The Bad Luck Stone

by Samridh Batra

Vicky was in a really bad mood.It was the first day of his summer vacation and he had been looking forward to a nice, lazy day. However, the day had started badly and had gone on to get worse. His parents had quarreled bitterly in the morning and had then left for work. The maid  had burnt his breakfast. Then the cable connection had developed problems when his favourite program was on. He wondered why all this was happening to him.

He kept racking his brains, and suddenly remembered that he had bought a stone from the magic shop last evening. The shopkeeper had said, “If you buy this stone, it will might you luck, but if you are already unlucky, it will bring you even more bad luck”. The stone was so beautiful, shining with many colours, that Vicky had ignored the warning of bad luck and bought it.

He tried to remember what the shopkeeper had told him about the bad luck. He had said that the only way to stop this bad luck was to destroy the stone. So, Vicky decided to destroy the stone. He went towards his room, but as he turned the handle, it broke. He pushed at the door, but it came off the hinges and fell, breaking his favorite vase. The bad luck was acting fast!

He picked up the stone and began to run towards his bike so that he could crush the stone under it. But as he entered the garage, the piano fell infront of him because of the wooden flooring. He climbed his bike , switched on the engine and ran it over the stone, but there was not even a single scratch on it. Vicky was in a panic. He had to break the stone, or the bad luck would follow him.

He came out of the garage and sat on the footpath, thinking new ideas to destroy the stone. Suddenly, there was a loud sound from the sky and he saw an airplane crashing!!! He left the stone there and ran for his life. There was a huge bang and fire as the plane crashed to the ground. When the smoke had settled down, Vicky went to look and saw that plane had crashed exactly where the stone had been. And now there was nothing there but smoke and ashes.

And so, the bad luck of the stone itself broke the stone into pieces.

Samridh Batra is 12 years old and a student of class VII in New Delhi. He loves reading and sports.

The Tree Climbing

by Agrini Bhattacharya

No, I can’t do this!” exclaimed Martha, but Susan refused to accept it.

“Why can’t you do it?” she demanded. “It’s only in your mind that you can’t do it. We need another person and you are the only one left in the whole village. If you refuse, then we are bound to lose, and this would mean that we would have to give up our fields to them.”

“Come on, Martha,” cajoled Robin in a pleading voice. “Don’t be afraid. Believe in your capabilities. You just need to agree. We really don’t have much time left. Please say yes.” Martha looked unsure. As a litlte girl she had been the best tree climber in the whole village, sure footed, agile and flexible. However, when she had last climbed a tree, when she was six, she had had a terrible fall, which had resulted in her having a steel ball in her ankle. Since then she had always been too scared to climb trees again.

This year, some rowdy kids from the neighboring village had commandeered their playing fields and refused to leave them. The village head, when applied to, had clearly told them that it was their matter and that they would have to solve it themselves. The children in both villages had decided upon a challenge tournament, and the winners would have the right to the playing fields. There were to be swimming, racing and tree climbing competitions. Martha, the best natural athlete and acrobat in the village, had participated in every competition except the tree climbing.

Martha looked at the earnest and pleading faces of her friends. They needed her. But what if she fell down again? Or got stuck in the tree? What if her ankle wasn’t able to take the strain and she did not finish her climb? That would be really embarrassing! Still hesitating, she said, “Okay, I’ll give it a try. But I don’t guarantee success.” Everyone was overjoyed and thanked her fervently. We start practice tomorrow. Everyone, please report to me by ten o’ clock sharp at the Victorian Edge,” announced Susan. They all nodded and dispersed hurriedly as the Church gong struck noon.

On her way back, Martha had only one thought-“can I do this?” she was confused. On reaching home, she went straight to her mother. Her mother was a doctor in the town. She had her own clinic. Her father was also a doctor and was working as a surgeon in a hospital. At present, her father had gone to Geneva for a conference. She had an elder brother who was in a boarding school in Chicago. She told her mother everything. Her mother said “you took a very wise decision. Don’t be scared. Just believe in yourself and you will surely succeed. Success only comes to those who dare. Be brave.”

Martha felt stronger. She gave a determined smile. She was going to overcome her fear and win this competition. Suddenly, she realized how much she missed her tree climbing. She had always loved trees. And now, after seven years she would climb trees again. She could not wait for the competition day.

The next day she started from home early and reached the Victorian edge on time. The Victorian edge was a small patch of daisies in midst of a dense forest. They had named it the Victorian edge because they thought Queen Victoria loved daisies. Everyone was there, practicing for the competition. Martha also practiced with them. At last, there came the turn of tree climbing.

Everyone had one tree and started to scale it. Martha had the longest oak tree. She looked up at the height of the tree and then looked at her right foot’s ankle. This was the same tree from which she had fallen down. She remembered those branches and the big broad leaves. It was also spring at that time, the same season as now. She was lost in thought. She could clearly see the same branch from which she had slipped and came down. She could feel the fear of climbing trees wrapping around her once again. She turned away from the tree.

Philip saw her and went over to her. He said” we have deliberately given this tree to you so that you can forget your past and live in today. Seven years ago, this was the tree from which you’d fallen. Now, you will scale this tree. I know it. Don’t be afraid.” Martha felt stronger. She gave a determined nod and turned to face the tree. She would surely do it!

She started her climb. After getting halfway to the top, suddenly her ankle began to ache. She thought it was the usual twisting of ankle which was aching and decided not to bother about it. When she had just climbed two more branches, her ankle suddenly pained a lot and she was not able to climb anymore. She chose a suitable branch and sat down. She took off her shoe and saw her ankle. It was red with swelling. She nursed it for sometime and when the pain seemed to subside, she decided to climb up again. As soon as she stood up her ankle gave away and she fell down again, this time in Susan’s lap.

Susan was surprised. She made Martha sit and, after a few minutes, asked ”what was this?” Martha said “it’s my ankle. It can’t take this much strain. I am telling you, I will not be able to win the competition. I will fall again if I climb such heights. And in the competition, there will be the tallest and biggest trees of the village. How do you think I am going to win? Let alone winning, I will not even be able to complete my climb.”

Susan said “don’t lose hope. I’m sure you will win.” Martha was not sure. On her way back home, Martha was accompanied by her friend Philip. She was not able to walk properly and hence Philip accompanied her as his home was also on the way. On reaching home, her mother was very worried. She saw her ankle. It was badly swollen and was aching. She could not treat it as her equipment was in her clinic and so she called the local doctor.

The doctor bandaged it and told her to rest until it was healed. He also told her not to go tree climbing again. On this, she protested and said “it’s for the village and my friends. They are relying on me for making them win. I cannot step back now, doctor. I will have to climb trees, even if it means bed rest after that for a month!” The doctor was pleased with the determination he saw in her eyes. This was the same girl who had sworn never to think of tree climbing again when she broken her ankle. He said “I am happy that you want to overcome obstacles and move on. Well, as far as I know you, you will not back out now. So it’s useless to tell you to rest. But, you must take care of your ankle. You can win the match, I know it. And by the way, what day and time is this competition? I want to see the old Martha again.”

Martha smiled and said “it’s on the 25th of this month near the lake at 7 o’clock in the morning. I shall be expecting you there.” The doctor gave a smile and went away. Martha was even more determined now. The next day she set out early. It was not easy walking with the huge bandage but she managed. She reached the Victorian edge. There everyone was waiting for her. As she came up everyone was overjoyed. They all now happily started practicing. Philip came to Martha and asked “are you okay? I heard what happened yesterday. Really, I must appreciate your determination. I am quite sure you will win!” Martha was happy.

She could not climb trees for one week. In fact, she couldn’t do anything but still; she sat down and looked at her mates. They were enjoying themselves. Martha regularly sat there until she thought that her foot was all right. But then also her friends told her to rest. They wanted her to do her best on the competition day. And at last, after a week the special day came.

Everyone was there on time. They were all eager. Although kids of both the villages were rivals, kids in the audience sat together. Everyone was talking about the competition. Finally the referee announced that the competition had started. The first challenge- swimming was won by Martha’s village. The second one was however won by the neighboring village. Now the decision depended on the tree climbing competition.

It started. Everyone was agog with excitement. They were all cheering their own village. The score was even-19 all. Each side needed just one point to win. Now came Martha’s turn. Her opponent was unfortunately her best friend from the neighboring village- Glenda. They smiled at each other. They wished each other luck and turned to see their trees. They were the tallest Coconut trees in the village. They had to pluck the fruit and climb down from the tree within 5 minutes.

The referee sounded the whistle. They both started off. It was very difficult to climb the tree as it had no branches. Glenda was swift and had already climbed half way. Children of both villages were going mad cheering for their respective players. Martha had been able to climb only a quarter of the way when her foot began to ache again. But this time she would complete her climb, come what may.

Glenda was about to reach the top but suddenly her hit a large honey bee hive. It was a hurdle for the players. Other players had noticed it but Glenda did not pay enough attention. She started screaming as the bees came out in droves and began stinging her. But Martha had been careful and managed to get past the hive on her own coconut tree.

The referee began his countdown from 100. Martha successfully reached the top. She plucked a fruit and started to climb down. It was easy as she had to only slide on the way back. But another danger awaited her. It was the second hurdle. There was a large weaver bird’s nest in between. Martha got stuck in it. The referee had reached 20. “19…18…17…” the referee continued. People were cheering for her like anything. After much struggling, she freed one leg. Her leg was about to reach the ground when a bee from Glenda’s tree stung her swollen ankle. She cried with pain. Suddenly, she felt dizzy. She could hear the cheers and the referee shouting 5 and then total darkness.

When she woke up, she was in her room. She had a hot water bottle stuck to her back. Susan, Robin and Philip were by her bedside. She said in a weak and sleepy voice” we lost, did we? I knew I couldn’t do it. Sorry.” “Don’t apologize. Celebrate! We won. Your leg touched the ground before…” Martha couldn’t hear anymore. She had gone off in a peaceful sleep for the rest of the day. The news that they had won was enough to put her to a long dreamy sleep…..

Agrini Bhattacharya is a thirteen year old, class eighth student from New Delhi. She loves to scribble and many times these scribbles on pieces of paper turn out to be short stories. 

Shards of Glass

by Dhwani Yagnaraman

If I tell you that I glimpsed an angel, you would probably laugh your head off, and once you were done guffawing, you would look up at me through blurred eyes and ask me if I was kidding.

Seeing my serious expression, you’d probably say, “Hallucination, my dear friend! That’s the answer to your problem. I’m sure you’re not some kind of saint to be privileged to see one!”

Well, whatever you think or day, the truth is that I really did see an angel… it was, or she was…or whatever that was … was very beautiful. I’m guessing it was an angel or may be it was a person with a bird behind her (hence the wings)! I have no clue. But I’ll go with angel.

She was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Her curly hair reached her waist, slithering down her back and moving with the breeze. Streaking her hair were honey, lemon and ash blonde tinges, as if someone had had limited space to find all the shades of yellow.

Her eyes were sharp and daring like a feline’s, with precise angles and hazel eyeballs. A drop of innocence still lingered in them, despite the fear that had eclipsed the naïveté.

Her nose and lips could not have been moulded more perfectly, blending life and tone until they merged flawlessly as if God had sculpted her face himself, using only a chisel and his artistic hands. Her feet sounded like velvet drops on the cobbled steps of my house.

A radiant smile stretched across her lips, completely devoid of creases to taint the perfect picture. A simple dress that hung close to her made her look more gorgeous than ever.

It ruined the stereotype of angels I had in mind–a pretty woman with a halo and pale blue wings with gospel music playing in the background. She seemed distracted and hastily looked away. She hadn’t seen me yet.

A sound similar to paper burning and crackling under orange tongues of flame reached my ears. Her wings had unfurled, stretching across and obstructing my vision beyond her.

Gleaming raven feathers crumpled and ruffled. It would have made the proudest peacock turn away in shame, burying its heads in its pathetic amateur feathers. The light danced on her wings emphasizing the glossy black of her wings that emerged from her back.

She turned to look down, her eyes flickering towards me with contempt. And just like that, like a stone rippling water, the  taunt in her eyes marred her soulful expression.

The vanity I thought only humans possessed was the dead end I reached while running through the labyrinth of expressions that had built up inside her over centuries. With a bitter laugh, she began walking towards me, feet treading the imperfect contours of stone. I stood, numb with shock: What was she going to do to me?

I was afraid of the malicious expression that spread across her face. What was she going to do? I suddenly felt small and insignificant before this bright-eyed angel.

I stood there, fidgeting with the torn strings of my old greasy shorts. My hands were half in and half out of my pockets, while she was stepping over the splintered glass that had finally shattered into a thousand fragments and fallen on the floor.

What was I compared to her? Pathetic was an overstatement. She seemed like Perfection personified while I would probably Flaws personified with my perennially irrevocable scowl and short temper.

I dug my nails into my palm, enjoying the sting of pain that shot through my hands. I looked at her, overcome by curiosity.

She put her hand out, trying to reach for me, her eyes morphing into concern. Her hands came closer to my face with every passing second. But her hand stopped halfway, as if I was not worth trying to call, as if she’d had second thoughts.

The vanity and contempt flickered into curiosity, concern and another emotion that I failed to fathom. Her hand hit the glass; I recognized the noise I had made a few days ago when I had managed to break the only mirror in our house by tripping clumsily over nothing.

I could hear the glass’s impish giggles on preventing her from reaching to me. I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say through her actions. Nevertheless, I reached forward and put my hand over hers, ignoring the smashed mirror in between. They were identical, unlike the angel and I.

I had imagined her to have elegant hands with blue veins showing through her alabaster skin and long fingers like an artist’s. But they were thick and mundane like mine.

I looked up at here eyes, trying to decipher her message. I saw her eyes dissolve into my own cold charcoal ones, with hints of sarcasm, cynicism and bitterness. Beneath this protective hide, lay passion unlimited, for all that I loved, hidden beneath who I was, in depths that no one had ever bothered to explore. And so, the potential just sat there, waiting to be discovered.

She was now smiling and the concern escaped from her face. Was she happy that I saw my eyes in her perfect face, tarnishing her beauty? But why did this happen? Do angels have some kind of transforming ability? Or was I just daydreaming?

Maybe if I blinked, her eyes would return to normal. I tried it and it didn’t work. She stood there with her radiant smile and my imperfect eyes. I had no idea of what was happening.

Her eyes twinkled at me and her smile transformed into my crooked grin, causing me to hastily pull back my hand and clamp my eyes shut. My own eyes in her face twinkling at me, the way mine did haunted my mind.

The crooked smile that we now shared, revealed uneven teeth and a hint of a sneer. That, too, plagued my mind with uninvited thoughts. I was afraid that I would see some sort of distorted image when I opened my eyes again.

I tried to imagine what it would be like if there was no mirror between us, if she had actually managed to touch my face. Would her hand send chilly sparks through me, leaving me weak in the stomach? Or would it be warm and comforting like the firm, callused hand of my mother that left me trembling with warmth? I would never know!

With a sigh of exasperation, my eyes fluttered open, hoping that she was still standing there on the other side of the glass, waiting for me to understand what I saw. I was afraid to look at her, fearing that she had disappeared. For almost two minutes, I stood squinting at the mirror, with my eyes open, but not wide enough to see clearly.

After a while, a wave of impatience swept through me and I stared at the glass before my manipulative mind could protest. All that I was looking at, was myself in the mirror …

Dhwani Yagnaraman is 14 years old and a student at Vidya Valley School in Pune, India. She enjoys reading, writing stories and playing the violin.

Rear View

by Dhwani Yagnaraman

Chewing gum and this trip were similar, stretching like eternity. My family consisting of my brother, parents, Dada (grandpa) and I were travelling to Dada’s hometown. I gazed out of the window at farmers sitting in a circle, eating and laughing. Their fields of crops stretched in a never-ending line. A thin road with blue houses framing its sides greeted us.

My grandfather was eager to breathe the air of his childhood paradise. We hit upon the idea of visiting the setting of many stories–the temple. I got out of the car and took hold of my crutch. People said I had changed after my ankle surgery. Well, I had reason to be moody–I could no longer indulge in my passion for running. My friends said that they had almost forgotten my smiles and laughter.

My parents kept encouraging me to ‘look ahead’. I didn’t care–about anything! That was my hurt coming out–and not just the physical hurt. Walking by the track field broke my heart. I used to turn to Athletics like an addict to drugs.

Soon, we reached the temple. Palm trees shaded it. Two clay elephants stood near the entrance. Nearby flowed a river, and beside it stood a tree with only its top branches. The temple was vacant, except for two old men in white. One of them came up to Dada. “It’s been years!” he exclaimed in joyful surprise. “I remember our cricket games, my friend,” he remarked nostalgically. A conversation followed.

A smile flickered on my lips, seeing how happy Dada was. I followed everybody to the river, cursing my foot. “I used to climb this tree and swim here”, my Dada, told me. “I wish I could”, I said and hobbled towards the temple.

“I can’t show you everything I wanted to,” Dada said sadly, “But I can tell you, I broke my ankle just the way you did. After that I wanted to show everyone that I could still climb this tree. And so I got on the top–and it hurt, like walking on broken glass. But I did it!”

I was amazed. He had done something that I had considered impossible without even trying, but he hadn’t thought twice.  After my pain was gone, would I become the happy-go-lucky person that he was?

“We’ll come back, Dada. And I’ll go up that tree.” I assured him laughing, thinking about how he had probably been when he was younger–well, I would never really know that. And I felt good after such a long time …

Dhwani Yagnaraman is 14 years old and is a student at Vidya Valley School in Pune, India. Her hobbies are reading, writing and playing the violin.

Friends are Forever

by Palak Rana

It was a regular summer evening and the cool breeze was blowing her hair off her face as Lisa, a cup of coffee in her hand, sat in the backyard of her countryside farm house, reliving the fun times she’d once had with her friend Dennise and their group.

And then she remembered the day, about a year ago, when Lisa had returned from school and, as per their regular routine, had called up Dennise to discuss their day. However, unlike other days, Dennise had sounded angry and a little upset about something. Although Lisa was confused, she had thought Dennise would be fine by the evening—maybe she was just tired.

Later, in the evening, when she met Dennise and the group she had felt something very wrong in their behaviour towards her. She wasn’t sure that she was the cause of the problem, so she didn’t ask them what the matter was. Later in the evening too, unlike previous evenings, Lisa got no message from Dennise. That was when she had started getting worried.

In the days that followed, nothing had been normal. The behaviour of the whole group towards Lisa had seemed changed. That was when she had decided to talk to Dennise about it. She had asked Dennise to meet her in the evening. She had stressed about the problem the entire afternoon and the insecurity in her mind kept growing.

Around six in the evening she had rushed to Dennise’s house. They had a talk and Dennise told her what the problem was. Lisa didn’t know how to react.

For the past two months two guys in school had been vying with each other to win her over. One was Jeck, a spoilt brat, but a close friend of both Lisa and Dennise. The other was Troy, with whom Lisa was infatuated, and whom Dennise really disliked. Both claimed that they loved her. Both did their best to make her believe that the other was taking her for a ride.

In her confusion between the two guys, and the feeling of importance it gave her to have two guys in love with her, Lisa had been so engrossed in herself that she had started completely ignoring her friends. And since Lisa liked Troy and Dennise did not, she had started lying to Dennise about her relationship with Troy.

Ultimately, she had decided to choose Troy over everyone else. As a result she had lost all her friends. But now that she had only Troy to turn to and trust, he too had started changing. He had started losing interest in her and ignoring her. Too late, she realized her mistake in trusting Troy.

Finally, after a year of misery, Lisa took a wise decision and left Troy. However, she was not in a position to go back to her friends as she wasn’t sure if they would accept her back. These days her only source of support and comfort was her mother.

Left to herself, Lisa had started thinking deeply about the importance of friends and relationships and was working hard to change her perspective about life. All this was going through Lisa’s mind as she sat in the backyard of her farmhouse, remembering old, happy days. Suddenly the phone rang. It was Dennise.

Dennise and Lisa’s mother had talked together and Lisa’s friends had come to know what she had been going through in the last one year. Dennise, being her best friend, couldn’t see Lisa alone and miserable. So, she had decided to call her up and ask her to come back to their group. Lisa was overjoyed to be forgiven and accepted back by her friends. She now knew  that no matter what happened in life,  your family and  true friends always stand by you!

Palak Rana is a 16 year-old teenager from Gurgaon, India, with a keen interest in music, writing (stories, poems and songs) and spending time with her friends. She will also shortly be participating in street plays. At this young age she believes in and follows these lines by Barbara De Angelis “No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.”          

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