Short story

What are families for?

Sangeetha Narayan

“I’m planning to quit school!”
Raj announced as he threw his school bag on the sofa.
“More trouble?” I asked. This wasn’t his first such announcement.
“The school bullies just won’t stop harassing me. How I wish
I were taller!” said Raj as he attacked his snack as if it was his worst enemy.
Raj, my younger brother, had been complaining about his lack of inches for some time. He was the most diminutive boy in his class which was causing him ‘problems.’
I made the mistake of trying to minimize his concern. “I don’t understand what the big deal is! So, you haven’t attained your full height. 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!”
This sexist comment deserved a well-aimed smack, but I ignored it.
“What happened?”
“My class teacher announced a plant-a-tree contest today. Every student has to partner with a friend and plant a tree on the school grounds and take turns to water 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 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 problem 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?

Teacher’s Corner

Add variety to your class by getting parents more involved.
Here are some ideas:

  • Designate 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.
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