Short Story - What are families for?

“I’m planning to quit school!” Raj announced as he threw his school bag on our sofa.

“More trouble?” I asked. This wasn’t his first such announce-ment.

“The school bullies just won’t stop harassing me. How I wish I were taller!” He attacked the samosas as if they were his worst enemies.

Raj, my younger brother, had been complaining about his lack of inches for a long time.  He was the most diminutive boy in his class which was causing him some ‘problems.’

I made the mistake of trying to minimize his concern. “I don’t understand what the big deal is! So, you’re short now, but you’ll grow someday!”

He looked daggers at me. “What do you know about my problem? You’re a girl, and girls don’t need to be tall!”

That sexist comment deser-ved a well-aimed smack, but  I ignored it. “What happened?”

“My class teacher annou-nced a plant-a-tree contest today. Every student has to partner with a friend and plant a tree in the school garden and take turns water-ing it. At the end of the year, the most healthy tree wins!”

“So, what’s the problem? Is Ravi sick or something?” I asked.

“He’s not sick, just scared!” he said. I gave him a blank stare. “I got into a small fight with the class bully! I’m sure he’ll think twice before calling me ‘Shorty’ again.”

Raj looked out of the window and sighed. “Now he and his friends have frightened everybody and I’m left without a partner!”

For some reason, I tried to recollect every small or big trouble that my little brother had caused me.

“I can never win this contest all by myself!” he exclaimed.

“Hey, that’s hardly a problem!” I surprised myself. “I’ll be your partner.”

The little brat’s face lit up with a smile, “Really? You will?”

I suppressed a smile. Isn’t that what families are for?

- Sangeetha Narayan

Teacher's Corner:

Add variety  to your class by getting parents more involved.

Here are some ideas:

§ Make one day every week/month ‘Parents Day.’ Working Saturdays may fit the bill.

§ Ask volunteer parents to come and entertain the class for 30-40 minutes. They can plan group games, teach a craft, or tell the class some interesting travel or adventure stories.