i haven’t written any stories for a while, but now seems like a nice time to start again.
this is a story i often joke about with my husband. when i first found out what pesukarhu means in Finnish (= raccoon), the name made me giggle. because pesu in Finnish means wash, and karhu means bear. so basically a raccoon means washy bear. that was what first gave us the idea of this joke story. however, in my story, Pesukarhu is a bear, not a raccoon. 😀 hope that’s not too confusing!
meanwhile, kura means mud. since there is no animal in Finnish that has kura as a name (and in Indonesian kura-kura means turtle, ha! but i’m saving the turtle for another adventure), i just made it up as a name for a dog (= koira), obviously playing with the letters a bit, k and r.
so, this is my second attempt to write a children’s story, and since i had an extra time i even made simple illustrations to accompany it.
ladies, gentlemen, and babies, let’s meet: Pesukarhu & Kurakoira.
Behind a faraway forest, in a small village, a washy bear named Pesukarhu lives. He likes to wash and clean everything he sees; he cleans his own mess, his family’s, his neighbours’, his friends’, and then it’s time to clean his own mess already again. His life is so full of cleaning!
He cleans so much that those around him start to complain.
“When Pesukarhu was a baby, I used to have many things to do, because I was the one who cleaned everything,” Pesukarhu’s mother complains to a neighbour. “Now I barely have anything to do because he cleans everything! My life has never been this boring!”
“Tell me about it,” the neighbour rolls her eyes. “Sometimes I have just started to eat and already Pesukarhu comes to our house to wash the dishes. Doesn’t he have anything better to do?”
“This has really got to stop,” says a friend of Pesukarhu, who has lately become irritated by him. “Whenever I meet up with him for fun, he would always just end up ignoring me and start cleaning up the road. I think he’s addicted to cleaning, and I don’t know how to make him realize it.”
It is not long until the unpleasant news reaches Pesukarhu’s own ears. They all want him to stop his cleaning addiction, otherwise he will get evicted from the village.
Pesukarhu tries his best. In the morning he lets his mother clean the windows. But when she misses a spot, he quickly wipes it clean, and before he knows it, he ends up doing all the cleaning again, making his mother fold her hands and thumping her foot impatiently.
Feeling ashamed of himself, he goes to his neighbour’s house. The neighbour sees him from the window, looking so sad and down. Even when she is annoyed by what Pesukarhu does, she still feels sorry for seeing him sad. So she invites him in for lunch.
Pesukarhu gladly accepts the invitation and tries really hard to stop himself from cleaning the kitchen while his neighbour prepares the lunch. Everything goes well while they eat lunch together, and the neighbour actually starts to become hopeful that maybe Pesukarhu can stop his super-cleaning habit after all.
But when the neighbour accidentally knocks down her drinking glass, Pesukarhu cannot hold it back any longer and jumps to clean it… along with the rest of the floor of the whole house. And the kitchen which he has been itching to clean. All the neighbour can do is let out a deep sigh.
Now feeling even more guilty than ever, Pesukarhu apologizes and runs out from the door. He is beginning to believe that he will really be banished from the village, never to return. But what can he do? Just then he hears somebody calling his name.
“Pesukarhu,” it turns out to be one of his friends who notices him walking alone. “Come join us for ice cream!” the friend says.
Instantly, Pesukarhu’s eyes lit up. Ice cream, who doesn’t like it? He nods to his friends and together they walk to the ice cream kiosk. They start talking about things, and for a moment Pesukarhu starts to think that maybe things are not as bad as he thought. But that is only until they reach the ice cream kiosk and see a little piglet eating an ice cream cone… and as he does so, the melted ice cream starts to drip to the floor.
Suddenly Pesukarhu cannot take it anymore. He desperately wants to clean the mess, but he knows that once he starts doing that, he won’t be able to stop himself from cleaning the rest of the kiosk. His addiction cannot be stopped. He is sure of it now.
So he excuses himself from his friends and the ice cream kiosk. Before anyone can evict him, Pesukarhu decides to leave the village. It must be better that way.
He leaves in a hurry, before anything else can change his mind, or worse… before he starts cleaning something again. He walks to the direction of the forest, not really knowing where to go or where to stay.
As he enters the forest, he realizes that he may just like it there. Back in the village, Pesukarhu can always spot the uncleanliness among the clean. But in the wild nature, it is different. Sure, there is the ground, mud, and anything else that can be seen as dirty, but they are where they belong. As long as Pesukarhu gets himself cleaned, he is fine with this condition.
Although… after a few hours of not cleaning, Pesukarhu begins to feel different. He is bored… and now he knows what the others at the village must feel when he does all the cleaning. And thinking of them makes him feel lonely. If he is going to live in the forest from now on, who is he going to talk to? Without any cleaning, what is he going to do?
Pesukarhu goes to a river bank and sits down, feeling sad once again. All of a sudden, he hears a bark.
Pesukarhu tries to see where it comes from, but all he sees are rocks and trees.
There it goes again! Now Pesukarhu knows exactly where it comes from. Except that it is impossible, for it looks like a big brown rock was the one who barked. A big brown rock… with a wagging tail.
“Hello?” Pesukarhu greets it, feeling unsure. Maybe he has completely lost his mind.
“Woof, woof!” the rock wags its tail happily. Pesukarhu can actually see its mouth when it barks, which is a relief, because now, finally, he understands it.
“Come here, doggy!” he calls to the dog. The dog, formerly known as the brown rock, comes closer and greets Pesukarhu excitedly.
Incredible. The dog is so filthy that Pesukarhu at first thought it was a rock. Now from up close, Pesukarhu can see that it is just a normal dog. And a very dirty one as well.
Being a washy bear as he is, Pesukarhu immediately washes the dog with the water from the river. He feels useful once again as soon as he is done cleaning the dog.
“Where did you come from, doggy?” asks Pesukarhu, not expecting it to answer. As he brushes the dog’s fur, he notices that the dog wears a collar. Attached to the collar, is a letter.
Pesukarhu opens it and reads it, and meanwhile the dog is already playing in the mud again.
“To whom it may concern,” the letter starts, “the name of this dog is Kura, and it is named so because its hobby is to play in the mud, garbage bins, and any other dirty place you can imagine. It is with heavy heart that we decided to let it go, because although it is a sweet dog, we cannot keep bathing it every 5 minutes. We hope it will bring you joy.”
Pesukarhu looks up from the letter, and sure enough, Kura is already as dirty as when he first saw him. But instead of getting angry, Pesukarhu smiles. He has a feeling that he and Kura can be best friends.
And so it goes, that Pesukarhu cleans up whatever Kura does, and Kura makes himself (and Pesukarhu) dirty again so that Pesukarhu never runs out of something to do. And the best thing is that none of them is ever tired of the other one. They keep each other happy by just being themselves.
When he feels ready, Pesukarhu goes back to the village, bringing Kura with him. He apologizes to everyone for what he did before, promising that he has changed because of Kura. Though everybody is sceptic at first that he can really change, they soon see that taking care of Kura–er, or rather, cleaning it–takes almost all of Pesukarhu’s time that he barely has time to clean anything else, and they begin to see that the washy bear and the muddy dog are really meant for each other.
The whole villagers live in peace and harmony ever since, and Pesukarhu and Kura continues to fulfill each other’s lives.
note: the fiction is 70% written by me, Sax Silverain, and 30% by my husband. the illustration is 100% drawn by me. and i admit, i can’t draw animals.