RAJU comes home

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 )

Published by Collected Tails of Jungle Land

Collected Tails of Jungle Land Alphabet Stories OH MY DOG series

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