The Truant Family!

The low hanging trees were always in demand. As Raji rushed for the nearest one, with her little brother in her tow, she cast a quick glance at the tree to survey the bounty. It was laden with fresh guavas, alright! Pumped, she put her foot on the lowest branch and pulled herself up. Raji had barely put her foot on the next branch, when she felt a tug on her skirt. Feeling a nudge of irritation, she peered down at her four year old brother.

"What is it, Appu?"
"Where's my guava?" he demanded.
"Will you at least wait while I climb up?"

She resumed her climb up carefully, so as not to tear her skirt. The trick was to choose the right branches.She had barely moved up one level, when she felt a tug again. She looked around for the nearest ripe guava and hurled it before Appu could speak.She heard his chuckles of delight as he dug into large juicy bites. That settled, she ensconced in a comfortable branch, and began her feast of the large, ripe guavas.

Summer fiesta. That's what this was! As she sat there curled up, throwing a guava to her little brother, every once in a while, listening to the distant sound of the 2nd period school bell, she chuckled. She could see a pair of legs hanging from nearly every tree in the vicinity. Oh, how she loved being a part of the Sankaran family!
The Headmaster had no idea how all the twelve Sankaran cousins had escaped school through the back gate and were now nicely settled in guava trees in the neighbouring Guava orchard. Poor fellow. To think, he called himself the "torch bearer of wisdom".
The Sankaran cousins were ill-famous in their school. A dozen naughty children, spread across all classes, who ganged up at the drop of a stone - that's what they were famous for.

"Akka?"
She heard the doubtful sound of her brother's voice. Just as she was about to throw another guava, his quavering voice shot up, "Is that Narasimha Mama?"

"No, silly. What would Mama do here at this time of the day?" She retorted.
Nonetheless, she carefully parted the leaves and peered at the dusty road. Sure enough, there he was. His dhoti tied up above his knees, an angry look on his face as he strode determinedly towards the school building.

"Abbah!" She exclaimed.

She slithered down the tree, grazing her knees and tearing her precious skirt. But there was no time.

"My fate." Grumbling, she dragged Appu's little hand and ran towards the little hedge, whistling softly to alert all her cousins, enjoying  their fruits in the trees. A flurry of activity began under each tree.

Raji got on her knees and lowered herself into the little hole in the hedge and pulled herself on the other side in to the school complex. Then, sitting on her shin, she pulled Appu too. Once the whole family had re-entered the school premises, they ran to their classrooms and when the Master was not looking, slipped quietly into the class.

Five minutes had passed. She could see Mama talking to the Maths Teacher. He looked serious.

It beat her. How did he get to know about the Guava orchard adventure? There had to be a spy amongst the cousins. It must be Murthy. Always trying to get Brownie points, that ragamuffin of a fellow.

Mama looked towards her, and she knew her life was over. Oh, it was that look again. The look he gave her when he had caught her licking the pickles kept for drying on the roof. She stared down at her torn skirt. Not even the skirt could escape the fate of the day.

The Maths teacher looked at Raji and said, "Rajalakshmi, your Mama needs you home for a family emergency. Please call all your cousins and go immediately. Don't worry about the class. I will teach you fractions tomorrow."

Sighing, Raji picked up her books. Fractions. How nice they looked now.

Once they were out, all twelve cousins looked morose. The esteemed Sankaran family would probably disown them. Mama walked determinedly in front and only when they were out of the school's reach, he turned around and shouted, " Okay, you rascals! You have so much work to do today. Your Tatha's dear friend Ranga is standing for the elections this time. But his rally is empty and I want you all to fill the chairs there. That's not all. You have to shout and cheer really loud! Can you do that for me?"

Whether it was the relief or the excitement, no one could say, but the loud collective shriek that erupted from the children next convinced Narsimha Mama that he had made the right choice. Putting his hand up, he said, "And one more thing. Ranga Tatha has promised that if you are good, he'll let you spend the entire night in the Guava orchard. You do know he owns the orchard, right?"
With that he turned around and started leading the kids, but not before winking at Raji.

**************************THE END********************************

Author's Note:
My Ammama (Maternal Grandmother), like all Grandmas ,tells me many stories. Last year, some day, I decided that when I turn 40, I'll write a book, with all her stories about life in the 1940s. Life of a maniac Brahmin family in a village in Andhra, that found pleasure in simple things, that had forty odd cousins living under the same roof, that saw adversity as a means of learning, that came together despite misunderstandings. 
Impatient that I am, I thought the book could wait till I am 40, but I could always test the characters. And hence this story. I chose this particular story out of the thousands she told me because this story spoke about so many varied aspects - the characters, the simplicity of life, the crazy twist with the rally. All masala for a good story.
Whether I have done justice is something you decide. So feedbacks & brickbats most welcome! The more brickbats, the better, because when I do release that book and force you to buy it, you should not regret the money you spend on it. Fine, I am kidding. I will not force you to buy the book, I'll only blackmail you! :D 
There's, of course, the huge chance that I don't write the book at all, because I am not good enough for that, but for now, let's just act optimistic.

Signing out,








PS: I added Email Subscription on popular demand! Okay not "popular" demand, but a very cute blogger friend, Scorpia's request. (Thanks for the idea, girl). So, check out the first block on the right-side panel! Beware - I enter your mailbox now! Muahahaaa! :D

Comments

  1. It's been exactly 26,231 years since you wrote a short story! :-o
    And man, this is the cutest story I've read in a long, long time. :)
    Loved it. Little children's innocence has been presented so beautifully. :)
    Well, I only hope we'll be in touch when you release your book at 40. ;)

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  2. @Karthik: Thanks! :)
    I do hope we'll still be blogging when I am 40! :D
    If not, I am sure that Social networking would have reached a state where we literally poke each other all the time! :D

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  3. Reminds me of the style in which R.K.Narayan writes his books. Simple and Sweet.

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  4. @Wildflower: Haawww!! Really?? ;;)
    Thanks! :-*
    That's too much of a compliment, though! :)

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  5. So sweet! I loved the narration, and the whole set-up. For me , visualising the whole situation is very important, and you got me to do just that! :D Keep it coming!
    Oh, and I will buy your book!

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  6. @DI: Really? You'll buy my book? :) Thanks much! :)

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  7. Hey... there is a distinct Malgudi Days flavour to the tale :)

    Keep them coming... and you already have a buyer in me... waiting for you to turn 40 ;)

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  8. @Roshmi: I love that comparison, though I don't know how much I deserve it. For now, I'll just bask in the glory! :D
    Thanks!
    You won't have to buy it. I'll send you a copy for the Review! :)

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  9. So we have a new author on the block! I loved the story. The simplicity, the flow, the setting,the finer nuances, the innocence - everything. Raji and her love for Appu touched a chord. I must say I've read something this refreshing in a long time and there's a resonance of Malgudi Days (I can recall Swami And Friends) in your story. I will definitely buy your book. (But don't forget to buy mine too. :)) And why wait till 40, haan? Can't wait that long! And lastly we'll pester you if you don't write more stories, so you better write. Ok? :)

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  10. @Ajay: :)
    Will definitely buy your book! :)
    The wait till 40 is so that people don't make comparisons with the likes of Chetan Bhagat! :P
    Like I said above, for now I will bask in the glory of the comparison with RK, but I know I don't deserve that! ;;)

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  11. lovely short story , Wowow U know I still go WOWO over such stories from the old era,, what days they must be ...

    Ok the 12 cousins now that reminds me of my family my mum are 6 sisters and a brother and each has on average 2 kids each so that makes 14 cousins but we are alos 12 cousins so when we all got together sometimes during the year it was chaos...

    my relative had a small house sort of thing on the outskirts of village in which he had a small kitchen garden and WE use to climb the wall to get inside to eat the juicy shalgams, mooli, shakargandi's and those sort of things , whe nthe front door would unlock it wud be chaos trying to run over hte wall to jump out

    he he he he

    nad yes PLEASE GET MORE AND MORE coming .. its so nice to read such nice light jovial stories .. loved this oen .. and yeah get the book out i will buy it tooo.. no no not buy you give me one signed by the AUTHOR :) he he hehe
    so when youturning 40 then hurrrryyyyyyyyyyy he he he he

    Bikram's

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  12. @Bikram: Thanks for the lovely comment! I would love to hear more about the fun you had at that house with your cousins. Do post about that. It sounds like a good read. :)
    My Grandma actually had some 40-50 cousins. I shortened that to 12 for a more genuine figure! :P
    Oh and PS: I turn 40 in just another 17 years! :D

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  13. Loved it.... It was written beautifully... :)
    Whenever your book gets published I'll buy it for sure... :)
    Autograph Please....

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  14. @Tanishka: Thanks, girl! :)
    Arrey, autograph kya! I'll give you the book for review! :)

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  15. Pree you are going to be so rich and famous! I can totally see it! :)
    Autograph please? :D

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  16. Wow...was wondering why it had a swami and friends to feel to it...

    Loved it Preeti and u write beautifully well..i could almost see the story play out in my mind


    yes yes autograph pls...but can u pls shift to wordpress :D

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  17. @Celestial Rays: Oh god! Much unexpected reactions these are! Much much much obliged! :) :)

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  18. @Nuttie: Thanks much! :)
    Arrey ya. The Wordpress thing, I am somehow unable to leave this domain name! Not that this name is good or unique, just attached to it. First blog and all? I'll definitely shift to WP this year. In the meantime, though, we'll pray that Blogger improves itself! :D

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  19. no worries will wait for the 17 years for the book.. :) you keep writing he hehe as long as i get that SIGNED COPY :)

    hopefully i will still be around for that many years :)

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  20. Ooooh...loved loved LOVED it! For some strange reason, i was transported back to 1992 :D

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  21. @Bikram: :)
    You'll definitely be around! I am just worried if I'll actually be able to write a book! ;))

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  22. @Scorpia: Thanks much, girl! :)
    Loooong time!

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  23. Danke! :D

    ... I'm waiting to review it :)

    ... Btw... do you believe in 'forty is the new twenty'? In that case...

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  24. @Roshmi: Hehe! :D
    Nope! The forty mark is so that people don't compare me to Chetan Bhagat and write me off! ;) :P

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  25. nice :)
    Loved the lucid writing.. though wanted to read a little more.. u could actually write a story u knw.. continue this in next 2-3 parts.. like episodes... :)

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  26. @S: Thanks! :)
    That's a good idea ya, except that, I don't know what happens next! :-0
    I'll figure that out first and then write the next part!

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  27. Awesome gurl.. your language is too good!! Dont even think of not writing that book okay!! Remember where there is a will there is a way :P

    Enjoyed every bit of this post, really!!

    Cheers,
    Sukanya

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  28. @Tanishka: Don't even ask! Too much work and a lot of other stuff happening! x(
    Details on GTalk! :D

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  29. @Pepper: Thanks much for the visit! :)

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  30. Very nicely done. I can actually see you writing that book :-)

    By the way, especially loved the first part, where your writing actually

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  31. sorry, posted the earlier comment without completing the sentence.

    By the way, especially loved the first part, where your writing actually made me imagine the whole scene in my head. That's what good writers are supposed to do! :-)

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  32. @Ramya: Thanks much! :)
    Means a lot to me! :)

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  33. i ll surly buy the book of stories to tell it to my children til that!!

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  34. Superb! Plsss plsss write that book soon or share more of these stories here!
    Loved that twist in the end - some nice garnishing that indeed :P

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  35. @Swaram: Thanks, girl! :) :)
    Will write again. Soon. Hopefully!

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  36. And that was an absolutely delightful read. You must be a published author already, no? I bet you will be soon enough :-) Can't wait to read more of your work. Adding you to my reader so I won't miss out.

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  37. :D

    Long time... no post? Whats up?

    P.S. Please let me know your email ID... and I would revert with my mailing address and contact number :)

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  38. You haven't written for a long time. Preparing to get into B-schools I guess. :)

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  39. @Roshmi: Read Ajay's comment above! :D
    Will be back in a while! :)

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  40. wow! that was a lovely story, simply put-the most effective way to go around short stories :)

    Well done!

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  41. @Writerzblock & Raam Pyari: Thanks! :)
    Welcome here! :)

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  42. @Shubhika: Thanks! :)
    Welcome here! :)

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