It was 2 p.m. in the afternoon and Mahesh went off to play cricket in the scorching heat with his friends. All of them were mostly a year or two older than Mahesh who was 7. The bat, ball and stumps were bought by collecting everyone’s pocket money. Raghav divided all of them amongst two teams. Mahesh was sent to one corner of the ground for fielding.
Mahesh insisted on bowling but his captain asked him to obey. The ball never came to his side so Mahesh was getting bored. Mahesh thought he would become a great cricketer one day. He would lead the Indian team and make sure that Raghav is the 12th man in the team. Suddenly he was brought back to the real world by Raghav’s shouts. The ball had just bypassed him and reached the boundary.
Raghav shouted “You duffer. The ball was so close to you and you were standing and looking at the sky. We have lost the match because of you. Now what are you doing standing here. Go and get the ball”. Mahesh went to search for the ball with a sad look. He kept on searching but couldn’t find the ball. Raghav shouted “Did you find the ball?” “No” came the reply. Raghav decided that everyone would go back home now as it was already 4:00p.m. He gave the responsibility to Mahesh to find the ball else not to come to play the next day. Mahesh looked at everyone leaving him all alone to search for the ball.
Reluctantly he started searching for the ball again. He couldn’t find it behind the bushes. Probably the ball would have gone into the shed behind the bushes he thought. But how would he get inside the shed. He saw some small space in one corner of the shed. As he was lean it would be very easy for him to creep inside and check. He quietly crept inside the shed. It was completely dark inside the shed. How would he be able to search for the ball in pitch darkness? He started feeling some itching on his hands and legs which he realized was because of cobwebs all around.
He rubbed his eyes to look around closely. He saw a white thing in the pitch darkness. Suddenly Mahesh sneezed loudly. Mahesh could see the white thing running around and making whining sounds. He realized that it was a small puppy. He felt pity for the puppy. He decided to take the puppy home and feed it. He was aware that Amma, Appa won’t like a dog at home. So he decided to feed him secretly.
He quietly tiptoed inside his house. He rushed into his room and closed the door behind him. He kept the puppy on the floor and decided to bring something for him from the kitchen. He went to the kitchen.
Amma gave him a glass of milk every day after he came from play. Today also she gave though Mahesh decided that he would give his share of milk to the puppy. He kept the tumbler of milk beside the puppy. Suddenly someone entered his room. It was Minakshi, his sister. She was about to scream when Mahesh quickly closed her mouth with his hand.
“From where did you bring this little thing?” asked Minakshi. Mahesh narrated the entire story. Mahesh told her that the puppy is not drinking the milk. She said “Mahesh, how can it drink from a tumbler. Go and bring a bowl. It can’t put its mouth inside the tumbler”. He quickly went to the kitchen and asked his mother for a bowl. Amma wanted to know why he wanted the bowl.
Mahesh quickly added “You ask too many questions. Just give me the bowl.” He quickly took the bowl and fed the milk to the puppy in the bowl. He expected Minakshi to support him in keeping the puppy. “What would you give me if I convince Amma for keeping this puppy?” asked Minakshi.
“Whatever you want my dear sister,” said Mahesh lovingly. Minakshi demanded his magic rubber. He said “Dear there is no magic in that rubber. I just used to tease you earlier that I have a magic rubber. But actually there is no magic in it.” She said, “Fine then give me the fun fighter game which Appa gave you last month.”
This was turning out to be a very expensive deal. He understood that his little sister was too smart for her age. After thinking for a few minutes Mahesh said “My dear sister, I was just playing with you. The magic rubber does have magic in it. You can have it for a day”. Minakshi said “No. If you want my support then you would have to give it to me permanently.” Mahesh gave in to her demand reluctantly.
Together they went to Amma. Minakshi started the conversation asking “Amma how is Vanaja Chitti?” Amma replied “How come you remembered Vanaja chitti out of the blue? She called up today morning.” “Amma how is Chitti’s pet Ranga? He is very well mannered isn’t it?” Minakshi added quickly. “He wasn’t keeping well. He had some infection. Chitti was busy with him. He is better now.” Picking up some courage Minakshi asked innocently “Amma, cant we also keep a puppy at home? They are so cute.” Amma said “No way. You have to take care of it like an infant. Give it a bath; take out for walking twice or thrice a day. It’s not an easy job”.
Mahesh quickly said “Amma, I can take care of all that. You just say yes”. Amma could smell something fishy. She asked, “What’s the matter?” Mahesh narrated his story. He said “Amma, that poor thing was inside that shed full of cobwebs. Please, can we keep him at home?” Amma said let me first have a look at him.
All of them went inside Mahesh’s room. Amma saw the little thing and thought that it was really in a pitiable condition. She told the children that they would have to convince Appa. Mahesh pleaded to Amma. Amma said “Let Appa come. Don’t simply come up with this thing as soon as he comes. He would be tired. I will give him hot coffee and bring him to a good mood. Then we will talk about this.” Mahesh requested Amma to prepare pakoras as Appa would be surely in a happy frame of mind after having is favourite pakoras.
As per their plan, Amma started the preparation for pakoras. Minakshi was happily writing something in her notebook and erasing it with the magic rubber. The puppy kept Mahesh busy. They decided to call the puppy Ganesh. The doorbell rang and everyone prepared themselves. Mahesh opened his books quickly and started doing Maths sums. Amma opened the door for Appa.
Appa was already an hour late today and so he was more tired than usual. He was surprised to see Mahesh doing his sums with so much concentration and interest. Appa sat on the chair and opened his shoes. Amma went inside the kitchen to prepare hot coffee and pakoras. Appa felt something wet on his feet. He looked down to find Ganesh licking his feet.
He jumped out of his chair and started yelling. Amma quickly came from the kitchen. Appa asked, “Who brought this dog inside?”.
Amma tried to cover up saying “I don’t know from where it came.” Appa said “You don’t know. There is only one door to go out and come in. How come you don’t know?”
Minakshi hastily added “Appa, Mahesh brought him from the shed. We wanted to tell you this after you had coffee and pakoras.” Appa was very angry now. Amma tried explaining to him how much Mahesh was interested in keeping Ganesh. In the meanwhile, Ganesh peed near Appa’s legs.
This increased his anger even more. Appa said “See the nuisance it has done here. You, people, think it’s easy to keep a dog.” A scared Mahesh said, “Appa, he is a puppy, not a dog.” Appa said “I know it’s a puppy. Do you even know how to take care of a puppy? The dog needs to be given a bath every day and taken out for a walk thrice a day. Who will do all this? It has to be taught manners otherwise he would be making the entire house dirty.” Mahesh suggested that he would take up the responsibility.
Amma added, “When he is ready to take up the responsibility let us give him a chance.” Appa explained Amma “Mahesh would do his share of work for a few days after which he would find excuses to get rid of the responsibility. Then they all would together give him the responsibility.” Amma pleaded to at least give him a chance. Finally, Appa agreed with so much protest only on the condition that Mahesh would be care-taker for Ganesh.
For the next two days, Mahesh was busy with Ganesh. Mahesh thought to himself that now he had Ganesh to play with. He need not have to go and beg Raghav to include him in the team and get bullied by him. But hardly did he know that his entire playtime would be consumed in doing all sorts of odd jobs for Ganesh. Mahesh had to get up 5.a.m in the morning instead of 6 as he had to take Ganesh out for a walk.
This was his biggest pain. After coming home, he himself got ready to go for school. After his school, his responsibility was to give Ganesh a bath under Amma’s guidance. By the time Ganesh got ready, Mahesh was already tired. But he had to do his homework. There were spelling mistakes in his English homework and all the Maths sums went wrong because he was sleepy while doing the homework.
He got scolding from Amma and was made to do his homework again. In the evening, he had to take Ganesh out to walk again. When they entered the home, Amma screamed at Mahesh as Ganesh’s legs were full of mud and the drawing-room was already dirty by Ganesh’s muddy legs. Mahesh was made to wash Ganesh’s legs and clean the drawing room also. The entire schedule had made Mahesh very tired.
On the third day, he told Amma that he had too much homework so he cannot take out Ganesh for a walk. Amma said, “If you had so much homework then why were you watching TV for 2 hrs.” Mahesh took out another fake reason for not taking Ganesh for a walk. “Amma, I am having a stomach ache.” Amma understood that he was just cooking up reasons but someone had to take Ganesh for a walk.
When Appa returned from office, Amma requested him to take out Ganesh for a walk. Appa replied “Didn’t I tell you that after a few days Mahesh would not do this work. I had already told you that I won’t do it.” Amma said “At least he learnt his lesson. Please take the dog for walk else it might pee inside the house.” Appa was upset now.
He said “Your poor husband has come home after a day-long work. Instead of offering coffee, you are asking him to give the dog a walk.” Amma was left with no choice. She decided to do the needful today. While she took Ganesh out, he suddenly ran towards another dog. Amma saw that the big dog started licking Ganesh and showering all her love. Amma understood that it was Ganesh’s mother.
When Amma reached home Mahesh looked all around her for Ganesh. “Amma where is Ganesh?” demanded Mahesh. Amma replied “On the way, Ganesh found his mother, so I left him with her. Both of them were very happy. It’s best for Ganesh to be with his mother rather than with us.” Mahesh was a little sad that Ganesh was not with him anymore.
As he sat thinking about the entire episode, suddenly something struck him. He ran inside the study room and took out the magic rubber from Minakshi’s pencil box. Minakshi started screaming.
Amma came to the study hearing the screams. Minakshi complained “Amma, the magic rubber is mine. He snatched it from me.” Mahesh said “No, the deal was in exchange of keeping Ganesh. Since Ganesh doesn’t live here anymore the deal no longer holds valid”.
Minakshi argued, “No the deal was that I would support you in keeping Ganesh at home in exchange for the rubber which I did.” Mahesh said “No way. It’s unfair I don’t have Ganesh and I don’t have the rubber too. That’s not possible”. Saying this he ran away from the room with his magic rubber.
Contributing Story Teller: Vrinda Iyer [email protected]