Long ago, when I was around five years old, I was playing all by myself under the shade of the huge Guava tree.
I was proudly gazing at the loads of guavas that decorated the tree’s top branches. Lost in thoughts of all the yummy fruits I’ll enjoy once they’ll get ripe. Just then I heard a loud giggle. I turned around and spotted a bunch of girls enjoying something just down the road, on the other side of our boundary wall.
Curiosity made me go and give them a closer look. They all seemed to be having a wonderful time. Cheering loudly they were playing something I couldn’t see until I reached closer to the gate of our house. I soon discovered they were playing with darts and were having great fun aiming at the bull’s eye they’d drawn in the sand. I kept watching their play for quite some time. It looked really fun. I decided to join them.
They were around a few years elder to me (according to my judgment at that age). They bluntly declined my request to join them and I was left to enjoy the game only from a distance. It wasn’t long before Mum called out, looking for me and I raced back in the house.
After that evening I often saw the girls play the same game just close to our house. I didn’t tell my mum or my brother about it. But, I did ask my father if I could get a set of colourful darts to play with. I had already bought a big set of building blocks a few days back and besides, Dad considered darts as risky toys for a little kid of my age. I was sad.
I grew grumpy and tried to throw tantrums. But to no avail. The following evening I was sitting on our porch steps, enjoying a ripe Guava. Just then, I was interrupted by a hissing sound. I have always been very scared of lizards and chameleons. I stopped eating at once and tried to concentrate where the hissing came from. A few seconds later I heard a loud hiss.
Scared and almost jumping from where I sat, I dropped my Guava on the ground. It was then I heard someone call out, “Hey, would you like to play with me?” When I turned to look around, I saw one of the dart girls speaking to me while she greedily eyed my juicy guavas. Off course I wanted to play, but something in her look (the way she was looking at our guava tree) made me feel a spark of anger light inside me.
As I walked up to her, she asked me my name and told me hers. She was Aruna. She and her sister Pushpa asked me if I would like to play with them. I still can’t believe, when I recall, what a suspicious look I had given them that evening. But soon my liking for the colourful darts took over and I decided to join them. It was hardly five minutes into play, when Aruna asked me, “Are those guavas ripe and ready to eat?”
Enjoying every bit of the game I carelessly replied, “Yeah, they are very sweet and very much read to eat.” It was Pushpa’s turn to play and as I turned towards her, she said; “Can we get a few of your ripe guavas?” I must have given them a real mean look, for there was silence for a long time and just before anyone could say anything, I heard my mum call out for me. Just as I said bye and turned around, Aruna uttered, “we’ll give you two of our darts if you give us four ripe guavas.”
I gave my little mind a scratch, and thought to myself, “doesn’t sound like a bad deal”. I just uttered, “let’s do it tomorrow” and rushed inside the house. At the tender age of five when I was introduced to elementary Arithmetic, I did a rough calculation, and it did sound to me a deal where I was definitely a loss. I would get just two darts in return for four juicy guavas. No way.
But as time passed, a thought struck my mind. We had a big Guava tree full of juicy ripe fruit. Even if I gave them four of the guavas, it’ll be a deal in my favour. That night, I dreamed about all the fun I’ll have to tease my brother once I got my two brightly coloured darts and maybe in days to come I’ll get two more by trading a few more guavas. I was all smiles the following day.
As the Sun reached the peak my patience to wait for the evening started giving away. It was a Sunday. My mum saw me peeping out of the window every now and then. On being asked, I just said, I am keeping an eye on our guava tree. I was in no mood for a tantrum as my mind was occupied with the mischief of its own. Soon the time came that I’d been waiting for.
Aruna and Pushpa walked towards our house. I moved ahead and told them, that if they gave me their red and yellow darts, I’ll let them pick four guavas. Beaming with joy, they agreed and handed me my two darts. Soon they were climbing my dear guava tree. Aruna picked guava and then another and then the third and then the fourth, and then one more. “Wait a minute. You can’t take more than four guavas.” I roared. But they didn’t bother to listen and Aruna kept plucking the guavas and throwing them to her sister. My passion for the darts soon evaporated and my age-old possessiveness took over my mind. I still can’t believe what I did next.
I climbed the main trunk of the tree and pulled Aruna’s long plait. She cried in pain and tried to push me down. Within no time she jumped down the tree. Her sister collected all of the six guavas and started to run. So did Aruna and also me. I was determined to fight for justice and ran after them.I was a good runner for soon I reached up to Pushpa and pulled her hair.
She yelled in pain and dropped the guavas. Hearing all the yelling and the commotion, soon I heard my mum yell out for me. As I stopped to turn around, the two sisters fled round the corner of the street. Still fuming with anger, but scared of being scolded had mum seen what I had been up to I decided to get back home. I quickly picked the guavas and raced back home.
My mum couldn’t believe her ears when our neighbour told her that he had seen me pull the girl’s hair. I was scolded for what I had been doing. That evening everyone including our neighbour had a hearty laugh when they learned my whole story. Dad couldn’t believe how naughty I could be. I had cheated. I took their two darts and those poor girls didn’t get any of the guavas.
It’s rightly said, everything is fair in love and war. I was madly in love with the guavas and was at war against injustice, so probably all I did was fair too.
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The Song on my mind: