Once upon a time, two ducks lived in Srinagars beautiful Dal lake. Drax, the elder brother, was big and strong while his younger brother was small, and his left wing was a little shorter than his right wing. All the ducks of the lake called him Shorty.
When winter came and the cold north wind howled and the lake gradually began to freeze, it was time for the ducks to migrate to warmer territories. Drax flew ahead, leading the flock, while Shorty followed behind. Faster, Shorty! Drax called.
Im flying as fast as I can, Shorty shouted back. But, no matter how hard he flapped his wings, he just couldnt keep up with the others. Shorty also couldnt fly for long distances at a stretch and needed to take breaks.
I need to rest, Shorty said, settling onto a branch of a poplar tree. Thats when he heard sniffing.
Whos there? asked Shorty.
Its Crow! shrieked a female Koel.
Hello, Crow, said a baffled Shorty. Did I upset you?
Upset me! exclaimed Crow. Her shrieks made Shorty cover his ears with his wings. Youre the only bird to care about my feeling. But thats because you havent heard me sing yet.
Why? asked Shorty. Arent koels one of the best songbirds?
On the move
Im tired of hearing that. My voice is so shrill that, whenever I sing, all the birds fall off the branches and animals flee for fear of their eardrums bursting. I dont have friends. My family is ashamed of me.
Im Shorty, and thats half as bad as your problem, replied Shorty and spread his wings. See, you can at least learn to sing, but I cant grow a wing!
Crow gasped. For a moment, she forgot her own woes.
Hurry up, Shorty, called the other ducks, impatiently. Why dont you come with us, Crow? asked Shorty. Many songbirds come from far-off lands to the place where were going. They could give you singing lessons.
Really? shrieked Crow, and all the ducks covered their ears. But Drax didnt have time to argue with Shorty or dismiss Crow. If we are late, the lake will be taken by other migratory birds and well have no place to feed or roost, he said worriedly.
After a while, they came across a colony of baya weavers. Once again, Shorty decided to take a break. But as Shorty and Crow settled among the baya weavers colony, they saw a terrible sight.
To be continued