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Hazel saves the day


Children's stories for adult (3)


Whenever Adil played on the swing under the peepal tree, Aunty Sara told him the story of how the tree got its name.

‘Hazel is a strange name for a tree,’ Adil said to her as he got off the swing one evening.

‘That was the name of the leaf I saw in my dream.’

‘How can leaves have names?’ Adil asked his aunt. ‘And how can leaves cry when they don’t have eyes?’

Aunty Sara laughed so hard at her nephew’s questions that the crows hanging on the sides of the tree fell silent.

‘Plants are living beings,’ she told Adil. ‘You’ll be surprised by how similar they are to us.’

‘If they are just like us, why doesn’t Ami let me sit under Hazel after dark?’ Adil put his hands on his hips. ‘Why does she say that witches will take me away if I play under the tree at night?’

Aunty Sara patted Adil’s shoulder and smiled at him.

‘Trees need their rest too,’ she said.

Aunty Sara rose to her feet and pulled her nephew up from the grass.

‘Let’s go inside now,’ she yawned. ‘It’s getting late and you have to eat dinner and get ready for bed.’

After dinner, Adil brushed his teeth and jumped into bed. Ami kissed him goodnight and switched off the lights in his room.

‘Don’t forget to turn on the bathroom light,’ he reminded Ami. ‘You know, I can’t sleep when it’s completely dark.’

‘Don’t worry,’ Ami said as she switched on the lights in the bathroom. ‘Sleep tight.’

When Adil woke up in the middle of the night, he noticed that it was pitch-dark. He looked out the window and saw that the streetlight, which was always on at night, was off.

‘Oh no,’ he cried. ‘The electricity has gone.’

Fear rose in Adil’s heart and he couldn’t move. A few minutes later, when he was certain that no monster would crawl up from underneath his bed to attack him, he gained some strength. He now felt hot inside the room.

‘Maybe I should go outside,’ Adil thought.

Adil got up from his bed, found his torch next to his bed and walked past the lounge to the front door. He carefully unlocked it so as to not wake Ami or Aunty Sara, and ran out into the lawn where the air was cooler.

‘I’ll play on the swing,’ he whispered. ‘Ami and Aunty Sara are always telling me silly stories that aren’t true.’

Adil sat on the swing, waiting for the witch that Ami had told him so much about. But the witch never came. Instead, Adil felt something crawling underneath him. He got up from the grass, saw a lizard moving towards him and screamed. As he ran away from it, Adil saw leaves fall from the tree and land next to the snake. Stunned, the lizard made its way into the far end of the garden.

Adil saw Aunty Sara running towards him from the front door. He rushed towards her and gave her tight hug.

‘What happened?’ she asked, holding him in her lap. ‘What are you doing outside?’

Adil told her that he had seen a lizard and that it had been scared away by the leaves that fell from the tree.

‘I’m just glad you’re all right,’ Aunty Sara said. ‘You’re shaking. Don’t worry. You’re safe now. Hazel saved you.’

‘Hazel did nothing, Aunty Sara,’ Adil said. ‘Ami’s always complaining that the crows are throwing leaves on the grass. Wait till I tell her that the crows saved my life.’

‘The crows disappear into their nests at sunset, Adil,’ Aunty Sara said.

Adil’s face turned pale with panic.

‘I’m scared Aunty Sara,’ he said.

‘Don’t be,’ she said. ‘Hazel means no harm. He taught me to care for nature and he’s taught you how nature cares for us.’

As Aunty Sara took him back into the house, Adil looked at Hazel – at first with fear and then with wonder. He knew then that he would always find shade under Aunty Sara’s peepal tree.


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