The Drops of Life
Kyyhkyn kysymys, Tammi, 2010
Illustrated by Nikolai Tiitinen
The story was originally a school play by Esko-Pekka Tiitinen that has been performed already in 70 different countries after its premiere in 2007. The play was created for the ENO Programme that organises a tree planting day on the international day for peace in September.
A little dove asks an owl to fly with her to Africa. At the destination they are shocked: sand has taken over the land, and even the dove’s hometree is gone.
A teamwork of animals, people, the sun and the wind is needed before a new tree seed is succesfully planted. A very strong green plant emerges out of the little seed, and when the plant grows into a tree, its seeds will help forests grow all over the world.
The town having grown large, the old owl kept on sitting in the Town Hall tower, reminiscing about his youth when his friends still roamed the meadows and he was able to scare them with his swoops.
‘In those days we played wonderful games!’ the Owl sighed. ‘You spread your wings and life was one big celebration. Hoo-hoo, is there anybody left down there?’
At that very moment a small bird thudded against the owl’s side and sang out, distraught: ‘Help me please, kind and wise owl. Show me the way to Africa, I have to get back there immediately.
‘Am I kind, am I wise?’ The Owl was savouring the Pigeon’s words. ‘Well, you’re kind if you are helpful,’ said the Pigeon. ‘And you are wise if you understand when there is trouble. A sand storm flung me here and now I want to get back home.
‘How can I help you when all I can see properly is my memories?’ the Owl asked. ‘My wings have grown heavy, I haven’t even got the strength to move them.’ ‘You’re covered with sand,’ the Pigeon observed. ‘How about me cleaning you up?’
‘Thank you,’ said the Owl. ‘You help me and then I’ll help you. It’s as simple as that. ‘That’s right,’ said the Pigeon. ‘We’re wise and simple.’
The Pigeon spent all night cleaning up the Owl. At dawn the Owl scrabbled to his feet and sighed happily: ‘I had a wonderful dream, an angel was floating over my head telling a beautiful fairy tale.’
‘That was me,’ the Pigeon cooed merrily. ‘Now try your wings.’
The owl spread out his wings and flapped them. ‘Thank you, little one, for cleaning my feathers,’ the Owl exclaimed. ‘I feel as light as a feather. Now we’re ready to start looking for your home.’
The Owl and the Pigeon flew over the city roofs, over villages, valleys and mountains. But when a vast ocean opened out underneath them, the old owl started feeling tired.
‘Your home is too far. We’ve got to have a rest,’ said the Owl anxiously The Pigeon felt scared. The open sea spread out underneath them. Not a single ship was visible in the sea.
‘You’ll just have to carry on,’ the Pigeon encouraged his friend.
‘I can’t carry on,’ said the Owl and spread his wings in preparation for his last flight. Then the Pigeon remembered a song she had learned from her sister and sang with all her heart:
If you’re in need of help, you can always ask,
your wings get light if you’re helped with a task,
the strong are able to carry weak ones ashore,
the strong give the weak the power to do more,
when the wind is behind you.
In no time at all, a bubbling noise emanated from the sea. Out of nowhere, a large dark island appeared underneath the Owl and the Pigeon, and the birds made a speedy landing on it. After a while, the island rose higher, opened its large mouth and said: ‘I heard your song in the depths of the ocean and came up to the surface straight away.’
The Owl and the Pigeon realised that the island was actually a whale.
‘You saved us,’ said the Owl gratefully. ‘I already saw myself down there among the fish. We’re heading for Africa.’
‘That’s where I’m heading, too, to go to the rescue of my brothers and sisters.’
‘What’s the matter with them?’ asked the Owl. ‘I don’t know yet, they’ve got something to say to humans,’ said the Whale. ‘Maybe there’s a human being who’s in need of help.’
On reaching their destination, the animals started work immediately. Together they dug a big hole and planted the seeds in it. Then they all sang together a song taught to them by the Pigeon and begun to wait for the tree to grow.
We have one common wish
for the shelter of great forests
as Nature’s warm embrace
is the well of our common bliss
Now it was the Sun’s turn to get worried. She heard the friends’ song and said: ‘I give out warmth but no tree can grow without water’. ‘I wonder where we can get water?’ the Pigeon asked mournfully. It never rains here. Are we to cry to water the tree? Our tears won’t be enough for that!’
All the same, the animals cried until nightfall, until they finally fell asleep totally exhausted. In the morning they were woken up by the sun’s first rays. Suddenly the animals huddled together, frightened: a small biped was approaching them across the desert.
The child reached the animals, smiled and said: ‘I heard you crying and came to help you. Who’s thirsty?’
They all nodded. The child fished out a clay pot from his rucksack.
We’ve had a well in our village for a long time, that’s where the water comes from. Help yourselves’.
The animals drank some water and perked up. In turn, each was also allowed to pour some water on the seeds.
‘Here’s a drop of water for the great and small, for new lives for all!’ The Koala became poetic.
‘We protect the water.’
‘We protect the air,’ said the Panda.
‘We protect the plants,’ the Puma added.
‘We protect the animals,’ the Gorilla whispered.
‘We protect the sea,’ the whales sang from afar in the sea.
‘These are drops of life for the humans, too,’ said the child.
Just then a little seedling lifted its head from the sand, looked at everyone and said merrily: ‘Morning.’
‘Many happy returns, little one,’ the Pigeon and the Owl sang joyously.
‘It’s your birthday today’.
Translated by Fleur Jeremiah