Leaning upon the ship’s rail, the captain breaths deeply, her lips part slightly as though she could drink in the fresh wind that billows the sail.The morning sun dances on the water. The captain looks up to the sky. “ A day like this is a special gift.” She says clasping her hands behind her back. “ Do not worry we will find the sea monster.” The captain is six years old Arushi and her friends are her cousin brother Anup and his little sister. She wants to be Dr. Aronnax, the renowned scientist of the story ‘Twenty thousand leagues under the sea.’ They are on the fourth floor of there grandfather’s house which accumulates one foot of the rain-water in every rainy season and it stays for one or two days. Arushi has arranged a long,flat wood which will work as their ship.In those days their were no TV or computer so make belief games are their only option. Her four years old cousins clap and shouts, “ Look, Dolphins! Not one but two!”Arushi adjusts her cap and deepens her voice. “ Dolphins are good signs.” She says, that means we will capture the monster.
Around eleven in the morning they return from their voyage. Their faces are little tired from the adventure but satisfied.
The morning sun falls across the long rectangle wooden table, touching a brass vase of homegrown flowers there and scatter pages of the newspaper on Arushi’s grandfather’s hand.A gorgeous smile lit on her face as she leans forward. “ Good morning grand pa!.” She says in a pleasant voice pulling the chair closer to the table. “ Do you know that we went underwater, visit an island and saw lots of beautiful fish and different types of rocks. But there was no fight,just a twist at the ending.”
Her grandfather laughs.“ I am glad that you had a wonderful time under the water. Now go get ready to visit the bookstore.”
Arushi and her grandfather walk to their bookstore, not too far from home. On the way, out of her trail of her eye she spots an old woman on a bench. One leg crosses over the other and her foot swings rhythmically. Her big yellow purse sits on the bench a slight distance from her as though it is her companion. She stares straight ahead, seemingly lost in memories. Is she lonely? Arushi mutters and then stops on the middle of the road. “Grandpa wait.”
She runs towards the old woman with a delicious smile. “ Hi, do you need any help? Why are you sitting here alone? Where is your granddaughter and kids?”
The old woman adjusts her eye glasses on her nose. Her pale face flushes.“ I do not have any grand-daughter. I am taking a break from walking. It is so hot out there. I have to walk to a nearby shelter to eat and rest. You go ahead.”
Arushi runs back to her grandfather. “ I am tired of eating ice cream everyday,so can I give that money to the old woman? She is humgry and she does not have anyone to help her.” Arushi pushes her curl black hair behind her ear with one hand while she stands on her toes and whispers “ Even I think she can not see properly. That is really sad!”
Her grand father looks at her face lovingly and understands. “ Yes, it is sad.” He takes out a few coins and says, “ Go give this to the woman.”
A few years have passed.
Now Arushi is in fourth grade. She loves reading. Nothing disturbs your thoughts, she says. “ The hour passes without moving, you walk through the landscape you see in your mind’s eye and your thought caught up in the story, stops at the details or rush through for the plot. You pretend you are the character and feel it as your own heart beating. She slid into books like a seal into water. Her parents think she spends too much time in reading story books and not giving enough attention to her math subjects.
One late afternoon Arushi returns from school. As she enters through the front door, she glances the familiar stage. Her father holds a book but reads the empty spaces and close to him on the sofa her mom knits and hums like a tea-kettle. Arushi steps in. “ Hey!”
Immediately her mother opens a smile like a lightning and says, “ There is a surprise for you but it is for your benefit. We have asked one graduate student to come here to help you in math.”
“ What?” Arushi says adjusting the navy backpack on her hand.
She hears her father’s deep voice. “ It start from today.”
Now what? Arushi thinks to herself.She hates math.
The teacher comes sharp at seven. They introduce each other and sits on their chairs facing each other. First day and lots of expectations.
This continue for a month.
At the beginning of the second month,something happens on a Saturday.According to the tradition tea and snacks are served to the teacher. Arushi tries her best to concentrate on math but her mind is in the half-finished story ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’. A brilliant idea flashes on her mind.
She leaps forward, opens her ink pen and drops the ink to the tea.
Her math tutor watches in disbelief. He stares with large astonished eyes.
“ You are not supposed to behave this way!”
Arushi shakes her head. She says while twisting the cover of the black pen in her hand, “ I do not want you to come and teach me math. I want to finish reading my books. I can learn math by myself. I have tried to explain so many times but could not. May be if I act strange then you will understand. Sorry. Please let my parents know that you do not want to teach.”
He sits quietly on his chair for a while before he leaves. Arushi knows that it is not a best thing but the attraction of her story books are stronger. She stares at the closed-door and sighs.
Arushi crosses and uncrossed her legs. She sits with both elbows on the desk, rubs her forehead, then keeps one hand on each side of her face. She has to make up a story for her parents and it should be the best.
“The older I grow the more earnestly I feel that the few joys of childhood are the best that life has to give.” Ellen Glasgow