The Pink Hairband
by Radha Bantwal
(A Story of Invisible Imps)
On sunday evening the park on Lighthouse Hill was full of children. As soon as they entered the gate, Dan and Inu left Nani comfortably seated on the park bench and ran off to join their friends. Dan liked to play on the grassy maidan - noisy, boisterous games that Inu and her little group avoided. Imagine being knocked down by a sweaty boy in a mad rush after a ball! The girls had more fun on the swings and slides, squealing with delight as they went back and forth. Inu had on her new pink hairband, a pretty sparkly one with lovely bright flowers. It was a perfect match for her pink dress and shoes.
Nobody knew that a pair of curious eyes was watching the children at play. Chickbilly was peeping out of the trunk of the big banyan tree that stood at the edge of the park. The invisible imps who lived inside the trees came out mostly after dark, when all the little children were asleep in their beds. Chickbilly quietly slipped out and hid behind a rosebush close to the swing where the little girls were busy at play. Inu's bright pink hairband was so pretty that Chickbilly couldn't take her eyes off it. If only she could have it, what a great hoop it would make! She would play with it all day. All her friends inside the banyan tree would admire it and envy her. Little by little, Chickbilly inched forward.
It was Inu's turn on the swing. She clambered up and gripped the ropes tight with both hands as she swung high. Meanwhile Chickbilly had reached the swing, making herself invisible, as invisible imps can. In a second, she jumped up on Inu's head and touched the hairband. "How lovely!" she breathed. "Somehow, I must get it off". Feeling the pulls and tugs, Inu screamed: "Oww... some thing is biting me". " Where, where?" asked her friends. Inu yelled "On my head. Oww...stop the swing ". Hearing the noise, the children came running. They stopped the swing and helped Inu to alight. Chickbilly was desperate. She tugged harder. At last, with a mighty effort, she managed to remove the hairband. Clutching it firmly, Chickbilly jumped down and fled across the grass towards the banyan tree.
Inu was rubbing her head and smoothing her hair, when she realised that her hairband was gone. "Where's my hairband? It must have fallen down" she cried. All the children began to look for the missing hairband. Suddenly one of them pointed: "There! The hairband is rolling on the grass." They rushed behind it. But the faster they ran, the farther the hairband went. Chickbilly was determined to get away before they could catch her. She reached the banyan tree and scrambled up the trunk like a squirrel. "Hey, look! My hairband is climbing the tree" shouted Inu. The children stopped and looked. Yes, the hairband was going up the tree. Higher and higher it went, till they lost sight of it among the branches and leaves of the big banyan tree.
The sun was getting ready to set. Nani called: "Come on, children. It is time to go home". Dan was impatiently waiting for his sister. He was hungry and wanted his dinner. But Inu stood under the banyan tree, pointing up and crying. Her friends were milling around excitedly talking. The noise disturbed Chickbilly's godmother who was asleep. "Has the sun set already?" she wondered. She looked out of the tree and saw the crowd below. Then she caught sight of Chickbilly hiding behind a big green leaf. "What have you been doing, Chickbilly?" she demanded. Reluctantly, the little imp stretched out her hand and showed the pretty hairband. "Return it at once" said her godmother. "You know very well that the hairband is not yours to take". Chickbilly had no choice. She dropped the hairband down. It fell at Inu's feet.
Quickly Inu picked up her pink hairband, dusted it and put it back on her head. Curiously, she looked up at the tree. There seemed to be nothing unusual. The leaves rustled gently in the evening breeze. The birds twittered as they usually do at sunset. "How strange" muttered Inu. The children said their goodbyes and went home. None knew that a little invisible imp watched them go, disappointed that she had to give up such a pretty plaything. The End