nina heard a strange noise.
'Someone or something was roaring,' she thought; and it came from the living room.
Nina hurried to the living room and saw no one there.
She looked through the window; there was nothing but a huge mango tree.
But, wait! What was that? The roots were moving. The huge roots had become crawling fingers.
Nina looked up fearfully to see a brownish-green body. She craned her neck to see a small reptile face with sharp green eyes. It was an enormous creature that looked like a crocodile."
Here mommy squirrel paused to bite a juicy plum.
"Was it a dragon?" asked the baby squirrel.
"What was it then?"
"I knew it! Did it eat Nina? What happened then?"
"Nina shouted for her parents," mommy squirrel continued, "However, she was only met with silence.
Scared, Nina ran back to her room and hid under the covers.
She woke up the next morning to inhale the pleasant aroma of fresh flowers pervading into her room.
"Wake up, lazy." called out her mom. "You can't afford to sleep so late. Your school starts next Monday."
Nina ran to the living room and looked outside. There was the old mango tree, soaking its branches under the sun.
"Mom!" called out Nina.
Nina told her mom everything she had seen the previous night.
Her mom sighed, "You have a vivid imagination, Nina."
"This is really true, mom."
"Oh, yeah sure," said her mom. "Like the cat with wings story last month? Or the goat that smiled at you?"
"But the goat really looked as if she was smiling. That story is kind of true."
"I have a lot of work to do, Nina. Play by yourself for some time. Regale your dad with your animal stories in the night."
That night Nina crept into the living room, cautiously. She tried to switch on the lights, but they would not turn on. Nina looked outside at the dim church lights that cast a partial glow on the mango tree.
It looked old and partially decayed but still remained a tree.
She was thirsty and reached for a glass of water on the table.
When she looked back at the place where the tree had stood, it was empty.
"Hello." She jumped when she heard a sweet voice near the window. It was an enormous green reptile, trying to bend his head near her window.
Nina opened her mouth to say something, but her mouth was parched.
As she turned the dinosaur took a bite of the money plant on her balcony. Then he licked his lips and smiled at her. He looked like a baby.
"What nightmare is this?" she asked out loud.
He spoke! And he had the voice of a small boy!
"It is not a nightmare. I am the one who has been living this nightmare for more than a million years."
He had tears in his wrinkled eyes. Nina surprised herself by staying rooted to the spot.
"Don't be scared of me," he said. "I am an herbivorous dinosaur."
"I am Nina." she whispered.
"I don't have a name," he said, softly.
"Aren't you guys extinct?"
"We are, except for me. Listen, I will tell you my story."
"Long ago, before the humans and many animals existed, the whole world was a jungle.
My friends and I were the most powerful of all, we used to live here.
I was around 4 years old and I used to relish leaves and vegetables. But the fruits were my favourites.
One day I was on the prowl, searching for food, when I came across a big tree with delicious juicy mangoes.
The yellow fruits were hanging down, ripe and ready to eat. I pulled on a branch.
The next moment I could feel an enormous force moving me. Within seconds I was inside the tree.
After minutes of confusion I looked around me to see a squirrel, a horse, and a goat.
They told me that this was a cursed tree and anyone who tried to eat from it were buried inside.
I realised that I was indeed stuck inside.
I pushed with all my might, but could not get out; and I have been pushing for the past 250 million years."
The dinosaur paused here.
"Oh, I am so sorry for you." Nina said, her voice sad. "Are the squirrel, goat and horse still there?"
"No. All of them are free now.
A hundred years ago we heard the noise of galloping horses. There was a pair of them, I suppose.
Soon, our horse burst through the roots of the tree and galloped away."
"Why didn't you escape when the horse tore through the tree?"
"The roots closed as soon as the horse escaped. I suppose his period of the curse was over."
"How about the squirrel and the goat?"
"One day we heard the hissing sound of a snake. Though I was not scared, the other creatures were terrified.
The squirrel found a burrow at the bottom of the tree and edged away."
"So, he escaped?"
"These animals did not have a miraculous escape. I think they were freed of their curse and attained salvation."
"What about the goat?"
In a small voice the dinosaur said, "The goat was the first to leave. One evening the roots opened like a door.
We saw that it was spring; the flowers fully blossomed and the sprightly birds flew all over the place.
There walked a man in a long robe. He was leading a group of sheep. There was a glow about him.
We stood inside the tree, enraptured by his presence, forgetting that we were imprisoned.
Our friend, the goat, noiselessly walked outside to join his brethren. The roots closed then."
The dinosaur began to cry.
"You poor dinosaur." cried Nina and kissed him, forgetting for a moment his terrifying appearance and the scales on his face.
When she opened her eyes, the space in front of her was empty.
"Thank you, Nina." She heard the dinosaur's voice, but could not see him.
Nina realized that the dinosaur had attained his salvation at last.
Nina's mother stood in the living room, peeping outside, "Whatever happened to the Mango tree? I didn't see it being cut down."
"Speaking of deforestation..." began Nina's dad.
"That was a lovely story, Mom." said Emma, the squirrel.
"What do you learn from that?"
"Children have the power to heal and even free someone of their curse."
"Yes, a loving word and a touch can do wonders."
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