Tobi, the hard-hearted mole

autor:Cristina și Alex
versiune audio: Autor: Cristina & Alex

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Tobi was a good old mole with a big, kind heart. But one day, his family got lost in the underground tunnels. With every passing day, Tobi’s heart grew harder and harder.

For a long while, Tobi waited for them to return. His heart trembled every time he heard a noise, even while sleeping. At night, while digging in the yard in which he had made his home, he kept his ears and nose wide open, hoping desperately to hear a familiar noise or to sense a familiar smell. But there was nothing; just the same old earthworms and bugs, and some upseting screams above the ground.  These screams came from the family who owned Tobi’s garden. They got pretty upset every time they discovered the dirt heaps made by the moles.

They tried to catch him , and they were very creative about it: they filled the holes with water and flooded his little underground house, they poured toxic substances down the tunnels and even covered his exits with shoes. But Tobi didn’t care at all. He was only concerned about his lost family and kept on digging holes throughout the whole yard, looking for them.

After a while, Tobi’s pain turned into sadness, and then resignation. He stopped jumping at all the noises, stopped sniffing for familiar smells and stopped believing that his loved ones would ever return. He didn’t think about anything anymore. Day after day he kept digging tunnels, which criss-crossed all over the yard, creating more and more dirt piles. The screams of the family did not bother him anymore.

But one day, something changed. The yelling stopped. The angry people sold the house, and the garden now had new owners. The new owner never yelled. He was a retired teacher and he never seemed to be bothered about the heaps Tobi made. He went out in the garden every evening, had dinner and then read a book.  He lived peacefully.

One day, a little girl came to visit. She was the old teacher’s granddaughter, she was a small girl with a sweet, gentle voice.

“Grandpa, I’d like to catch a butterfly!” Tobi heard her say.

“What for?” The old man asked.

“I’d like to catch a butterfly, tell him something and then let him fly away again!”

“What do you want to tell him?”

“It’s a secret,” said the little girl.

“Then go look for a butterfly, search the whole garden!” Said the old teacher. “But you must know that the butterflies are not so easy to catch…”

“I’m sure I’ll catch one!” Said the little girl and she immediately started looking for a butterfly.

After a short while she saw a beautiful one. He was red, orange and purple. He sat on a flower right next to one of the dirt heaps Tobi had made. Singing a happy song, the girl got closer and closer and then whispered to the butterfly:

“Butterfly, butterfly, come! Sit in my palm! I’d like to tell you something!”

But when she stretched her hand to catch him, the butterfy flew and sat on another flower. The little girl kept singing:

“Don’t go away beautiful butterfly, I won’t hurt you! I just want to tell you something and then I’ll let you fly away again! I promise!” And again she stretched her hand to catch him.

Tobi, grumpy like he had become, sat right under the ground where the little girl played and he listened to the song she was singing. He was mumbling to himself: “what a stupid thing to do, to chase a butterfly just to speak to him… Everybody knows butterflies are hard to catch”

And it was true; the butterfly kept getting further and further away. He flew and sat on a fence, then on a log, and then on the branch of an old walnut tree. The little girl kept chasing him and singing:

“Please butterfly, don’t run away from me, I just want to talk to you!”

Tobi was following the girl and the butterfly as they moved, running underground.  He had no idea why he was doing it. He felt something move in his heart again: “what could this be?”, he was wondering. “Why am I chasing a little girl who thinks she will catch this butterfly to talk to him?”. He didn’t have an answer for his questions but, even if his heart was still hardened, he felt something important was about to happen.

All of a sudden, the butterfly flew out of the garden. The girl chased the butterfly, they were too far away for Tobi to hear them. He dug very very fast in order to reach them, but still there was no sound. He decided to go to the surface to see what had happened. Despite being almost blind, just like any other mole, Tobi made a big pile of dirt and stuck his little muzzle outside, into the air.

Not very far away from him was the little girl was crying sadly. She was sitting on a patch of grass and had big tears pouring down her cheeks. Tobi felt very sorry for her. He knew what it felt like to suffer. He sighed sadly and said: “I knew this was going to end like this. Butterflies are almost impossible to catch.”

He understood her very well. He, too, wanted something very much. He knew how it felt to loose something, something you will miss, something you won’t find again. He also knew what the little girl’s soul would turn into: as time will pass, the pain will dissapear, turning into sadness and then her heart will harden.  Just as it had happened to him.

He wanted to help the little girl, but he didn’t know how. He was just about to go into the tunnels again when he heard her shout:

“You know what, butterfly?! I won’t give up. I will find you no matter what! I have something very important to tell you.”

She stood up, wiped her tears and started looking for the butterfly everywhere: on all the flowers, all the trees and every blade of grass. Tobi was watching her shocked: “Such a stubborn little girl”. However, he felt something in his heart once again. He still didn’t realize what…but he had a feeling that he was missing something.

His thoughts got interrupted by a loud shout of joy:

“Here you are, you lovely butterfly! I’ve found you!”

Tobi raised his eyes and saw the little girl leaning over a flower, on which the butterfly sat, as if he was waiting for her. She stretched out her hand and the butterfly miraculously flew into it. Then the girl then leaned over and whispered something. She raised her hand and the butterfly took off and flew into the sky. The little girl was now watching it with a big smile. She looked so happy.

Tobi was watching mesmerized. There, in that moment, his heart of stone seemed to have softened a little and he understood what he had to do. He understood he had done something wrong: he cried and suffered but didn’t do what was really important: GO ON! He should have never given up!

Now he knew what he had to do. He immediately went underground and vanished.

Nobody saw Tobi again for a while.

In the big garden, the old man’s days passed quietly. The little girl came to visit very often. She read beautiful stories with her grandpa and they talked a lot. They missed their underground friend who left dirt piles all over the yard. They had never met Tobi, but they knew he was always near and they thought of him as part of the family. They were wondering what happened to him, where he had gone.

One summer morning, the little girl shouted:

“Grandpa, grandpa, look! Dirt heaps! Our mole is back!”

The garden was filled with heaps: big ones and small ones. Yes, you guessed well: Tobi was back, and not alone, with his family! He had found his wife and two little babies.

Tobi had searched for a long time in his yard. But watching the girl look for the butterfly on the other side of the fence, he too decided to extend his searches. He dug tunnels everywhere…under the fields, under the forests, under the river bed, everywhere. At long last, he found them! And where do you think they were? They were just across the street! Right there, in the teacher’s neighbour’s garden. They got lost, couldn’t find their way back to Tobi and since the babies were tired and hungry Tobi’s wife decided to make a new home for herself and the babies and look for Tobi when the babies were a bit bigger.

Tobi couldn’t believe that they had been so close to him the whole time. But now, he has learned his lesson and he was determined to remember that he should never give up and never stop fighting for the things that mattered to him, for his loved ones. And to never let his heart turn hard ever again.

Now Tobi and his family live in the old teacher’s garden and from time to time they go to the surface and watch the little girl chase butterflies and talk to them.

I know you are wondering what could she possibly be telling them. I will tell you, because you were good and listened to the story. She tells them this:

“Fly high butterfly. Don’t let anyone break your wings; they will take you higher and higher!”

If you don’t believe me, dear children, look for a red, orange and purple butterfly. Hold him in your hand and ask him. Then let him go and you will see how high he will fly and how happy he will be.



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