Short story

Riding a camel to school -Dhanya Parthasarathy

On some days when Sarojini went to school on a camel, she would scrape a knee while jumping off. And often she forgot her water bottle that she carefully hung around the camel’s neck.

The best part about school is getting there, thought Sarojini. This camel is somewhat smelly, she thought and held her breath as she climbed on. And then she was fine. The camel waited patiently for her to come down from her flat in a crowded locality. It was quietly chewing a piece of newspaper.

The camel didn’t hurry her like Veena’s mother did. It didn’t honk noisily like her brother’s school van did. And she offered plenty of space on her back unlike autos. But it was almost as bumpy, she thought.

Sarojini looked around her as she held on tightly. She was on the same level as people travelling in a bus. How nice to be free without being pressed against a window, she mused as she rode by trees and telephone poles. She could feel the morning sun getting warmer.

The camel didn’t mind the traffic. It walked slowly at an even, steady pace, not bothering about the traffic light. Car and two-wheeler riders gave her priority. It didn’t mind the traffic or car horns. It just kept walking. Since she was enjoying her camel ride to school Sarojini decided to take the longer beach view route.

“Could you take the road to the beach, please,” she asked in her sweetest voice. But the camel didn’t listen. It plodded along the usual route towards the overbridge. One turn to the left, left again and she could see her school gates.

Sarojini made a grand entrance. Smiling as her classmates gaped at her. And her stiff old maths teacher chugging along on his motorbike almost banged into a telephone pole as he stared at her.

Tomorrow, I’ll get to school on a tiger, she thought, as she parked her cycle in the school yard.

“Sarojini, don’t daydream while you cycle! You looked as if you were driving a tractor or something!” her maths teacher scolded her when he cornered her in class.

“A camel,” Sarojini corrected him mentally, but nodding meekly.

Teacher’s Corner

Adopt a classroom pet. A pair of love birds, a goldfish in a bowl or even a couple of snails in an enclosure are easy to start with.

You could keep them in cage/jar in the corner of your class. Students should take turns to feed and clean them. Do some research to learn about their food habits and other needs of the class pet.

Think of a name for the pet and give all students an opportunity to interact with it or them. At the end of the year, ask students to write an essay about their experiences with the classroom pet.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” Martin Buber

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