Mom had just given Champu a tablet. He had been told to rest at home for a month due to his bruises. He had fallen off the stairs of his house and broken his leg. He had to hop[a1] around the house on crutches.
Mummy could not take leave from office for a month as she had just begun her job and dad was out of town for some office work. They needed money for Champu’s good education and to take care of the grandparents. Champu’s mother called an ayah to take care of him in her absence. The ayah[a2] would leave in the evening when champu’s mother would come back from work.
Champu would feel lonely in the house all by himself. Ayah would not talk too much; she would just do the chores, give him food and watch some TV. Once she sat in front of the TV, she would not bother about anything else. Champu would be calling out for some help but she would be so engrossed in the television that nothing would affect her.
When Champu would scream her name she would get up with a start and say with a smile stretched from her ear to ear “Sorry baba, this is my favourite TV serial and no television at home so I watch here”. Champu did not know if he felt good or bad about it. But this was sure that he did not feel good when Ayah did not listen to him.
One day Champu was playing in the garden with all his toys scattered around him, he saw two children peeping from the gate, a girl and a boy who would be almost his age. They were fascinated seeing him play with his toys. He called them, but they ran away. He limped up to the gate with the help of crutches but they had gone. He stood there for some time looking for the two children but they were nowhere to be seen.
The next day Champu sat in the garden again. He kept looking at the gate. He waited for long. He decided to walk up to the gate and see if the children were there. He got out of the gate and saw two children hidden behind the wall of his house whispering to each other not realizing that Champu was standing behind them[a3] .
Chumpu suddenly said, what’s your name? Both of them got scared. They did not say anything. Seeing their clothes he asked them, “did you fall from staircase too?”[a4] they looked at each other. He held the boy’s hand and told them to come inside. They sat in the garden around all the toys. In no time they seemed like they knew each other from years and got busy playing with the toys.
Ayah came out of the house listening to the noise made by them. She looked at the children and said, “What are you both doing here?” go! Go to your house. The three children looked at her. Champu said loudly, “NO”. But both the children looked at each other and ran away. Champu looked at Ayah disappointedly.
When mummy came in the evening, Champu hurried to her and told her everything before Ayah could say anything. Mummy called her and spoke to her; Champu could not hear what mummy was saying. [a5]
Mummy had a holiday next day, so she was home. Ayah also came that day and she was accompanied by the two children, Lila and Raju. Champu’s eyes sparkled looking them, and he screamed ‘Ma both of them are here, here they are”. Mummy was smiling seeing Champu excited.
From that day on, Lila and Raju started coming everyday to play with Champu in the evening.
One day when mummy was about to leave for the office she gave some clothes and money to Ayah to give to Lila and Raju. Champu looked at mummy and asked her why is it for them? Mummy said:, “they come to play with you” and left.
What was going on? Did they come to play to get money and clothes and not because they liked Champu?
Champu was angry but was still waiting for them; they did not come that day. How will you give clothes to them? They have not come today? Champu asked Ayah.
They live near my house, baba, I will give them the clothes when I go back home.
Champu waited for them everyday that week but they did not come. Champu’s doubts were being strengthened; that the two children had come only to get clothes and money for themselves.
But, suddenly, they came after a week, jumping and making noise, Champu did not say anything. They tried to talk to Champu but he did not respond. Suddenly Champu screamed, ‘GO AWAY!’ You are not my friends, GO!” He snatched all his toys from them. Lila had tears in her eyes. Lila and Raju left the house without saying anything.
Mummy was at the gate when this happened. She got angry with Champu.
Mummy did not talk to Champu at all. In the morning she did not go to Champu’s room to wake him up. Champu was already awake; he was waiting for mummy to come. He wanted to cry, but he was holding it back. When mummy told Ayah that she was leaving, Champu called mummy aloud from his room, he came out crying and saying,’ They did not come to play with me. They came to take the money. I am not their friend.’
Mummy just hugged him and told him to get dressed. She then took him to the market and Ayah came along. There Champu saw Lila selling flowers and Raju polishing the shoes of people. He stood there for hours looking at them. He watched Raju standing outside a shop looking at all the toys from the glass pane. Lila joined him too, their noses touching the glass shield.
Champu came back home. Ayah told him that the children work on the streets to earn money to pay their fees in school.
But they are so small, said Champu. They are smaller than me, she comes below my shoulder and I am so big.
Ayah smiled. “Mmummy had given your old uniforms to them and some money for their books.” While Ayah told him this, Mummy was suddenly beside him wiping his tears.
Champu went out to the garden. He saw the two of them hiding behind the gate and called out to them. They came to him shyly. They had something in their hands which was wrapped in a colorful paper. They came to Champu shyly, stretched out their hands to give him a gift. “Happy Birthday,” they cried out.
The week that Lila and Raju had not come to play with Chimpu[a7] , they worked extra time to earn money for his gift. Chimpu was touched and felt sorry he had doubted his friends. Hhe hugged them and cried a bit but soon all three were playing with the toys in the garden.
[a1]Nice intro to the central character.
Characters: Mummy, Ayah, Girl and Boy.
[a3]There is some problem with the perspective. When he comes out of the gate, where is he located? On the street? How does he come behind the children. Which wall of the house is this? The garden wall?
[a5]There is the issue of reality. How many mothers would allow their child to play with street kids?