Book Review: What Would I Tell Her @ 13

Another review of my book

c r i m s o n s h a d o w s

Book: What Would I Tell Her @ 13
Author: Sudesna Ghosh
Number of pages: 190
Price: Rs. 250 

What Would I Tell Her @ 13What Would I Tell Her @ 13 by Sudesna Ghosh is dedicated to the new Indian teenage girl, her parents and anybody else trying to survive this phase. Featuring essays by successful women from diverse walks of life, this book is a compilation of stories, emotions and memories along the following themes:

  • Independence
  • Confidence
  • Discovering your voice
  • Goals
  • Friendships and cliques
  • Tackling body and weight issues
  • Role models
  • Child sexual abuse

Ghosh writes a beautiful introduction to the book, supplementing it with ample research from myriad sources and concluding with a poem that she says, “goes best with thirteen.” An apt choice, I thought.

In the subsequent chapters, she introduces each of the above-mentioned themes ( relevant and well chosen), leading in to the essays, which are laden with personal anecdotes…

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Greedy Giri – Part II

The three friends had a competition. Who could do the most skips without stopping? Arun could do 40 and Debolina skipped 35 times before the rope got stuck under her foot. Giri had been able to skip only 10 times before huffing and puffing to a stop.

“Giri! You are not able to skip or jump high these days. What is wrong?” His friends were worried. Mummy was outside. She watched them. “Giri has been eating too many sweets. His health is suffering,” she thought.

Giri knew what was wrong. He knew that he was having too much cake. In fact, he was eating too much of anything that he made in the kitchen. Last week, he had made three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Papa was busy in the other room, so Giri ate his sandwich too.

That evening, Mummy said, “Giri, you are not able to run and play like before. You need to exercise and eat healthier meals.” “From tomorrow, you will not make any food or cake again since you eat everybody’s share.”

Giri started crying. But Mummy was right. He could feel that his t-shirt was tighter than before. He had never stopped at just 10 skips. The other day in school, he had stopped chasing Arun because he could not breathe properly. Giri was in trouble.

The next few days, Giri listened to his mother. He ate whatever she cooked for him. But he missed cakes, sandwiches and pizza. So he went for a walk. “I’ve been good for four days. Now I can give myself a treat,” he decided.

There was a small shop right outside the gate. It sold pastries and pizza. There were sweet biscuits too. Giri’s parents visited the shop only when guests came without warning. So Giri knew that the pizza at Sweet Jar tasted almost as good as his own. He knew that the pastries were too sweet but better than having no pastry at all. So, Giri went in and bought a pastry and a pizza with his pocket money. He stood inside the shop and ate his treats, hoping that nobody would tell his parents about his visit.

When Giri reached home, nobody knew. He was happy.

That Sunday, Debolina said she would come visit with her new books. Giri could not bake or make anything for her this time. “Mummy, can you make something nice for her?” Mummy said that she would make lunch for them. “No dessert?” Giri asked, disappointed. Mummy said they could have mangoes.

Just before Debolina came, Giri said that he would take a walk. “Walking is good exercise,” said his father. Giri went outside the gate again. He had just enough money to buy two pastries for his friend. “Maybe I could have one myself…” Giri wondered. “Mummy will be angry,” he thought. He bought two pastries. One was put in a box. The other one he ate. As he was finishing his pastry, Debolina passed by the store. She saw him and looked shocked. “Giri! You just ate something sweet. Aunty will be so angry.” Giri felt bad. He followed Debolina home.

As his mother opened the door for them, he blurted out, “I ate a pastry at the Sweet Jar.” He expected his parents to scold him, but they laughed. “One pastry is nothing to feel bad about, Giri.” We only wanted you to be careful about your health.” Debolina giggled. “Yes. Eat cake but not the whole cake,” she added. Now Giri laughed too. Somehow, eating that one pastry had made him feel much better than those times when he had eaten the whole cake or too many sandwiches.

That day, Debolina, Giri and his mother baked a cake. Everybody had a piece.

First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)

Back to Old Love

He tried his best. She realised they were almost back in that old place. Still, something stood between them and their love for each other. Rather, somebody was the problem. He said the past was dead but she didn’t think that could deny its existence. Her friends told her that going back to an ex was like re-reading an old book. “It always has the same story and the same ending,” they warned. She believed them. Her mind said no, as her heart stayed addicted.

Greedy Giri – Part I

Giri was a great chef. Whenever he wasn’t in school or doing his homework, he would be in the kitchen. 
“Mummy, you have taught me how to make so many things,” Giri would say. “But hardly any sweet things. Please show me how to make a cake.”
His mother agreed. “Tomorrow, you shall learn to bake a chocolate cake. But your father or I will help you use the oven since it becomes too hot.” Giri was excited. Debolina and Arun would be proud of their friend.
The next day, Giri was ready with his apron on. Mummy came in. She placed a large bowl and a funny looking spoon in front of Giri. “Alright, we’ll mix flour, water, sugar and a few other things in this bowl.” So they mixed and mixed. Giri stirred until his hands hurt. “Mummy, how much longer do I need to stir,” he asked with a frown. 
“Keep on stirring until you see no more lumps in the batter,” she instructed. Giri continued stirring as fast as he could. 
After the oven was pre-heated, Mummy put the batter into a tray and straight into the oven. Giri wanted to put the tray in himself. “No, you may burn your fingers. Wait until you’re a bit older,” said Papa, who had joined them. So Giri watched his mother put on her big red glove and place the tray inside. Then she turned a knob. 
Giri’s parents went to watch television while he waited to see the cake. He pushed his nose onto the oven door. “The things we mixed are rising up,” he observed. Twenty minutes later, the cake was ready. “It will take some time to cool, Giri,” his father told him when he reached out. Giri said he would wait at the table, in front of the cake.
When it was almost dinner time, his mother entered the room. She smiled at Giri. “Here, let me cut a piece for you.” She brought over a knife and cut him a big piece. It was in Giri’s stomach before it could touch the plate. “More please,” he asked. His mother gave him another big slice. “Now it is dinner time,” she said, putting the cake away.
Giri ate dinner with some trouble — he was full from eating too much cake. He knew that his parents would not like him wasting food, so he ate. Broccoli and carrots tasted horrible after the wonderful cake. 
When Giri went to bed that night, he had a dream of chocolate cake. In his dream, he saw his friends Arun and Debolina coming home for a visit. They were playing a game of snakes and ladders when Giri wanted to bake a cake. He and his friends ran to the kitchen. They made a cake — without anybody’s help. Then they ate it too.
The next day, Giri woke up with an idea. He would make his dream come true. “Mummy, may I invite Arun and Debolina over this afternoon,” he asked. “Yes, go ahead,” she replied. “What will you be making for them today, Giri?”
Giri smiled wide. “Chocolate cake,” he replied. So Giri baked a chocolate cake with his mother and waited for it to cool just like he had the day before. He waited and waited. Then he noticed the clock. His friends were late! 
The cake was already cool enough to eat. Giri’s mother had left the knife next to it. “Maybe if I have just one piece before they arrive…,” Giri wondered out loud. Then he cut a slice. He chewed once. Then he swallowed. “One more slice won’t hurt,” he decided. 
Suddenly, Arun and Debolina came into the room. “Giri!” They both shouted together. The cake was almost finished. “There’s almost no cake left for us!” Debolina was angry. Arun said, “It is alright. You can make us another one next time. Let’s play with skipping ropes today.” Giri’s face was red. Still, he followed them outside with his skipping rope. Mummy was not happy. 
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group Publication)