Going away | Nal'ibali

Written stories

Going away


Written by Zaheera Jina Asvat


Illustrated by Julie Smith-Belton

Listen to the story here

I sit alongside my grandmother on the grass. We have been watching a caterpillar change into a butterfly. Gran says this is called

metamorphosis. “Metamorphosis” is a big word in my vocabulary. “Watch, Yusuf,” Gran whispers.  The chrysalis where the

caterpillar is hiding cracks opens slowly, piece by piece until a red and black butterfly comes out. The butterfly rests for a while,

drying its wings, and then flutters away.  4 5 Gran says that all of Nature’s creatures are born, grow, and then move away.

Birds do that, too. They migrate to warmer places during winter. The stray ginger cat that slept in our sandpit also went away. 

I wonder who I will grow up to be. Will I go away? I don’t want to. Mum sometimes says we will need to move to another house

where there are better schools. That makes me feel sad. We have always lived with Gran. If we move away, the new garden

might not be as magical as this one. I might be all alone there. I am afraid. “Look, Yusuf!” Gran cries out. On the wall,

watching us is a ginger cat. She jumps down and walks over to the sandpit. She curls up on the sand. Our stray cat has returned

to her sandpit home.  I decide that it will be okay if I go away, too. I can always return home to Gran’s magical garden.


Nal’ibali fun

Ideas to talk about

Yusuf lives with his mom and gran. Who do you live with? Think about changes have you experienced in your life. How did you feel about these changes when they happened? How do you feel about them now?


Look closely at the picture on the first two pages of the story. Can you find:  three birds, two spiders, a caterpillar, a chrysalis, and a butterfly?


This is a story about change. Can you find all the different changes in the story that Yusuf sees or thinks about?


Write an acrostic poem about change. Start each line of your poem with a letter from word “change”.


Make a butterfly. Fold a sheet of paper in half. Paint some dots of paint on one half of the page and then fold the paper over so that the paint prints on the other half as well. Open the paper. When the paint is dry, draw the outline of a butterfly with open wings across the painted sheet of paper. Cut out the butterfly shape. Glue the middle part of it to a toilet roll. Add some feelers made from paper or paper clips.


Role play a butterfly’s life cycle: 1. a caterpillar moving along a leaf and eating it 2. the caterpillar making a chrysalis 3. the caterpillar inside the chysallis 4. the chrysallis cracking open and the butterfly coming out 5. the butterfly flying around.