A gentle and gutsy girl – short story for children.
Rinky was a tall, fun-loving ten year old with short hair and a pug nose. She lived in a very tall building in the heart of Bombay.Rinky could skate really fast, turn cartwheels and somersaults, run the fastest, and swing higher than anybody else. She always wore jeans and T-shirts (except in school ofcourse) and played only with the boys. In her heart of hearts, she wished she had been a boy too.
In the same apartment building where she lived, there lived another girl called Shobha. Shobha was a soft-spoken, gently girl. Rinky found her very ‘girlish’ and ‘silly’ and refused to talk to her. If her mother even suggested that she should become friends with Shobha, Rinky would get upset. ‘Shobha is a stupid girl,’ she would say. If her mother disagreed, Rinky would argue fiercely. ‘She is! She is!’ she would insist. ‘She wears frilly dresses and plays with dolls!’
‘There is nothing wrong playing with dolls,’ Rinky mother Seema had told Rinky many times. ‘All girls play with dolls. You too are a girl Rinky.’
Nothing would irritate Rinky more than being reminded that she was a girl. ‘I am a different type of girl,’ she would say to herself. Her mother did not understand her. Didn’t she realise that she, Rinky, was better than all the other girls?
Rinky’s attitude worried Seema. Something had to be done. But what?
Luckily for Rinky’s mother, fate intervened in the form of Bunty.
Bunty was the new boy who came to live in their apartment building. He was 12, and tall for his age. His favorite pass-time was to catch poor dragon flies, tie strings on their tails and fly them like kites. He also enjoyed teasing Ashit, the youngest of their gang. However, his real pleasure came from targeting Rinky. Imagine, a girl in a boy’s gang, and getting so much importance from them!
From the day Bunty arrived in the building, not a day passed when he did not pick a quarrel with Rinky. During any such shouting match, Rinky would notice Shobha watching them from the balcony and she would burn with humiliation. How Shobha must be laughing at her now, for refusing to play with her! Even Seema noticed that Rinky had become quiet and miserable and did not go down often to play. She knew what the problem was and thought this was a good chance to convince Rinky to make friends with Shobha. ‘Why don’t you play with Shobha?’ Seema suggested. ‘She is a good girl. Her mother told me she comes first in class.’
This was the last thing Rinky wanted to hear, as she herself was not good at studies.
One day, after a particularly bad quarrel with Bunty over who should be the den, Rinky bumped into Shobha. ‘I want to say something to you,’ said Shobha.
‘About what?’ demanded Rinky, expecting Shobha to say something mean like: this is what happens when you play with boys.
Instead Shobha said, ‘We should teach that horrid bully a lesson. And I have a plan.’
Rinky looked at Shobha’s frilly dress and fancy pink shoes and could not suppress her giggle. ‘What can you do?’ she asked.
‘Just you wait and see,’ said Shobha, tossing her long, silky hair, and Rinky thought she saw a tear in her eyes.
Rinky soon forgot about the conversation. A few days later when Rinky was standing in the balcony, wondering whether to go down and play, she saw Shobha downstairs. Shobha in a pair of jeans and T-shirt. As she watched she heard Shobha call out to Bunty and ask him to fight her.
Shocked, Rinky raced down the stairs. This was dangerous! As much as she didn’t like Shobha, she didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. Bunty was strong. Rinky knew it because he had slapped her once!
When she reached the compound, she found that the others in the gang had collected there. Six-year old Ashit, eight year old Chirag, Rohan from her class, and his older brother Chetan. They were all watching Shobha, who was now half-crouched like in the Kung Fu movies. Bunty was just a few feet away and he didn’t seem to be afraid at all. In fact he had a smile on his face. It looked as if he was going to enjoy beating up Shobha.
Finally, it was he who first advanced towards her, swinging his arm. All the children drew in their breaths.
Rinky looked around frantically. Where were all the grown-ups? But today of all days each and every balcony was deserted.
She looked back at the two in the arena. Bunty had swung his fist but Shobha ducked smartly and in a flash gave him a flying kick. Unprepared, Bunty lost his balance and fell…flat on his face! He got up and he touched his face and when he looked at his hands he saw bloodHis face lit up with horror. He didn’t like blood, that was clear to Rinky. In fact he looked as if he wanted to run away, but Shobha didn’t look as if she had finished with him. She was walking towards him, a grim look on his face. As she neared, Bunty let out an yelp and ran for his life!
It was over!
All the boys now surrounded Shobha. ‘You were great,’ said Ashit, his eyes wide.
‘Like Jackie Chan,’ said Chirag with admiration.
‘How did you do it?’ breathed Rinky, still quite stunned.
‘I go for Karate class,’ said Shobha calmly. ‘This was nothing actually. He ran, like all bullies do.’
Rinky stared Shobha wonderingly. What a brave girl she was. Girls could wear frills and still be so gutsy! Rinky wasn’t sure that she wanted to be a boy after all.
(Published in the Deccan Herald, Bangalore)