November 2020

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The Little Caterpillar

Once upon a time there was a small caterpillar. It lived on a colourful flower meadow. Every day it lay on its favourite leaf, looked up into the blue sky and dreamed of being a butterfly and flying up to the clouds.

"I wonder if others have that dream too," it asked itself one day. So it went in search of fellow caterpillars, but nowhere did it find another one.

"Where have they all gone?" it asked a big beetle that came along the way. "Well, they've already been pupating. You have to knit yourself a coat." Then the little caterpillar got frightened, because it didn't know how to do it – and now it couldn't ask anyone else either.

The little caterpillar returned to its favourite leaf. The sky shone blue and the meadow was colourful, but for the little caterpillar the world had lost its shine. It lay curled up there until a heavy rain shower washed it down to earth, where it hid in a dark snail shell.

Time passed.

When the little caterpillar felt its end approaching, it said: "Before I die, I want to see the blue sky once more with the white clouds I have always dreamed of."

The way out of the snail's shell was arduous and difficult.

When it felt the warming sun, a longing returned that it could not explain to itself. Its zest for life awoke and with it hope.

"Do you perhaps know how I can knit myself a little coat to become a butterfly after all?" it asked a passing ladybird. "Don't ask me, ask the other little caterpillars," exclaimed the ladybird. – "But they've all pupated already." – "No, no, you're not the only dreamer in the meadow. There are others like you. No one can do it alone, but you can help each other."

"But where are they?" – "I can't tell you. But you'll soon find them."

And so the little caterpillar set off.                                                                                         (Berlin, 1977)

 

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