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One little giggle for strength

It was the beginning of June and monsoon had already set in the sleepy hill town. The dormitories were as cold and gloomy as the weather. The whistling wind scared little Roohi. Sometimes, it woke her up in the middle of the night, making her grope around for her mother. But all Roohi could do was pull the blanket up to her face and sink deeper under it so she could hide from the wind monster.

Every morning, as Roohi packed her bags and left to class, she wished she could see her mother again. She sat by the window in the classroom, watching the gardener’s son play with his mother. Unfortunately for Roohi, things had changed a lot after her mother had died. Her father rarely had any time to play with her. He had even sent her big brother away to a boarding school.

Even as Roohi continued to look outside the class window, her English teacher Mr Joy Kuruvilla noticed her. He had been seeing the little girl struggle to adjust to her new life. Her father had informed him that she was a very happy child, who loved to jest around, but he was yet to see that for himself. Also, the girl was having nightmares, her warden had informed him.

Perhaps, a poem would cheer her up, Mr Kuruvilla thought. “Roohi,” he called out, “Read the poem My Family aloud to the class.”

To his horror, he saw the girl’s eyes brimming with tears, as she tried to read the poem. He realised, a moment too late, that he had chosen the wrong poem. “Sit down, dear. It’s alright,” he told her, carrying on with the class. He would have to try better tomorrow.

The next day, after the class, Mr Kuruvilla asked Roohi to stay back. “I have something for you,” he said, handing her a chocolate.

The little girl still looked glum. Hoping his next attempt might be better, he pulled out a cardboard sheet from his bag. The sheet had stick figure drawings with a girl marked as ‘Roohi’.

Roohi stared at the sketches. In the first column, Mr Kuruvilla had drawn a cape on her back. In the second column, the sketch-Roohi was kicking a dark monster. In the third column, the monster was crying and flying away.

Roohi began to giggle. She unwrapped the chocolate and gave Mr Kuruvilla a piece of it. She would beat the monster now.


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