Mamma had bought her the bright red bag with silver chains only a week ago. She was in love with it. It held all her books and even the extra long Maths workbook expertly. She had smiled when Mala Ma’am complimented her on it.
“What a delightful bag Debby, where did you get it from?”
“My Mamma got it for me from Lajpat Nagar.” She had proudly replied.
Her bag would be spared the cruel Delhi summer for the upcoming two months. It would stay on Dada’s old dining chair, where he would include it each day in his afternoon prayers. God, bless my grandchild. Bless her studies. Keep her smiling.
Mamma would arrange all the bag’s contents safely on a shelf in her cupboard and take the bag away for washing. Or maybe she wouldn’t this time considering it was almost new?
A sudden scream from around her lifted Debby from her thoughts. The bus was here. A crowd of kids rushed from the ice candy stall near the school gate and got into tiffs about getting window seats. Debby had no particular fascination for a window seat. In fact in the blazing May heat, all that the wind offered was more heat.
The bus chugged along the familiar route home. Debby’s stop was one of the earlier ones and she stood up from her seat as the bus halted at the traffic signal.
“Happy holidays Debs!” Ankita – her best friend in school – called out.
“Same to you Anki!”
Debby gushed as she saw Mamma at her stop, smiling at her from under her umbrella. The beginning of summer holidays. Few things in life were more delightful than that.
Antenna rushed out from his place beside Ma in the kitchen. Debby giggled as she saw his upright tail and recalled how they had struck upon Antenna for a name. Pappa had been the one to coin that.
“So will it be nimboo paani or Glucon D or Frooti today?” Ma raised an eyebrow from the kitchen.
“No no, first have some aam panna. You have come straight from the hot sun.”
Debby grimaced. Who had been the madman who had invented aam panna? If there was one summer drink she loathed with a vengeance, it was this. And dada had taken up a new mission to make sure she had a glassful each afternoon.
“I am busy Dada. No time for aam.” She declared as she kept the red bag in its place. “I have lots to get done!”
“But what? Your summer hols just started and you are through with the homework already…”
Debs winked at Mamma. Homework wasn’t an issue. She ardently liked the scrap books, charts and models that they had been asked to make. Mamma and she had spent many laborious hours completing them all. They both took pride in winding up all the tasks before the hols started.
“Okay everyone, I am off.” Flourish and flutter and the world’s quickest shower later, Debs was out of sight.
Ma shook her head, getting back to the special holiday chicken she was cooking. Dada decided to use the opportunity to arrange an aam panna for himself.
“Well since no one is interested, maybe I will drink it up…”
Mamma was wondering if she should have a quick shower before lunch when noises from overhead distracted her.
“Guess we should go have a look….the shoe shelf her Dad placed there may have toppled over.”
Everyone trooped upstairs, climbing the winding staircase to reach the tiny room under the terrace.
The shoe shelf had indeed toppled over. It now stood elegantly on the top stair, obstructing a by passer’s way. Craning their necks to locate Debs, they spotted her with her head halfway inside the store cupboard, books sprawled around her. Her blue pajamas were now powder-dusty and her hair ran the threat of going the same way as some more books fell from the top bunk.
“No one bothers to maintain this library.” Debby sighed to herself. “If it wasn’t for me, cockroaches would be the only readers!”
Mamma giggled as she came out of the corner. “Would you hire new staff for cleaning Madam? I am all yours.”
Debs’s face lit up. “Really Mamma? Listen then, please arrange all the famous Fives in that heap over there and make sure the Secret Sevens don’t tag along… they go in that pile in that corner… when you’re done -“
“When you’re done,” Dada piped in, “we are going out to order a new glass case – your brand new library!”
With a scream that roused every hair in sleeping Antenna’s white and brown skin, Debby jumped up and hugged him tight.
Ma scanned the layers of dust and cobwebs that embellished the trio’s clothes.
“And when you go glass case hunting, pack in a carton or so of detergent.”
PS: Excuse the randomness, but I have no clue why I miss my school and summer vacations so much this morning. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that all 10 year old Debby needed to be happy was a warm summer afternoon spent with her Enid Blyton.
Life with puddles and rain and mangoes and scrapbooks used to be so very beautiful.
Tonight then, I am climbing into my time machine. I will go early to bed. 🙂