Ambre And Juno
Ambre And Juno9 mins 174 9 mins 174
Ambre was very excited. Her parents had arranged a special surprise for her fourth birthday and the little one just couldn't keep waiting for it.
‘Shall we go out to dinner tonight, Ma’am’ Ambre curiously asked her all-time governess, Ms Gallice.
‘Oh, you just wait and watch’ said Ms Gallice with a warm-hearted smile. ‘What’s a surprise when you already know what’s going to happen?’ The middle-aged governess smiled pleasantly, as she kept plaiting the chestnut-brown hair of little Ambre, studding the nooks with little yellow pansies. They accessorized perfectly with the glazed yellow dress that she was wearing.
Ambre’s little heart fluttered with hopes, while the warm summer breeze was flowing down the Scottish landscape. It was a beautiful evening outside and the faraway River Ness was as calm as a painting. However, Ambre did not feel this calm. This four-year-old was fervently wishing for the one thing on her day – not any elaborate gifts, but the companion of her parents. Ambre’s mother was a doctor at one of the reputed hospitals in Aberdeen and her father a famed pilot, who was enforced to a lot of travel. Little Ambre was left all to herself for most of the time every month, with Ms Gallice the governess. They lived in a palatial house in the picturesque city of Inverness, outlooking the Highlands, free of intrusion, a haven of tranquillity. Her mother could come home only on weekends. When her father came home, he stayed for a few weeks altogether, until his leaves ended. Then all was back to loneliness. But this quietude bothered Ambre to the core. All she wanted was her parents, who were so engaged in their lives, that all they could do was to keep wishing that one day, eventually, they’d be able to settle down in their hometown with all the peace in the world. Little did they realize that the world and their parenthood were greying.
Now, after a month-long wait, finally, both of Ambre’s parents were going to come back home. It was her birthday! And they had planned something very special for her.
‘A long holiday, please! A very long holiday for both Mom and Dad!’ Ambre kept muttering under her breath, all through the day. It was almost evening and none of them had arrived yet.
‘Come Ambre, let’s get going’ came back Ms Gallice from downstairs and called out to Ambre at long last.
‘Where are my parents?’ asked a surprised Ambre. ‘When will they come? Shall we not go out together?’ she was getting disappointed by the minute.
‘Oh, my dear’ assured Ms Gallice, ‘not to worry. Just come along and you’ll get to know.
This little bundle of innocence, Ambre, was the whole world to the governess. Ms Gallice had lost her entire family in an accident about twenty-two years back when she was just a teenager. Her shattered world was collected and put together piece by piece, with the help of the very kind-hearted Mr Dunkin, Ambre’s grandfather. He had just been a by-traveller, but witnessed the incident and immediately taken charge of the then-teenage, severely wounded Ms Gallice, when all the other members were fatally injured. He had taken it upon himself to complete the rest of her education and treated her no less than a family member. In her fervent gratitude, Ms Gallice had never let Mr Dunkin down, to this day. She willingly accepted to leave her teaching job at Glasgow and mother little Ambre, from the time she was two months old.
Ms Gallice understood the importance of the service that both junior Mr and Mrs Dunkin were involved in, but she felt sorrowful for their daughter, who neither understood nor wanted any of this. Even though Ambre loved Ms Gallice like her own mother, the latter knew of the deep hollow in her heart that only junior Mrs Dunkin could fill. At the moment, she was worried that they wouldn’t be able to make it back home, within time. So, she had cleverly devised a plan to get Ambre out of the house and to a circus party, while giving them time to return home and make further arrangements for the birthday party. She feared that the whole evening would lapse by idly, just as the whole day had done, with expectant Ambre staring out the windows into the blankness.
‘Isn’t this a great circus, my darling?’ asked Ms Gallice of Ambre, while they were well into the show. She was trying her best to keep the little girl cheerful.
But Ambre’s eyes were hesitant. After this far-away drive from her city and to the outskirts of a small village, she was not so sure that she liked the gimmicks of the animals. For sure, they did not belong there. The big cat seemed indifferent when the audience clapped and cheered, the zebras were annoyed and the macaw shrilled out in confusion. Clearly, this circus was not going as expected.
But most of all, Ambre felt uncomfortable when she saw the baby elephant sitting on a huge ball, swaying ominously. He was light blue in colour, with a merry bowtie tucked across his neck. His large dark eyes were searching for something. No, they were definitely searching for someone.
‘Where’s his mommy, Ms Gallice?’
‘Whose?’ asked Ms Gallice in astonishment.
‘The babies of course! Rolling on the ball’
It took a while for Ms Gallice to decipher that the baby rolling on the ball was the baby elephant, showcasing ball games on the stage. The placard at the corner read ‘Juno our joyful juggler’.
‘That’s Juno, the little elephant, my dear’ she spoke softly to Ambre, in an explanatory voice. The little girl had been quiet during the whole of their car journey, staring out into the majestic Milky way, rather than chattering about, as she would normally do when she was happy. Now, when others were loudly applauding the show, she realized that Ambre was not enjoying it a bit. Which four-year-old asked for an animal’s mother in the middle of a circus? Clearly, she was yearning for her own mother.
‘Juno’s mother must be around. He is showing us the games and will be back to her as soon as it ends, I am sure’ she assured the child.
‘Why is Juno’s mother not coming out to comfort him? Can’t she see that he’s afraid?’ asked an adamant Ambre. She seemed tearful now.
‘Oh dear, we have the main surprise in store for you just after the show. Won’t you wait and watch till the end?’ tried to divert the governess.
While the show was going on, Ms Gallice had managed to call up junior Mrs Dunkin, re-confirmed their whereabouts and requested that she come directly to the circus.
‘I know exactly what to do, I am sure it will uplift my daughter’s spirits’ Mrs Dunkin had promised the governess when she heard about Ambre’s sombre demeanour. ‘Tell her there’s a surprise waiting for her at the end of the show’. She had given very specific and detailed instructions to the wary Ms Gallice.
‘Really? We get to see Juno in her play-tent!’ squealed Ambre in delight. Ms Gallice had just told her that they would take a tour around the animal wagons, with special permission from the circus-keeper, after her father had called up and spoken with him.
However, the plan to delight Ambre went horribly wrong, when she found out that Juno was indeed alone. He had no mother there. He was chained and it pained her to see that the baby elephant was in tears. It was moaning feebly in its shackles and the caretaker was all too annoyed to handle the delicate animal with care. So was the condition of the other beasts. The caretakers manhandled them all with utter negligence, that made Ambre shake with agony. This was one unhappy place.
Ms Gallice realized that the mistake was already done. But as soon as she decided to leave with Ambre, there came out into the circus field, Mr and Mrs Dunkin, Ambre’s parents. Seeing them, Ambre rushed over and fell into tears on her mother’s lap.
‘I’m so sorry my darling’ Mrs Dunkin gushed as soon as she had heard Ms Gallice unfold the events of the late evening. ‘But you know what, we’re here for you now. We’ll be there with you for the next two months in a row! Both mom and dad. And after that, I’ll join a hospital here in Inverness. I never have to leave you again honey! Your special surprise’ she said gaily, expecting Ambre to soothe up after such big news.
Ambre did soothe up a bit. After all, this was what she had wanted throughout. But deep down somewhere, something was yet not right.
She worriedly continued ‘Why can’t Juno have his mom back when I’ve got back mine?’
‘They are circus animals Ambre, they are tamed and trained to play games. This is their life’ said Mrs Dunkin.
But Ambre wanted to explain that the little elephant had no right to such torture, treachery and terrible lifestyle. He was born free, just like her. She had somehow connected the animal with her and could not accept its fate as it lay. She had mirrored Juno as her own self, in search of her place of solace, her mom. But Ambre was too small and the ways of the world too big. She could not spell out her feelings and only heaved with great sorrow, her large eyes searching the night sky for Juno’s mom.
But that’s what parents are for. Mr Dunkin understood his grieving daughter and knew what he had to do.
‘I think I have a further surprise for you, Ambre’ he said. ‘How about we adopt little Juno?’
Ambre’s eyes widened in surprise as Mrs Dunkin explained what they were planning to do.
‘And when all the formalities are over, we’ll go over to the forest and leave Juno with his parents, in his happy carefree abode’ finished Mr Dunkin, after he had a long conversation and lots of phone calls with people over the proposition.
‘It will be an awesome vacation and a safari of a lifetime’ said Mrs Dunkin happily.
‘My best birthday gift ever!!’ clapped a now exuberant Ambre.
They were all aware of the horrible atrocities that the animals in the circus faced throughout their lifetime, for the sake of merriment of the humans. Talks were already ongoing to curb and finally ban the use of animals from circuses and other shows. However, Ms Gallice was not so aware of the fallacies of her fellow humans. She had only wanted to cheer up Ambre who loved animals. Since zoo was not an option in the evening, she had randomly whirred up the circus plan, when she heard that Mr and Mrs Dunkin might not even be able to arrive within the birthday night. Now, the ongoing plan and the unfolding events gave her some respite.
The Dunkins and Ms Gallice had been successful in the long protests that finally led to abolishing the heinous animal shows being held in different parts of the villages, not far from their hometown.
They had travelled long and far and finally left Juno into the wild. They would soon return home after they were assured of his well-being and stability.
It was a beautiful morning when they were out for a stroll on the outskirts of the village lining the wilds when they saw little Juno appear out of the woods along with his herd. He seemed to be happy. This lit up Ambre’s face, who recalled the few evenings she had spent alone with Juno, hand in the trunk. They both had shared the dreams that they held when they had first come to earth from the same God.