Author:Ruskin Bond
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9788184750669
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 2015-12-16T05:00:00+00:00


Rusty watched the dawn blossom into light.

At first everything was dark, then gradually objects began to take shape—the desk and chair, the walls of the room—and the darkness lifted like the raising of a veil, and over the treetops the sky was streaked with crimson. It was like this for some time, while everything became clearer and more distinguishable; and then, when nature was ready, the sun reached up over the trees and hills, and sent one tentative beam of warm light through the window. Along the wall crept the sun, across to the bed, and up the boy’s bare legs, until it was caressing his entire body and whispering to him to get up, get up, it is time to get up . . .

Rusty blinked. He sat up and rubbed his eyes and looked around. It was his first morning in the room, and perched on the windowsill was a small brown and yellow bird, a maina, looking at him with its head cocked to one side. The maina was a common sight, but this one was unusual: it was bald: all the feathers had been knocked off its head in a series of fights.

Rusty wondered if he should get up and bathe, or wait for someone to arrive. But he didn’t wait long. Something bumped him from under the bed.

He stiffened with apprehension. Something was moving beneath him, the mattress rose gently and fell. Could it be a jackal or a wolf that had stolen in through the open door during the night? Rusty trembled, but did not move . . . It might be something even more dangerous, the house was close to the jungle . . . or it might be a thief . . . but what was there to steal?

Unable to bear the suspense, Rusty brought his fists down on the uneven lump in the quilt, and Kishen sprang out with a cry of pain and astonishment.

He sat on his bottom and cursed Rusty.

‘Sorry,’ said Rusty, ‘but you frightened me.’

‘I’m glad, because you hurt me, mister.’

‘Your fault. What’s the time?’

‘Time to get up. I’ve brought you some milk, and you can have mine too. I hate it, it spoils the flavour of my chewing gum.’

Kishen accompanied Rusty to the water tank, where they met Somi. After they had bathed and filled their sohrais with drinking water, they went back to the room for the first lesson.

Kishen and Rusty sat cross-legged on the bed, facing each other.

Rusty fingered his chin, and Kishen played with his toes.

‘What do you want to learn today?’ asked Rusty.

‘How should I know? That’s your problem, pardner.’

‘As it’s the first day, you can make a choice.’

‘Let’s play noughts and crosses.’

‘Be serious. Tell me, bhaiya, what books have you read?’

Kishen turned his eyes up to the ceiling. ‘I’ve read so many I can’t remember the names.’

‘Well, you can tell me what they were about.’

Kishen looked disconcerted. ‘Oh, sure . . . sure . . . let me see now .


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