Life of a Stray Dog

The skies were spacious that afternoon. Even the sun struggled to spread its rays. The small canine child was trying to enjoy his short-lived happiness while he cuddled with his one spared sibling. Unaware of their mother’s murder further up the road, the little beings softly snored, delicate paws and just slightly moist noses, moving in rhythm with their dreams. When evening came, they realised that their mother wasn’t coming back. Just as their brothers and sisters had not returned. “The earth’s too small to accomodate non humans,” thought a sympathetic passerby.

More Kitties the Merrier

Four small feet shuffled about while the grandma hoped they would sight what they were looking for. “Kitty! Kitty!” The little ones called out to every corner and every bush. The grandparent tried to make them remember that they had a cat in their own home. “Your kitty is waiting for you at home,” she said with a smile. But the children were on a mission. They had to find at least one kitty that afternoon. Relief hit the elderly one when the search party found a tiny orange cat staring at them from behind a motorcycle wheel. The children were ecstatic and the kitty was grateful for the hugs and paw shakes.

A Pigeon Family

The sun had just begun to retire. They took the cue and flew to their designated spots. Golu settled onto the window ledge next to her siblings and mother. They stood close together without letting their feathers touch. A younger one wanted to play. “Not now,” scolded the Mother, nudging the child with her head and giving a peck with her beak. But Golu was in the mood for some play. She started going round and round while she cooed. Her sister giggled watching Golu advance towards her in her rotating state. Mother had had enough. She flew over the kids’ heads and pushed Golu off the ledge. Golu wasn’t angry – she had landed on the window ledge where some odd looking creatures put out wheat every day.

Aditi’s Great Escape

“Tomorrow is Holi!”” Aditi’’s friends Priyanka and Neil shouted excitedly after school finished for the day.

Aditi frowned. Neil knew that his friend disliked Holi as much as he hated eating spinach. Last year, they had covered Aditi in green and red, while she had screamed. The next three days, she didn’’t talk to them. When they asked her why she was so angry, her answer was, “”All those colours
make me look funny.”” This made everybody laugh, including Aditi’’s father. ““But Holi cannot be celebrated without colour!”” Aditi still looked worried.

This year, her friends were ready with her two favourite colours — pink and blue. The soft powders looked so pretty. How could Aditi not like them?

Neil and Priyanka came over early in the morning, with sweets and Holi colours. Aditi’’s parents had kept two small buckets ready, along with some water guns (pichkaris). Everybody was wearing old clothes except
for Aditi’’s sister, Raka, who liked to wear a new white frock every Holi. “The colours look so bright on it,”” she explained.

They started by politely rubbing some powder on each other’s cheeks. Aditi was not in the garden. She was hiding somewhere in the house with
the family dog, Gulti. Gulti wasn’’t scared of the Holi celebrations but she always gave Aditi company. “”Gulti is mostly black, so she knows that the
Holi colours will not show on her,”” joked Aditi’’s mother.

Soon, Priyanka became bored and started filling buckets with water and colour. Then she and Neil filled the water guns with the liquid, ready to get everybody wet.

They suddenly remembered Aditi. “”Let’’s go look for her,”” suggested Raka. “”Yes, go before you get all wet,”” said her mother. ““I don’’t want the whole
house to get soaked.””

The children entered the house and searched the kitchen and dining room first because Aditi was never far from food. She wasn’’t there. They looked in the bedrooms. She wasn’’t there. They did not see Gulti either. Deciding to give up their search, they headed back outside. Play resumed until lunch time, when Aditi’’s mother asked all of them to take baths. ““Scrub yourselves,”” she instructed. Neil grinned. “”Aunty, but then people will think I didn’’t play Holi,” he said. Raka handed him a big scrubbing brush.

When everybody was looking normal, except for their light pink and blue skin, lunch was served. They shouted loudly for Aditi to come down from wherever she was. A few minutes later,Gulti came down the stairs. She walked past them into the garden. Then they saw her run back into the
house and up the stairs. Aditi’’s mother asked them to start eating. ““Aditi will come out soon,”” she added.

After they were full but ready for the sweet dish, Aditi’’s mother let out a gasp, “”My carpet is blue!”” They all ran over to see. Indeed, the carpet covering the staircase had blue patches on it. Raka pointed out that they were paw-shaped. They all spoke at once: Gulti! Priyanka, Neil and Raka ran up to find Gulti. Her paws needed to be wiped before everything turned blue. ““Look, I see more paw prints,”” Priyanka showed them. “”Let’s follow them.””

They followed the marks to the roof, where they found Gulti. She didn’’t greet them because her nose was inside a small packet. “”Oh no! Gulti
found some leftover colour,”” Neil realised. Just then, they heard somebody sniffling behind the water tank. It was Aditi. Her arms and legs had blue colour on them, just like the carpet.

““I never should have let Gulti know my hiding place.”” By this time, her parents had joined them. Her father patted the dog and said, “”Well, at least you played Holi with somebody.”” They all laughed —- even Aditi.

THE END

First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)

Double Trouble

Kishore and Kunal were two brothers. They had just moved to Calcutta
with their parents. They liked their little house in the small lane near a big park. They also liked their new school, where the sports teacher encouraged them to practise cricket daily.

Every day after the final school bell rang, Kishore, Kunal and their classmates would go to the park. They watched each other’’s batting style, bowling pace and boundaries hit. On most days, Kunal played well and Kishore accompanied him home with a frown.

“Stop being silly. It is just a game,”” Kunal said. Kishore stayed quiet. He
never admitted to his brother that he wanted to be a cricketer.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the boys did not meet their classmates, but played cricket at home. There was a small garden behind their new house. Overlooking it was the neighbour, Uncle Gupta’’s, balcony.

Uncle Gupta rarely sat in his balcony, choosing to stay inside and write
poems all day. Nobody in the neighbourhood had seen him for months. His household help took care of the groceries and everything else. “”Mr Gupta has trouble with his eyes,”” she said.

One Sunday evening, the brothers returned from a visit to their aunt’’s
house, wearing identical shorts and T-shirts. They liked to dress the same way to confuse people. — Kishore and Kunal were identical twins.

Their faces, their heights, their weights, their complexions — even their voices — were identical. Born just five minutes apart, Kunal often jokingly
called his brother Dada. The teachers and other students at their new
school still could not tell who was Kunal and who was Kishore.

They were asked to wear name tags on their school uniforms. “”They will never be able to tell us apart,”” the brothers told each other with giggles,
agreeing that they would probably have to wear the name tags their entire school life.

““Ma, how do you know which twin is which,” they asked their mother. Mother always smiled, ““I’’m your mother, after all.””

This particular Sunday evening, Kunal and Kishore were ready to play at
least one hour of cricket in the garden. Their homework was complete and Father wanted some peace and quiet while he finished some work. The twins started with a few slow, low balls.

Kunal became bored. “”Kishore! This is not cricket. Play properly,”” he complained. Kishore was more careful. He said no. “”We will break a window or something else,”” he said. Kunal dropped the bat and said he would rather go inside and play a board game then. His twin disliked
staying inside. He agreed to bowl faster. As he bowled more in his usual
style, his brother became excited and started trying to hit boundaries.

Unfortunately, the boundary was just the other side of the garden. Kunal didn’’t need to hit the ball very hard. After five boundaries, the sixth one travelled straight to Uncle Gupta’’s window, right into his house.

The boys heard a scream. Kishore ran inside to avoid trouble. Kunal stayed. He saw their neighbour for the first time. “”You horrible boy! Not only did you break my window, but you ruined my poem,”” he shouted with a red face. ““Do you know how difficult it is to write a good poem?”” he asked.

““I will come to see your parents,”” he said and stormed off. Ten minutes
later, Uncle Gupta was at the door. Kunal and Kishore were ready. They
opened the door before he could ring the doorbell.

Uncle Gupta stared at them with wide eyes, his mouth hanging open. “”Oh
no, now I’’m seeing double,” ” he shouted and threw his glasses off. He rubbed his eyes. Kunal and Kishore spoke together, ““We are sorry, Uncle.” ““Oh, no! Now I am hearing double as well!””

Uncle Gupta started pulling his ears in every direction. The twins watched their neighbour run back to his house, rubbing his eyes with one hand, and pulling his ears with the other.

THE END

First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)

Starring Rini Ray – Part II

“Where did you get these,” they asked. Rini’s brothers were surprised. The new clothes looked familiar to them. “Please wear them and let’s go,” Rini said, wearing her own curtain “dress”. She asked her brothers to wear jackets. “But it isn’t cold outside,” they protested. Rini didn’t want Mother to see. “Please wear your jackets. Please,” Rini asked again.

Ten minutes later, Rini and her brothers left for the park, all in their new curtain clothes. The park was nearby and the sun was out, so Avik and Raj were happy to get a chance to run around outside. When they reached the park, Rini told them that they could take off their jackets. As they sat on their big bed sheet, Rini noticed how they looked. “This is not how the clothes looked in the Sound of Music,” she thought sadly. The boys’ teeshirts had no sleeves. They looked like very large skirts with big holes where the arms should be. Her dress looked the same.

The brothers asked for their food, so they ate what Mother had packed. As soon as the meal was done, Rini announced that they would sing a song. Avik and Raj looked at each other and giggled. So Rini sang Do Re Me, and so did her brothers. Afterwards, Rini said they should hang from trees. “You are acting different,” Raj told Rini. Rini said she wanted to see how koalas hang from trees. The boys laughed and followed her to the trees.

After an hour of hanging from trees, tearing their new curtain clothes on branches, and losing the big bag that had all the unfinished food, Rini and her brothers walked home. Rini was scared. “Hopefully Mother won’t open the door. Father should be home by now.”

Mother opened the door. She looked very angry. “My curtains!” Mother looked like she had seen a ghost. “Rini, you made clothes with my curtains!” Avik and Raj were hiding in their room. Their mother rarely spoke so loudly. Rini looked down at her toes and told Mother about the Sound of Music auditions the next day. “There’s a part in the movie where Maria makes the children and herself clothes from her room curtains,” she explained. Mother started to laugh. “Rini, it is a musical. Practise singing the songs. Surely, they won’t ask you to cut and make clothes at the audition,” she said.

First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)