Train of tales Children

Tough times

Illustration: Sonal Goyal   | Photo Credit: Illustration: Sonal Goyal

Story so far:Bhuvan watches Popo Singh struggle to convince Hasmukh stay inside the house. Dhanush makes a plan to help Mrs. Miranda’s kittens

Bhuvan chewed his fingernails as the clock struck two. His parents showed no signs of taking their afternoon nap, busy as they were counting money in the bedroom.

“We have ₹989,” said Aai, recounting the notes and coins. “I have dozens of blouses waiting to be collected. I can’t get paid until I open my tailoring shop.”

“I am ready to work,” added Baba. “Popo Singh has promised to get me a travel pass and a temporary delivery job. Till then, we will have to manage with the money we have.”

Bhuvan was disappointed because he knew it meant more khichdi and papads for lunch.

He buried his head in a storybook till his parents fell into a deep sleep. Then he picked Aai’s phone, tiptoed out of the bedroom and called Dhanush.

Ready to go?

“Have you forgotten about our plan?” he asked in a hushed voice.

“Sorry! I got delayed. I went to Farida’s garden and plucked some mangoes,” said Dhanush.

Bhuvan frowned. “You are a rotten friend!”

“Are your parents sleeping?”

Bhuvan peeped into the bedroom and heard Aai’s snore. “Yes! Can we go now?”

“I will be there in a few minutes,” said Dhanush.

Bhuvan quickly washed his water bottle and filled it with milk from the refrigerator. Then, he stood before the mirror and put on the mask Aai had made for him. Putting on his flip-flops, he tiptoed to the door. Just when he was all set to sneak out of the house, Baba’s phone rang. Bhuvan froze.

“Hello!”

Bhuvan watched his father put on his khaki uniform and nudge Aai. “Popo Singh wants me to deliver some provisions at an orphanage.”

It was too late to hide the water bottle and remove the mask.

“Where are you going?” asked Baba.

“Nowhere!” Bhuvan stared at the floor, waiting to receive an earful.

“Why are you wearing a mask in the house?”

“I am playing a game of masks,” lied Bhuvan.

Baba grabbed a bottle from the refrigerator and took a sip of water. “A game of masks? How do you play it?”

Before Bhuvan could answer, Dhanush’s cheerful face appeared at the window.

“Why are you loitering outside? Go back to your house before Popo Singh sees you!” ordered Baba.

Dhanush vanished without saying a word. Baba barged out of the house when his phone rang again. Bhuvan heaved a sigh of relief. He was about to step into the bedroom and call Dhanush when Aai came into the living room.

“It is good Baba can help people stranded in the city with no food,” she said.

Bhuvan didn’t respond to her. He was busy thinking of an alternate plan to save the hungry kittens.

(To be continued)


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 7:24:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/tough-times/article36537123.ece

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