Fishing in troubled waters


By Tejaswini Uma Sudhir

(Published in Children’s World,¬†February 2010 issue)

Victor the tiger was very happy. It was his 6th birthday and his parents had just gifted him a beautiful finger ring, made of gold. It shone wonderfully and had a `V’ inscribed on it. Victor kissed his parents, thanked them and ran out of home to show off his ring to his friends in the jungle.

He met the panther, the lion, the baboon, the rhino and to everyone he boasted, “Does anyone here have a finger ring? And that too, so beautiful.”

“Hey, you can just see it. I will not let you touch it lest you leave your fingerprint on my ring,” Victor scolded the overenthusiastic monkey who wanted to take a closer look at the ring.

“Hey, don’t keep removing the ring from your finger. It could fall off somewhere,” advised the elephant.

“Even if it does, we can search and find it. After all, everyone knows it is mine and so it cannot get stolen,” replied a vain Victor. His friends exchanged glances and sighed.

It was one week since Victor’s birthday. The tiger was still on cloud nine because of his prized possession. He continued to keep fiddling with his ring and his mom kept reiterating what the elephant had told him. “It is bound to fall off somewhere one day and then you will repent taking it out of your finger all the time,” the tigress said.

Her worst fears came true very soon. On his way to school one day, Victor stopped at the well to indulge in his favourite pastime, fishing. Victor would drop his fishing line into the freshwater well and catch a fish and eat it on his way to school. The fish in the well were very angry and every day, they would dread when it would be 8 o’ clock in the morning. Because that’s it when Victor’s fishing line would lay the bait for an unsuspecting fish among them.

It was the same this morning. Victor peeped in, smiled with an evil glint in his eye, seeing the fish scampering for cover. “I am here and I want the most delicious fish for breakfast today,” he growled and let down his fishing line.

As was his habit, he started playing with his ring also at the same time. And, before he realised it, the ring slipped from his finger and even as he tried his best to catch it in the air to prevent it from falling into the well, the ring had gone inside the well. Whoooosh !

Victor was shocked and speechless. He did not know what to do. His frame sunk and his hand let go of the fishing line as well. Splash ! It went inside the well too.

He saw his classmates pass by. “What happened, Victor? Why are you looking so lost?” asked the camel.

Victor kept gazing into thin air, without replying. His friends walked on, thinking the tiger was being so proud, he won’t even answer.

“If I tell these animals, they will only poke fun, so better to try and get the ring myself from the well,” thought Victor to himself.

He came up with an idea. I will pour out all the water from the well and then the ring will be at the bottom. He could then ask one of the birds to fly in and get it, he thought.

He put the bucket inside the water and started to pour out the water. One, Two, Three, four, five, six, seven … He started feeling tired but he kept on with the job.

“What on earth are you doing, Victor? Why are you wasting precious water like this?” asked the Elephant who was passing by.

“My ring fell into the well and now I have to remove the water to get the ring back,” replied Victor.

“No, you cannot empty the only well in the jungle just because you were foolish to lose your ring,” scolded the Elephant. “Stop this and move out of here.”

In the meantime, panic-stricken fish had called up `100′ to complain to the police that Victor was ruining their home.

In no time, a huge crowd had gathered at the well. There was commotion, with everyone trying to speak at the same time.

“Listen, listen, listen,” said Leopard, the police officer. “Victor, you cannot be allowed to waste water like this. So the only solution is to ask the fish to search for the ring and get it out of the well.”

“No, we will not do it. This tiger has eaten so many of us in the last so many years. Now why should we help him when he has a problem?” asked Whitney, the leader of the fish family.

“But if both sides remain adamant, everyone else in the jungle is the loser because we will have to then walk five km away to the river for water,” said the cow.

“Why should we lose the sweet water from the well? If it becomes empty, all the fish will die and it will take many months and years for it to fill up again, ” agreed the giraffe.”

Everyone thought for a moment and finally the tigress spoke. “Victor, you have to apologise to the fish for eating one of them everyday. You also have to promise you will never fish in the well again. In return, can I request you, Whitney, if you can search for the ring and return it to Victor?”

Victor was shame-faced. “I am sorry,” he mumbled with his head down. The hundreds of fish in the well immediately sprung into action. They looked under the pebbles, between the plants inside the well. The fish’s eyes could pierce through the darkness of the water. `Operation Ring’ took two hours and finally, Skimpy the fish found the ring. A loud cheer went up. As much for finding the ring as much for the fact that the well water and the fish family had been saved.

Victor was a changed tiger since that day. A small fish had tamed the mighty tiger.

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God, you have got mail !


By T S Sudhir

Radha woke up with a start. Pranav, her six-year-old son, was not on the bed beside her. She reached out for the cellphone beneath the pillow and looked at the time. 1 am. Gosh, where had this little boy gone?

Radha checked the bathroom but Pranav wasn’t there. Then she saw a stream of light from the study. She tiptoed into the room and found Pranav busy writing on his desk.

“What are you doing dear,” asked Radha, taking care not to startle him with a sudden sound.

“I am busy, mom. I am writing a letter,” replied Pranav.

Radha was surprised. “Letter to who, Pranav?” she asked.

Pranav neither stopped writing nor did he look up at Radha. “I am writing a letter to God,” he said.

If she burst out laughing, Radha knew it would offend Pranav no end. So controlling herself, she asked what is he writing to God at such an unearthly hour.

“I am writing to him that I do not want to grow up. I want to be six years old all my life,”

“But why is that? Why don’t you want to grow up?” asked Radha, quite bewildered.

“I do not see any benefit in growing up. I enjoy playing and having fun. Watching cartoons. Having a lot of free time. If I grow up, I can’t play any more. I will have to work. And there will be tension of problems in office, tension if our maid does not come on time, tension of paying the bills. So many problems, mom.”

Radha was at a loss for words. “But how will you send the letter?” she asked.

“Letter box, mom. Haven’t you seen the one on the next street?,” asked Pranav.

“But we don’t know God’s address, Pranav. We cannot post the letter,” Radha tried to reason.

“Then I have a brilliant idea, Mom. You told me God lives in the clouds above. So the next time you go by an aeroplane, I will give you the letter. When you are in between the clouds, you give the letter by hand to God.” Pranav chuckled at his own presence of mind and Radha was¬† amused.

“Right, that is a good idea. You finish the letter tomorrow morning and give it to me. I will take it with me when I am travelling next time,” said Radha.

The next morning, as decided, Pranav gave his mom the letter with GOD written in bold red on the envelope.

Bhargav, Pranav’s elder brother saw it and asked him what the letter was all about. When Pranav told him the contents of his letter, Bhargav said, “This is the age of the internet. Let us send God an e-mail. Even sms him. That will reach him faster, Pranav.”

Radha was even more stumped by this one. “But do you have God’s number and email id?” she asked.

Bhargav was not going to let go of a chance to have some fun at his little brother’s expense. “We will just cook up an email id,” he whispered to his mom.

So the two brothers sat on the PC and typed out the letter to God and mailed it to Godintheclouds@gmail.com and pressed `Send’.

“Anna, let us sms also,” said Pranav.

Bhargav borrowed his mother’s cell and keyed in “God, you have got mail. From Pranav,” and sent it to `1000′.

“Wow, Anna, you know God’s cell number also,” said Pranav, his eyes wide open, full of hero worship. “Elementary, my dear Pranav. If police is 100, then God is super police. So it has to be 1000.”

“You are a genius, Anna,” came one more compliment from Pranav.

Radha was listening in to all this conversation. The email and sms were ok for the fun of it but Pranav, she knew, would get restless within a few days if he did not hear from God.

So after a couple of days, she typed out a letter which read like this :

“Dear Pranav,

Thanks very much for your email and sms. This is the first time such a small kid has sent me an email.

You have requested that you do not want to grow up beyond the age of six. But Pranav, I can see in my computer that when you grow up and are about 20 years of age, you are extremely handsome and successful and very rich. Don’t you want to be like that?

Please let your Mom know your reply and she will convey it to me.

Lots of love
God”

Pranav read the letter four times. “Ok, Mom. God does have a point. I will grow up. If he has such good plans for me, it would be foolish not to grow up, right.”

Radha said yes. “Your decision will be conveyed to God, Pranav,” she said and added. “Now how about preparing for tomorrow’s English test.”

A lot in a name !


By T S Sudhir

There was jubiliation in the hospital ward. Lisa Murphy had delivered a baby boy. It was Christmas and Lisa and her husband Philip looked at the little bundle, wrapped in pink and thought of him as a gift from Santa Claus.

“What shall we name him, Philip?” asked Lisa, looking fondly at her tiny possession.

“We waited eight years for him to be born. Let us thank God. So why not we name him `Thankyou’? I know it will be quite a unique sounding name,” said Philip.

Lisa agreed and so `Thankyou’ it was. The name was entered into the birth certificate and Thankyou Murphy became one of his kind in the world.

As he grew up, the first question that any stranger would ask after the initial cuddling would be, “What is your name, little boy?”

And Thankyou would say “Thankyou.”

“What good manners this sweet kid has,” they would exclaim, before repeating the question.

“But what is your name?” And Thankyou would say `Thankyou’. Again and again and again, till they understood.

Lisa and Philip soon realised they had committed a blunder and that Thankyou would grow up confusing everyone in the world. But with Thankyou already going to school, it was too late to change his name. So Thankyou it would have to be.

As the years went by, Thankyou grew up to be an exasperated kid. Tired of his name. Tired of everyone asking him his name again and again. Thankyou would get so angry that he hated the word `thankyou’ and would actually never thank anyone who helped him.

“He is growing up to be quite an ill-mannered child,” said Philip one day, when Thankyou was 7 years old. “Today when my friend Thomas complimented Thankyou on his new blue sweater, he just gave him a dirty look and walked past.”

“Oh, Philip, what to do. When our new neighbour asked him his name the other day, he grunted, `My name is Thankyou and please don’t ask it again’ and walked away in a huff. You know how he feels about his name,” said Lisa.

But all that changed the day the new Moral Science teacher Elizabeth Jones joined Thankyou’s school.

She began by introducing herself and then asked the students to do the same. Every student got up and said his or her name. Thankyou was sitting on the third bench. When his turn came, he in order to give a good impression, smiled and said, “My name is Thankyou. Thankyou Murphy.”

“That is such a delightful name,” said Elizabeth. “Why did your parents name you Thankyou?”

“They wanted to thank God by naming me Thankyou,” replied Thankyou.

“That is such a noble thought,” said Elizabeth. “Students, let us give a round of applause to Thankyou’s parents.”

After the introductions were over, Elizabeth began. “Thankyou’s name is such a perfect takeoff for my first lesson today. All of us tend to take so many things for granted in the world. That someone should keep our roads clean, our room clean, our bed clean without ever bothering to thank the people who actually take the effort to do that for us. For example, the cleaner who cleans the road, our mothers who clean our room and bed after we leave for school. Don’t they deserve a thankyou from us for what they do for us?” said Elizabeth.

“And here we have Thankyou’s parents who gave such an unusual name to their son so that everyday they thank God for giving them such a wonderful son.”

Thankyou was blushing. Only today he realised the true significance of his unique name. And he vowed he will never be ashamed of his name ever.

That evening, Thankyou went home and hugged Lisa and Philip and told them what his teacher had said. “Mom and Dad, thankyou for bringing me into the world and giving me such a meaningful name,” said Thankyou.

The next day, Thankyou’s parents went to the school to meet Elizabeth. To tell her what a big problem she had solved and of course, to say thankyou to her.