Malashri Lal (Children's World)

Malashri Lal

Gilli, the little squirrel with a long bushy tail, lived in Grandpa and Grandma’s home in New Delhi, India. Far up on the mango tree in the garden she had made her nest in a cosy hole. She curled up and slept here at night and played in the pretty garden all day. Grandma gave her nuts to eat which would be placed every morning in a red bowl near the tall papaya tree. Gilli loved nuts, especially peanuts. Grandma would also put a bowl of water for Gilli because all the playing would make her thirsty. Grandpa would watch Gilli from his window and take photos of Gilli eating nuts and playing. Gilli loved this and often showed off how she could hang upside down on the tree trunk of take smart leaps to the fence top or try to jump to the distant papaya tree. Grandpa would smile, saying, “Well done Gilli,” and click his camera. Grandma would watch Gilli from the kitchen and make sure that Gilli had lots of food every day.

One day Gilli saw a big green parrot sitting on her bowl of food. With a sharp beak and beady eyes, he looked scary. Gilli tried to make noises so the parrot would fly  away but he looked even more angrily at Gilli and started eating Gilli’s peanuts. Where were the grandparents to help her today?

Gilli had to manage this trouble on her own. ‘Mithoo Mia,’ she called out to the parrot who instantly turned hearing his name. Gilli said, ‘You are hungry but these nuts are too small for you, they won’t fill your stomach.’ Mithoo saw this was true but didn’t like a small squirrel telling him what to do! He squawked, ‘Gilli, you know this garden. Where can I get better food? If you are wrong, I will eat you up.’ Poor Gilli, she had to think fast. Oh, now she had an idea!  Parrots love papayas and this tree a little distance away, had plump, fresh fruits. ‘Mithoo Mia, Mithoo Mia, you will love the papayas, they are on the next tree, just fly there.’ ‘What? And leave the nuts for you?’ asked Mithoo angrily.  ‘How do I know the papayas are sweet unless you eat them first? You jump to the papaya tree and I will follow you.’ Poor  little Gilli was scared—it would be a risky jump for her over the thorny bushes below. If she fell she would be hurt and the parrot may eat her. She looked around for Grandpa  and Grandma but the study window and the kitchen didn’t show them.

Gilli took a deep breath to feel strong. Then she said. ‘All right Mithoo Mia, follow me.’ She scampered up the mango tree to reach the height of the papaya tree and got ready to leap across as straight and safely as possible. She could see Mithoo’s beady eyes watching her and the sharp red beak moving hungrily. Gilli arched her furry back, pushed out her long tail, took a deep breath and leaped. In panic her eyes had shut but when she landed she could smell papaya and knew she was fine. Mithoo the parrot had no trouble flying from the food bowl to the papaya tree. As promised, Gilli had to nibble the fruit first, then Mithoo started eating the soft, delicious, golden coloured fruit. ‘Thank you Gilli’ said Mithoo softly, ‘This is delicious’. Gilli hated papayas, she loved nuts. She now felt safe and happy.  She fluffed up her tail and thumped it up and down to show this.

Suddenly, Gilli saw Grandpa at the window with his camera and Grandma  next to him. He was saying ‘Didn’t know that a parrot and a squirrel could be friends. Look they are eating together!’ Grandma said quietly, ‘They are friends in need. They both need food. We had to go out today so I will now put more nuts in Gilli’s bowl.’

Gilli heard this, thumped her tail with joy, twisted and turned a few times so Grandpa could get nice photos. Gilli had won a clever victory over Mithoo Mia today— she would treasure those photos!

Bio Note: Malashri Lal

Malashri Lal, writer and academic with sixteen books to her credit, retired as Professor, English Department, University of Delhi. Her specialization is in literature and women’s studies. She was Senior Consultant to the Ministry of Culture and is a member of international book award juries. Among other recognitions, Malashri Lal recently received the Maharani Gayatri Devi Award for Women’s Excellence.  Photo credits are to her husband Robey Lal, an aviation consultant with a passion for photography. Malashri and Robey live in New Delhi. This story is dedicated to their granddaughter Veda in the USA.


  1. Loved the story! Can almost hear it being narrated!

  2. Loved this.Teaches kids the value of friendship, survival skills, application of mind in a delightful way.

  3. A delight to read. That is how a children's story should be written. Congrats, Mala.


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