“Did you people notice one strange thing about our experience last time?”
Vinod was a thinker. That is what Ramya liked about him. “What was that?”
“Well – when I and Ajay were inside that strange land and you girls outside, 5 minutes for us was 2 hours for you.”
“Didn’t the gnomes explain that time moves differently in the two lands?”
“Well – but if 5 minutes in that land was 2 hours in our world, then 3 hours must have been 2 days.”
She looked at him. Why hadn’t she thought of that?
“Maybe the time difference keeps changing." Then she paused and continued knitting her eyebrows, "That would make it hard for us to keep track of time and be back in time to reach home before nightfall.”
Soon they were near the caves and Vinod called out through the hollow Doc had shown him during the previous visit. They did not have to wait long before Dopey made his appearance.
“Hello Dopey,” the children chorused. He gave them a glazed confused look as if he did not know who they were and then turned around and began walking. The children followed close behind. Soon they were outside the gnomes’ burrow. All six of them were waiting outside with their sacks.
“It is indeed wonderful to see you all again, my friends,” said Doc. “Ho Ho Ho. Welcome! Welcome!” said Happy. None of the others said anything. They all began to walk towards the cloud which would lead them to the strange land.
As they neared the cloud, they heard lot of noises of people moving around. They looked at the gnomes questioningly. “Is anyone out there?”
“Of course, there are numerous denizens of these underground passages.”
When they reached the cloud, there wasn’t anyone. Though they had been through the cloud before, the transition from the darkness of the caves to the brightness on the other side still surprised them.
Suddenly Ramya stopped. “We have to be back before evening. Is there any way we can keep track of time in our word?”
Doc looked at them for a minute and said, “That should not be very difficult. Just keep count of Sneezy’s sneezes. Every four corresponds to one hour in our world. At his nineteenth sneeze, we can be on our way back.”
“One,” the children chorused.
They began to look around the land. There was a board that said, “Welcome to Kissanpur”. The land was filled with all kinds of strangely colorful trees and plants they had never seen before.
“What is this land about?” asked Ramya.
“This land encourages you to make friends with nature. There are absolutely no artificial substances here. Everything is real and natural here. Come along. Let us grab a good snack. Ho Ho Ho.”
Happy lead them to a tree that seemed to have white porous rectangular leaves. When they neared, they noticed, the leaves were in fact bread slices. They plucked a few slices. Just close to the tree, they noticed some white and yellow colored lumps with flimsy wings attached floating around.
“What are those?”
“They are the butterflies. Let us catch some.” The gnomes pulled out nets and caught some of the flying creatures. When the children examined them closely they turned out to be slabs of butter with wings attached. After ascertaining that it was butter indeed, the children spread it on the bread and took a bite. It was delicious.
“Let us go and get some jam as well,” said Happy. Within minutes, they gnomes scaled up the tree. The children stood there looking up hesitantly.
“Come on up, dearies,” said Happy.
“Well, we don’t know to climb trees.”
“No problem. Just watch how we climb. We would have loved to get you some jam. But in this land, you have to take everything you want from nature directly. The jam bees nest high and the only way to reach the jam hives is by climbing.“
Gingerly the children climbed helped by Happy and Bashful. They were soon close to what looked like highly colorful honeycombs. The gnomes squeezed the different colored honeycombs and different colored jam came out – there were pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, orange and blackberry flavors. Each of them tasted so authentic and delicious.
“Why doesn’t the jam in our world taste like this?” exclaimed Navneeta.
“In your world, everything is made in factories. Here each and everything comes directly from nature’s bosom.” The children nodded.
“What would you like to have next?”
“Some Samosas maybe?” said Ajay.
Doc looked at Dopey and he started walking. They followed him till he stopped next to some bushes. The children bent down and peered under the bushes. To their joy, they found Samosas hanging from the bushes. Each one plucked a Samosa.
“If but we had some ketchup to go with the Samosas.”
“Right here,” said Happy pointing to a tree. The children looked at the dark red colored tree. But there was no sign of any ketchup anywhere. Then Doc walked up, pulled out a knife and made a cut in the tree bark. From the cut, thick orange sauce began to ooze out. They dipped the Samosas in the viscous liquid and stuffed it into their mouth. Whenever the flow stopped, Doc made another cut and they had Samosas with ketchup to the heart’s fill.
“What next? Anyone wants tea or coffee?”
The children nodded. It was quite a long walk.
“Four,” the children chorused. It had seems like two to three hours but from Sneezy’s clock it was apparently still only an hour back in their world. So they still had plenty of time.
They could hear loud mooing noises as they neared a building that looked like a dairy farm. They were greeted by an amazing sight on entering the building. There were cows of different colors – orange, various hues of brown, pink, green etc.
“What would you like to drink?” Happy asked.
Each of them gave their preferences. “There that one gives coffee, that one tea and this one hot chocolate,” said Happy pointing out to different cows.
The children were puzzled what to do with the cows. Happy moved to the pink colored cow, bent under her and gently tugged at the cow’s udders. Bubbly pink liquid collected in the cup he held. The children tasted it – it was delicious strawberry milk. Happy then took them to the tea, coffee and chocolate cows and showed them how the milking was done. Once they got the hang of it, it was quite easy and soon they were enjoying their drinks.
They were suddenly interrupted by a fit of sneezes. It was Sneezy again. Fourteen sneezes came one after the other. The children looked at each other. It was time to return.
The Magical Cave I: A Cave in the Hills <<<< The Magical Cave III: At the Burrow << >> The Magical Cave V: Bracken
This post is an entry for a contest sponsored by Kissan. The picture in the post belongs to them as well.