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

Writing anchors the mind, heals the heart and frees the spirit, yet in a fast-paced world that devours TikTok, Netflix, and Tweets, it is also an art that kids often steer away from. As an author, essayist, and creative writing teacher who has experienced firsthand the power of writing, I am passionate about helping kids unearth the magic of penning stories. 

This monthly column features the work of my students aged 9-13. Kids are innately imaginative and compassionate, and when given a gentle nudge, build worlds where goodness reigns. Their stories warm my heart. By giving them the space to share their thoughts, I hope to empower them to delve deep and tap into the power of creating and writing. Hope you enjoy their stories as much as I do.

The first story in our series, by Nandhana Ramesh, was written in a workshop where kids created their own mythological creatures and wove them into their stories.

Prompt: If you could create your own mythical creature, what kind of creature would it be? Would it be big or small? Would it be a combination of two animals or more? Would it have superpowers? Where would it live? What would it eat?  

The Legend of Kachhuāmai: The Flying Turtle

One misty winter day, Bārnāra prowled the dark and deep jungles of Bengal. He looked for food day and night, but the jungles seemed empty. The truth was, all the animals, even the smallest bugs, were hiding from him. A demon, Bārnāra, was not very clever and didn’t have the greatest eyesight. However, he was almost invincible because of his strength, size, and fire powers. Today, he was so mad that he leaped from the jungles all the way to the mountains until he landed in the cold and icy Himalayas. 

Bārnāra almost froze when he reached the Himalayas, due to the frigidness, but he radiated so much heat that the mountain under him turned green and wet. Under that mountain was Kachhuāmai.  

Kachhuāmai was a golden turtle with regal wings that stretched to the sky. He had sharp eagle claws. He was known to be very wise, and many people came to him with questions. However, for unknown reasons, Kachhuāmai only revealed himself on the first day of winter every year. Coincidentally, today was the first day of winter. Kachhuāmai was also very powerful, and his voice could lull anyone to sleep. 

Kachhuāmai was peacefully meditating under the mountain when he suddenly felt a thud and a blast of heat outside of the mountain. He came out from under the mountain and flew upward, toward Bārnāra. Bārnāra didn’t notice Kachhuāmai until he felt a sudden wind from the beating of his wings. 

Bārnāra turned around and gave him a cruel smile. “Finally, my meal has arrived,” he growled. 

Kachhuāmai smiled serenely and said, “Naturally, you being a nearsighted demon, have mistaken me for food, but truthfully, I am your worst nightmare.”   

Bārnāra roared with anger. “How dare you insult me, little turtle? Do you even know who I am?”  

Kachhuāmai laughed and said, “Of course, I know who you are! I have heard of you from many travelers seeking my help on how to defeat you, but finally, you have come into my own hands.” 

As Kachhuāmai talked, the demon felt a strong sensation that he had to sleep. He began to crumble to the ground, but the heat from his own body made his eyes snap open. He glared at Kachhuāmai. “I see what you are doing,” he growled. He shot a blast of fire at Kachhuāmai. Kachhuāmai danced and flew around, nimbly avoiding the fire. Bārnāra’s powers were not as strong in the cold Himalayas. While dodging the fire, Kachhuāmai sang a lullaby, which was so strong that Bārnāra finally fell to the ground in a trance.

Nandhana Ramesh, the author of the story, goes to J. M. Robinson Middle School in Charlotte, NC. She has a wide-ranging list of hobbies, including baking, reading, biking, and playing the piano. In the future, she hopes to expand on these passions and turn them into something that can help the world around her. She thinks art, including writing, has the potential to inspire and change us and our peers, beyond what many think. 

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

Vidya Murlidhar is a children’s book author, essayist, and teacher who lives in Charlotte, NC. A seasoned golf widow and a rookie empty-nester, she is learning to revel in her own company and looks forward...