17. Emperor Penguin

Next day they continued their southward journey on Karimukha. Andiaho while bidding them farewell presented them with woollen clothes made from the Alpaca (a variety of mountain sheep that live in the Andes). These clothes would sustain the cold of the extreme south where the heroes were headed. He also told them to follow the mountain range till they reach Cape Horn. Afterwards they have to take the sea route to the southern continent where south pole is located.

On their way they saw people engaged in step irrigation in mountain slopes. Another river called URUBAMBA flowed north to join the Amazon. Then they saw a vast lake on the mountains called TITICACA in which reed islands were floating. On their onward travel they saw a desert called ATACAMA to the east. They could see Alpaca sheep all over the mountain terrain.

Ultimately they reached Cape Horn. It was time for them to start their journey in the southern ocean. Karimukha became Karingila and they travelled south. The north pole was surrounded by only water, whereas the south pole was on a continent. As they landed on the continent Karingilam changed to Panimukha, the polar bear.

It was the month of November. The period in which warmth and sunlight was there in the southern hemisphere. The sun was glowing on the northern side of the sky. In the midday sun, large ice blocks broke off from the tall icebergs and crashed into the sea with enormous, thundering sounds.

In the warmth of the sun many newly hatched penguin chicks were preening. Krishna and Balarama observed these happenings with amusement. Panimukha went about catching fish for his lunch.

“Anyway these bird-like creatures cannot fly! Why they have got two wings?”,  wondered Balarama. Krishna pointed towards the water. The penguins were paddling with their wings to swim!

In the meantime one of the Emperor penguins walked towards them, and started talking in its language. For Krishna, language was not a problem. They understood each other. After the usual introductions, the Emperor extended his wing hand to welcome. Balarama found another use for the wing!

Pointing out towards Panimukha the Emperor expressed dismay. “We have not seen such an animal here. Such animals may be a danger for our existence!” he remarked.

“This Panimukha is our friend. He will not harm you. He will return with us. The tribes of this polar bear are inhabitants of northern polar regions. They will never come here, don’t worry!” assured Krishna.

A floating iceberg sailed in the sea and came near the shore. Penguin chicks took a fancy to riding on that floating ice. The Emperor’s chick was also one among them. While the chicks were enjoying the ride, a tiger seal attacked the ice block from under to break it so that it can swallow the chicks which fall in the water.

Krishna understood the danger for the chicks. He jumped in the water and transformed into a big shark. He chased out the tiger seal and brought the ice float towards the shore. All the chicks safely landed.

Krishna came out in his human shape and joined Balarama. Emperor penguin was pleasantly surprised and all the parent penguins were very much relieved that their chicks were saved. They were thankful to the strangers. All the penguins surrounded them and clapping their wings danced around! Sage Naradha suddenly appeared on a floating iceberg and provided music for their dance!

They travelled east in that polar continent called Antarctica on Panimukha the polar bear. Then they started their journey towards north in the Indian ocean. Panimukha turned into Karingila.

A big bird with a twenty foot wing-span followed them. It found it strange to see two human beings travelling on a whale. It started to converse with them flying by their side. The bird was called Albatross. It said that it loved to soar in the sky during storms. Krishna told the bird about their global tour and their present destination – Africa. The albatross offered to lead them there. On their way the bird narrated an old story to them.

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