Arnav's Firefly SPARKLE

The boys gathered round Sujay to get a better look.   Arnav thought it was cruel to trap the firefly in a bottle and said so, but Sujay said, "You're just jealous" and wouldn't let it go.

Just then, Mr. Ghosh arrived on the scene.  Stifling a yawn, he said, "Remember to stay together when we go trekking into the jungle tomorrow boys.  Better turn in early; you have a long day ahead of you".  Sujay hid the bottle behind his back and took it to his tent.

Finding it difficult to sleep, Arnav listened to the sounds of the jungle.  The crickets chirped and frogs croaked.  Then he heard an unfamiliar, rumbling sound and to his amazement discovered it was his tent-mate Ravi, snoring blissfully.

It was windy.  A firefly flashed past the flapping opening of his tent and a light went on in his head - idea!  He sneaked into Sujay's tent.  The boys were fast asleep.  Flashing his torch, he found the jar he was looking for, opened the lid and let out the firefly. It took to the air gratefully.  Arnav returned to his tent and drifted off to sleep.    

The next morning Mr. Ghosh led the boys into the jungle.  Arnav fell behind, stopping to take a stone out of his shoe.  That's when he spotted a hare.  As he approached it, the hare dashed off into the scrub but its movement was hampered by a coke can that had got entangled with a piece of string on its left hind leg.  The rattling noises the bumping can made frightened the hare further.  Arnav followed, cursing the thoughtless people who threw cans and plastic bags in the jungle not realizing the damage they caused the environment.  The hare scuttled away but the can got caught in a bush, trapping the poor creature.  Arnav gently picked up the quivering hare and slowly unwound the string before releasing it into the woods.

Pleased as punch, Arnav looked around for his classmates.  There was no sign of them.  He realized he'd strayed off the path in his enthusiasm to help the hare.  Trying to retrace his steps, he found he was going in circles when he recognized a Peepul tree he had seen earlier.  "Help!" he shouted, but only the orange and black winged Hoopoe replied "hoo-poo".   His useless cell phone just flashed 'No Network Coverage'.  To make it worse, it began to rain heavily.  Arnav took shelter under a leafy tree.

Finally, the rains abated, leaving him wet and cold.  He couldn't light a fire as everything was damp and soggy.  Suddenly, he heard a rustle.  He stood still and watched in awe as a long, slender snake slithered across his path.  

It was getting dark.  Arnav's empty stomach was growling.  The birds began to roost and mosquitoes buzzed in his ears.  Suddenly the moon was hidden by the clouds, plunging Arnav into darkness.  He heard an animal howl in the distance.  Scared, he prayed Mr. Ghosh would find him before the wild animals did.  On opening his eyes, he saw a small speck of light approaching - a ray of hope.  Alas, it was just a firefly!
The firefly flitted past his face.  He held out his hand and lo and behold, unafraid, it alighted on it.  He wondered if it could be the same firefly and shook his head.  The firefly, danced ahead, beckoning him to follow.  It led him to wild banana plants in a clearing.  Arnav greedily gobbled some - bananas never tasted this good!

The sparkling firefly hovered around and was soon joined by a score more.  They lit up the clearing with their warm glow.  Arnav was no longer scared.  Entranced, he watched the fireflies' fascinating dance - like fairy lights going on and off in the night making delightful patterns in the sky.

Suddenly Arnav heard trampling noises and voices.  He called out and Mr. Ghosh and his friends emerged from the jungle into the clearing.  "At last, we've found you my boy", cried a relieved Mr. Ghosh.  "We were drawn here by the light of the fireflies", said his friends excitedly.

Arnav smiled and told them all about his adventures that morning.  As they set off for their camp site, Arnav turned back for one last glimpse of his firefly friends.  He thought he saw the word "Bye" light up the sky.  Could it be or was it just his imagination?

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