Dragon or dog?

Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar   | Photo Credit: Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar

All through each day of the vacation, Akash and Arvind enjoyed their favourite sport. As soon as their parents left for work, the brothers fixed a net between the gate and the garage, and played badminton. There was one drawback. That the shuttle could fly over the compound wall.

That hadn’t mattered when Mrs. Murthy lived on the other side. When the shuttle had first landed there, she had said, “Whenever this happens, just climb over and collect it.” Since the wall dividing the properties was not high, that was easily managed.

If Mrs. Murthy happened to be tending to her roses, she would smilingly toss the shuttle back to the boys. “Why don’t you play here?” she suggested one evening. “There’s more space.”

Bad luck

Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar   | Photo Credit: Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar

Unfortunately, a few days later, kind Mrs. Murthy took ill and went away to stay with her son.

Soon after, school resumed. Only in the weekend could they pick up their racquets again. “Avoid the back court,” warned Akash, as Arvind prepared to serve, but the shuttle whizzed past him and over the wall it went. A grim-faced young man appeared. “Let this be the last time,” he snapped.

The following afternoon, the shuttle took off again. Engrossed in an exciting contest, the boys abandoned caution. Akash jumped over the wall and back. “The dragon couldn’t have seen me,” he chuckled, but he was wrong.

When the boys passed the house that afternoon, a board outside proclaimed: ‘Beware of Fluffy!’

“He’s got a dog!” muttered Akash.

“Isn’t Fluffy the gigantic beast in the Harry Potter books?” remarked Arvind.

Akash nodded. “I bet the dragon’s dog is as fierce as its master.”

Armed with extra shuttlecocks, the boys played nervously the next morning. “Stick to smashes and drop-shots,” urged Akash, but Arvind hit high, and the shuttle vanished.

“No!” yelled Akash, as his brother leapt across to retrieve it.

“Get out of here!” shouted the man who had warned them before. “Get out before I let Fluffy loose.” He almost had Arvind by his collar, but the latter managed to escape.

When they had lost their last shuttle, the brothers sat gloomily on the grass.

Pleasant surprise

“I thought you’d like to have these,” called a pleasant voice.

An elderly gentleman, with twinkling eyes, was holding out three shuttles over the wall. “Mrs. Murthy is my sister,” he explained. “She told me to invite you to play in this garden. I’m your new neighbour. You may call me Uncle Shyam.”

“Then who’s the drag...?” began Arvind.

“That’s my gardener,” said Uncle Shyam. “Terrified of trespassers, he insisted on that stupid notice.”

“Then, Fluffy does exist!” exclaimed Akash.

Uncle Shyam placed a fat furry cat on the wall. “This is Fluffy,” he said, stroking the beautiful creature that purred at his touch. “Aptly named, don’t you think? He’s huge, like his fictional namesake, but you need never beware of Fluffy!”

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 8:12:01 PM |

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