Anurag was disappointed when he couldn't go to Singapore. Instead, his parents sent him to his grandfather's house.

It was the summer vacation. Anurag was sad because his father had suddenly cancelled their Singapore trip. Both his parents were doctors and they were to attend a conference in the U.S. instead.

Anurag's father said, “You will not be bored. You will be with your grandfather.”

Anurag's grandfather welcomed him with a happy smile. They discussed cricket and tennis, played chess and watched television together. But when his grandfather went to take his siesta, Anurag was bored and lonely.

He came out of the house and saw a thin dog in the yard next door. The dog wagged its tail at him. Anurag thought of his German Shepherd that would snarl and bark at everyone. Soon, a frail woman came out of the hut. She was as friendly as her dog.

“Would you like a tender coconut,” she asked.

She quickly climbed the tree and plucked some coconuts. Anuraj enjoyed the coconut water.

“What's the dog's name?”

“Chandu,” she said.

Anurag patted the dog. Just then he heard his grandfather's driver calling out to him.

“Don't go there little master, Janu suffers from a deadly disease.”

“What disease?” asked Anurag.

“AIDs!”

Being a doctor's son, Anurag was well aware of AIDS. That evening, he asked his grandfather about Janu. His grandfather became sad.

“Did you meet her? She is a nice woman. Her parents got her married to a useless fellow. She got the disease from him. The villagers have isolated her. She is friendless.”

Anurag and Janu soon became good friends. She was a great story teller. She told him the story of Pazhassi Raja and other war heroes of North Malabar. Her stories were colourful and full of actions. They made Anurag's holiday memorable.

Then one day it was time for him to go back. His mother had come to take him back.

“Did you have a good time?” she asked as she gave him a bag of chocolates. Anurag ran to Janu's house with it.

“My mom has come. I am leaving. Please take these chocolates.”

Janu's face became sad. She came forward to hug him and then withdrew. Anurag touched her hand and said, “My parents are doctors. They are doing research on AIDS. Please wait. Have hope. I am sure they will find some medicine to cure you.”

He turned and ran away. He didn't want her to see the tears in his eyes.

Keywords: short story