Django, the doberman,”guard dog” captivated our childish, adventurous spirit brought up as we were on the escapades of heroic figures and their dogs. So enamored were we that we did not notice his blunt nose, stocky legs and longish tail.
In deference to his “guard dog” status we readily gave up the front seat of the car because he always jumped into the car first, stocky legs were no impediment to his speed. Only a sudden brake and a hard knock which sent him flying into the windshield cured him and thereafter he would quietly slink into the back seat his proud nose and unbroken spirit taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the city.
In the same spirit of competition he pushed his behind on the “forbidden” settee while his forelegs planted nonchalantly on the floor, giving no clue to what was going on behind. Only his head would quietly swivel to the person talking as if he was understanding every word of the conversation . In fact, one of our guests actually asked if he understood English ! The only time he did take part in the conversation was when the guest stretched out his hand to take a sugar free cookie ( recommended by the vet for the dog too ) and Django set up a volley of polite barks . No sirree bob, these were for him and he was going to “guard” what was his !
But one day the scales fell from our eyes. Spying a rat scurrying on the floor, all of us shrieked and leapt on the bed and commanded in the time honored tradition of the heroic figure and his dog, “Django, attack!” Well, what do you think ? Django was standing next to us, trembling with fear and excitement.
Now we knew Django was a mutt but we did not love him any less for that. Only the roles were reversed. Now it was our role to ‘guard’ the dog in the same way he would have, had it been in him.
An abbreviated version (200 words)of this piece was published in ‘writers talk’ for the competition on pets but I’m reproducing it here in the interest of education as to how a 337 word essay was pared down to 149 since I fancy myself an educator !
Once upon a time there was a very large animal who had a tail at both ends, one in the front and one at the back. Isn’t that funny ! How do we know which is the front and which is the back when the front is called a trunk ! Shouldn’t it be at the back ? Anyway, let’s go on. So this very large creature also had very large ears which were as big as fans and when they flapped, it did keep him cool.
One day the elephant decided to walk to the river and drink some water as it was a very hot day and it was feeling very thirsty. As this creature with the very large body, two flapping ears and two tails was walking to the river he met a very big bird who was sitting on the ground. It was funny looking bird with a big beak, large eyes and a big bunch of feathers just like a cushion.
The bird looked at the big creature walking by and started laughing. It said, “Hello ! What are you ? Are you a mountain or are you a building ? Oh ! But what are those two things hanging, one in the front and one at the back. How do you know which way you are coming or going ? And what are those two big flapping fans on either side of your head ? Can they make you fly ? But that’s not possible because your body is too big even for those fans. You must be an alien ! Ha ha ha !”
The elephant looked at the funny bird sitting on the ground and said with dignity, “I’m an elephant.I’m very strong but very gentle or I would have wound my “thing” which is actually a trunk around your neck and sent you flying into the air which is actually what you should be doing since you look like a bird. Why are you sitting on the ground, pray?
The bird said, “I’m an emu and I’m sitting on my eggs. They will hatch in eight weeks. Till then I’ll sit here, losing weight as I cannot leave them as other animals can get to them.”
The elephant said, “you must be a strange bird because you are sitting on the ground and not in a nest like other birds. You cannot fly like other birds and, if I’m not mistaken, you are a papa emu and not the mama and you are hatching eggs!”
The emu felt very embarrassed hearing what the elephant had to say about him and said, “Maybe, I should not have made fun of you without thinking.”
The elephant laughed good-naturedly and said, “ It’s all right. We can still be friends. I’m going to the river to drink water and I know you can’t leave your eggs so I’ll bring back some some water in this “thing” or trunk. So the elephant did just that. He brought a lot of water in his trunk and sprayed some on the emu too cool him down and some in a hole in the ground for him to drink.
The elephant then went on his way lumbering on his pillar like legs. The emu looked at him from behind and blinked his eyes and thought to himself, “But how does the elephant know which way to go? He has a tail on two ends ! Maybe, he just follows his instinct.”
Moral : People who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others .
A fish once swimming in the water realized that life is very dull. There is only water water everywhere and I do not even drink water. And all I can see are other creatures just swimming away. This is so boring. I want a more exciting life. Maybe, life outside the water may be more exciting.
But how can a fish get out of water ? She’ll die. So what was she going to do? The fish thought and thought for a long time and then came up with a brain wave. She thought, there is a turtle swimming there, why don’t I ask him if I can sit on his back and when he pops out of the water I can see the world and when I’m not comfortable he can sink into the water again.
So she did just that. She asked the turtle if he would help her to see the outside world by sitting on his back. The turtle was a kind soul so he agreed. Now the fish would sit on the turtle’s back and watched the outside world with wonder and when she felt she was getting out of breath, the turtle would sink into the water.
As time went by the two became good friends and the turtle started taking the fish to new places. One day he even left the sea and paddled into the river which was emptying itself into the sea. It went upstream where the fish could see trees which lined the banks of the river and the little homes of fishermen who lived close by.
As the turtle swam and the fish popped it’s head out of the surface of the water she saw an animal on the bank of the river lapping the water as it was thirsty. The fish was curious so she asked the turtle to slow down. The turtle slowed down and the fish looked at the animal with red fur who looked at the fish and said, “Hello, I’m a fox. Who are you and what are you doing perched on the back of that old geezer ?”
The fish said, “I’m a fish and I was bored of life so I decided to see the world. And since I can’t live out of water this is the only way I can and the turtle is helping me.
The fox looked at the fish and thought to himself, “What a juicy morsel. But how do I get her, she is in very deep water. If I can persuade the turtle to come to the shallow water, maybe I can jump in and catch the fish. That will be a good meal for me
Now foxes are very clever creatures and wily too. So he said, “Well, well ,well. You are a very smart fish to want to see the world but, really you can’t see much from the sea or even the river. The world is much bigger and there are very exciting things to see. Why don’t I show you the really exciting things to see!” The fish said, “How is that possible ? I can’t live outside the water. How will I see all these exciting things ? “
The fox licked his chops and said, “It’s very simple. I’ll get a bucket of water and you just jump in. I’ll carry the bucket by its handle in my mouth and carry you around the world and you can pop your head out and see all the wonderful creatures and other stuff. You will not believe your eyes when you see these exciting, interesting and wonderful things.”
Listening to the fox the fish was besides herself with excitement. She promptly agreed and although the turtle told her not to, she promptly jumped into the bucket that the fox ran and brought and filled up with water.
Now the fox trotted on the path leading out of the woods, holding the handle of the bucket in his mouth while the fish popped out its head to see the world. She was thrilled but was also getting very uncomfortable as there was not enough water in the bucket and as the fox trotted some of it would splash out. You see the fox was in a hurry and you can guess why.
The fish asked the fox to turn back but he said he wanted her to see the most wondrous thing in the world first and then he’ll take her back. Since the fish was in a bucket there was not much she could do about it.
The fox trotted on and soon the fish could see an orange glow. She asked the fox what was it, the orange glow. The fox said,” Oh ! That is a fire. Some humans are probably on a picnic and cooking on it.” The fish was very curious and asked the fox to go closer so she could look at it. The fox slowly crept close to the fire but he did not see the root of a tree sticking out of the ground and tripped on it. The bucket went flying and fell on the ground with a loud clanking sound. The water spilt out and the fish fell into the fire. The humans had an extra treat that day because of a certain foolish fish who was now a foolish fried fish.
Moral: Don’t try new things when they are not part of your existence or you will become a fish out of water.
This trip has been a yo-yo experience, one minute we are on a wayside dhaba or eatery called Dana Pani ( Dalhousie)eating fresh parathas loaded with butter and a spicy potato curry with a sudden monsoon burst pattering on the tin roof and in a few hours we are in a palace with polished silverware , fresh and crisp linen and deferential waiters serving aromatic butter chicken, fluffy nan and dark, spicy delicious mutton kadhai at the Heritage Taraghad Palace ( Palampur ) and the next day we are in this quite cheesy down market place in a bazaar ( Kulu ) with no view , no lift for four floors and a view of the gorgeous Beas river for which I had to crane my neck but to be fair they have a good cook ! Hopefully Manali will be better than Kullu
But what stood out was that palaces and forts , villas and viceroys, all crumble before time . Whether it be the the Kangra fort fighting off invaders for 3500 years or the Taragarh palace, so elegantly proportioned and speaking of splendid, glittering times when kings and queens lived and loved in obscene luxury, or Elgin house, a graceful, elegant home to Lord Elgin and his family full of Victorian bric-à-brac, cosy nooks and bespoke furniture ; they have all made their peace with time
The Kangra fort is now home to monkeys which roam in packs and look angrily at intruders, the tourists for who it is not a page from history but just a destination to be ticked off in their itinerary. The crumbling fortress which has been at the receiving end of onslaughts by a slew of invaders stands tall and battered, relieved that, at least , now it can bask in the warm embrace of historians and admirers and be left alone to rest in peace .
TARAGARH HERITAGE PALACE
The Taragarh Heritage Palace nestled in the valley with the snow capped Pir Panjal ranges in the background adding to its beauty is a statement to its deference to time . Once a grand palace to Queen Tara, wife of the Raja of Kashmir and grandmother to the 91 year old Karan Singh, it is now a hotel with tourists tramping in its long galleries, trampling on its lush lawns , posing next to its tinkling fountains, waited on by probably the old ‘khidmatgars’ or retainers or their relatives who politely and deferentially serve their peremptory demands . After all the customer is now king !
Even we returned a dish of delectable melt in the mouth chicken dish because we thought it was slightly undercooked. Maybe it was because the chef was in a rush to serve us, hungry as we looked . However, it was whisked away with alacrity and other aromatic elegantly prepared dishes were presented deferentially with equal speed . We felt like royalty, even if it is for a meal and a few days more.
Elgin house, home to Lord Elgin and his family sits in a little nook close to the bazaar and bus stand in the town of Dalhousie, named after Lord Dalhousie who gave a boost to the Indian educational system, one of the few good things the English were inadvertently responsible for, besides the post and telegraph, trains, civil services , eradication of thuggee.
Thugs were bands of cruel robbers who lived in society as respectable citizens but took off for days, weeks and months to waylay hapless travellers in order to loot and murder them . And they gave it a religious colour by pretending it was sanctioned by goddess Kali . Muslims too had no problem joining in as it was beneficial to them: no thought that it may be contrary to their religious belief . An interesting parallel to it is the modern day Talibans who use religion as an excuse to kill innocent people !
But back to the elegant Victorian building , Elgin house which is now a home stay and will give you a feel of the Raj days with its delicate china, porcelain bric-à-brac, crisp ginger cookies and again, deferential waiters serving you with ‘your wish is our command’ attitude . All for a price, of course .
And like everywhere in Himachal, the monkeys watch you with greedy eyes, waiting for a chance to grab your cookie , if you let down your guard for a second . One attacked our driver , Nanak Singh, who bent down to look at the tyres of his car. We heard a yell and a scuffle and looked up to see the monkey which had jumped on his back , running away ! I guess, Nanak Singh will forever remember the phrase , ‘monkey on his back’ for the rest of his mortal life !
In conclusion it may be fitting to quote the poet, James Shirley ( 1596 -1666 ) from his poem ‘Death, the Leveller’
This story is about the angst of the tortoise after he won the race because no one paid any attention to him. The media frenzy was for the fair and funny bunny who was glamorous and lived in a mansion. The boring, brown turtle was quite ignored. We are all about looks nowadays, aren’t we ?
Once upon a time there was a tortoise. His name was Me-Too-Slow because, you guessed it, he walked very slowly, so slowly that the other animals left him far behind. They always laughed behind his back which is, of course,not a very nice thing to do. In fact, it is quite rude.
Me-Too-Slow knew about this and he was very hurt. He went to Banana-Drama, his friend and told him his problem. Banana-Drama said, “Dude, what’s the problem? I’ll just get you roller skates, four of them and you are going to leave everyone far behind!”
So they both went to MallWart and tried on some roller skates for Me-Too-Slow who tied them to his tiny feet and walked daintily forward. But when he tried to go faster all his four legs flew out from under him and he fell flat on his stomach which really hurt. “Ow! Ow!Ow! “ he yelled and tried to get up but his roller skates would not let him so Banana-Drama went to his help.
He tried to lift him but Me-Too-Slow’s shell was really heavy so Banana-Drama took out the skates, put a plank under him and jumped on the other side, just like a see-saw and Me-Too-Slow shot up to the roof with great force. Luckily he fell down on some cushions which were on sale, $2 for 4 which saved his shell from breaking into little bits. Banana-Drama put his hands on his hips and heaved a sigh of relief, “Dude,” he said, “that was a lucky escape or you would have been in a soup, turtle soup !”
Me-Too-Slow shuddered in fear and said, “Banana-Drama you have a good heart but you are not very good at solving problems. You just tend to go too fast.”
“But that’s what you wanted to do, dude, go fast so I was just trying to help you !” Banana-Drama said, annoyed at being scolded by Me-Too-Slow who none of the animals took very seriously.
“At least I tried to help unlike the others who only make fun of him, especially that Hare, what was her name? Oh yes ! Happy Hare.” Banana-Drama thought to himself, “ Ever since Me-Too-Slow won the race from Happy Hare because she had gone to sleep Me-Too-Slow is obsessed with speed because in the next race she may not go to sleep and he”ll lose the race.
To be continued
THE TURTLE WHO WANTED TO RACE THE BUNNY
EXCERPT TWO ( from a different book of the same series ) The turtle who wanted to race the bunny
Once upon a time Me-Too-Slow, the turtle and Boo-Tee-Ful Bun-Nee met in the woods. Boo-Tee-FulBun–Nee looked at Me-Too-Slow Turtle walking slowly towards his friend, Peek-a-Boo’s house and started laughing. He yelled at Me-Too-Slow, “Hey slow coach, by the time you reach Peek-a-Boo’s place he’ll be dead and gone. Maybe you can tell some stories to his grand children. Ha ! Ha! Ha !”
Banana-Drama who was swinging on a nearby tree heard him and got annoyed because he liked Me-Too-Slow . He said, “Cool it Booty ! That’s not funny, bunny.
Me-Too-Slow said, “It’s not her fault, she’s always been too fast for her own good, talks too fast, mostly without thinking, walks too fast, mostly without looking, eats too fast, mostly without tasting and one day she’ll trip and I hope she’ll not eat her medicines too fast because then she’ll choke and then the doctors will have to thump her on her back and she’ll…”
The turtle would have gone forever but Banana-Drama who had fallen asleep listening to his talk fell on the ground on his head with a big thump. “Ow ! Ow ! Ow !” he said, “What happened ?”
Boo-Tee-Ful Bun-Nee started giggling, “ Oh ! you had gone to sleep listening to Me-Too-Slow talking. Not only does he walk slowly but he also talks slowly and by the time he’s finished we’ll all be dead and gone and, maybe, he can tell his boring stories to our grand children.”
Me-Too-Slow frowned and said, “ I don’t have to listen to this brash, boring bunny. I’m going on my way, Peek-a-Boo is waiting for me and we are going to discuss many matters over a cup of tea. Besides I don’t have time to listen to the silly talk of a silly bunny who thinks she is funny but actually she’s not, she’s just very empty and full of herself….”
“Whoa ! Whoa ! Whoa ! Stop, stop dude ! What are you saying ? Is she empty or is she full, make up your mind. This is getting very confusing.” said Banana-Drama
Boo-Tee-Ful Bun-Nee giggled, “Oo la la, as the French say, Mr. Me-Too-Slow is very confusing, he’s always going around in circles and on and on and on and that’s why he never gets anywhere.”
Me-Too-Slow closed his eyes and opened them slowly. Banana-Drama was aghast to see that he had tears in them. He jumped down from the tree and patted Me-Too-Slow on his shell, “Dude chill,” he said, “Don’t get hurt by the talks of a certain foolish, furry bunny. You know she’s no match to you.” Me-Too-Slow shook his head sadly, “I know, I know but it still hurts.”
Banana-Drama looked angrily at Boo-Tee-Ful Bun-Nee, “Look what you have gone and done, you furry fashionista ! You have hurt the old one’s feelings.” Boo-Tee-Ful Bun-Nee tossed her head and hopped away. As she hopped she turned around and said, “ I don’t care. He’s just a boring old fossil and his time is up. There is no place for him in our brave, new world.
Once upon a time a squirrel decided that she no longer wanted to eat nuts . She felt it was too much of a chore to gather nuts , hoard them , crack them and then eat them . She also felt that nuts were just nuts , they were not as flavorful as other tasty things like ice cream , chocolates, pudding and pie . As you can see she had a very sweet tooth . She only wanted a lot of sugar . And who doesn’t , we all do . But mom won’t let us eat so much of it so there must be a very good reason for it , right ?
But anyway , this is story time , not lecture time so let’s get on with the story . So , all day long , the little squirrel hung around the branches of her tree cracking nuts with her strong teeth but secretly wishing she lived in an ice cream shop which was just across the road near her tree where she could see many children eating , slurping , licking and enjoying the colorful, cold , sweet ice creams . Some ice creams even had chocolate on them
and others had jelly beans and sprinkles. Oh how the little squirrel longed for them .
One day the squirrel was leaning so far to see a little boy eat his pink ice cream with white swirls on them that she lost her balance and fell straight into the ice cream ! Plop ! Now she was covered from head to toe in the pink ice cream . She smacked her lips and closed her eyes and thought ‘delicious’.
Now squirrels are supposed to run away from other creatures who are not squirrels but this squirrel was so enchanted with the taste of the pink ice cream that she just stayed rooted in the ice cream cone . So the little boy who was the ice cream owner’s son picked up the cone with the squirrel and took him to his father who was in the ice cream shop.
The boy’s father looked at the squirrel smacking her lips and had a good laugh . Then he picked up the squirrel , put her under a tap and washed her in the sink. Then he wrapped a piece of cloth around her to dry her and then put her in one of the ice cream cases which had holes on top of it so she could breathe .
Now all day long the ice cream shop owner would place different flavors of ice cream in the little squirrels 🐿 case . Sometimes it was mango ,sometimes peach , sometimes strawberry and sometimes he gave her a mix of many flavours, kiwi, banana, vanilla , raspberry . The little squirrel was very happy .
In the night the ice cream owner took out the squirrel and put her in a cage . In the morning he put her back in the case because a lot of children started to come to the shop to see the little squirrel enjoying the ice cream . She looked very sweet with ice cream dripping from her whiskers.
This went on for many days . Then weeks . Then months . The squirrel was getting tired of the sweet ice cream . She was also getting very fat because she was no longer running up and down the tree . Moreover, she started to feel sick . If you eat too much sugar you do get a sickness which is not nice at all . She started feeling homesick and longed for her tree and nuts . She wanted to run up and down the tree and crack the nuts . But how was she to do that ? She was no longer free but locked up in an ice cream shop.
One day the squirrel decided that she was going to escape . But how was she going to do that ? Can you guess ?
I will give you one day to go home and write in your own words what you think the squirrel would do to get back to her tree . And the best answer will get a special prize.
I will give you one day to go home and write in your own words what you think the squirrel would do to get back to her tree . And the best answer will get a special prize.
Now let me tell you what the squirrel did .
When the owner of the ice cream shop came in the morning to take out the squirrel from the cage and put her in the ice cream case he saw the squirrel lying very still with her eyes closed. She looked as if she had fainted. The ice cream owner put his finger near the squirrel’s nose to see if she was breathing and the squirrel held her breath .
The owner was very worried that the squirrel was dead. He quickly picked up the squirrel and laid her on the case while he went to call the vet who , we all know , is an animal doctor.
The squirrel knew this was her big chance to escape her prison of sweet things . She quickly jumped up and raced towards her tree. She ran as fast as her little legs could carry her and even though she had put on a lot of weight due to the ice cream she was eating every day for breakfast , lunch and dinner , she was still very swift. She quickly ran up the trunk of the tree and heaved a big sigh of relief when she reached her little nest tucked in the hollow of the tree .
The squirrel was very happy to be back on her tree . She wanted to crack her nuts and eat them as she knew that , not only were they healthy, but also made her teeth strong . No more ice cream for her which had not only made her put on weight but all that sugar had given her a nasty condition that made her feel very sick. And her teeth were not feeling so good and strong .
But never mind . She was lucky she was on that diet for a short while and did not suffer any permanent damage . She was grateful that she had a lucky escape and now , if she ever felt a craving for sugary stuff , she was going to remember the ice cream shop and the craving would go away in a trice .
Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence .
The first story written for the SARGAM series was a short story called , Kissa Koyal Ka , and the publisher, Delhi Press ( Vishv Vijay publishers of Delhi Press ) said they didn’t want a short story so I started writing and hey presto , I had written a play called Kissa Koyal Ka ( The Bird’s Tale in English ) which was later staged in Mumbai , directed by Nadira Zaheer Babbar !
But here is Kissa Koyal Ka ( Crazy Cuckoo in English )
THE BOOK , THE PLAY , ON STAGE !
And now the original story …..
कुहू ऽऽऽऽ……. कहु ऽऽऽऽऽ…. कुहू ऽऽऽऽ । कोयल की आवाज़ कितनी मधुर होती है । ये कहानी ऐसी ही मधुर वाणी। वाली कोयल कि है । यह कोयल हर दिन एक आम के वृक्ष की डाली पर बैठ कर बेफ़िक्री से कूकती रहती थी, ना कोई काम, ना कोई धंधा, । पर अचानक उसकी दुनिया उलट पलट हो गयी क्यूँकि उसके घोंसले में पड़ा था उसका अंडा । हे भगवान वह चीख़ीं , अब मेरी आराम तलब ज़िंदगी का क्या होगा ! इस बच्ची को पालने पोसने में मेरा जीवन व्यर्थ चला जाएगा । कोयल सोच में पड़ गयी। । क्या करे ? क्या करे ?
तभी उसके दिमाग़ में एक बिजली कौंधी यानि उसे एक तरकीब सूझी और वह ख़ुशी से उछल पड़ी । क्यूँ ना अपने इस अंडे को जंगल की दूसरी छोर पर रहने वाली काकी कौवी के घोंसले में रख दिया जाए । काकी कौवी के पहले से चार अंडे हैं वो पाँचवा भी पाल लेगी ! वैसे भी मोटी काकी कौवी को घर की देखभाल करने के अलावा आता आता ही क्या है ? ना वो कोयल की तरह गा सकती है ना वह मोर की तरह नाच ही सकती है । बस कोयल ने आव देखा ना ताव अपने अंडे को उठाया और उड़ पड़ी । जब वो काकी कौवी के पास पहुँची तो कोयल ने देखा कि वह चारों अंडों पर बैठी उन्हें सेंक रही थी । कुटिल कोयल ने चुपचाप अपना नन्हा अंडा भी काकी कौवी के नीचे सरका दिया और फुर्र से उड़ गयी ।
कुटिल कोयल के जाने के थोड़ी ही बाद काकी कौवी के नीचे अंडों की टूटने की आवाज़ आयी । थोड़ी ही देर में चारों कौवे, “काँ काँ काँ,” करके शोर मचाने लगे कि उन्हें भूख लगी है । काकी कौवी ने उन्हें समझाया कि, “बच्चों सब्र करो । बस एक छोटा सा अंडा टूटने को बाकी है। उसके टूटते ही तुम पाँचों के लिए खाने पीने का बंदोबस्त करती हूं। उसका यह कहना था कि अंडा टूटने की आवाज़ आयी और एक नन्ही सी चिड़िया घोंसले के किनारे बैठ गयी और बोली, “कूऽऽऽऽऽऽ”। काकी कौवी और चारों कौवों के चोंच आश्चर्य से खुले रह गये। ये “काँ काँ काँ” के शोर में “कू ऽऽऽऽऽ” कहाँ से आ गया । उन्हें क्या मालूम कि यह नन्ही चिड़िया काकी कौवी की नहीं अपितु कुटिल कोयल की है ।
समय बीतता गया और चारों कौवे और नन्हीं कोयल बड़े हो गए। काकी कौवी उनके स्कूल जाने के लिये दौड़धूप करने लगी। इसी दौड़धूप में उसकी मुलाक़ात एक संगीत के उस्ताद, मियाँ टर्र टर्र से हुई जो कि मेंढक थे और ख़ाली समय में पशु पक्षी की बच्चों को गीत संगीत की शिक्षा देते थे । पर अब तक उन्हें कोई काम नहीं मिला था क्योंकि उनकी बुलंद आवाज़ से बच्चे डर जाते थे।
One day Raju got up and looked out of the window. The field looked green and beautiful and the waving corn moved happily. But Raju had tears in his eyes, he missed his country, India. Raju was adopted by a lonely American couple, Bill and Linda. Bill was big and white with piercing blue eyes and Linda was tall and blonde with a pretty smile but they scared Raju. He was used to his small and comfortable grandpa and grandma who were brown and wrinkly and always smiled without any teeth. Bill’s big white teeth and gruff voice scared Raju.
While Raju was crying in his room Bill and Linda were also very sad. They lived alone on their farm with their hens and chickens, pigs and cows, sheep and goats but they always wanted a small boy who would share their world. Their own children had moved far far away with their children and now they were quite alone.
But Raju seemed to not like this world. He was always thinking about India and his grandparents who were too poor to look after him. So they had given Raju to Bill and Linda so that Raju could have a better life.
But Raju did not want this life with a new school, new friends who were a different color from him, new trees which were different from the trees in India. He didn’t like cedar and oak and elm. He wanted mango and ‘peepul’ and banyan. Those trees had fruits and strong branches in which you could play and roots from which you could swing ! He did not like apple pie, he wanted ‘halwa’ ! He didn’t like icecream, he wanted ‘kulfi’ ! He didn’t want bread he wanted ‘roti’ ! So Raju was unhappy, his new grandparents, Bill and Linda were unhappy . What a to do !
Linda came to Raju’s room and asked him in a quavery voice, “ Roger,” ( You see, they had changed his name from Raju to Roger so he could feel more comfortable in his new place ) So Linda said, “ Roger ! Would you like to go to a birthday party ? “ My friend’s grandson is going to turn six and he is going to have a big party with balloons and cake and a pony ride. You will love it !” Raju quickly wiped his tears and tried to smile. He was a very polite boy and did not like to upset Linda and he knew she will be upset if she saw him crying. So he said, “OK, I will come.” Linda smiled and said, “ You are a good boy, Roger!” Raju smiled back even though his heart was still aching and said, “Linda, can you call me Raju ? I don’t like to be Roger !” Linda said, “ Of course Roger, I mean Raju! Why didn’t you say so before ? Raju is as fine a name as any. I will call you Raju.”
Raju was happy. He felt he had found some part of himself.
Raju, Bill and Linda sat in a big pick up van and drove off to the party. But all the way Linda was very quiet. She was thinking and thinking. Bill asked her what was the matter but Linda just said, “I’ll tell you later,”
Raju had a great time in the party. Linda introduced him to the other children as ‘Raju’ and not ‘Roger.’ She told them that he was from India and asked him to tell them a little bit about his country. Raju was happy to tell his friends that he had a big sugarcane field back home and how they could break the stems and suck on the sweet juice. He told them about monkeys that jumped on the trees branches and sometimes came down to steal the ‘rotis’. Here Linda told the children that ‘rotis’ were ‘tortillas’ which the children understood because they were already familiar with Spanish food and people ! Raju told them about the corn in his field which were smaller and how they would roast it on the fire. One of the boys, Tommy , said, “ We like to boil the corn and have it with butter.” And Raju said, “ I like that also !” So they both agreed to like corn.
After the party was over Raju drove home with Bill and Linda . He was sleepy but did not look sad any more. Somehow, the corn had brought him a little closer to this land. He did not feel so ‘alien’ any more which means ‘different’ from others.
At night when Linda tucked Raju in bed she said, “ Raju, there is a temple in the neighboring town where lots of Indian children come to play. Would you like to go there sometimes ?”
Raju grinned from ear to ear and hugged Linda.
This story is based on my father, Bhagwan SHUKLA’s thought that, what is civilization but consideration for others .
( the brief for this was a multi cultural story for children that involves the theme of alienation and grand parents )