A small chat about my writing work and my new book.

This post first appeared in

https://shillonggal.blogspot.in/2017/02/author-interview-paromita-goswami.html

In conversation with Paromita Goswami 

Grow Up Messy is a story of a 5-year-old girl Misry who is called as Messy by everyone because of the mess she creates. Misry father has a job which makes him change cities frequently.

The story is from the point of view of Messy which shows her innocence and guile. Messy is a ball of anxiousness and excitement which causes a ruckus and hence she got coined as Messy.

  • How did you come up with the idea? Were you like Misry as a child?

Throughout the story it is cute and sweet moments of a mother-daughter relationship in which makes the read more enjoyable.

Every child wants to be like Misry, akka Messy. She is free like a bird and curious like a cat. My inspiration of penning down this beautiful story is for the kids of today’s generation. They are so piled up in their studies pressure or are gazette freak that they don’t know what they are missing in life. The story is set in an era, the early eighties, when there was no television set in most of our homes.

Was I like Misry as a child? Misry lives in every adult who had experienced an  adventurous childhood and I am one of them.

  • Are there parenting lessons in Misry’s tale?

She lives with her father Anurag, a paramilitary border security force (B.S.F) personnel, and mother, Madhavi, in the border out post (BOP) camp near Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, India.

Misry’s tale has lots of such moments which a parent can easily relate to. As a Mom I too wondered if it was okay to do that with my child. For example,

Misry’s character in the book Grow Up Messy! is that of an innocent child who depends more on her mother for her smaller needs. The best part is she expects her mother to know everything like a superwoman. She believes there is nothing which her Ma cannot do or hasn’t seen. So when she requests her mother to make Pinjiri, something which she had tasted for the first time elsewhere, it never occurred to her that Ma might not know about its preparation.

You can read more such facts about the book in my website:

https://paromitagoswami.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/fun-facts-about-the-book-grow-up-messy-the-writing-journey/

  • That is an interesting setting. Tell us how you came up with it?

Cramped in two or three bedroom Apartment in a metro city with hardly any space for the children to play outside compelled me to look for an alternate setting. It is the fact today. Children either end up playing in the street or parking areas.

They say playground is the best teacher. So I made the setting of my book vast. And there can be no better way than the villages and the sleepy smaller towns near a metro city.

Since I am Bengali, Kolkata is my first choice of a metro city. And idealizing a place nearby the big city was never a problem as I had been there many times to meet my extended family. So that’s how Misry’s Dadu’s house came into my mind, a sleepy town on the outskirts of Howrah. And the setting of B.S.F campus is also inspired by my real life experience as I grew up in that environment. In both the settings I used the facts more that fantasy as I believe that makes the plot more real.

  • Writing fiction that caters to the children and the young readers is a steep challenge. What made you choose the genre?

“Choose the genre”, a very good question Paulami. Thanks for putting it up. Actually I don’t write genre specific books. I am more inclined towards the story or the plot. So when Messy was penned I had no doubts that it would be equally liked by both children and adult. Something that each of us as adults still remember doing in your childhood.

One happy hilarious moment when we can be a child again – Grow Up Messy!

Yes of course,  when writing for children and young readers there is certain criteria that you have to keep in mind. Although the book, Grow Up Messy! is from a child’s perspective, it has been very much appreciated by the adults too.

  • You also run the Raipur Little Minds Book Reading Club. Tell us something about this.

I started this club to enhance reading habits in children. Print media is one thing today’s kids in our part of world don’t enjoy. Because it takes effort to understand and visualize when you read a book which in case of electronic media is effortless. And mostly kids take that way as they are spending more time getting ready for the rat race in their near future. Courtesy is us , the adults, parents. We want them to do just about everything and that too fast, even gulping a glass of milk. So they take easy when they are left alone. So easy that picking a book and reading for mere pleasure looks very tiring.

I would like to share an incident here. On my son’s birthday, I gave each of the invited child Amar Chitra Katha Comics as return gift. I was very excited when I was distributing it, remembering my childhood times when I use to share it with my friends. But I was in for a surprise. None of children were ready to go home. I told them the birthday party was over. They replied they were waiting for the return gift. I just gave you that I said. Their answer shocked me.

“It’s no gift. It’s a book.”

I had no doubts that I had to start the reading club and it has been an year since then.

  • Your previous book Shamsuddin’s Grave has a very different plotline and is a completely different genre. Tell us something about Shamsuddin’s Grave.

Shamsuddin’s Grave is different zone completely. It’s more of a  tear jerker. A book based on critical issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh in Assam. The book talks about the scenario of today’s issue in the state of Assam. The setting of the book is in Guwahati and how this issue along with many other is affecting its people. It is a social drama based on the lives of two people – one is Shamsuddin, the daily wager who moved into the city for a better living and another is Latika, the N.G.O activist who is back home after a shattered personal life. How their paths cross and intermingle on the wide canvas where so many shades colours from the palette of today’s life  paint their life, sometimes deep, sometimes light.

You can know more about the book from the goodread reviews.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24923650-shamsuddin-s-grave

  • Tell us about the rebel Paromita Goswami. Something crazy that you have done.

Laughs. Rebel yeah! So here it goes.

One day while returning from office I took a cycle rickshaw to reach home early. Usually I walked home. Certainly not for doing exercise but for saving money. It was a time when I lived on my own and even a single penny counted. My father didn’t approve my decision of moving out of the house and so I knew I had to fend on my own no matter what. So I always kept that in mind.

So that very day, this guy whose cycle rickshaw I had boarded was pissed off for some reason. He was muttering under his breath all the way but brought me safely to my place. It was a fifteen rupees ride.  I gave him a twenty rupees note and waited for him to give me back the five rupees change. But he didn’t. I knew he was overcharging cause I mostly take rickshaw ride while on my way to the office. I asked him and he said the rates had changed. We had an argument. I don’t mind giving tips for good service but this man was trying to steal my money and I couldn’t let him do that. I didn’t get down from the rickshaw. It stood right in front of my gate but I didn’t get down.

Looking at my intentions the man started pulling crowd to gain sympathy saying  how an educated girl like me was ruining his daily business. I saw the crowd looking at me with questioning eyes. But I didn’t get down. When they started asking me I said upfront the man was cheating me. Luckily, most of the people in the crowd were Rickshaw boarders like me and took my side. The man ultimately had to pay me back the extra money he had taken.

Sometimes when I still remember that incident I laugh out loud now.

Message for new writers.

Enjoy your writing. Don’t get influenced by what others are writing. If you have a story inside you then don’t hesitate to bring it out. Someone somewhere is waiting to read it.

Book Review Grow Up Messy! by Kala Ravi Sarathy

The post first appeared on

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1889117796?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

A delightful, heart-warming book that traces the journey of an impish little girl, Misry aka Messy. The stories are set in eastern India and carry a waft of the rural, simple life of an era gone by. Misry is impetuous, curious and often rebellious and one cannot help but fall in love with this adorable child’s antics. The parents have been essayed so realistically, one can readily identify with their dismay, tenderness, annoyance and more in response to their little daughter’s ventures. The language is fluid and the plots are quintessential to an East-Indian setting from the 1980’s. The character portrayals, the vivid narration, the peek into traditional rituals and customs, the overall earthiness and thought-provoking little adventures of little Messy make for a lovely read suitable for both young children and parents. A light-read that makes you go warm, fuzzy and nostalgic! 2

My 2016 calender and 2017 Commitments

With each passing minutes, we are nearing the end of the happening year 2016 and moving towards the beginning of a new dawn of 2017 with lots of new hopes and dreams. Before I move any inch further I want to look back to the days in my 2016 calender.

January:

My kids reading club, Raipur Little minds book reading club, celebrated the republic day event in the evening at Jaistambh Chowk. The crowds cheered the young kids on their performance. It was our first performance on stage and the kids did their best.

img_5282

February:

It is the birthday month of my hubby and B’s birthday was celebrated with friends for the first time. B is very modest when it comes to celebrating his birthday since he believes in giving and not ever taking. But when friends persuaded him he count not say no to them. It was the first time B got a chance cut his birthday cake. As a child he celebrated his birthday with a spoonful of kheer prepared by his grandmother that was first offered to God and was later given to him.

March:

A short family trip to Hyderabad in March is also well accounted for. A walk in the Chawmahalla Palace, the Durbar, and Nizam’s residence was awesome. The ruins of Golconda Fort narrating the stories of the bygone era was breathtaking. During our weekend stay, the meals were always the traditional Hyderabadi Biryani ordered from Shadab restaurant in the Charminar area which is one of the oldest restaurant in the city. A visit to the Ramoji Film City was also memorable. We were really very shocked to see the actual shooting.

img_5568

April:

Another incident that happened to me was AtoZbloggingchallenge 2016 in the month of April. In this, the participants had to post on their blog every day throughout the month of April. I participated in the event after Inderpreet shared the details on her timeline. Many bloggers all over the world participated and I was glad to be one of them. I first penned Grow Up Messy! in this blogging marathon. And the best part was with the footfalls and appreciation of the Grow Up Messy! the blog post I received encouraged me to write more. I met some of the fabulous bloggers during this month and I am so thankful to them.

216625107_f00228b030_z

May:

Our unplanned Srikakulam tours in Andhra Pradesh. This trip was a big surprise for us in many ways. First, we didn’t know what to expect and second, whatever we saw was mesmerizing. The town Srikakulam was more of a district town of the state and didn’t have much to offer apart from the Movie Theatres which were numerous in the town and the best part was film posters were changed according to days. 10days, 20days, 25 days. I really loved that. The town is about 22 km from the Bay of Bengal and 100 km from Vizag. It is known for religious sentiments due to Arasavilli Temple is the Sun God Temple and Srikurmam Temple, which is one of its kind in the world. This temple is dedicated to the Kurma Avatar i.e the tortoise Avatar of the Lord Vishu. The Kalingapatnam beach is another place to enjoy. However, the beach has no shacks or activity. It is completely clean for that matter. Our journey back home was more adventurous because we traveled through South Odisha and the state has such beautiful valleys to watch out for. Aha!

img_5918

June :

My best memory of the year is meeting in person with some of the wonderful people from my writer circle. That was in the month of June when the days were hotter and the night humid but that didn’t stop many of us to fly down to Mumbai from many corners of the country to the Meetup arranged by Rubina Ramesh. The effect of meeting everybody was like, “Oh My God they are for real!” For months every day we have been in touch with each other online because of our love for books. My family thought I was crazy, typing posts on facebook and smiling looking at the monitor almost every day even late at night. But that’s how we were connected. A big family in the virtual world is what I have always said to my hubby. And to my utter surprise, he allowed me to travel to meet this family without any hesitation. Today I have a family for real online.img_20160618_150156

July:

A month of promises as it happens to be our anniversary month. Like every year we both expected gifts from each other and finally never gave one. When it comes to gifts both of us sit down with our dairies and count the number of times we have let down each other when every time we bought something for the other. As luck has it, since our first anniversary around ten years back we have never bought anything for each other. The reason, we always end up never liking it and complaining as to why our taste is so different. But that’s how we are. A fire element and a water element sharing hopes and sorrows of life together. And we are happy that way. Looks awkward isn’t it? But we are the best of friends. (Touch wood)

img_5378

August:

A month we all have been waiting for after the months of summer. The time when festivals start knocking the doors and suddenly summer is gone. The independence day was celebrated by the reading club members in the evening. We had a quiz and slogan competition and fun with the kids. It was a small event though but an event to remember.

img_20160815_192708

September:

I finished the draft of my third book, The Clockmaker, the paranormal jungle series. It will be released in 2017. The story is inspired by a small incident during Diwali last year. I visited a shop and adjacent to it was a clock repairing shop. It was a tiny shop and the old man behind the table was an experienced man of his profession. However, with cell phones occupying the major share of the market, I felt the need of wrist watches have decreased considerably. It is more of fashion accessory now rather than necessity. This thought inspired me to write my next novel THE CLOCKMAKER which is a paranormal thriller.

October:

I got a scooty. TVS Jupiter. I know to drive a four wheeler but I don’t own a car. Why?? I will have to tell that story someday else. But it surely took me twenty years to actually drive a motor vehicle on regular basis. My bicycle was my anniversary gift that I flaunted shamelessly in and around my locality. Right from shopping grocery, vegetables or attending school PTM or doing my morning exercise, my bicycle was my only means of transport that I owned. I could have purchased a scooty long back but I didn’t have the confidence to ride it until one day the newly bought scooty stood in front of my gate. And after that, I never rode my bicycle again. Too bad.

images

 

November:

I was invited to judge an interschool story writing and poem recitation competition held by Krishna Public School Raipur. It was my second year consecutive that I was invited to the event. The teachers and administration staff had shown a grand welcome and love to my writing abilities. A few of the teachers had read my first book and were now eagerly waiting for my second book.img_20161231_222306

December:

I published my second book Grow Up Messy! It was like a dream because I wasn’t ready yet and if I didn’t have Rubina and Sonia behind my back maybe it would have taken few more months to publish my second book and had I taken the traditional route maybe the wait would have been few more years. But I am glad I self-published it and the readers have shown tremendous love to the book. I cannot assume there could be any better ending of this year.

grow-up-messy1

2016 has really given me a lot of support to fulfill my dreams and I have just flapped my wings.

2017

I have two releases lined up for this year.

  • Grow Up Messy! Part 2 – Sibling Saga
  • The Clockmaker – Jungle assault series – Paranormal Thriller.

 

 

Grow Up Messy! Chapter 3

Chapter 3 I Am Bride

Misry had nothing to do. After her last fight with Bheeru, she knew he wouldn’t let her play with any of the children in the village, let alone with his goat kids. After all, it was on Bheeru’s recommendation that the village kids allowed Misry to join the gang but now that he was furious with her, she was certain there was no use going there for few days. They wouldn’t play with her.

She looked out of the window. It was pretty bright outside. Summers in this part of the country were hot and humid. Her intention of talking to the Jawans on sentry duty at the camp gate was also not very tempting at this hour. She turned her attention to Raju.

As usual, Raju was busy with his comics: Phantom, Bahadur, and Batul The Great, one of the favorites of the Bengali teenagers. He had a huge collection of them and carried them wherever he went. Misry envied him for this. She was too young to read on her own and Raju didn’t even allow her to touch his comic books. Sometimes she would persuade him to let her clean the box and then she got a chance to hold them. She would flip through the pages lazily looking at the comic strips and trying to understand the story before neatly keeping them back in the box. How she wished Raju would tell her the stories.

Nevertheless, her quota of stories was fulfilled by her father. Every night while putting her to bed he would narrate a beautiful story. Sometimes of his childhood or his BSF stories or one of the stories he had read. They were always full of adventures and Misry would always wonder if she would ever get a chance to have any at all. In her father’s absence, it was her mother’s duty to tell her a story. Her stories mostly were folklore or mythology that Misry could connect with very easily.

However, her concern as of now was how to kill time. She had nothing to do. She went to the bedroom to look for her mother. Madhavi had just come out of her bath and was draping her saree. Misry watched her mother, her eyes wide with admiration. The lady always looked so fresh and beautiful after her bath. The little girl stood beside the dressing table watching Madhavi , who wiped her wet hair with a dry towel.

“Misry, What are you looking at Shona?” Madhavi asked.

“Ma, you have such a long hair. When will my hair grow long?” Misry replied, looking at her pigtail in the mirror.

“You have to take care of it, sweetheart. Brush it every day, oil it and keep it clean. Then you too will have long hair, just like mine,” Madhavi replied.

“But it hurts when I brush, Ma,” Misry complained.

“Hmm, I know. It’s because you have curly hair, Sona. But you have to take pains for any gains you want, dear.” Madhavi advised.

Misry nodded.

Madhavi brushed her wet hair. The drops of water fell on the floor. A few fell on Misry’s face too. She put out her tongue to catch them. Then she watched Madhavi make a small vermillion dot on her forehead using a small silver pin. Then she put a small amount of vermilion in the parting of her hair, just above her forehead.

“Ma, why do you do that every day?” Misry asked.

“This is a ritual which Hindu married women carry out for their husband. When you get married, you will do it too,” Madhavi replied.

“I don’t want to get married, Ma,” pat came the answer.

“Why not sweetheart? Every girl has to marry one day.” Madhavi reasoned.

“I won’t. I don’t want to leave you and Daddy,” Misry replied.

“But marriage is a great experience in a woman’s life. She gets lots of new sarees, jewellery, gifts, and many more things for her wedding.” Madhavi explained.

“And what else?” Misry’s interest was aroused.

“She is dressed up like a princess, in a lovely red banarasi saree that has a broad zari border. Her hair is done in a bun with lots of pearl pins. She wears a golden tikli, on the parting of her hair that beautifully adorns her forehead just above the vermilion dot. A nose pin which has a chain that hooks into her hair on one side, bangles, a big necklace and earring set too. Her feet and palms are covered with designs made with alta. She puts on a red dupatta and a white crown on her head to complete her bridal makeup. She looks the most beautiful on that day and everyone just keeps looking at her.”

“Were you also dressed like that for your wedding?”

“Yes, dear. And I looked gorgeous that day. Your daddy could not take his eyes off me. People said that I looked like Ma Lakshmi Devi.”

“Ma, will I also dress up like that on my wedding day?”She was curious to know.

“Of course my darling! Even better than that.”

“Fine, I will also marry,” she said. Then, tilting her head to one side she asked, “But who will I marry, Ma?”

“We will choose the boy for you, dear?”

“Fine! But I will have to do a check upon him first.” Misry sounded little doubtful.

“Why? What do you want to check?” Madhavi asked.

“What if he doesn’t know how to climb trees or swim in the river? Our team will be a loser team then!” She said slowly, sounding concerned.

Madhavi smiled and said, “Oh! We will find an all-rounder boy then. And you will both make the best team ever.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.” Madhavi assured her and went out of the room to do her daily chants and prayer.

Misry stood alone silently, watching her own reflection in the mirror, deep in thought.

***

Later in the evening.

Pallavi was sitting in the verandah. She loved sipping her evening tea enjoying the cool summer breeze from the river flowing beside their camp. Amazingly, in this part of the country, even in the summer with no electricity there was hardly any need for the ceiling fan. The vegetation and the water bodies surrounding the area were sufficient enough to keep the rooms airy and cool.

Pallavi was reading her father’s letter that had arrived in the mail in the afternoon. Just then Anurag, who had just returned after a match of volleyball with his boys, came to the balcony and sat down in the cane chair, next to her’s.

“So, what has your father written in his letter?” asked Anurag stretching his feet. He knew about his in-law’s letter since it was addressed to him. He hadn’t opened it but had sent it home to Madhavi.

Pallavi blushed hearing the question. She looked up at Madhavi who had just joined them.

Madhavi handed over the towel to Anurag and replied, “Baba’s written that the groom’s family have liked Pallavi’s details and the matrimonial photograph which they have sent forward to their son by registered post. They are now waiting for their son’s approval.

Anurag smiled at Pallavi and gave thumbs up to her.

Just then the orderly, Goura, appeared with lemon juice for Anurag.

Anurag wiped himself with the towel and picked up the glass of juice from the tray.

As Goura turned to go Madhavi instructed him to put on the generator.

In a few minutes the loud sound of the generator started from the backyard of the house illuminating the house with lights.

Misry had finished her glass of milk that her mother had given her before going out to the verandah. This evening too she didn’t go out to play with the kids and spent her time riding her bicycle in the courtyard. But now with the room illuminated Misry quickly made up a plan while the rest of the family sat outside in the verandah gossiping.

She put on her half saree, applied vermilion on her forehead and head partition, put on the lipstick and blusher. Then she took out her imitation jewellery set and put it on. It had a golden tikli, nose pin with chain on one side, necklace set, bangles, and anklet. She did some designs on her feet and palms with the Alta. Finally she finished by putting a red dupatta over her head. By the time she finished the room was a mess.

When Madhavi entered the room to put out fresh clothes for Anurag from the wardrobe to change into after his bath, she was in for a shock. The floor was smeared with the Alta and talcum powder while her makeup kit lay disarranged on the dressing table. The vermillion case had fallen upside down on the floor with her only lipstick shade smeared in it.

Furiously she shouted at Misry to punish her. But her heart melted when she saw her daughter.

There on the middle of the bed Misry sat, dressed as a Bengali bride.

“Ma, ami bou. Do I look like Ma Lakshmi Devi?”Misry asked innocently.

The little girl’s effort stole Madhavi’s heart. Her voice chocked as she said, “Yes, my sweetheart. You look more than that, My Durga Ma. Wait I will call Daddy”. She went out of the room to call Anurag.

When Anurag came in the room he was speechless. Instantly he visualized that one day she will be married off and go away from him. He took out the camera and clicked her pictures. These memories will remain with him forever.

Madhavi hugged her daughter and said, “So now you are going to leave us?”

The question confused Misry. “Why Ma?”

“Because married girls have to go away to their husband’s house,” answered Madhavi.

“I am never leaving you and Daddy. I shall take you along wherever I go,” Misry answered without any doubts.

Anurag and Madhavi started laughing and hugged her again.

Madhavi whispered, “Don’t GROW UP MESSY.”

 

Grow Up Messy! Chapter Two

Chapter 2 Bheeru Wants Revenge

It was a still, fine morning and Misry didn’t even wait to eat breakfast. All she managed was to get out of her nightwear and put on something decent before escaping from the house unnoticed. Ever since her mother gave her permission to visit Bheeru, she had been anxiously waiting for the morning to arrive. And now she stood shouting, outside Bheeru’s mud house.

“Bheeru! Bheeru! Where are the goat kids?” Misry shouted.

The mud house was single storey structure with a courtyard in the middle of the house. There were several rooms surrounding the courtyard with one side open for the hand pump and the barn.

A dark skinned bald boy appeared from inside the hut. He was wearing khaki shorts fit enough for two on the lower half of his body while on top was a white vest with short sleeves and he stood an inch or two taller than Misry. He stood bare-footed in front of Misry, holding his chin high. The birth of the goat kids was a great moment for him to showdown Misry who did not leave any chance to show off.

A few days ago, Misry had shown him the new toy that her father had bought for her from town. It was a military truck with nine wheels. It worked on battery and could move about easily, even in soil. All the while Misry never even once allowed him to touch the toy and then she suddenly ran off home saying she had heard her mother calling her name.

So today, Bheeru knew it was his day. He had something to show off about too.

“Come, I will show you! I am sure you will love them,” he said confidently and escorted her to the backyard.

There, under the shade of the mango tree, stood the goat kids. Two of then, just like the nanny goat, black and white, while the third one was completely white. Misry watched the kids suckling milk. After feeding, the trio hopped and jumped around while the nanny goat stood vigil.

Before Bheeru could stop her, Misry ran to grab the white kid but it jumped off and ran away. However, Misry didn’t give up and she started running behind it. As she ran, she took hardly any notice of the other things in the surrounding.

Right in the middle of the courtyard, Bheeru’s mother had laid out a cotton sheet on which she had spread out small chunks of Amiyas, to dry. Once they dried up she would mix them with spices to make delicious mango pickle.

Misry running blindly behind the white goat kid tripped over the edge of the sheet on the ground and fell headlong into the dried Amiyas. The yellow stains, of the turmeric-covered Amiyas chunks, were all over her frock.

Bheeru had been waiting patiently for this.

He stood watching her fall, a sly look on his face. It was revenge time. Misry had insulted him the previous day while they were playing with the other kids. She had deliberately held him responsible for the loss of their team in the Kabaddi match. This was his time to avenge his insult.

He knew his mother had taken lots of effort to put the Amiyas to dry and would freak out on seeing the condition of her hard work since all the Amiyas lay smeared in soil. He wanted his mother to catch Misry red-handed. So he raised an alarm.

“Ma! Ma! Look at what Messy has done?”

The lady came out of the house shouting. She lost her temper instantly when she saw the Amiyas. But before she could say anything she saw Misry’s badly bruised knee and frock smeared with haldi.

Seeing her getting angry, Misry began crying, pointing to the bruise on her knee.

The lady forgot about her Amiyas and helped the little girl to her feet. She tried to console the child by wiping off the tears with the corner of her saree. She also began yelling at Bheeru for not taking care of the little girl.

“You good-for-nothing boy! Fetch me some water from the hand pump!” Then she turned to Misry and said sweetly, “Don’t cry Messy baba. I will put medicine on your knee and it will become all right.”

Muttering under his breath, Bheeru went to the hand pump,“What did I do now? I didn’t do anything. Why don’t you yell at her?”

“Don’t talk. Push the pumping rod!” snapped the lady. She took Misry to the hand pump and began rinsing her frock with the water.

The pumping rod was so tight that Bheeru was literally hanging onto it in order to pump out water. He looked at Misry who smiled back at him, jubilant on her victory.

Bheeru did not utter a word but knew what he to do to avenge this insult. He made up his mind that he wouldn’t let Misry near the white goat kid again till she bent on her knees before him and begged him for forgiveness.

The thought put a smile on his face.

***

Back home, Misry lay beside her mother for an afternoon siesta. She hardly slept in the daytime, mostly out of fear. She knew, with everybody else asleep in the night, she would have to fend with the ghosts alone. The very thought gave her goose bumps.

“Close your eyes, sweetheart!” Madhavi crooned softly in her ears.

Misry closed them immediately while Madhavi patted her gently, humming a lullaby. Her thoughts were on the white goat kid. –

how it jumped, how it ran, how it suckled the nanny goat.

Suddenly, Misry crawled up on her four limbs and started pushing her head against her mother’s breast.

“What are you doing?” Madhavi asked, caught unawares by her little daughter’s action.

“I am a white goat kid and it’s my feed time,” she said and started pushing her head again.

“Misry! Stop it! You are hurting me!”

“Maah…Maaah…Maah!” Misry mimicked the baby goat’s cry.

“Okay, so you are a white goat kid. What else can you do? ” Madhavi asked, to divert Misry’s attention.

Misry jumped out of bed and started running all around the house shouting, “Maah…Maah.”

She went to Raju’s room where he was sleeping peacefully with his mouth open. Misry made a pair of horns with her index fingers and jumped on the bed. Before Raju could realize what was going on she started punching the horns in his stomach saying, “Maah…Maah.”

Raju was very sensitive to tickling. Just a mere display of fingers activated him. Misry was well aware of it and continued tickling him with her finger horns.

Raju burst into uncontrollable laughter and begged Misry to stop but the little devil was in no mood to obey.

Their cries woke up Pallavi who was sleeping in the adjacent room. She walked into Raju’s room and saw him giggling while Misry was tickling him.

She just yelled, “GROW UP MESSY!!”