Thought Provoking Mambo


What is the definition of “to teach?” The dictionary explains: “to cause to know or understand.”

And what is the best teacher? Somebody who teaches in an entertaining, vivid and confident way, being curious about the outcome.

If this is true, Mambo was a perfect instructor. For more than six years he taught kids at Paihia Primary School in the Bay of Islands and everybody loved him there. He lived three sections away from the school with his guardian. Yes, with his guardian, because, you see, Mambo was a cat – a very clever cat.

Every morning he used to walk purposefully over to the school where he waited on the office doorstep to greet the caretaker when he arrived. Then Mambo went to the playground or classrooms to be with the pupils who already waited for his company. Later, during morning tea time, he was seated on a chair reserved for him in the staff room, together with all the other teachers discussing their efforts to impart knowledge to the kids.

Now, you’ll certainly ask yourself which subject a cat could possibly teach? Well, let’s see:

One day Mambo’s guardian went over to the school to apologize to the Headmaster for the cat being there. But the experienced teacher assured her that there was no reason for an apology as he was happy to have the cat being there and that he was using Mambo to teach the kids “KINDNESS” to animals.

So this was Mambo’s subject of instruction, and from then on his guardian would proudly go over to the school at close of day to pick him up. She is a small woman and he was a magnificent cat. It looked quite amusing, when petite Lady V. carried Mambo home in her arms and it had become a well-known sight in Paihia because she did this every day, convinced like Mambo himself that he had done a good and important job. Assuming that, they were right of course, since what else could be more significant for children than to learn what kindness means? Kindness to animals leads directly to kindness in general, ie. to people too.

Wasn’t this also the dying message of Helen Kelly? Yes, it was “KINDNESS”. How true! Are we forgetting how to be kind? Is that why CRUELTY is on the increase?

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My Thought-Provoking Rescue

Hi folks! My name is Pipi. Yes, I know, it’s misleading in a way, but it has been given to me by somebody who really likes me and helped to save my life. Therefore I don’t scrutinize it too much, you see? Of course I know that the proper name of our family is Halcyons. Yes, like the birds of classical legend, said to magically calm the waves when they nested on the sea’s surface.

But perhaps the primary meaning of this old word “alcyon” reflects what happened after my horrible fall from our home in a much better sense than just the term “pure luck”. In the Greek language at least it is a synonym for “bringing peace, happiness and joy”.

Who knows ? and I leave it to you to decide.

Well, however that may be, it all started with some wrangling between me and my brothers in our nest high up in a hollow tree overlooking Frenchman’s Swamp. We were fighting for the spot closest to the hole where our parents arrived with food, and the next thing I can remember was me being airborne! They had just pushed me over the edge and I was falling, falling and falling.

I was only 25 days old and didn’t know much about flying. In fact, I have had my first lessons together with my brothers just six hours ago and couldn’t recall anything at all, if only because of being scared to death!

But when I hit the ground the impact wasn’t too bad. Although I had landed roughly on a layer of casuarina needles, I had fortunately missed a large rock and nearby very ugly upward pointing wooden splinters of a broken Manuka. Phew!

I rolled around and had a further look. In the pink light of dusk I could see through high tufts of grass a whole forest of tall trees surrounding the one which I had fallen from. Mum and Dad were circling above me, screaming nervously. All I understood was how worried they were because of the late hour and too little daylight left. They told me to stay put until dawn, when they would come back for a crash course in take-off and flying home.

That’s what I did. I crouched down, made myself as invisible as possible and tried to become part of the terrain. When the sun had set, all the noises stopped at once for a short time as if everyone was holding their breaths in anticipation of the night. I felt very lonely. There was no wind at all and so I could hear the new sounds of darkness slowly increasing. From far away the first calls of owls and closer rustles in grass and dead leaves. I was frightened of those immediately. Who was behind them? Friends or enemies? I wanted to believe in friends with all my heart since the world hadn’t shown me its real character yet. Soon I should know better.

It was much later when I woke up from a merciful sleep of exhaustion. The nearly full moon cast her silvery light through the tree branches, somehow enlarging all things. Perhaps this was the reason why this black wedge-like shape creeping through the next bundle of grass seemed much bigger than a rat would usually look like. Its glowing eyes were focussed on me and I became stiff with terror when suddenly all hell broke loose.

Something a hundred times larger than the rat, so it seemed to me, threw itself towards the rodent, two mighty paws full of sickle-like claws seizing the body of the much smaller animal, and then I heard the scream. The terrible scream of a mortally wounded living being and it went right through me.

Very slowly and cautiously the big killer’s head and mouth closed in on its prey. His fangs sparkled briefly in the moonlight before they sank into the neck of the rat. A sharp jerk followed, then silence and the killer straightened himself up to full height. It was a cat, and it was big. A big tabby, to be precise. Had he saved my life by any chance?

For the time being yes. But when he suddenly noticed my presence, maybe because he had sensed my fear or smelled it, and when he looked at me from those huge indifferent eyes, I feared that there had been only a delay in my way to die. Very casually he touched me with one of his front paws and I fainted.

It seemed ages later when I finally had regained consciousness, and I found myself in a dark space under a black ceiling right above my head which apparently rested on four short and bulgy pillars. Everything was completely quiet and I thought I was alone. But then it dawned on me, that two pairs of greenish gleaming eyes were watching me. From far away though, from beyond the dark space ,and they were motionless, but instinctively I knew to whom they belonged: to the big tabby and some other cat.

That was when I started screaming.

Do you know how this sounds? Kingfishers can shriek in a terrifying way, like perhaps much bigger birds of prey would cry, and I was surprised of the result. The cats’ eerie eyes disappeared at once, but above me two people were suddenly talking to each other and then one of them moved rapidly aside, putting his feet down on the floor where I was sitting. An instant later brilliant light flooded the bedroom.

“It came from under the bed” a woman’s voice murmured drowsily and before I realized what happened, a big hand had grasped me. Today I am still wondering how my little heart could have borne all these horrifying events, but well, I am still alive!

“Let’s put him in a box on the balcony,” the woman said, “there he’ll be safe. And after breakfast you could give Gill Jackson a call. She’ll certainly know what to do with this beautiful little thing.”

Thus my life was saved by a cat and the kindness of two human beings. No, that’s wrong. It was saved by a cat and three people: The third one is the good genius of Russell’s Bird Rescue. That’s why I am well again, why I am free and why I have learned how to fly. Soon I am going to have a wife and kids who I’ll take care of as best as I can, but in case something bad happened again, I’ll try to be very, very close to the Birds’ Fairy called Gill.

by Klaus Kurz