The Plan

It is 6 in the evening.

The kids are out in the playground.

Rehaan is getting ready to join his friends for a game of hide-and-seek. They have already started. Rehaan could hear them shouting happily. Perhaps, someone has been spotted. Must be Ananya. That girl is scared of insects and even before she gets spotted, she comes out of her hiding place and gives herself away.

Rehaan has to hurry up. He is missing all the excitement. But where are his cargo pants? He is most comfortable in those.

“Mom, have you seen my cargos? I am getting late for playtime,” Rehaan called his mom.

“Look carefully, Rehaan. It’s right there in the cupboard,” said mom, without looking up from her papers.

“It’s not here, mom. I’ve searched the entire cupboard,” Rehaan was irritated.

 

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Why can’t mom help me with this? I am getting late!

“Why don’t you put on something else, Rehaan? Please don’t disturb me now.”

Rehaan sighed and put on his pajamas. He couldn’t find his sports shoes too.

But he didn’t bother asking his mother.

He wore a pair of slippers and went downstairs to play.

The kids had started playing football. The game of hide-and-seek was over.

 Football in slippers!

Rehaan played anyway. But he couldn’t score. And at the end of the game, his legs started hurting.

When he got back home, Dad was back from work and was watching the evening news.

“Hey champ! How are you?”

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And that was it. Dad didn’t wait for Rehaan to answer and busied himself with a phone call and the news.

Rehaan’s parents were busy. Always.

His mother never goes to the office. But works from home, harder than any mom who goes to work.

His father is busy with work, news and phone calls.

When Rehaan was younger, his mom used to go shopping with him, read him stories and helped him with his homework. His dad watched cartoons and played board games with him.

Then they bought a bigger house with two extra rooms and a bigger balcony.

Rehaan knows that the house is so expensive that his parents have to work extra hard for the extra money.

But he hated that.

Today was a bad day. Like any other day. His legs were hurting really bad. He limped up to his mom and with tears in his eyes, told his mom that he can’t walk. It’s hurting.

To his surprise, mom jumped up from her work, shut her laptop down and took him in her arms.

“Can’t walk? What happened baby? How did you get hurt?

She made him sit on the bed and massaged his legs gently.

Rehaan was loving the attention and pampering. His father came into the room looking very concerned. The TV was switched off.

He made Rehaan his favorite cheese omelet for supper while mom sat and chatted with him for hours.

Next day, at 7, Rehaan got a bad tummyache. He went to his mom and started crying.

Mom hugged him. Got him some milk and buttered toast thinking that he was hungry.

He cried harder and dad came into the room and held him in his arms. They chatted over milk and toast.

It was great!

The next day again, Rehaan came back from the playground, went up to his mom and complained of a bad headache. Mom was worried. She made him lie with his head on her lap and gently massaged his head. Dad got him hot and creamy soup. And the three talked about school, friends and more.

On the fourth day, when Rehaan came back, he said he fell down while playing and hurt his left knee.

But mom noticed he had a limp in his right foot.

Mom knew something was wrong. She hugged him and made him sit on the bed and massaged his knee.

Dad was in the room too. He made Rehaan lie down with his head on his lap.

Then mom asked, “Rehaan, when you were younger, you never lied to us. But I think, with time, you have learned to lie. I think you are not hurt.”

Rehaan looked up at his mom. He was surprised to see that she wasn’t angry.

“Mom…,” he didn’t know what to say.

“You can tell me. I promise, I won’t scold you,” said mom.

Rehaan had tears in his eyes.

“Mom, dad, you are always so busy. You never spend time with me nowadays. And when I don’t get to talk to you, my entire day goes wrong. I can’t play, I can’t study, I can do nothing. I love being with you. When I get hurt or sick, you leave everything to be with me. I thought that’s the only way to get your attention. I am so sorry.”

When Rehaan finished talking and looked up, he saw his mother’s eyes full of tears.

From that day, Rehaan’s parents made sure, they spend more time with him. He was very happy.

And he also learned to talk to his parents about what he thinks and never lie to them.

 

 

 

 

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Rowly is an artist

It’s a Sunday. Rowly, the raccoon is watching his favorite show that plays for an hour every Sunday morning. The Art for All show with Pablo, the Porcupine. Rowly wants to be an artist. It’s the only thing he wishes for after double-decker cream sandwiches and the all new Bayblade stadium.

Pablo is drawing an anaconda. Rowly is impressed as always.

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But watching Pablo draw makes Rowly sad.

Just then his dad enters the living room and sits beside him.

“What’s the matter, Rowly? You don’t look happy watching your favorite show!” asks dad.

“Dad, look at Pablo! He draws so well. Just see the way he draws those curved lines to make an anaconda. It looks so real,” said Rowly.

“Oh yeah! But why would that make you sad?”

Rowly sighs.

“Dad, I will never be able to be an artist like him. I can draw, but am I good at filling in colors? Probably no.”

“I can make a smiling anaconda face, but can I draw a slithering green body? Probably no.”

Rowly becomes sadder and sadder talking about it.

Dad thinks for a while and says,

“You are right, Rowly. You can never be a good artist.”

“Wh..dad!! You can’t say so. You’re supposed to make me feel better,” complains Rowly who is shocked at dad’s answer.

“But didn’t you say that yourself? How can I be sure about you, if you are not sure about yourself?” Dad shrugs.

Rowly blinks.

“Remember, no one’s going to believe you, if you don’t believe in yourself. You want to be an artist, say aloud- I am an artist”, says dad with wide eyes.

Rowly says meekly- “I am an artist.”

“That won’t work. Louder.”

“I am an artist.”

“Louder, Rowly.”

“I AM AN ARTIST”

“That’s better. Now start drawing.”

Rowly is feeling better already. He is confident.

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He is the only one in his class, who knows what he wants to be when he grows up.

Sansa, the sheep, keeps changing her future plans. Last month, she wanted to be a doctor, but now suddenly, she wants to be a firefighter.

Ronny, the rhino, is clueless. He doesn’t know what he wants to do.

But Rowly, had always wanted to be among colors. He loves to draw, paint and even do craft.

Rowly finishes his anaconda drawing.

“Not bad! This looks like a real anaconda. He’s scarier than Pablo’s,” Rowly is excited.

Rowly starts making a new drawing every day. Mountains, markets and meadows; elephants, astronauts and eels.

Finally, one Sunday, instead of watching the Art for All show, Rowly hosts an exhibition of his paintings for his friends.

Everyone comes, sees and is so impressed.

Rowly’s exhibition becomes a hit.

Pansy, the parrot, asks, “Rowly, how do you manage to draw so well?”

“Because I am an artist,” says Rowly with confidence.

 

 

 

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And so Sara sings

Sara is a little girl. She is nine years old and loves to sing. She has a lovely voice.

Sara lives with her uncle and aunt, far away from her mom and dad because her mom and dad are very poor. They do not have a proper house. Sara’s aunt promised her mother that she will give her music lessons and help her become a great singer. But the evil aunt never gave any lessons to Sara. She makes her do all the cleaning and cooking.

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“Do you know how much does it cost to take music lessons? Who will pay for your lessons? Your mom?”

Sara spends her mornings working in the field, and the rest of the day, she cleans and cooks for her aunt. The time she spends working on the fields is the best time of her day, because she can sing while working. Her aunt will not be around to scold her.

Today Sara is working on the fields. It is a beautiful morning and Sara has a beautiful song in her mind. She closes her eyes and starts singing.

Her voice flies with the breeze across the open fields.

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It flies and flies and meets a tree. There is a mynah family living there.

“What a beautiful voice you are! Go southwards. You will meet someone who will be very happy to meet you”, says the mynah.

The voice flies and flies and meets a deer.

 

“Hey, you sound so good. Go further south. You will meet someone who will be very happy to meet you”, says the deer.

The voice flies and flies and reaches a unicorn.

“I haven’t heard anything as beautiful as you in so many years. Go further south. You will meet someone who will be very happy to meet you.”

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The voice travels further south. There’s a little hut there. And there’s another beautiful voice coming from there. The voice flies to the hut. Gets inside, finds an ear and disappears inside it. It belongs to a music guru.

“Ah, what a voice! Who does this belong to? I was looking for such a perfect voice for so long. I must find this person.”

The guru goes around the place asking everyone if they just heard the most beautiful voice in the world. He reaches the unicorn who says, “Yes, I sent it to you. It came from that direction.”

The guru now meets the deer. The deer says, “Yes, I sent it towards you. It came from that direction.”

The guru goes ahead and meets the mynah family.

“Oh yes, I knew it would finally find you. It came from the fields”, says the mynah chirpily.

The guru spotts the little girl still humming the same song. He goes upto her.

“Hello little girl. Do you know, you have a beautiful voice that touches hearts. Do you want to learn music?”

Sara wants nothing else!

Sara tells her aunt that she is going to learn music with the great guru. He does not need any money in return. Now the aunt has nothing to say.

And so, Sara sings and goes on to become a great singer who also teaches music to children without charging them any fee.

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Butterflies in my Stomach

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It was a Saturday morning. 4-year-old Mini woke up feeling happy. No school today! And mom will also be home all day! They can chat, go shopping and do some painting together which is the favorite pastime for both Mini and her mom.

She got down from the bed rubbing her eyes and went straight to the kitchen where mom was preparing breakfast.

“G’morning mummy”, said Mini cheerfully.

“Good Morning, my princess. You look fresh!”

“It’s a Saturday. What are we planning to do today, mummy?”

“Whatever you say, honey. We can paint, go for some shopping and bake some cupcakes together. What do you say?”

“Super! It’s going to be a great day!!” Mini was over the clouds.

“Amm.. but to start with, we have an important appointment today, Mini.”

Mini was puzzled.

“Appointment? With whom?”

“With the doctor. It’s your vaccination day, honey.”

Hearing this, all the excitement…

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The Problem with Nicknames

When Nonu was born, his parents named him Nonu.

Nonu liked his name, because he smiled whenever someone called him by that name.

When momma asked – “who’s my brave lil’ boy?”

He cried- “NONU!”

When dadda asked- “Who will have the biggest chunk of cake?”

He exclaimed- “NONU!”

Nonu was enjoying his days with momma, dadda, granny and granpa.

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Everyone was looking for him all day.

“Where’s lil Nonu?”

“What will Nonu like for snack time?”

One day, when Nonu was running after a bright yellow butterfly, who looked so much like Granny in her bright yellow saree, he heard momma calling out to him.

“Nonu, rise and shine. It’s your first day at school.”

Nonu rubbed his eyes, and found him in his bed beside Tim, his teddy.

Momma said again, “Nonu, it’s your first day at school? It’s going to be amazing!”

Nonu wasn’t sure. It just doesn’t sound good, ‘school’!

Momma dressed him in his favorite Popeye tee and grey shorts with three big pockets.

Granpa put one candy in each of the pockets. And Granny planted a sweet kiss on his cheek.

Dadda started the car and off they went.

In a few minutes, momma said goodbye to Nonu and before he could say anything, she hurried off.

Nonu’s lips quivered.

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What’s happening? Where’s he? And who are these people. Some looked like his momma, but smiled his granny. They all seemed to love him.

Suddenly, one of the women smiled at him and said, “Neil, would you like to come with me to the garden? We have some really beautiful red flowers.”

Nonu was even more confused.

Was she talking to me? Who’s Neil?

Nonu quickly looked away. He looked all around for his mother. He would burst into cries when he’ll see her, he thought. But she’s not here.

Then he heard it again.

“Neil, come join us for snacks.”

This time it was somebody else. Nonu didn’t know what to do.

But then he saw what the woman was pointing at. Cakes!

Nonu never says no to cakes. So he joined in. But with the last bite of cake, he started missing momma again.

“Neil, momma will be back soon. Let’s play on the swings till then,” said the woman again.

Now, Nonu got angry. This school thingy is not working for him.

They can’t even get my name right.

 Nonu had just reached the slide, when momma called him out.

“Having fun, Neil?”

Nonu was surprised. How is it even…?

 On the way back, momma told Nonu that Neil is his real name.

 

 

 

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“What’s Nonu, then?”

“Hmm, that’s your pet name, son.”

“But, I don’t have a pet!

“I mean, that’s your nickname.”

“Now who’s Nick?”

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“Urrgh… anyways did you like your school?”

“Not at all. I am not going to that place from tomorrow.

I want to stay with granny.”

“Neil!”

“Don’t call me that!”

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………And the argument went on.

 

What’s your petname….I mean, nickname…err..

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My Mom’s a Sleepyhead

This is Sam.

He loves to read magical stories.

He loves to play boardgames.

He loves to watch cartoon shows on television.

And he loves to do it all with his mom.

But there’s a problem.

Sam’s mom is always sleepy.

When he wakes up in the morning, she is no mood to watch the squirrels play in the patio or the birds twitter happily. Sam counts her yawns. 20, sometimes 25 times in an hour! Who does that!!

When she is back from work, she enters yawning. Again, not in a mood to play a game of chess or Scotland Yard with him. She is irritated and shouts at Sam.

“Sam, for God’s sake! Just look at your room. There’s no place to sit. Everything is so messed up. You are 7! Old enough to clean your room.”

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She cleans the room herself as she shouts at him and yawns. Cleaning, shouting and yawning all together. Then she cooks a quick meal and asks Sam to finish it fast.

“Mom shall we watch television while having our dinner?” asks Sam hopefully.

Mom shoots one angry look at Sam and he knows her answer.

“Finish your meal and go to bed”, said mom.

At night, Sam wants to listen to a story.

“Mom pleaaaaseee,” says Sam.

“Okay. But just one story,” mom agrees. Sam is overjoyed.

“Once upon a time, there was a king and a queen. They had a beautiful daughter. One day, an ugly ogre took the princess and started eating his salad. Suddenly… the clock struck 12 and beauty gobbled up grandma. Then she ran leaving her glass shoe behind…..the donkey and the cat started to race … zzzzzz…zzzzz….

Sam could not believe that!!

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“Mom! Mom! Wake up! Urgggggh”, Sam was very upset. He swears he will never talk to his sleepyhead mom again.

Today, Sam is in a bad mood. He cannot focus on what’s going on in the class. Sam’s teacher notices that he is upset for some reason. She calls him in the staff room and asks what happened.

“My mom’s a sleepyhead. She’s sleepy in the morning. She’s sleepy in the evening. She doesn’t read or play with me. All she wants is to sleep. I will never talk to her again,” says Sam.

“Sam, you are a good boy. You should try to understand your mom’s problem before getting mad at her. Do you know how hard it is for her to do everything at the office, at home, for you and for the rest of the family?”

Sam blinks.

“Have you seen a mobile phone? What happens when you play your favorite mobile game, watch a funny video, read about dinosaurs and talk to your grandma without charging it?

“It just switches itself off?” says Sam with a shrug.

That’s because the phone’s battery has no power left for more work. It’s the same with humans. We all have our energy bundles. And if we don’t get enough rest, we’ll be tired always. It’s the same with your mother. Maybe she is overworked.”

Sam realizes that it’s true. Mom works at the office. She comes back home and there’s more work waiting for her.

“If you want to spend time with her, you need to make sure that she has enough energy left for you,” teacher smiled.

Sam understands. He is ashamed to have behaved like a child. How could he not see that mom is tired?

In the evening, when mom comes back home, she is so surprised to see the room spic and span. Sam has done his homework too.

“Mom, let me help you with the dishes. Together, we’ll finish everything fast,” says Sam with a smile so sweet that her mom’s stress vanished instantly.

Sam is now able to save his mom’s energy for better things like bedtime reading, board games, cooking etc.

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And life is happy again.

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The ‘Pumpking’ Soup

King Sondumal was just like his name. Always sleepy and lazy. He had a huge kingdom but he didn’t try to make it rich, strong or happy. People came to him with their problems, but they were always sent back saying the king was resting.

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King Sondumal’s kingdom was in a bad condition. People were poor and unhappy. But do you know who was the unhappiest person in the kingdom? It was the royal cook. He worked hard to grind the spices, cut the vegetables, cook them into rich curries, but the king never liked what he cooked. Everyone else loved what he cooked. But it was just the king who never even finished his meals.

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“What a tasteless curry! You call yourself the royal cook? You don’t know how to make a simple potato curry. Take it away”, the king would shout and go back to bed.

The cook prepared the next meal with even more dedication. But it was impossible to please the king.

One day the cook had an idea. He went to the king and said, “My Lord, I want to treat you to the tastiest meal in the world.”

The king made a face. “ You cannot make a simple

“ You cannot make a simple daal and you talk about treating me to the tastiest meal?”

“Yes my lord, trust me. Pumpkin soup- it’s the tastiest meal in the world.”

“Would someone take this madman away? or should I throw him in the jail? Pumpkin soup is the most tasteless thing in the world. Do you understand?” yelled the king in frustration.

The cook was unafraid. He said, “What if I prove you wrong? I have a ‘pumpking’ growing in my garden.”

“A pumpking? What’s that??” asked the king.

“It’s a royal pumpkin and the tastiest breed of pumpkin. It’s so royal that when anyone who is not a king touches it, it rots immediately. So all I want from you is to go to my garden and bring that ‘pumpking’. I will make you a soup so yummy that you would want it every day. If I fail, you can put me in the jail.”

The king was surprised at his confidence. And he was curious about this ‘pumpking’ growing in his garden. So he agreed.

He called for his chariot.

“My lord, you cannot take a horse or a charioteer with you. They are not kings. The king has to go alone to the garden and pick the pumpking”, said the cook.

So the king walked towards the cook’s home. He found that the cook lives uphill. He started climbing the hill on foot. In just 15 minutes he was sweating and panting heavily. And the cook’s home was still far.

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The king kept walking and walking for 2 more hours and reached the cook’s home at the top of the hill. He found the ‘pumpking’ in his garden.  It was huge. He picked it and carried it back to his palace.

The ‘pumpking’ was too heavy and the road was too long. The king walked for another 2.5 hours before he reached his palace.

He was fuming.

“Now if you don’t make a good meal out of this, I am going to kill you,” said the king.

The cook went inside and quickly made the ‘pumpking’ soup- bland and tasteless.

He served it in the royal bowl to the king who was very tired and hungry.

As soon as he saw the soup, he gulped it down.

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“I can’t believe this! This is definitely tastier than anything I have tasted till now,” declared the king.

And then he asked for two more bowls of ‘pumpking’ soup.

The cook was happy. Back in the kitchen, the cook’s helpers tasted the soup.

“There’s no salt! It tastes horrible,” said the helpers.

“I told you, it’s a royal pumpkin. Only the kings will find it tasty”, said the cook smiling to himself.

 

But kids, you are smart. You know the truth, right? The king worked hard for the first time. He walked for hours carrying the pumpkin on his shoulders, got tired and hungry. So he found even the saltless pumpkin soup tasty. Those who work hard, enjoy their meals the most.

 

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