She entered swiftly through the door of her new house, let her shoes fly to a corner, plonked herself on the single couch and slid her heavy school bag to a side. Only then, she took a long breath. The water bottle still hung on her neck. She looked pretty with her plaited hair, round eyes and a smile that closely resembled her mother’s. Oscillating her tiny legs, Anwesha wished her Ajoba, her Grandfather, who was with much relish, devouring a cup of chai on his antique recliner.
‘So Pakhru, How was your day at school?’
Her smile vanished, a frown taking its place.
‘Same as yesterday. It is very boring, Ajoba. I don’t even have friends to talk to. I wish we hadn’t moved. Ajoba, What should I do? ‘
At this juncture, Ajoba, realising the long conversation that was to come, threw his head back, refilled his cup of tea and started with a smile,
‘Pakhru, I shall tell you how I made my friends when I first moved to a new school. Is it okay?’
The ever attentive child, with her eyes open wide, moved closer and sat near her Ajoba’s recliner.
‘When I changed school, I had the same emotions. I felt lost and hated my parents for tearing me apart from my best friends. I went crying to my mother one day after school. She consoled me with my favourite Kheer, fed it to me with her own hands and taught me a new game.
First day, she told me to remember the roll number of each of my classmate along with their names.
Next day, she made small diamond cut barfis to share and told me specifically to address them by their names. The third day, she asked me to ask them about what they liked and disliked, what they ate, where they lived and so on. By now, all the twenty five kids knew my name and shared their tiffin with me. When I told my mom about one of the poor boys and his family troubles, she encouraged me to offer my pencils and books.
Thereafter, each day, we all sat together under the lone Banyan tree, narrating our family stories. We learnt new games each week, new songs, ate different types of food and also about different places across the country that each one had visited. Each moment taught us something interesting that we have cherished throughout our lives.’
He replaced the Tea cup and lifted Anwesha, who seemed drowsy by now, made her sit on the hand of the recliner.
‘ Pakhru, Did you understand? Each of your friends have a lot of stories. Collect their tales and your conversations will never end. Then, you shall come to me, complaining you never have enough time in school. ‘
With her wide eyes and small chin, she nodded and gave her Ajoba, an affectionate hug.
Even the glowing smile couldn’t express her joy within.