Children

On a magic carpet

Illustrations: Sonal Goyal   | Photo Credit: Illustrations: Sonal Goyal

“You broke your promise!” screamed Pia. Her face was red, as she stamped her foot and waved her hands.

As you may have guessed, Pia was an enfant terrible. Her parents were tired of her tantrums. They wondered how their cute little baby girl had transformed into such a holy terror.

They looked up from their computers and then at each other. They rolled their eyes, raised their eyebrows, shrugged their shoulders, and went back to work.

“You are the worst parents any child can have. I’ve been through a year of hell in that horrible school. You promised to take me to Disney World in Brussels.”

Tricked!

When her parents heard this, they sniggered, giggled and finally burst into laughter. They laughed till tears rolled down from their eyes. Pia was so surprised that she forgot she was having an outburst.

“What’s so funny?” she whispered, when the laughter died down.

“Ha ha ha ha,” laughed her dad, “if you had read any of the books we bought you, you would know... ha ha ha ha.”

“Know what? WHAT?” screamed Pia, impatiently.

“Ha ha ha ha….there is no Disney World in Brussels. So technically, we did not lie. Ha ha ha ha,” said her mom, as her parents began laughing again.

Pia went up to her room and, just to show her parents how angry she was, banged the door shut. The entire house vibrated with the sound.

She lay on her bed and thought of having a good cry. But there were no tears. Her eyes fell on her bookshelf.

“They laughed at me because I did not know that there was no Disney World in Brussels,” she said to herself. She felt her anger returning. “They laughed because they thought it was something I should know! From books! Could it be? Will books give me the answers?”

The first book she saw was Horrid High. A school named Horrid High? It must be my school, she thought, as she took it off the shelf. She was gripped by the story of Ferg Gottin and Horrid High. With each page she turned, she was drawn more into the story.

Before she knew it, the book was over. An intense feeling of sadness came over her. “Maybe I can find something else on the shelf,” she thought.

She read The War That Saved My Life. How can a war save a life? She sniggered. Everyone knows a war can only kill. No sooner had she started when she was transported to Britain and World War II. She became 10-year-old Ada with a clubfoot. Ada’s struggles became hers. Ada’s victories, she claimed. It was with a sigh she turned the last page.

Now, there was no stopping Pia. As 10-year-old Micah Tuttle, she set off on a search for Lightbender and the fantastical Circus Mirandus.

The silence in the house was deafening. Pia’s parents became worried. Had they been too harsh with her? Feeling guilty, they crept up and peeked into the room. Imagine their surprise when they saw her bent over a book.

Read-a-thon

From the ravages of WWII, Pia was now in India 1947. She was reading Nisha’s letters to the mother she had never known. From the letters in The Night Diary, Nisha understood the heartbreak of separation and Partition, of loving someone you have only heard of, and of the need to try and fit in. It gave her a glimpse of the angst of severance and a perception of history so far removed from her textbook.

When her parents called her for dinner, Pia said, “I am Harriet the Spy and I am in New York!” From New York, it was a long journey to Malgudi, as she became Swami studying at the Mission School.

It was late and her parents were now worried. Pia hadn’t eaten the whole day. “This has got to stop,” said her father.

“Oh please,” replied Pia, exasperated. She had just begun a new book. The opening lines took her breath away.

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.

Pia now knew she didn’t need to get onto a plane or train to go anywhere. Sitting in her room she could travel to any place in the world.

She could even journey in time. She could battle dinosaurs, fight whales, meet magicians, fly, dance…in fact do anything she wished.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 3:53:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/on-a-magic-carpet/article34525591.ece

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