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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Tiny Tales From the Heart – A monthly column that presents the world as seen through the eyes of Desi kids.

This monthly column features the work of Vidya Murlidhar’s students aged 9-13. By giving them the space to pen their stories, she hopes to encourage them to think out of the box. The third story in the series, by Sameeya Vasan, was written in a workshop where kids had to imagine an improbable occurrence in the world.

Prompt: One morning you wake up to a world where all the pets have disappeared. What do you think happened? Write a story based on this scenario.

Ace’s Tale: Who Let The Pets Out?

One Friday in 8th grade, Nikita’s best friends, Arun (everyone called him Ace) and Mehreen, came running to her. Mehreen was rolling her eyes while Ace was rushing forward frantically.

“I know what happened to all the pets!” Ace announced. A few days ago, all of the pets in the town had vanished, and no one knew where they went.

“What?” Nikita asked. Nikita didn’t usually trust Ace with news, despite the fact that Ace worked for the school newspaper. Ace would believe anything; if a random person on the internet claimed the Earth was flat, he would believe it until someone told him otherwise.

“They joined a cult!”

“A pet cult? Ace, this is why you shouldn’t be a reporter. Who told you that?” Nikita asked.

“He claims he saw it himself, but I’m pretty sure he just heard it from some random conspiracy video,” Mehreen replied.

“Nikita, Mehreen, this could be a leading clue! Maybe we could get all of our pets back!”

“You know, maybe he could be right…” Nikita acknowledged.

Mehreen protested. “Since when has Ace been right, Nikita? We could get in trouble!”

“Let’s try it out, at least.”

Ace gave them a location, and the three found themselves in an alley at 7:00 in the night.

“Ummm… so what do we do?” Mehreen asked.

“Wait,” Ace replied, pulling out his beanie and putting it on.

They waited for what seemed like five hours. During this time, Mehreen had been tapping her foot in boredom, Ace had fallen asleep 5 times, and Nikita wished she could pull out her phone and watch YouTube videos. But Ace said that would scare the pets away. When midnight finally came, the three kids would probably have fallen asleep on the spot if they didn’t have the willpower to continue waiting.

All of a sudden, there was a stampede, and hundreds of dogs and cats gathered in the crowded alley. One dog, a border collie, came up and held a thick book, and with a cue, the pets started howling and screeching, so much that it hurt Nikita’s ears.

“Umm… sir? What is going on? Why is everyone screaming?” Nikita couldn’t help but ask.

The pets stopped and stared at the three humans. A cat tried to leap at Mehreen but was held back by an old dog. The border collie, who was clearly annoyed, made some gestures, and when Mehreen pointed out, “How are we supposed to understand that?”

The annoyed collie just handed the book over. Surprisingly, it also had an English translation.

“It’s… an old festival that lasts for a week,” Ace read. “Once every thousand years, animals leave their owners and join this festival. So that’s why they’ve been missing,” he mused.

The border collie, huffing, picked up the book and continued the ceremony, while two burly Great Danes escorted the children out. As they walked back home, Nikita called, “Ace?”

Ace looked back, “Yeah?”

Nikita held a finger in his face. “Don’t ever make me go through that again!”

“Agreed,” Mehreen replied tiredly.

Ace just shrugged in response.

Sameeya Vasan is a writer and an avid daydreamer. She books that are either full of action or extremely humorous. She also enjoys writing because it is a way you can find joy, be creative, and travel to other places (some real, some we wish were real…). 

Vidya Murlidhar is a children’s book author, essayist, and teacher who lives in Charlotte, NC.