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The Magic Beads

Chotu loved sweets. He spent his entire allowance on chocolates, candies, cakes and pastries. So as you can imagine, Chotu was not 'chota' at all. He was fat. Very fat indeed. His friends teased him by calling him Chotu Motu and his teachers punished him for eating in class. His teeth were black because he would never brush them. His mother would be shouting at him every night, telling him to finish his vegetables and brush his teeth. But it was no use. He simply wouldn't change! 

Days flew by and Chotu grew fatter and fatter. A few months later, one bright Monday morning, Chotu awoke earlier than usual. He was excited! It was his ninth birthday. He was having a party in the evening and there was going to be lots of delicious stuff to eat, candy and a huge chocolate cake "yummmm" 

He got ready and left for school with a huge smile on his face. His dad had bought him a brand new red bicycle as a birthday present and he was riding it to school, huffing and puffing, with his bag going rickety-rack as it bounced on the carrier. As he rounded the bend into the woods, he heard a tiny voice say, "Chotu, Chotu, slow down! You're hurting me!"

Chotu looked around in surprise. Who said that? He couldn't see a soul. He must have imagined it.
"Ouch!" The voice was louder now. "Chotu, slow down!" 
Now Chotu was sure it was not his imagination. He pressed the brakes and jumped off the bicycle, frightened. 

"Who is it? Where are you? Why can't I see you?"
"I'm here Chotu! I'm stuck! Let me out!"

Oh my Goodness! The voice was coming from his school bag! Chotu slowly picked it up and carefully, very carefully, lifted the lid. In it, sitting on top of the books and looking very cross indeed, was the tiniest man he had ever seen. He was dressed in a funny yellow kimono, and had a long, white beard.

"Wow!" exclaimed Chotu. "Who are you?"
"My name, young man, is Jungoo," he said, jumping out. He had a peculiar voice and spoke in a sing-song manner. "I have come to give you a birthday present. Close your eyes."

Chotu was confused. "What?"
"Close your eyes Chotu. Close your eyes and hold out your palm."
Chotu did as he was told. He felt Jungoo climb onto his palm and heard him sing a funny song in a strange language. When the song was over Jungoo jumped off and Chotu felt his palm grow hot.

"Open your eyes Chotu, open your eyes." Jungoo said in his sing-song manner.
Chotu opened his eyes and gasped. In his palm were four of the most beautiful beads he had ever seen in his life. They were round, multi-coloured, and were glowing.

"Is this for me?" He asked.
"Yes," said Jungoo, "But I have bad news Chotu, bad news. Every time you eat too much sweet, or forget to brush your teeth, one bead will disappear. If there are no beads left on your tenth birthday, I will come and take you back with me, to my land. Over there, you will start shrinking until you are my size. 

Chotu was shocked. "What? But, why?"
"Because children who don't look after their teeth and eat the wrong food, without any vitamins, don't grow anyway. So we take them with us, and they start shrinking. There are many children like you in Nodland, Chotu. Don't worry, you will have many friends. And you can eat all the chocolate you want!"

"B-but I don't want to come! I have school, parents, friends I don't want to leave them."

"And you won't, if you stop eating so many chocolates and brush your teeth every morning and night. But you only have three chances. All the best Remember, if the fourth bead disappears it is 'Welcome to Nodland! Welcome to Nodland my boy!' Oh, oh, time for me to go. I have to pay a visit to Sultana in Egypt. It's her ninth birthday also today" he sighed, and was gone.

"Wait! WAIT!" Chotu shouted, running forward. He tripped, and bumped his head on a rock. 

"Wake up beta or you'll be late for school. Wake up" Chotu opened his eyes slowly. His mother was kissing his forehead. "Happy Birthday darling."
"Oh my goodness, it was just a dream!" Chotu jumped out of bed in delight. "Mommy, you won't believe the dream I had"

He told his mother all about the dream. About Jungoo, the magic beads "What's for breakfast, ma? But first, I have to brush my teeth!" She laughed and kissed him. "There's no such place as Nodland, son, but I'm glad you've learnt a lesson. Now hurry up and get ready," she said, closing the door behind her.

"Coming!" Chotu threw off his blanket, and gasped. Four beautiful beads were glowing on his bed. He picked them up and stared at them, feeling goose bumps on his arm. 
Was it all a dream, or did it really happen? 

And in another land, far, far away, a cheery little man opened a treasure chest and took out four glowing beads. "Time to go, to go to work," he sang as he scratched his long, white beard, winked, and vanished.

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