Don’t ever talk back to me!



Jo Joey calls in on the services of the Hopper detectives when an irksome mimic creates trouble for him.

One spring morning, Mama Kangaroo was looking for her son Jo Joey. It was time to go to school and he wasn’t anywhere around.

“Jo, where are you?” she shouted. She hopped around eucalyptus trees and shrubs looking for him. At last, she found Jo with his friend Wally, a wallaby, who went to school with him.

“There you are!” she exclaimed in anger, “Do you know what time it is?”

“Do you know what time it is?” called out someone from behind Jo and Wally. It made Mama Kangaroo furious. She thought her son was talking back to her. She stood up to her full height of six feet and spoke in a cold voice.

“Jo Joey Kangaroo, don’t ever talk back to me.”

Repeat offender

Although it scared the two little marsupials, it did not scare the one who was mimicking the call. “Don’t ever talk back to me!” it repeated from the bushes.

Quite in a temper, her eyes flashing and her face red, she leaped away saying, “You could come back to me when you have learnt how to behave.”

Joey began to cry, “Please believe me mama. I didn’t do it.” But his mother was too far away to hear him.

A platypus, listening in, suggested that they call in the three detectives — Rock, a penguin, Rana, a frog and Let-it-be, a grasshopper, who were the sleuths at the Hopper, Hopper and Hopper Detective Agency.

Soon, the Hoppers hopped into New South Wales, in Australia. They listened gravely to Jo Joey’s account of the ‘mischievous mimic’.

Rock looked at Jo. “I think you are telling the truth. We will have to investigate.”

Rana puffed out his cheeks and said, “I know for sure there are at least two guys in this area who can mock others. Look up! There they are up on the tree — a black cockatoo and a kookaburra. Let’s ask them a few questions!”

The two birds came down quite gleefully. They were looking for some fun and laughter.

Rana croaked in his loudest voice, “Can you repeat the sounds that I am going to make — aruk, bruk, cruk?”

From behind the bushes someone repeated, “Aruk, bruk, cruk.” The cockatoo whistled and said “That’s funny”. The kookaburra gave out a throaty laugh. Rana turned red in anger. Rock looked confused. The grasshopper sang his favourite song, ‘Let it be, let it be’, which the nasty fellow in the bushes repeated.

Jo and Wally ran behind the bushes and dragged out a fairly large bird with dark brown feathers and a fan-like tail feathers that looked like a lyre, a stringed instrument of ancient Greece.

“Who are you, and what’s your name?” asked Rock authoritatively.

“I am a lyrebird. I can mimic any sound, from a car horn to Mama Kangaroo’s scolding, ha-ha,” he claimed proudly.

“I think we should change your name to ‘liar bird’, because that’s what you are,” said Rana, still upset with these mocking birds. But it was a happy moment for Jo Joey, as he hopped back to his mama to tell her what had really happened that morning. It was a happy moment for the detectives too, as they had solved yet another case.

Published as part of a series titled Open and Shut Cases in Young World, The Hindu on October 23, 2015.


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