After Tola had fallen from the roof and no one was able to wake her up, granny Amalia decided to take the little kitten and Rascal home. She hoped the warmth and the smell of delicious food would wake up her little guest.
There was an unusual buzz in granny’s home. Almost every owl present on the roof followed Tola and Rascal. They were all there: uncle Sasha from Lviv in big glasses, cousin Cajetan from Crimea with his two younger brothers, crazy aunt Tatiana from Kiev, whose feathers were dyed pink, and many other of Pola’s cousins.
Everyone wanted to help. They were also eager to try Ukrainian delicacies prepared for Christmas by granny Amalia.
Granny brought all the dishes to the table standing right beside Tola’s bed. There were kutia – a cereal dish, pampushki – a kind of small dumplings cooked on steam, Ukrainian borscht, cheese dumplings, traditional cookies with honey, and compote from dried fruits. The smell of food was wonderful.
– Mій дорогий [Mi dorogij] (my dear) Maybe we should give her some ginger to smell – suggested uncle Sasha, using one wing to keep his sliding glasses in place and reaching for the biggest dumpling with another wing.
– Uncle, you must be crazy! – called Cajetan, holding a plate with kutia – Ginger was used as a medicine when granny Amalia was a kid.
– Excuse me? – exclaimed granny Amalia. She didn’t like others to talk about her age.
– But uncle’s idea is brilliant – squawked aunt Tatiana, pouring compote into a glass. – For example r, I always have ginger tea when I want to lift the feathers on my head. It’s better than hairspray!
– Whaaat? – Everyone was so surprised that they stopped eating.
– If it works on my feathers, it may as well work on the kitten! – said the aunt, running her fingers through her pink feathers.
– I can’t put up with you any longer – what ginger?! Aunt, you can use it to make your feather stand up. I’ve heard that rubbing a balloon on your head has the same effect. This little kitten needs a doctor. To my mind, we should call a doctor instead of making herbal infusions. He’ll check if there is any serious injury.
Everybody started to talk at the same time.
Silence! – Granny Amalia suddenly shouted and everybody hushed up – sI think that what Tola needs right now is silence and peace. Thank you everyone for your care and watching over Tola at night. The sun will rise in a moment and our Christmas tradition says that all guests should leave before dawn. Tomorrow, I will call a doctor and we’ll see what to do next.
The birds were not happy that today’s celebrations were over. But respecting granny’s decision, all guests went back to their homes.
Rascal didn’t sleep a wink until dawn and kept changing compresses on Tola’s head. Unfortunately, the kitten didn’t even move.
The next day in the morning doctor Sasha knocked at the door.
Come in! – called granny Amalia, and Rascal was so happy to see the doctor, that he rushed to open the door.
-AAAAAH!!! – They suddenly heard the doctor screaming.
– AAAH! Woof, woof – accompanied Rascal, when the doctor unexpectedly hit his head with a bag.
– Help! A monster! – The doctor screamed again, still hitting Rascal with his bag.
– AAAH, calm down please! – said Rascal, now really annoyed. He grabbed doctor’s bag, pushed him into the room and pressed his paw against his chest – calm down please, I’m not going to eat you! – growled the dog.
– Oh my word! Sasha, calm down, Rascal, let go of the doctor!
Granny separated the two guests and added, this time more calmly:
– Well, I should have told you that I called for you… because I need help with a cat… and there is also a dog at home… but I was afraid that you wouldn’t come if you knew.
– A cat? You say there’s a cat in here? – sasked the terrified doctor, looking around in search of a way out from granny Amalia’s tree hollow.
– Oh, doctor! What’s so surprising in the fact that I want you to help a cat? – asked granny Amalia, pretending to be surprised. – After all, everyone has the right to be taken care of when they’re ill, right? No matter if they’re dogs, cats or owls? – said granny softly, giving the doctor a cup of melissa.
– Yes, you’re right – added doctor hesitantly. Doctor Sasha knew that granny Amalia was right but sometimes it’s easier to talk about equality than to really treat everyone equally… especially in the case of cats or dogs. The doctor was still looking for a possible way out.
After a few minutes of conversations and tasting kutia, doctor Sasha calmed down. Eventually, he came closer to kitten’s bed and took out a stethoscope, a blood pressure gauge and a few different medicines from his bag. He was examining Tola for quite a long time, then gave her some medicines.
– The kitten needs silence. I don’t know why she’s still unconscious. You said she had fallen from a very tall roof, but apart from the fact that she’s not awake, I don’t see anything alarming. We need to wait.
The doctor bowed goodbye and left the hollow… giving Rascal a wide berth, just in case.
During the next three days, granny Amalia, Pola and Rascal were taking turns watching over Tola. The kitten started to grow thin because she didn’t eat and she still didn’t speak a word. Granny kept preparing different Christmas dishes like sausages, okorok – a ham hock wrapped in pastry broiled with fruits, aspic and fresh kutia. They gave those dished to Tola to smell, but without any result.
Finally, on the fourth day, granny got up at dawn, silently woke Pola up, took her hand and they both went into another room – not to wake Rascal up.
– Pola, sweetheart, tell me please, do you have the compass I gave you? – she asked quietly.
– Yes, granny, I have it here – whispered Pola, taking out the compass.
– Pola, I think it’s time for you to get to know the truth about it. It’s not a usual compass.
– I know, granny. It’s passed down from generation to generation in our family. Thanks to the compass, we can always find the way home – Pola recited the formula she had heard when she was a child.
– Yes, you’re right – Granny smiled. – But this compass has yet another magical power… look.
Granny took the compass and placed it on her hand. Then, she rubbed the compass three times and tossed it.
– „All that is good, all that is new, take us away, show us the truth” – said Granny quietly.
The compass started to whirl and a shiny gold cloud started to appear around it.
Pola got a bit scared and stepped back.
– Don’t be afraid, dear, все в порядку [wsje w porjadku] everything is all right. it’s a magical compass which has been in our family for many generations. Now you could utter the name of the place where you would like to go and the compass would take you there within a second. To go back, you would have to say: „all that is good, all that is new, now take us home and hide all the truth”.
Granny swiftly grabbed the compass and when the shiny cloud disappeared, she added:
– I believe that if silence and peace didn’t help Tola, you need to take her to a place where something will scare her the same way her fall did. Maybe she will wake up again after a similar experience. Within a few days, far away in China, people will celebrate the Chinese New Year. Fire-breathing dragons will walk the streets and sounds of drums and gunshots will be audible everywhere. This is the only chance to wake Tola up…
– Dragons? Fire? – Pola shivered. – Granny, I don’t know if that’s a good idea…
– Sweetheart, this is the only chance to save your best friend.
– My friend? – Because of the confusion resulting from the kitten’s accident, Pola didn’t tell granny that Tola and Rascal are only colleagues she just met, not her best friends. She wanted to say something but then…
– I’ll go! – barked Rascal, sticking his head through the half open door.
– Oh!!! – Granny Amalia got scared. – Did you see what we were doing here? – she asked suspiciously.
– Yes, but it’s O.K., I won’t tell anyone – growled Rascal. – For me, Tola is the most important person in the whole world and if meeting the dragon will help her, I’m eager to go there with you.
Pola looked anxiously at granny Amalia and Rascal – five days ago she thought this Orthodox Christmas would be so peaceful and that she would spend it with her family…
After several minutes of conversations, granny prepared some food for their trip. She sliced bread, packed delicious meat and sweet kutia, and then she helped Pola and Rascal raise Tola up from the bed and put her in a scarf tied up on Rascal’s back.
Eventually, everyone was ready for the flight.
– Thank you so much for your help – said Rascal. – As you’ve probably guessed, Tola is a Tatar – a Muslim. Despite this, you invited us to your house and you’re still helping us… I’m so grateful.
– Oh, my dear Rascal, it doesn’t matter if you’re an Orthodox or a Muslim, a dog or an owl, everybody deserves to be treated with respect and to receive help. I didn’t do anything unusual. – she cleared her throat and added – O.K., that’s enough talking.
Pola took the compass and…