Talespin Children

Friends forever

17YT_Talespin    | Photo Credit: SREEJITH R KUMAR

“Jay!” Jayendra looked up startled.

Glory ma’am, the class teacher, was glaring at him.

“This is the third time I have caught you staring into space. Next time you do that, I’ll send you out of the class.”

Jay nodded slowly. He was feeling miserable since Naanu had left him.

No, Naanu wasn’t his grandfather. He had been the cook in their house. His name was Nanak Ram, but everyone called him Naanu. He had been with their family for many years now.

Loads of fun

Naanu had been more than just a cook; he had been Jay’s best friend. Every day, he dropped him to and picked him up from school, played cricket with him, gave him a bath, made the yummiest dishes, and told him exciting bedtime stories.

They watched cartoons, jumped around in the rain, and sang stupid songs together. Naanu was terrible at singing and so was Jay. And they created such a racket that their neighbour Dolly aunty once even complained to Jay’s mum.

Naanu was a tall and strong man with thick hair that had gone completely white. Though he was more than 60, he had more energy than Jay’s Papa who was 30 years younger.

In summers, Naanu would take Jay to the garden and hoist him on his shoulders under the mango tree. And Jay would happily reach up and pluck green mangoes that they would then eat with salt and chilli powder.

Naanu was also popular with all of Jay’s friends. On his birthday, he would decorate the house and make the best chocolate cake possible.

Suddenly, one morning, he was gone. Papa had told him that Naanu had gone to heaven and would never come back. That had been more than a month ago but Jay missed him terribly.

A new friend

Jay was sleeping when he felt something soft and cool on his nose. Was it Naanu trying to wake him up?

He opened his eyes and jumped up. A brown shape was wriggling and a pink tongue was licking him.

It was a pup — the most adorable one he had ever seen. His tongue, waist and now tail moving in tandem, even as he uttered the tiniest of barks. Jay’s parents were standing by, watching.

“Is he for me?”

“Yes, son. He is all yours,” his mum said.

“But you’ll have to help in taking care of him,” his Papa added.

“Of course!” Jay shouted, and picking him up, rushed out yelling like mad.

Settling in

Soon, the new guest was given a saucer full of milk. He lapped it up, once again his tongue and tail moving in perfect rhythm.

After taking four helpings, he circled the room a couple of times and promptly collapsed at mum’s feet falling asleep instantly. Soon the sound of gentle snores filled the room. Everyone roared with laughter.

“What should we call him?”

“Naanu!” Jay replied.

“No, Jay. You can’t call a dog Naanu. Naanu was family.”

“Papa, our new Naanu is also family. He is my baby brother.”

Jay’s parents looked at each other. Papa patted him and said, “Okay, we’ll call him Naanu Junior.”

Naanu Junior became Jay’s shadow. Jay took him everywhere, except to school. He fed him, gave him a bath, took him for walks, played with him and even told him stories at night. In most stories, Naanu Junior would be the hero and, whenever his name was mentioned, he would cock his ears and even wag his tail, if the tale was exciting.

A year has passed. Jay’s baby brother is a baby no more. He is tall and sturdy and quite capable of carrying his ‘elder brother’ on his back, just like Naanu Senior used to.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 7:45:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/friends-forever/article36448147.ece

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