Good Health, Stories

The Letter from Uncle Czubaj

jeż listonosz stoi przed drzwiami i wręcza lis kotce

Tola, Rascal and Pola were playing cards in Tola’s house. It was rainy outside and the blowing wind was really strong. The animals didn’t want to go out because they would surely get wet and catch a cold. After playing for a few minutes, they heard the knocking at the door.

Knock, knock, knock. ‘Hello, is anybody there?’ Suddenly, the door opened and Mr Hedgehog peeked out from behind the doorframe. ‘Good morning Tola. I have a registered letter for you. From as far as Uzbekistan. Here you are’ he added, walking inside the room and handing the letter to the kitten.

‘This letter is for me?’ Tola asked herself aloud.

‘From Uzbekistan?’ asked Pola, surprised.

‘Come on, open it now!’ barked Rascal who was waiting to find out who might have written a letter to his friend.

Tola cut the envelope with her claw, took out a pretty decorated card and started to read…

Dear Tola,

You must be quite surprised  that you have received a card. My name is Chanbai and I am your distant uncle. I am a Tatar, just like you, but I have lived in Uzbekistan since I was born. I wanted to let you know that you also have family far away from Poland – me (your uncle) as well as many cousins. If you would like to visit us someday, remember – my home is also your home. I wish you stay in a good health.

Hugs and kisses,

Uncle Chanbai – it means “wolf” and “host” in Tatar”

‘Crumbs, Tola! I didn’t know you had an uncle!’ said surprised Rascal.

‘Me either…’ answered Tola, lost in her thoughts.

‘So we need to visit him! As fast as we can! I’m going to school tomorrow, but we can briefly visit your uncle in the afternoon if you want,’ said the owl.

‘So it’s settled! We’re going, aren’t we?’ said Rascal immediately, looking at Tola, waiting for her consent.

‘Well, I guess so…’ answered the kitten quietly. ‘I wonder who Uncle Chanbai is and why he chose this moment to write to me…’

List od wuja Czubaja

– „All that is good, all that is new, take us away, show us the truth”. Take us to Uzbekistan to the place where Uncle Chanbai is right now – whispered he owl.
When the compass needle stopped to whirl around, the animals still couldn’t see anything, but were able to hear a loud rhythmical music coming from all around.
The compass tricked them once again. Instead of uncle Chanbai’s home, it took them to some kind of a stage.

List od wuja Czubaja

A few men were dancing to the lively music right in front of the friends. The men were holding each other’s shoulders and kicking their legs in every possible direction. The audience gathered in front of the dancers was applauding and swinging to the rhythm. Suddenly, the group of dancers turned around and started to move their legs right in front of friends’ heads. Pola flew back, Tola huddled but Rascal was hit right in his nose.
– Ouch! It hurts! – poor Rascal grabbed his nose, when the punch knocked him to the ground.
The dancer realised he had hit someone accidentally. He clapped his hands and the music went silent. When the rest of the dancers were receiving applause from the audience, he ran towards Rascal as quick as a flash.
– Мальчик, что ты делаешь? [Malcik, nu shtu ti dielaiesh?], Little boy, what are you doing? How did you get on the stage? I could have hurt you badly!
The dancer turned out to be a huge cat with long whiskers.
– Too late, you already have! – said sulky Rascal, holding his nose.
– But why did you get on the stage? ? Don’t you know that Tatar dance is very lively? That we kick faster than we’re able to spot our own feet? – he asked with concern. – Nurse! Nurse, please come here and treat the wound of this little boy. I hope it’s only a scratch… – he addressed the nurse loudly.
An elderly lady in a white coat immediately came closer to Rascal and applied an ointment on his nose. Then she covered it with a bandage.
– Done! – said Mrs Dove with satisfaction.
– Tell me please, what are you doing here on the stage? – asked the big cat again.
– Mmmm… hmmm… – Rascal was trying to say something but he couldn’t, because the nurse had accidentally put the bandage not only on his nose, but on his whole snout. The poor dog wasn’t able to utter a word.
– Well, we have come to Uzbekistan to find my uncle, Chanbai – oanswered Tola, who had run towards Rascal when the dancers went off the stage. – Maybe you know him? – she added.
– Your uncle? And who are you? – asked the dancer with curiosity, hearing that Tola was speaking with an accent he could barely recognise.
– I’m Tola, a little cousi…
She didn’t manage to say anything else because the big cat caught her and gave her such a big hug that she could barely breathe. Then, he started to toss her up and down!
– Tola, Tola, my little Tola is here! It’s a true miracle!!! – he was calling, tossing the kitten and hugging her again.

List od wuja Czubaja

When everybody calmed down, Uncle Chanbai explained to the travellers where they were. The place turned out to be a primary school and all citizens of the nearby villages were invited to come. The performance continued for a while as they spoke. Uncle explained Uzbekistan was suffering from a really harsh winter, especially over the last few weeks. To make matters worse, unfortunately a lot of children hadn’t been vaccinated against tuberculosis yet, and an epidemic had started in the local area. Children had high fever, cough and could barely breathe. Despite the fact that it was just the beginning of the winter, hospitals almost didn’t have places for the newly infected. Uncle Chanbai, who was a doctor, decided to organise a concert which was meant to be an occasion to vaccinate all the healthy people. He knew that people from the village will not go to the hospital to vaccinate themselves. But almost 200 citizens attended the concert – after which doctor were planning to examine and vaccinate every person who was still healthy.
– So you’re a doctor, uncle? Not a dancer? – asked Tola hesitantly.
– Ha, ha, ha! Of course! Dancing is my passion, I love to dance – added and looked at Rascal with concern. – But as you could see, I can’t fully control my legs yet.
– Mr Chanbai! My dear Chanbai! Will you come here at last? You need to help me with this syringe! – Suddenly, the door to the gym opened and they were able to hear the squawk of the crow who was running into the hall with a syringe as big as her.

List od wuja Czubaja

– Mr Chanbai, what are you whispering? Anyway, it’s not important now – added Ms Magpie and waved her wing, holding the syringe upwards. – How can I vaccinate anyone with such a syringe? It’s bigger than me! I can’t hold such a big needle! Besides, these syringes are good for horses, not for little mice or magpies!– Ms Magpie was yelling.

Still talking, Ms Magpie finally came closer to Uncle Chanbai.

– OOh! What have we got here? It’s a dog! Oh! And this is a cat! – she called. – A więc jednak są też psy i koty w tej szkole do szczepienia… Dlaczego nikt mi o tym nie powiedział? So there are cats and dogs waiting here to get vaccinated… Why did nobody tell me this before? And I was so worried that our syringes were too big! Come on, little kitty, show me your arm and I will vaccinate you! –she turned to Tola.

– Vaccinate me? – sasked Tola hesitantly, afraid of such a huge syringe. – I got vaccinated against tuberculosis already… honestly – she said, defending herself

– And this big dog? OWas he vaccinated too? – asked the determined nurse.

– I don’t think so… – answered Tola, a bit uncertainly.

– Hmmmmm! Hmmmmm!!! – Rascal was trying to say something but the bandage covering his snout made it impossible to utter a single word.

– Why are you groaning, doggy? Wouldn’t it be easier to say “no I wasn’t vaccinated”? You’d rather just groan “hmmmm”?! – sasked Ms Magpie irritated.. – I don’t have time for this. Don’t be afraid, it doesn’t hurt… or at least not for too long! – she added.

Ms Magpie turned the syringe towards Rascal and… done! She quickly vaccinated him against tuberculosis.

– Ouch, ouuuch! – Rascal cried with pain.

– Don’t squeal, doggy. It will heal tomorrow and you will be healthy now – Ms Magpie comforted him.

Then, she threw the syringe into a huge bin and went out of the hall to search for other patients equally eager to get vaccinated.

Uncle Chanbai took out Rascal’s bandage and, to apologise for the pain he caused kicking his nose, he invited friends for delicious doughnuts and tea with lemon.

After coming back home, Rascal admitted shyly that the pain wasn’t as great as it might have seemed to be. Anyway, he was glad that he will not have to worry about tuberculosis. He would rather make a snowman and play outside with his friends, than stay at the hospital because of an illness. Especially, when he could prevent it thanks to a vaccine.

Questions to careful listeners

  1. Where does Uncle Chanbai come from?
  2. What did Uncle’s Tatar dance look like?
  3. Why were dancing performances organised in the primary school?
  4. What is the name of the disease that was spreading in Uzbekistan?
  5. In what way did Uncle Chanbai want to protect people from the village from tuberculosis?
  6. Was Rascal afraid of the vaccination? What did he think about it after coming back to Poland?
  7. Were you vaccinated against tuberculosis? What other diseases were you vaccinated against?