“Oh! I have spotted a beautiful garden resplendent with flowers,” I said. “Have you!” exclaimed Monarchy. Monarchy and I are best friends. We have many other companions in our cluster. My friend gets her name from the butterfly type we belong to. We have large, orange and black coloured wings with spotted edges with a tinge of orange and yellow. I often contemplate whether it is our colour or our strength which gives us the special status.
But Monarchy and I sleep, fly and drink nectar together. We flew down to the garden and saw yellow, bright red and orange flowers. They looked very inviting. We glanced at the Lantana bushes. After sucking nectar Monarchy announced that she was sleepy. I agreed because even I was aching to bask in the sun on a cloudy day. We flew down to a clump of trees. We found the twig which was our favourite haunt, we called our home. We clung to the twig and slumbered. We woke up to find the clouds fading away. Our friends from the cluster had joined us as unexpected rain always played the spoilsport.
We sent a small signal through our antennas. Today it was Monarchy, Monar and my turn to alight on a journey to visit the park, which resembled a Valley of Flowers. It was a picturesque sight, with water gushing through the small stream in its vicinity. But most butterflies loathed going there. The park was frequented by errant visitors who chanced upon butterflies and little creatures with their nets. Going there always made me nervous. “Is it my chance today?” I asked dolefully. Monarchy too was petrified. I helped cheer her up and lift her spirits. “We are the Monarchs. We can fly faster than those children in any case”. She nodded in agreement.
Over the years I have often pondered over why people looked disgusted when they saw me as a caterpillar but today they were so fascinated and marvelled at my sight. Through our flight we chatted and smelled our way with the help of our antennas and our feet. We nonchalantly flew down to the fresh flowers with a sweet aroma. “Hey, look at that,” shouted Monar. Just then to our dismay some butterflies fluttered at the sight of children. Monarch and Monar headed for the bushes to hide themselves. I thought, I could get the nectar while the rest could dodge the children. If we all flew together we were sure to be distinguished.
I chose a gleaming orange flower akin to my colour, as it would camouflage me, a trick we use all the while when we fear a predator. Just then the children came tiptoeing, like mystic shadows. I did not notice them except hearing the crunching sound over the grass beneath their boots. I was attracted to the sugary nectar and greed got the better of me. A tall burly child put a net over me. At the first instance I escaped but I suppose I was a little slow. He jumped up so high and his butterfly net was just the right gadget to take control of me. I could not resist and the mesh encircled me. I tried to shout for help but my voice faded into oblivion. The boys shouted, “Hey! Hey! We have caught it.” The other children from behind laughed and celebrated. I felt ridiculed and helpless. I was suspended in the air. I tried to flex my wings but any attempt was futile. In my apathetic state I did not notice that my friends were trying to follow me. “No, I shouted out. Go back or they will catch you too.” But they would not leave my side.
The boys took me to a garage near a mansion. They had a few glass jars covered with black cloth. I was released into one of them. It seemed I could fly out but I just couldn’t go, something blocked my flight. I flew all over the bottle but there was no escape. It was time to take stock of the situation. I was a captive in a dark and dingy room. Some light came in through a small window with its glass door held ajar. I knew this was the only hope to my world which was full of radiance, liveliness and freedom. I missed my dear friends. I reflected on every moment spent with them. Somehow I needed to keep my spirits up. Lo! What do I see? My friends were around. I saw them at the window. Was it my imagination? I thought.
“No” came Monarchy’s voice from across the window, as if she had read my mind. I was astonished, friendship had meant she had risked her life to help set me free. Monarchy had not come alone. I saw a little girl dressed in a beautiful red dress. She bounced on every step. I wondered what she would do till I saw her trying to jump in through the window. Alas! She was much too short for that. The hopes which had risen were fading and the world lost its colour. They took no time to find a way. She turned a flower pot and climbed in. I could get the smell of fresh soil coming from underneath her feet. The little girl was prompt and let the black cover off the jar. She smiled sweetly. I was puzzled whether I should wait to watch her, thank her or find my way out of captivity. I knew she was an angel, with deep brown eyes, so calmly set in. She was kind with a dulcet voice. Even today her melodious voice echoes in my mind.
I bid goodbye. Monarchy has never shared the secret on how she came by Angel. Friends are like the Gardeners who toil hard to get the flowers flourishing. Monarchy has stood by me as the most trusted friend who gave me another chance to start my life afresh.