About His Boat (a story from India, Otis’ home country)
Otis’ story began a long time ago with five friends. There was Zip the mosquito and Flash the kingfisher who lived by the river. Otis the owl and Chip the woodpecker lived in a small wood. Koo the pigeon had a nice home at the top of a tall building in the village.
One day Otis called a meeting. “I think we should start a business” he announced. “The farmer will give us an old boat. We can go down the river to market, buy things they need in the village and bring them back to sell to the people”.
The others looked at Otis in amazement. What a wise and clever fellow he was! Soon all was agreed and they set off in the boat for the market. There they found someone selling salt. “That is a good thing to buy,” said Otis looking very wise. “Everyone needs salt”.
Soon the boat was loaded and they sailed back toward the village. It had been a busy day and they were rather tired. They did not notice that a little mouse had spent the day chewing a hole in the boat to get at a few grains of rice that the farmer had left on the bottom.
Otis and his friends sailed upriver and the boat sank lower. Before long it sank below the water. The friends flew up in dismay as their lovely salt flowed into the river. Once on the river bank, they sat down, quite out of breath and very upset!
“What can we do? What can we do?” they chorused.
“Well, we can’t let one problem ruin our plans,” said Otis.
“It’s quite a big problem though,” said Zip.
“A very big one I would say” moaned Koo.
“Now, now!” said Otis “Let’s try to be more positive!”
They sat for a minute thinking hard.
“We really need another boat” sighed Otis.
“OK!” said Zip. “I’ll start looking for someone to build us one!”
“Good idea!” laughed Chip feeling much happier. “I’ll check the trees to find some good sound wood.”
Koo frowned. “I don’t think this is a time to be so cheerful! I shall sit here and mourn the loss of our salt.”
“Oh! Let’s be practical” muttered Flash. “I’ll start looking under the water for the boat that sank. Perhaps someone can mend it for us.”
“And I shall see if I can find whoever made that hole in it” Otis declared.
So that is why the mosquito flies from person to person, tapping them on the cheek and whispering in their ear.
The woodpecker spends his time drumming on trees. The pigeon sits on the roof crying “Boo hoo hoo! We’ve lost our salt” and down by the river the kingfisher can be seen diving again and again into the water. During the night Otis the owl flies silently to and fro looking for mice.
He is so tired in the daytime that he sits hunched up on a branch sleeping. From time to time he wakes up, opens one eye and turns his head almost right round and from side to side to make sure no mice are anywhere near their new boat! And that is Otis’ story about his boat.
Story © The Owls Trust