Eating Etiquette

Din Din and Dazel were excited about the surprise feast which the animals in D'Land had arranged for Wiz Rooster as a sign of gratitude for all the guidance and support he always gave the creatures of D'Land.

"Wiz Rooster has been around for as long as anyone can remember," commented Dazel as he and Din Din made their way to the lake where the party was planned.

"You are lucky that Wiz Rooster lives near your pond; you can turn to him whenever there is a crisis," said Din Din as he huffed and puffed. "Oh my! This basket of fruits I picked for the party is really burdensome.”

"Yes, Din Din. He is always ready to lend me his ears and give me sensible advice whenever I need it. He is like a father figure — I never feel the absence of parents in Wiz Rooster's presence," replied Dazel as she helped steady the basket strapped onto Din Din's broad back.

When the two friends reached the lake's edge they saw many of their other friends had already begun the celebration preparations.

"Oh look!" squawked Dazel in glee, "What a grand spread!"

A few of the dinosaurs and elephants had worked together to build a huge trestle table from fallen tree trunks so that there was enough space for all the invited animals to sit around one enormous table. At the head of the table was a high wooden stool for the guest of honour — Wiz Rooster.

Many of the blue birds who were in Dazel's class in Aviary School had made garlands of colourful and sweet-smelling flowers and hung them around the table. Fireflies flew in the air illuminating the evening landscape. A choir of nightingales perched on a tall oak, sang a sweet song in chorus, filling the air with its soothing melody.

Din Din and Dazel began to carefully arrange the juicy fruits Din Din had picked from Fruit Park on the table. The other goodies included several lake-weed salads and puddings which Delma the dolphin had prepared along with the other aquatic animals; seed sandwiches and pastries which the birds had made; nectarine jams lovingly prepared by the insects, and honey collected by the bees. Finally, there was a huge three-tiered pumpkin seed cake.

"Pumpkin seed cake! That is Wiz Rooster's favourite. Ms. Hummingbird, the cooking teacher at Aviary School, has prepared this with her students," said Dazel elatedly.

"Wiz Rooster is here!" a shout rang out. Everyone quickly took their places around the table. As Wiz Rooster flew above the suddenly hushed gathering, the fireflies began to flicker with their powerful glimmer and then Wiz Rooster could see the animals crowded around the huge wood table.

"Surprise!" everyone shouted in unison.

Wiz Rooster flew down and sat atop one of the old oak trees near the lake.

He was overwhelmed by the magnificent arrangements. "What is all this?" he exclaimed with a shocked smile.

Din Din spoke for everyone, "Just a token of our gratitude for being a beacon light for us all. A big thank you for all the times you have been there for us."

"For once, my dears, I am speechless," Wiz Rooster said humbly.

Dazel and the others urged him to cut the cake. Everyone sang a loud rendition of ‘For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' led by the melodious nightingale choir and then presented their gifts of appreciation to Wiz Rooster.

It was then time for the feast to begin. All the animals — the winged creatures as well as the four-footed animals perched around the huge table and attacked the food. They tore into the fruits; pecked ruthlessly at the jams and snatched the salad platters from each other. Arguments broke out and the table resounded with noise.

The aquatic creatures who were eating in the water around a huge slab-like rock were also focused on partaking each and every food item displayed on the rock.

Suddenly Dazel noticed that Wiz Rooster had not even touched his slice of pumpkin seed cake.

"What is the matter?" exclaimed Dazel loudly. "Don't you like the cake?" Everyone stopped eating.

After a long pause Wiz Rooster began, "First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for this splendid surprise. I am so honoured by all the efforts you have put into this memorable celebration and I am humbled by your love."

He paused again thoughtfully. "Maybe this is not the right occasion to tell you what is bothering me, but as your elder it is my duty to tell you when you are doing something wrong."

"Yes, please tell us," chirped a trio of bluebirds. "We know whatever you tell us is for our own good."

"Okay," replied Wiz Rooster. "I just wanted to draw your attention to your table manners.”

Instantly, every creature at the gathering looked embarrassed.

"Isn't it polite to let your elders start; instead I saw the younger creatures honing in for their food first. When you all started eating it was as if you hadn't eaten for days. And then you spilled and dropped so many morsels. What a waste of God's blessings. Did any of you take a moment to thank God for the blessing of food he has showered you with?" Wiz Rooster asked in his gentle yet firm voice.

No one dared answer.

"I don't want to cast a damper over the celebrations," Wiz Rooster urged. With a cheery smile he added, "I'll tell you what! Let us pretend this never happened. Let's start all over again."

The animals looked at each other in speculation.

"I'll fly down once again and then you all can wish me again. We'll start the feast as it is supposed to happen," said Wiz Rooster. With these words and a flap of his wings, Wiz Rooster flew off. Within no time he was back and perched again on the oak tree.

"For once I am speechless, my friends," Wiz Rooster repeated his earlier greeting.

This seemed to break the spell of silence among the animals. Dazel quacked cheerily, `For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' and all the others joined in. Wiz Rooster cut the remaining slice of pumpkin seed cake amidst clapping and then the feast began. But this time, there was perfect decorum.

Every creature first took a moment to say a silent prayer of gratitude for the blessings before them. Then they passed around the platters, offering food to others and made sure no one dropped a crumb.

Wiz Rooster smiled at them. Din Din who was seated beside Wiz Rooster said, "When we are eating properly, we are able to enjoy our food and relish each bite. Also, I noticed that this time around everyone was able to try every delicacy as there was no greed and no wastage of food."

All the creatures said another prayer of gratitude for having learnt yet another priceless lesson in D'Land.

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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