Once upon a time there was a little boy called Saldar Khan. He was a strange little boy and had fascinations for odd things. One hot sunny day he was sitting in the garden lazing around, he looked around in the garden and thought to him self that his life is so boring, whilst thinking this a beautiful golden butterfly flew in. Which had black patterns in its wings that dazzled in the sun. The black patterns were silky and reflected violet, red and blue light in a strange manner.
Saldar was fascinated with this incredible creature and tried to catch it but couldn’t as the butterfly flew in to the next door neighbour’s house. He still kept on chasing the butterfly in his neighbour’s garden trying to catch it, he was running without looking ahead, just looking at the butterfly. The way the wings dazzled in the sun, all of a sudden there was a bang! He had collided with the next door neighbour’s kid and they both landed on the floor. Saldar still looking at the butterfly, the neighbour’s kid Jalal looked at Saldar, Saldar still looking at the butterfly. This caught Jalal’s attention so he started looking at the butterfly as well. The butterfly slowly flickering itself away from the boys up in to the air and was gone.
Jalal said to Saldar “That butterfly was amazing”. Saldar replied “I know, that’s why I was trying to catch it but I couldn’t. I’m really sorry for bumping in to you”. “It’s OK” said Jalal. Saldar got up and went back to his garden and walked straight inside.
The next morning he heard Someone shouting from outside. “Saldar, Saldar”.
Saldar ran out of the house into the garden. His neighbour, Jalal, was shouting from the gate.
“Hey Saldar, look what I’ve caught.”
It was a beautiful golden butterfly with black patterns in its wings. Saldar with a big smirk on his face said “Is it ok if I put it in my secret place. Jalal replied “I’ve heard a lot about your secret place”. His Secret Place was famous among his friends. He used to talk to everyone about its existence. Many of them have tried hard, but no one was able to find it. Saldar was very proud of it. No one in his house knew of its existence. He did not reveal its location to anyone. It was his most important secret and he made sure that no one found it.
He slowly looked around to see if anyone was watching. When he felt sure that no one was, he slowly moved to the edge of the garden. There were some wild bushes in the corner of the garden. It was difficult to approach the old oak tree, which stood right behind these bushes. Hence, few ventured into this corner of the garden, which otherwise was decently maintained. It had several tall oak trees, which to Saldar, seemed they touched the sky. Lilies and pink flowers were planted on both sides of the path leading to the porch.
The porch was filled with roses of different colours – red, light blue, yellow, white etc. There was a pond at the corner where a fountain sprung out of the water. The old oak tree stood at the other corner of the garden. It had a large strong trunk, which seemed inseparable from the earth. It was not as tall as the other trees. No one seemed to notice this corner of the garden in this colourful garden. As he reached the oak tree, ants started crawling over his legs. He managed to bend to the side facing the fence and pulled the door to his Secret Place.
The Secret Place was a carefully carved out hole in the old oak tree’s trunk. He had worked on it for over a week, scrapping out the trunk to dig the hole. He used Mom’s kitchen knife, which seemed to disappear occasionally over that week. When his Mom found out, he got a tough beating from her. Later, he started using the nail sharpener to do the finishing touches. The Secret Place was closed with a neat piece of trunk so that even the cut would not be visible from a distance. He loved his Secret Place. He spent hours thinking about what to hide there. Every morning, he would run to his Secret Place soon after breakfast and hide something. It could be a marble, matchbox, dice, nail, scissors, paper, pen, stone, or anything that fascinated him. In the evening, he would go there again to check whether his treasure was intact or not. He changed his treasure almost daily.
Shaine his mother was taking a walk in her garden in the evening. Saldar had come home from school and had finished his snacks. Now she had a little bit of free time. So she decided to relax in her garden and enjoy the evening breeze, which was blowing quite softly. She enjoyed the company of flowers and evening birds, returning home from their daily adventures. It gave her a peace of mind tinged with joy and a strange sense of freedom.
Then she noticed Saldar playing around the old oak tree. She had warned him not to go to that corner of the garden. There was a possibility of snakes and insects appearing in that corner. “One day I should clear that corner” she thought. She signalled to him to come over.
Saldar came running to her with something in his hand.
“Mom, this butterfly is not moving. It seems to be dead.” He showed the golden butterfly to Shaine.
It was dead!
Its beautiful wings had stiffened into scales. Its patterns didn’t have that colourful look it used to have.
Shaine was shocked. Something welled up in her throat.
“Why did you do this? How could you do this, Saldar? How can you be so cruel to this quiet insect?” she asked angrily.
“I’m sorry, Mummy. Jalal gave it to me yesterday for keeping it. I kept it in my Secret Place and now its dead. I’m very sorry”. She knew that he called her Mummy only when he’s afraid.
She calmed down. “Show me your Secret Place” she ordered.
“Err……..Mmmmmmm…………Forget it Mummy, no use going there.” he regretted mentioning it.
“Show me.” She ordered sternly.
“Saldar, don’t make me angry. You’ve already done something wrong. Now don’t become a bad boy. Tell me where is it.”
“It’s on the old oak tree.” he said quietly.
They walked together to the old oak tree and she saw her son’s Secret Place.
Saldar never wanted to show this place to anyone, but now Mom has seen it. His pride was hurt. He felt miserable.
“So, this is your Secret Place. You should know that if you keep a living butterfly inside this dark hole, it would die. Hmm…Don’t repeat it. Imagine you were put inside this Secret Place, won’t you be scared? Poor little butterfly, come with me.”
She walked to the centre of the lawn.
“Dig a small hole here,” she said, pointing to the clear patch in the centre of the lawn. “We will bury your butterfly friend and we will pray to God and say sorry, Okay?”
“Okay”, he wasn’t sure.
He quickly made a hole and they lowered the dead butterfly. They buried it there.
“Pluck a rose and keep it on top of it and pray silently.”
They stood there silently. Saldar felt miserable because his Secret Place has been discovered!
Jalal never gave him any more butterflies, not because the golden butterfly was dead in his Secret Place (for he never bothered to ask about it).
Even after a few days, Saldar could not forget that day. He did not find any treasure to keep in his Secret Place. Anyway and somehow, the fun and excitement of the Secret Place was lost now. He didn’t use his Secret Place after that. He didn’t feel like going their now. He felt sad seeing the grave of the golden butterfly. He just felt like hiding somewhere. Somewhere where no one would find him. So he got inside the big old cupboard in the guestroom that was never used. It was dark and dusty inside the cupboard. Suddenly, the door got jammed and could not be opened from inside. He shouted for help, but Shaine was working in the kitchen.
He could barely crouch inside it. He tried with all his might to open it. He pushed with his hands and kicked his legs. He began to sweat. He began to feel very afraid. He started weeping and shouting. Shaine realised the silence only after sometime. She started looking for Saldar. Luckily, she heard some mumbling from the guestroom. She realised that Saldar was locked inside the cupboard. She pulled hard and opened it. Saldar jumped out and hugged her. He was crying with fear written all over his face.
“Saldar! Saldar!” came Jalal’s call again.
Saldar ran to the gate.
“I’ve got a butterfly for you. You can keep it.” He ran back to his house.
Saldar not wanting to take it took the butterfly in his hands and looked at it carefully. It was fluttering hard to escape from his hand. He walked slowly to his Secret Place. As he reached the silent old oak tree, he started feeling guilty again. He stood silently with the butterfly and stared at the butterfly for a long time. Then, he released it from his hand and it started flying from one wild bush to next.
Saldar smiled and walked off inside.