Mother handed her a piece of paper and told her to follow the instructions
written on it. ”Find surprise inside your geography book.” Tista ran to her
room and tried to find the book. She could not find it. There were so many books in the messy pile.
“It must be at the bottom,” she thought. She picked up the books one by one and made a neat pile. As she was making the pile, she found her geography book. ”The pile looks nice,” Tista said.
She put the books in their correct place.
”Oh, I forgot about the surprise,” she realised.
She opened the geography book and found her surprise another piece of paper. This one read: Find something sweet in the pocket of your black skirt. Tista had not seen that skirt since the last time she wore it to her
aunt’s house. She hoped to find chocolate in the pocket. She picked up T-shirt after T-shirt. She found two skirts and threw them back into the jungle of clothes.
”Maybe you could put some of those clothes onto the shelves,” said Mother. ”Then it would be easier to find the skirt.”
Tista agreed. She started taking her mother’s help to fold the clothes. Soon, she could see her black skirt. She put her hand into the pocket.
“Chocolate!” Tista danced around happily.
“Wait, I see something written on it,” said Mother.
There was a third piece of paper. It read: You are close to the treasure. Find next clue under your bed.
“Treasure!” Tista loved this game. She stretched herself onto the floor, slowly crawling under the bed. She saw her old clothes there. She saw some old pastels there. There were even new drawing books.
”Here, let us take everything out and look for the clue,” said Mother.
Tista pulled everything out. They folded the clothes and put the pastels into their boxes. The drawing books were new, so Tista did not think of checking them. Surely the blank white pages would not have the clue. Mother asked her to make sure.
“Alright, Mother,” Tista said.
A minute later, she clapped loudly. The clue had been found. It said: You do not use the things under this bed anymore. Please put in a big box for people who can use them. Your treasure is inside your pillow.
Tista asked her father for a box. She and Mother put everything in it. ”Tomorrow, we can visit some people who would be happy to have your things,” said Mother.
Tista felt bad now. She had left everything under her bed for months. Mother interrupted her thoughts.
“Look inside your pillow,” she said.
Tista grabbed her pillow. The pillow cover was not properly on the pillow. It was covering only half of the pillow. Tista remembered the pillow fight with her cousin Preeti The pillow cover had fallen off and she had found it difficult to slip the whole pillow in again.
”Tista, please change the cover,” said Mother, handing her another pillow cover.
Tista took off the old case hurriedly and threw it onto the floor. She changed the cover. ”Mother, I can’t cover the whole pillow,” she said. Mother showed her how to close the flaps.
Tista was tired. She had forgotten about the treasure. Her head was on the pillow now. The treasure was stuck inside the old pillow cover that was crumpled nearby. Mother got up to leave the room. Tista heard her.
“Mother,” she called out softly.
“Yes?” Mother asked.
“I don’t think I’ll ever wait this long to clean my room again.”
Tista fell asleep.
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)
“Mother, I can’t find it!” Lately, Tista couldn’t find anything in her room. Her
mother was tired of hearing her shout every day. Just like every other day,
Mother said, “Maybe you wouldn’t have so much trouble finding your
things if you cleaned your room once in a while.
As always, Tista continued her search with another shout or two, not replying to her mother.
It was true. Tista had not cleaned her room in a long time. The closet full of books had games and dolls in it. The cupboard for her school books had
nothing in it because the books were lying on the floor. Even Tista’s clothes were in disorder. None of them were folded properly and some were on the bed.
Today, Tista’s friend from school, Anurag, was coming over to play Snakes
and Ladders. ”Tista, please make your room look nice for your friend,”
Mother said. “I promise to clean every bit after he leaves, Mother,” Tista said.
When Anurag arrived in the afternoon, he was carrying a chocolate cake.
”My parents bake cakes every Sunday,” he explained. ”I hope you like it,
Aunty,” he said to Mother. Tista grabbed the cake and took it to her room.
Anurag followed. Father ran after them with plates and forks.
Tista and her friend played Snakes and Ladders.They also ate cake, leaving big crumbs on the game board and the floor.
“Mother, can we please have napkins?” Tista went to the kitchen and asked. “Yes, you may. But please do not forget to bring your plates to the kitchen before ants come for the cake,” she said.
But Tista did forget. When Anurag got up to take his plate to the kitchen, “It is alright,” she told him. “I will take mine later.” Anurag shrugged and went towards the kitchen.
They continued to play. Tista won three games and Anurag won four.
“Why is there a snake at 99!” Tista was annoyed.
“And such a long one too,” she complained. Anurag said they could play one more game. ”If you win, we will be even,” he said. Tista said yes and
Anurag left after he shared apples and sandwiches with his friend. Tista was bored.
“Dad, what do I do now?”
Father laughed. ”Anurag just left. You cannot be bored so soon!” he replied.
Tista frowned. She did not like Sundays. Being at school was fun. Her friends were with her all day.
Mother stayed quiet. She was writing on several small, square pieces of
paper. Tista returned to her room and found her plate full of red ants. The
ants were carrying a bit of cake from her plate to the wall near her bed. Tista felt ill. She picked up the plate and dropped it. It broke into three pieces.
“Mother,” she cried for help. Then she remembered that this was her fault. If she had taken the plate to the kitchen with Anurag, this would not have happened.
”Mother will be very angry,” she thought, picking up the broken plate. She looked around nervously. She hoped that her household help, Mona di,
would not see her. When she was sure that her parents were not nearby, Tista threw the plate into the trash basket.
That evening, Tista wanted to read a book. She searched and searched but couldn’t find her book. “Mother, I can’t find my favourite book,” she said.
Mother smiled and gave Tista good news. ”There’s a new game you and I could play,” she announced. Tista was excited but she wanted to know the name of the game. ”It doesn’t have a name,” said Mother. ”You can give it a name later,” she added. Tista was ready to begin.
To be continued…
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)
Nobody was allowed to touch her books. Only her mother could borrow one or two with a signature of promise. Nobody came close to her writing. Her computer stayed locked and her notes rested beneath a mattress. The little boy did not know all this. “Let me see your story,” he demanded. “There are many,” she replied, hugging her notes. He wandered over to her desk. Nobody had done that before. She didn’t breathe. The wise little eyes pleaded, “Please tell me your story.”
Dirty crumbs of pretty cupcakes surrounded her plate. A fork coated with sugary residue rested on her napkin. She looked down at her stomach, wincing from the pain of seeing the bulge. “Water, that’s what I should stick to,” she scolded herself. She sipped and sipped her thoughts into a stormy cloud of guilt. “More water,” she decided. A few minutes later, she clutched the edge of the table with her hands and let out her guilt, the cupcakes, and three bottles of water.