Heading For Trouble!
Eeshan fled. Dadaji looked at me. "What would your father say?"
Say? Not much. He'd do something. Like give me a walloping.
"Sorry, Dadaji. I'll never do it again. Please don't tell Daddy," I pleaded, apologising for something I hadn't done, strictly speaking. But I couldn't let Eeshan down. Dadaji fell silent. He coiled the turban back into a slumbering serpent and planted it on his head. "Will you do what I tell you to?" "Sure," I squeaked, without hearing him out.
"On Independence Day, you'll go to school in a pink turban." I think a part of me fainted. He had to be joking. But of course, he wasn't.
Dadaji was serious enough to march me up to the market to buy a pink turban and a white kurta-pajama. Every evening, he'd lock the door to his room and we'd practice tying the turban. One, two, three rounds, then a neat tuck. It didn't help to tie an untidy fold, because he'd make me do it again. There were days I wondered if I'd made the right choice. One hiding from Daddy couldn't have been worse!
I couldn't sleep the night before Independence Day. This was one night I wished wouldn't end. But it did.
Dadaji nudged me, "Time to get ready!" He sounded so cheerful, I couldn't believe he was my grandfather. Couldn't he see, how wretched I felt?
First, I wiggled my feet through the churidar legs. Then, with Dadaji holding the sleeves straight, I shook my head through the kurta. Finally, it was time to twist the turban around my head. Dadaji had starched it so that it would hold its own. The pink python wound round, crushing my head with its grip. I could hardly breathe. But Dadaji didn't seem too perturbed with my failing health. He strode out of the house.
I took the tiniest steps I could. But school was just a couple of blocks away and the final act of my 57-day ordeal was around the corner. I couldn't bear to see the disgust on my friends' faces, so as the gate approached, I shut my eyes and slipped my hand into Dadaji's huge paw. I heard familiar voices. That was Borun. What was he saying? "Oooh wow! Is that Charu?"
"No," I wanted to scream. "It's Charu's ghost." But someone had stuck my voice inside my throat with glue.
Ayesha gushed, from somewhere close to my right ear, "He looks like a prince!" She had to be joking! I opened my eyes. But she looked as if she'd seen a giant lollipop.
"Smashing!" squealed Eeshan. "Dadaji," pleaded Divya, "will you please teach me to tie a turban?"
I puffed myself up and was about to tell her, turbans are only for boys, when Dadaji declared, "I'll teach you all how to tie a turban!"
Heading For Trouble! [Stories for kids]
By Benita Sen; Illustration by Shinod A.P.
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