Din Din stretched in his soft, hay bed. The loft in his new home was spacious and even allowed him to roll around in his sleep. Sunlight streamed in through the back-end of the cave.
“Look, Din Din,” cried his brother Derek merrily. “The garden in the backyard has roses!”
“The kitchen is so huge that our dining table can fit in it,” exclaimed Don, his youngest sibling.
“Moving to this bigger cave home is the best thing that could have happened to us,” Dave cried in jubilation.
“It’s only been a week guys,” Din Din warned. “We haven’t had time to explore the neighbourhood.”
“Oh! Don’t be such a pessimist, Din Din,” scoffed Derek.
“I’m calling Cindy over today after school,” Din Din announced at the breakfast table over sweet strawberry jam tarts.
“Wow! We could never call our friends over at our old house because there was simply no space,” marveled Don. “Mom, can I call my friends over too this weekend?”
“Sure,” smiled Mrs. Dee as she bustled around the table. “Before you boys leave for school, just knock at the neighbouring cave entrance and give these strawberry tarts. I want to get to know the dinosaurs next door and I think they might appreciate this friendly gesture.”
“Sure, mom!” Din Din said. Carrying the basket of tarts, he capered to the cave next door.
The clean, green turf outside his home was freshly trimmed and watered. He rapped on the cave entrance several times but did not receive a response.
Din Din called out, “Hello! Is anyone home?”
After a while, an old Oviraptor appeared at the cave opening. “What is it?” he snapped. “What’s the need to disturb an old couple so early in the morning?”
“O…Oh! M…my apologies,” stammered Din Din. “I just wanted to deliver these tarts. We have come to live next door and my mom’s baked these.”
The oviraptor peered at the basket suspiciously. “We don’t have sweet stuff. The doctor has prohibited it.” With these sharp words, he hobbled back inside the cave.
Din Din was left standing open-mouthed in the doorway. He gathered his wits and raced ahead to catch up with his brothers who had already reached halfway to the Terrestrial School.
“These neighbours are strange,” he shared with Derek and explained what had happened.
“Let’s have the tarts for recess instead,” said Derek gleefully.
The episode was forgotten and soon it was time to return home. Cindy, the Cheetah, was walking home with Din Din discussing their Science project.
“Wow! I love this area, Din Din! The cave homes here are so huge and the area is so well-maintained,” admired Cindy. Din Din grinned.
Suddenly, as they neared their cave, they heard sounds of someone hollering.
It was the old oviraptor yelling at a group of three stegosaurus dinosaurs. “We can hardly sleep at night with all the noise you all make,” the old oviraptor cried, shaking his fist angrily.
The trio of stegosaurus’ seemed to be turning a deaf ear to these heated words. They ambled inside their cave home which was located opposite Din Din’s cave.
“What’s the matter?” Din Din asked as he entered his cave home. “Grandpa, why was the old oviraptor so upset? He’s such a cranky, old creature!”
“Well, dear! These three young stegosaurus seem to have had a party last night and the noise disturbed the oviraptors. They couldn’t sleep all night. I have to admit the racket disturbed me too,” Grandpa said.
“Who are they?” Din Din pressed. “They are youngsters — artists, I believe. But they stay up all night and invite their friends over,” Grandmamma explained.
After lunch, when Cindy and Din Din were playing football outside, the old oviraptor popped his head from his cave, “My wife is trying to have a nap. That ball is making such a noise.”
Din Din blushed. “I’m sorry, Cindy. Let’s go play somewhere else.”
The next day was Saturday and Din Din’s brothers were playing with marbles outside their cave entrance. Some of the marbles rolled into the cave on the opposite side of the path into the stegosaurus’ cave.
“I’ll go and fetch them,” quipped Don, the youngest.
“May I please find my marbles?” Don asked innocently as a stegosaurus peered out of the cave.
“Hey, stay at your end of the road,” drawled the young dinosaur, sleepily.
Without another word he lumbered away. Don was nearly in tears. That night at the dinner table, the four brothers looked downcast.
“What’s the matter, boys? I thought you loved life now that you have a bigger home?” asked Mr. D.
Din Din finally spoke up, “This new home is so wonderful but the neighbours aren’t!” he blurted out. He shared what had been happening.
“A friendly neighbour is a treasure,” agreed their grandparents.
“But we must be tolerant and patient,” advised Mrs. Dee.
On Sunday, Din Din peered out of his cave to see the oviraptor couple sitting in their garden. The old oviraptor’s wife was sitting on a bench. She had a strange glazed look on her face and was frail and bony.
“I have heard she cannot walk; she is handicapped. They don’t even have children who can take care of them in their old age,” whispered Grandmamma. “Maybe that’s why they are so grouchy.”
Din Din nodded. “Everyone has their own set of troubles,” he wondered to himself.
Later that week, Din Din helped the old oviraptor carry some mangoes in a jute bag, “Let me, sir,” he offered as he saw the old dinosaur struggle with his groceries.
The oviraptor glanced at him sternly but his expression softened. “Thank you,” he croaked.
Din Din felt a warm glow as he walked towards his home. He saw the trio of stegosaurus sitting in their garden behind a hedge. Din Din was hidden by the tall bush but he couldn’t help overhear their conversation, “I was up all night,” one of them was saying remorsefully.
“Yet, when I took my painting to be sold, it was rejected.” “How will we pay the rent this month?” the other mused. “None of us have sold anything.”
Din Din felt embarrassed at having heard such a revealing and personal conversation. When he returned home he announced to his brothers, “We really must make an effort to be kinder to our neighbours. One kind word can make life so much easier.”
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