“A dab of color couldn't make you shine.” She looked around and saw a surly toucan sitting nearby. He eyed her up and down with a frown. “Rainbows, humph! What do they know? They’re nothing but illusions that cause confusions. They don’t own all the colors in the world. I might mention us,” the toucan added with pride. “We have lots of colors in our beak every day of the week.”
“Are all toucans like you?” Bahawa asked.
“Of course they are,” said the toucan. “We’re all very important birds.”
“Well then,” said Bahawa, “you could give me some advice, that would be nice.”
“About what?” said the toucan. “It may not show, but I’m very smart you know.”
“About the rainbow, silly. Do you really
think he can put some of his color
on my wings?"
I suppose, but he's not very dependable, comes and goes. You can’t count on the rainbow,” the toucan said firmly.
“I think I can,” said Bahawa. “He looks like a very nice rainbow.”
“Well suit yourself,” said the toucan.
And he flew off in a very huffy mood
talking to himself, “all those songs about the rainbow --- no matter how many times I’m told, I never saw his pot of gold.”
“What a party pooper,” said Bahawa. If I were the rainbow, I would have nothing to do with him.” She mused for a while. Perhaps if she wished real hard he might wake up. She thought as hard as she could, but he kept on dozing.
Then she thought: what a beautiful rainbow. What a shame, your colors are all bending out of shape, and I'm not to blame. The rainbow awoke on that note, with a start, and cleared his throat.
“I never did like toucans,”
he said. “They talk out of turn and are too impressed with
themselves. Just give me a moment or two, and
I’ll blend some lovely colors
“How can I ever thank you,” Bahawa said.
“I really don’t know,” said the rainbow. “Perhaps by doing something nice for someone else. Here,” he said with great pride, “it’s done. Have fun! Enjoy!”
“I will,” said Bahawa. “I feel beautiful. I can't wait to go home and show off my wings.”
“You must do more than that,” said the rainbow. “You must share them."
“But everyone has their own wings,” said Bahawa.
"Sharing the color I gave you with the other butterflies is the right thing to do,” said the rainbow.
“How could I do that?” asked Bahawa.
“You’ll have to figure that out yourself,” he said. Now it’s time to say adieu.” He said it with a great flourish. But the sound grew less bold as the rainbow faded out of sight...adieu...adieu...adieu...adieu.
“Good-bye,” Bahawa called after the rainbow. “Thank you, you're very kind. I’m glad I made up my own mind.”
“Bravo,” said a familiar voice. It was the toucan back again.
“See, smarty,” said Bahawa, “you were all wrong about the rainbow.”
“Well,” said the toucan, “he never did anything for me.”
“That’s not very sporting,” said Bahawa. “If I were a bird I would never want to be a toucan.”
“Please my dear,” said the toucan. "We have enough birds around here, singing, warbling day and night. No wonder my nerves are such a fright. But let’s not have a rift, I brought you a little going-away gift -- a yellow umbrella. It will help you get home.”
“How will that help me get home?” said Bahawa. “No one uses umbrellas in the rain forest.”
“You’re right,” said the toucan. “But
this umbrella is very special. It will make
your descent a safe event. You need help. I saw in a wink that when the rainbow colored your wings they started to shrink.”
“Thank you for looking out for me," said Bahawa,
“Despite your errors in judgment, I've decided to be your friend,” said the toucan. “And true friendship never ends. Toucan friends are true blue.”
“But will your umbrella protect me from frogs and snakes if I encounter them?”
“Indeed it will,” said the toucan, “it’s guaranteed, especially to shoo off centipedes. Well get ready to take off, as soon as there is a breeze. I would say more, but I’m going to sneeze.” Then he gave out with a great Ah-CHOO, which blew Bahawa off the leaf.
“Well I guess that breeze wasn’t necessary,” she said.
With great excitement Bahawa drifted past the length of the tree, past several snakes that came close to her. The magic umbrella seemed to go right around them. She never once felt frightened, just safe and special with her colorful new wings. All at once she was home.
The first butterfly she saw was Marion. “Oh my,” she said “you gave me a fright, I just couldn’t sleep a wink all night. Where did you go, I’d like to know.”
“To the top of the tallest tree,” she said. “I met a rainbow who was very kind, he could even read my mind, and he put a lot of colors on my wings."
“That’s exciting,” said Marion, “I must call a meeting and tell all the other butterflies.”
They were amazed. All they had ever
heard before were horror stories about
the forest floor. “Are you sure it wasn’t a dream?” the smallest butterfly asked.
“Oh no,” said Bahawa “I can prove it, you will see, I brought the rainbow back with me.”
“Where is it?” asked Marian. “I can’t see it.”
“Me either,” said the smallest butterfly.
“You’re both looking in the wrong places,” said Bahawa, “It’s in my wings. There’s plenty of color there. Each of you can take a share.”
You could hardly hear a sound except for a little bug who said, “don't look at me, bugs don’t have to be fancy because we’re fancy free.”
Finally Marian spoke up. “Bahawa, why are you making such a fuss. Your wings are dark blue just like us, no colors there to take. Your rainbow seems to be a fake.”
A little breeze going by sighed, “Oh my.” The only other sound was the Tamaron bird who always sang at the end of day. It was a wistful song filled with longing. Bahawa was sad and confused. Even her best friend Marion didn’t believe her. What happened to the rainbow's colors in her wings? They just disappeared. A tear like a tiny raindrop rolled down her face. “I guess it wasn’t meant to be, I’m still just plain old me.”
Marion softly touched her wings and said, “stop feeling sorry for yourself. It’s no disgrace, to have a dream misunderstood. Dreams don’t always act the way they should.”
Bahawa looked up at Marion and smiled, “You’re right as usual, I acted silly, you don’t have to tell me any more.”
“Of course I will,” said Marion. “That’s what friends are for.”
“Can I still be a queen?” she asked.
“Why do you want to be a queen?” asked Marion. “They never have any fun. It’s yes, your highness, no, your highness till day is done.”
“Because,” Bahawa said thoughtfully. “A queen is in charge of everybody, and can fix things!”
“If I may be so bold to ask, what do you wish to fix,” asked Marion.
“Where we butterflies live,” said Bahawa. “It's so easy for frogs and snakes to get to us. If I were queen, and they dared to try and eat me, I’d vaporize them quite neatly.” She looked pleased with herself.
“I like your bold approach,” said Marion.
“Let’s see what the others have to
say. We’ll vote on this without delay.”
She called a secret meeting. “We’re going to elect a queen,” said Marion. “Bahawa has given me reasons why she should be queen. Everyone will get a chance to vote.”
But the butterflies had already voted by fluttering their wings. Each one voted for themselves, except Marion, who voted for Bahawa, who won by one vote.
Bahawa was not very happy that no one else voted for her. "How can I ever rule butterflies who didn't vote for me?.”
"By learning to rule yourself," said Marion.
"How can I do that?" asked Bahawa.
"By thinking of others first, no matter what you do," said Marion.
"That's easy, if I had beautiful wings, I would give them to you," Bahawa said.
Marion patted Bahawa's wings.
"Pardon me," said a voice, far away and yet near. "I seemed to have misplaced a moonbeam. Did you see it here?"
"Do you mean the one you gave me," said Bahawa, "to make my wings grow stronger? I used it up."
"It can be recharged," said the Moon, "but you seem content on the forest floor, you don't need it any more. Just say, me oh my, I no longer want to see the sky."
"But I do, I do," said Bahawa. "Give me another chance I implore, to leave the forest floor, fly to the sky and learn much more."
"Okay," said the Moon, "I'll reactivate it. It loses strength, use it soon."
"You're very kind," said Bahawa. "Much nicer than the rainbow."
"I heard that," said an indignant voice. Didn't I give you lovely colors for your wings?" Bahawa couldn't believe her eyes. It was the rainbow.
"I'm surprised to see you down here," she said.
"I've been everywhere looking for my magic vanishing colors. I need them so I can fade properly after the rain. I thought you could help me look."
"They're right here on my wings, silly, where you put them," said Bahawa. "It made all my colors disappear. I was very disappointed."
"Life is full of disappointments," said the rainbow. "You have to walk between the raindrops. Well I'll just take them and be on my way. Have a good day."
"Just a moment," said Marion. "You promised Bahawa rainbow wings. I think you should come through with what you said you'd do."
"Quite true," said the rainbow. All at once, lovely colors filled the forest, lavenders, aquas, blues, yellows, even little puddles reflected the rainbow.
"Your wings! they're lovely!" exclaimed Marion. "Now you truly look like a queen."
And so it was, that Bahawa ruled as queen, loved by all the butterflies who shared her colorful wings. Everything she did reflected, not only the rainbow, but her kind nature. She was true to all her promises, and even the snakes and frogs seemed less inclined to harm them. Her motto was, "the best way to stay out of harm's way is to live in harmony."
The Moon often sent down a beam to guide them safely back when they flew too far from home. And when things needed a little brightening, the rainbow added his touch. Everyone agreed that Bahawa should be queen forever.
(But for a butterfly forever only meant eleven
months, for that is the life cycle
of the butterfly.)
Many visitors came to the rain forest looking for the morpho butterfly with the rainbow wings, but no one ever reported finding one. However, when a rainbow appears, look at it carefully. You might see a butterfly with a touch of rainbow colors on its wings. If that happens, you will have found Bahawa's mystic rainbow.
Dedicated to the memory
of Marion Weil, who was always looking for a rainbow.
Bahawa's Mystic Rainbow page one
Rain-forest friends page