Zapp, a squirrel, drawn by the coolness and mystique of the night ventures out at a time when the lesser animals ?wander around, terrified, trying their best to keep their feeble smells away from the olfactory range of their predators.? Luckily he returns home that night as its predator Saap, the snake, had overeaten earlier and was still struggling ?to gurgle down? the last rabbit he had eaten for dinner. It devours a rabbit full. Zapp persuades Saap to let him enter his mouth to which the snake agrees. Inside Saap'smouth and stomach, Zapp comes across a rabbit who is breathing his last after struggling to survive. As soon as both Zapp and the rabbit emerge from the snake'smouth, the rabbit darts away by promising to repay back. As Zapp grows older, like the other squirrels, he decides to migrate to another area to escape from Saap.
Zapp challenges the status quo of the Pinegrove and is not satisfied living at the bottom of the food chain. In his quest for finding the meaning of life, Zapp travels further and comes across Baaz, the eagle, and looks enviously at Baaz'sability to fly. He feels that while squirrels lead a boring life gathering food all day, Baaz is able to soar high in the sky just as Saap can venture deep into the forest to explore without any fear. Zapp expresses his desire to go to a place where the sun never sets. So he leaves Pinegrove and comes across a vagabond and nonchalant rabbit called Id who turns out to be the rabbit he had rescued from the Saap'sstomach. On passing through the forest and finding no trees, Zapp realises their importance as they provide a meaning to a squirrel'slife. He tells himself, ?The world is actually unfair. I have come to the end of the world and there is nothing here? just a stretch of grass.?
Zapp travels through many forests before meeting a ?slow? snail, ?tricky? monkeys, ?smart? elephants, ?dumb? donkeys, ?disciplined? ants, etc. and on the way, he learns something new everywhere. The rabbit Id tells him that when he comes across a wide and mysterious tortoise called Dault, his quest for life would end.
After covering some more distance, Zapp feels homesick and misses his mother for ?the warmth of her soul?; no less does he pine for Pinegrove thinking that if he would ever meet Baaz and Saap, thus entering a warp of time. He wonders whether the lemmings would have finished their trial, whether pig would have learnt to fly, whether the ants would have built their hill and whether the monkeys would have found the answers they sought. Then he decides life is like a race??it never ends.?
This book has a nice message to convey ? man goes out in search of something new but ultimately finds that only death can provide relief from such a futile search.
(Wisdom Tree, 4779/23, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002.)