Talespin Children

Trouble on the terrace

Despite Mrs. Kumar’s warnings the boys continued to sneak up to the roof to play. Then, one day disaster strikes.

“I hate that grouchy old lady!” muttered Rehaan. He rubbed his arm and added, “Did you see the way she pulled me away from the door? I can still feel her fingers. Like a steel vice!”

Rehaan and his brother Ashim, and their friends Nimish and Anil clattered down the stairs from the terrace of their apartment building and marched into their flat on the third floor.

There were four floors in the building, and Rehaan and Ashim’s was the only apartment without a balcony because it had been enclosed and made a part of their drawing room.

Whenever they could, they sneaked onto the rooftop to play. It was partially shaded with a metal sheet fixed to thick poles that they could dodge around while playing ‘Catch’; they could jump over the pipes that ran from side to side, and best of all, they could fill their squirt guns from the water tanks and have a great ‘water war’.

Off limits

But no matter how quietly they opened the door to the rooftop, Mrs. Kumar on the fourth floor would hear them, and in seconds, she would shoo them away.

“It’s not safe on the roof,” she said to their parents. “They could fall over the low parapet, they could damage those pipes, and they have absolutely no business wasting water with their games!”

At home, Mom snapped, “Why can’t you boys play a board game inside the house instead?”

“Board games? Is that what summer holidays are meant for?” grumbled Rehaan.

“Why have holidays if we are forbidden from playing outside?” added Ashim.

“We’ll go up again as soon as Mrs. Kumar has her afternoon nap,” hissed Rehaan after lunch.

The friends tiptoed barefoot up the stairs, unlatched the door without making a sound and were soon ‘blasting’ away with their water guns.

They were careful to keep their ‘Oofs’ and ‘Ows’ and victory cries low so that they would not be heard. Suddenly, Rehaan slipped on one of the wet patches they had created and hit the parapet — and went over!

Ashim, Nimish, and Anil ran screaming to the parapet and looked over, fearing the worst. But they saw Rehaan hanging onto one of the pipes some feet below. Ashim reached down to grab his hand but he was too far below — and slipping further and further down.

Just then, the boys saw Mrs. Kumar on her balcony. She took in the situation at a glance, picked up the aluminium step-ladder and threw it across so that it spanned the space between her window and the railing of her balcony at an angle and provided Rehaan with a place to put his feet.

“Get your feet on the ladder and then let go of the pipe and slide down towards me,” she said calmly.

Rehaan’s arms were aching and he knew he couldn’t hold on for much longer.

“Come on, you can do it,” he heard Mrs. Kumar say.

The ladder rocked when Rehaan put his weight on it and for a moment it felt like he would tumble off but Mrs. Kumar grabbed his leg and pulled. He slid straight into her and both of them fell down.

Then, Rehaan stood up shakily and helped Mrs. Kumar to her feet. They opened her front door and let the other three inside — and in all that time, Rehaan just couldn’t let go of Mrs. Kumar’s hand.

He didn’t think he would ever complain about her vice-like grip again!

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 11:24:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/trouble-on-the-terrace/article29634749.ece

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