The house that wasn’t big enough

Part 2: Unable to share his mystery with anyone, will Rajan find a way to grow back to his original height before school starts?

December 02, 2022 11:42 am | Updated 11:42 am IST

The story so far:Rajan and Aruna are unhappy about their move to a small house and a new school. Rajan can think of nothing but how their home is too small for them. Until one day he realises that he also seems to be growing smaller.

Rajan was in a panic. He started breathing faster and then felt he could not get enough air. He ran out of the house and sat down on the steps. “What’s going on?” he asked himself. He looked back at the house as if it was an evil ogre waiting to swallow him. “Were the previous tenants right? Is the house magical? Has it actually become bigger? Because how can anyone become smaller?”

He went to the door frame on which Dad had recorded their heights when they had moved in six months earlier. He put his hand on his head and then stepped out from underneath and looked at the place where his hand rested: it was about two inches below what was marked with his initial!

Who could he talk to about it? Rajan had no real friends in his new school and he certainly couldn’t talk to his parents or Aruna! He’d have to figure this out for himself and find a way to get back to his earlier size and then keep growing like a normal person. He had to defeat the evil magic in this house without talking about it and maybe even thinking about it because who knew what powers this house had? Maybe he could come up with a plan when he went to school.

But the exams ended, the school year was over and then the pandemic and lockdown happened. “This is terrible!” thought Rajan. “How will I figure out…?” He stopped himself from completing the thought. “Actually, no school means that I don’t have to get in line for Assembly for some time! I don’t have to be reminded about my height!”

Mom’s helper

Feeling positive for the first time in months, Rajan ran to open the gate for Mom, who had brought a heap of groceries and was struggling with the bags. “I have a great idea!” she said, as she entered the house. “There are so many senior citizens who live by themselves in this colony. They are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus, and should not be going out and exposing themselves to infection. We could do something for them…!”

“What do you have in mind?” asked Dad, looking up from his laptop.

“Food!” exclaimed Mom. “Everyone needs food but has to go shop for the ingredients. So I’ll provide simple home-cooked meals…”

“That’s a lot of work!” exclaimed Dad.

Mom smiled. “It is. But I have a workforce right here, don’t I?” Aruna groaned, but Rajan didn’t. Instead, he asked, “Will I get the first taste of everything if I help you?”

Aruna groaned louder. “You’re such a suck-up, Rajan! Go on, have the first taste and the second. I don’t even what to think of how ‘simple meals’ will taste!”

“Don’t be silly, Aruna!” said Dad. “You know Mom’s food is always delicious.”

Aruna made a face. Three enthusiastic people in the household meant that she really had no choice! She would be forced to participate!

Busy days

The next month went in a flurry of activity. The colony’s managing committee gave Mom the go-ahead and, within a few days, at least a dozen homes signed on. With shops open for only a short period each day, Mom had to be very organised and plan her menus well in advance so that she didn’t run out of ingredients. There was much washing and chopping to do and, as Rajan helped, he got interested in the process of food preparation. “Maybe I’ll become a chef when I grow up,” he said.

“That’s great!” she said. “Maybe I’ll help you when you open your first restaurant!”

Before Rajan knew it, the lockdown was over but there were still so many restrictions on moving about that no one wanted to give up on Mom’s meals. People started working from home, online classes began for Rajan and Aruna, and Dad got online work too. Mom decided to make pickles and preserves and then cakes and desserts. Rajan still helped and got his first taste of everything. He also got to plan the menus on most days.

He was too busy to think about anything else ... until the morning when he got up and, as usual, stretched. He screamed and tumbled out of his bunk, dragging the sheets with him. “I’ve grown! I’ve grown! I’ve hit the ceiling!”

Aruna looked sleepy and annoyed by the noise. “What’s the racket about?” she grunted.

“You won’t believe it — you won’t understand — but it’s magic! This house is magic!” cried Rajan, running out to confirm that he was now taller than the mark on the door frame.

The End.

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