Children

Waiting for the sun

Illustration: KG Rangarajan

Illustration: KG Rangarajan   | Photo Credit: Illustration: KG Rangarajan

It had been raining from the time they arrived. How many days can one spend playing UNO with kiddies, Sahil wondered?

Sahil leaned out to grab a tiny hailstone. “Shut the window!” said Mom. “You’ll get wet!”

“It’s not fair!” thought Sahil. “When we went to Goa, Mom wanted me out of the sun — and now she wants me out of the rain!”

Someone pulled his sleeve and he looked down. It was Gopu, holding up a handful of UNO cards pleadingly. “Help me — they’re winning all the time!”

Sahil sighed and walked to the bedroom where Gopu’s twin sisters Maya and Tara were waiting. “I’ve already spent two days with the ‘kids of my age’, according to Dad,” he thought. “How can Gopu’s seven and the twins’ nine be anywhere near my grown-up 11-and-a-half? Dad really doesn’t know his numbers!”

Last summer Sahil had visited Goa with his parents and uncles and several cousins. All the cousins were older than him but although he had to fetch and carry for them, they’d had great fun on the beach — except that Mom kept calling him out of the sun.

“Next year we’ll come before you start the new term,” said Dad. “It won’t be so hot — and you can spend all your time on the beach.”

That is what Sahil had looked forward to for months — and then Dad changed the plans. “My classmate Jai runs adventure camps in the mountains — we’ll join him there instead,” he decided.

“But you promised…” began Sahil. “I want to play with my cousins on the beach this year too! What will I do alone in the mountains?”

“You won’t be alone! Jai has kids your age. Besides, we’re going to camp beside a river and there’ll be a sandy beach to play on — and it will be a lot cooler than Goa.”

Dad had made it sound so good, but when they arrived, Sahil had received one shock after the other. First the children of ‘his own age’ turned out to be little more than toddlers to his eyes, then it rained almost constantly so they were all stuck indoors, and it was cold! Summer, in Sahil’s opinion, was not meant to be cold!

As for the adventure sports, there was no trekking. No river rafting. Nothing but childish games with the twins and Gopu. Dad had forbidden any electronic devices other than his own — because he had to stay in touch with his office — so Sahil’s PSP was rotting in his cupboard back home. “I’ll soon be rotting from boredom here!” reflected Sahil. “If I don’t get swept away first.”

The river they were supposed to be rafting on was just about a 100 feet from the house and it was in spate thanks to the rain. It had overflowed its banks in some places and everyone was watching warily as it inched upwards towards the houses in the area.

The next day was no better, according to Sahil, but everyone else said the “weather had turned”. By evening it seemed that everyone had been right. The rain stopped.

Peeking out

The next morning, when Sahil looked out, the sun was shining weakly and the river was once again a placid stream a long way away from the house.

He didn’t wait for permission from the adults. He didn’t wait for breakfast. He just flung open the door and raced out barefoot towards the river — then something pulled him back.

He turned and saw that the twins had grabbed his shirt. “Wait for us!” they cried.

“And me!” piped up Gopu.

Sahil grinned. He shook himself free and soon the four of them were running wildly. When they reached the place where the river had overflowed, they stopped.

There was a squishy feeling of wet sand between their toes.

“My castle gets built here!” cried Sahil, squatting and pushing handfuls of damp sand upwards to form a wall.

“No!” said Gopu. “It’s not your castle!”

Sahil looked at him in surprise. Gopu hadn’t disagreed with him up to now. Then he spied the look on Gopu’s face as he picked up small handfuls of damp sand and brought them across.

“It’s our castle!” said Gopu.

“And ours,” said the twins.

And the three younger ones hurried to fetch buckets and spades and help their ‘senior designer’. Sahil laughed. It was quite a change for him. “Maybe it’s good they’re not ‘my age!’” he thought.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:46:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/waiting-for-the-sun/article27134448.ece

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