They wanted a story. And granny knew best about stories...

It was a cold evening. The steady drizzle showed no signs of stopping. The children huddled around granny in the warm sitting room. “Tell us a new story Grandma,” begged Madhu. “Something we have never heard before.” Grandma looked around the room and smiled.

“Once upon a time, there lived a little girl called Sita,” began granny.

“Oh, we know the story of Ramayana,” interrupted Rahul.

“This is not the Ramayana. Sita was a little girl just like Charu. She had dark eyes and long black hair. She wore a long skirt to school.” “Why did she not wear her uniform?” asked Charu.

“This story happened some time back. They did not have uniforms in school then. In fact, not many girls went to school. Sita loved school. And of course, she loved to play with her friends. But, there was one problem. It was Manju, the boy who sat next to her. Manju was a big, tall boy who loved to tease small children. He would hide Sita’s book and grin when she could not find it. He pushed her off her rocking horse and sometimes even pulled her hair. He troubled the other children too in different ways. But Manju was a strong boy and all the children were afraid of him.”

“Why did she not tell the teacher, or her parents?” cried Charu. She hated bullies.

“She could have found a strong friend who could beat up Manju,” said Rahul.

“Sita was afraid that her parents would take her out of school if they heard of this,” continued Grandma. “Besides, she was a gentle girl and did not like to fight. But Manju’s pranks got worse day by day. Sita was fed up. She walked sadly to school.

Bully for you

One day, there was a drawing competition in the school. The children took their colour pencils to school that day. The competition began and they started drawing. Manju was good at drawing. He opened his bag to find that the pencil box was not to be seen! He had left if at home. He looked around him but no one wanted to lend him their pencils. He turned to Sita and asked, ‘Can you lend me your pencils, please?’ Sita looked at him. What do you think she did?”

“She should have refused to lend him the pencil,” said Madhu.

“She should have mocked and laughed at him. It would serve him right,” cried Charu angrily.

“Well, she picked up a pencil and said, ‘I would like to give you a pencil. But I feel so bad when you spoil my things and hurt me. You see, I want to be friends with you.’

‘Why do you want to be friends with me?’ Manju said mockingly. ‘I am the big, bold, bad guy of the class.’

‘But you’re not. You can be nice.’ said Sita.

‘How do you know that?’ snapped Manju.

‘You are nice to that little doggie on the street,’ said Sita. ‘I have seen you share your lunch with it. It always wags its tail when it sees you.’

Manju stared. He swallowed hard. ‘Okay, okay give me that pencil. I won’t hurt you again’ he said gruffly. Sita let him borrow her pencils and both of them completed their pictures. “I think Sita was a stupid girl” said Rahul. “I would never share my things with a bully. I’m sure he continued teasing her again the next day.”

“You’re wrong” said granny. “Sita was a very wise girl and kind too. Manju never troubled her again. He smiled at her sometimes. And, what’s more. He stopped teasing the other children in class too. It took a long time, but finally, Sita and Manju became good friends. They continued to be good friends even after they grew up.”

“How do you know that?” asked Rahul.

“I know,” said granny, “because, that Sita was me.”

“You!” the children gaped. “And Manju? What happened to him?” asked Madhu.

Grandma looked up at the framed photograph of Grandpa hanging on the wall. “It is time for my prayers” she said, as she got up and hobbled away.