The International Writers
was stuck dumb when he saw Mohan standing on the doorway with
that strange puppy. Its nose was glowing and moist. It was strikingly
cherry-like. Shibu felt like touching it with his forefinger and
had a tingling sensation running through his bones. For a moment,
believe it or not, he lost control over his five senses. He could see himself moving forward and stroking
its cherry like reddish nose. It was cold as the jasmine flowers his
mom used to pick by the early misty mornings and soft as the chocolate
cakes that Papa brought from Mc Renne's yesterday. The nostrils of its nose
a magical puppy?" Shibu asked, with his eyes still widened, like
half-bloomed sunflowers. "Yeah! Its magical" Mohan stuttered,
"My uncle, Narendra Prasad, you know, famous magician, he bought
it from Nepal."
"So it should be magical," Shibu said in a feeble voice.
"Yes, of course magical", there was a glint in Mohans
eyes, and his face brightened with confidence, "It can change colours.
You should observe it all day. Then you see it."
Shibu half-extended his arms and hesitatingly asked, "You bought
it for me?"
"Yeah! I want to exchange it with those coins of yours. I want to
give them to Sheela and get her Singapore coloring book." He spoke
with a beaming self-belief.
Shibu was disappointed. His shoulders drooped. He did not want to exchange
the coins for anything. But the puppy was too tempting. Probably that
too is an effect of its magic. Who can reject a magical puppy, a charming
puppy with shiny gray coat and fluffy cute tail? It had elongated little
chapatti like ears and pitiable weenie eyes covered by its fall-over hair.
"Its a Nepali breed. Very rare and costly."
"Ok, I take it."
"Give me a pound and the Bangladeshi coins first."
After the deal was settled, Mohan gulped the coffee that Shibus
mother offered and said finally, "Dont give it biscuits, very
especially Tiger biscuits."
"Why? What happens if I give Tiger biscuits?"
"When I gave, it coughed three times and disappeared in a second."
Shibus heart stopped pounding for a few seconds.
"Why? What happened then?"
"Well, I used all the incantations my uncle taught me and it came
back," Mohan said proudly.
"Oh! Really? I cant believe. So it disappeared, eh?"
"Dont give Tiger Biscuits." He stressed every word.
"No! Never! I wont!" Shibu said sincerely.
Mohan left without a word.
Afterwards, Shibu never ate a biscuit in front of the puppy because it
had a curious way of staring at any food he ate. It would then put out
its green tongue and pant. Shibu got frightened when this happened every
time and he would drop his food in fear. Another surprise to him was that
it ate nothing he offered. It seemed to eat nothing and did not seem hungry.
"How come it ate Tiger biscuits then?" Shibu wondered.
Sheelas face flashed at his mind and she said, "Hey you goof!
They have made a fool of you." Shibu shrugged his shoulders.
Strange things began to happen after the arrival of the magical puppy.
Shibus Papa got promoted as coordinator of the copy-editing team
in which he was a member earlier. His Mom, an emerging Bharatanatyam dancer,
was chosen for the Natya Ratna award to her biggest surprise.
But to Shibus dismay, he failed miserably in all the papers he wrote
for his half-yearly examinations. He hated the puppy while his parents
loved it all the more. He, somehow, could not remember the answers for
most of the questions. He had, in fact, learnt them by rote and would
have given the right answers even if woken up in the middle of the night
during deep sleep. He thought he felt his hands tied-up and his mind fuzzy.
Sitting in the exam hall, his eyes brimmed over with tears. It was as
if he was enchanted by some magic spell. He had always been a very good
student and ranked second in class and once or twice topped as well. When
the results were declared, everyone, including his teachers, was surprised.
Mohan got the highest marks and topped the class.
"A Wally like Mohan getting the first rank? How amazing! This is
magic, no doubt!" felt Shibu.
Another bolt from the blue struck the class. Sheela, yet another brain
box of the class, had scored the lowest of marks. She was weeping. Almost
all of the teachers scolded her and her nose, in the end, was red in tint
like that of the puppys. Shibu could smell a rat in all this. He
would have to smell the truth out. Yeah, he would. He rubbed his palms
together in determination and excitement.
During that night, Shibu woke up by one oclock with a shudder. The
intermittent weeping of a babyish voice disturbed him. He sat up on the
bed. It was pitch dark around. His brain whirled like a bright whitish
flower caught in a murky whirlpool. To his left, Sheela was sitting pretty
in her yellow frock and grizzling in utter despair. She didnt recognize
half-sleepy Shibus presence. But Shibu was shocked to the core of
"Sheela! How come you are here? Why are you crying? Why
didnt go to bed?"
"How can I? I have been made a puppy and have to dawdle all the time
with all this heavy fluff over me. Oh! I get no sleep. It has been weeks
since I have slept or eaten a morsel." Sheela spoke continually with
no pause, as if she had been tired of dumbness all the while. She did
not seem to blink for a whole minute.
"So you were that nasty puppy."
"Yeah! I was." She spoke painstakingly with a deadpan face.
Shibu was very agile then with his brain gurgling with litres of adrenalin.
The shock had obviously driven off his sleepiness. But still he spoke
foolishly "So you are not a dog now." He peered at her back
and asked, "Have you got a tail?"
"Ooh! Dont be silly, you goof! Understand the situation I am
"Yeah! I will." He took a few seconds to regain his smartness.
"So who converted you into a puppy?"
"That idiot, Mohan! He took me to his home saying he will show me
a lot of new coins. Singapore, Japanese, and stuff like that. Then he
opened a fat book and read something in a weird, stupid language. I felt
like fainting and didnt remember anything afterwards. When I woke
up, I was sitting on his sweaty arms in this house. I was very drowsy
and also was a puppy by then. Wanted to scream and bite him then, but
couldnt do anything. You clown! You tickled my nose as if you were
mad. Well, you humans are all nuts"
Shibu broke into a side-splitting laughter. He couldnt avoid it
for another five minutes. His eyes were wet with tears. Sheela was, obviously,
irritated and her face puckered up.
"So you are not human. Oh! How funny!" He jumped up and down
on the bed in a fit of giggles. Sheela threw a pen at him in anger. Shibu
dodged and the pen whizzed past his right ear.
"Ok! Let us be more serious." he spoke with a sort of sincere
concern for her. Sheela felt that he sounded genuine in his attention.
"But you are a human now, right? Then what is the problem?"
he enquired with a suppressed chuckle.
Sheela didnt seem to be hurt this time. She replied, "I will
be in this shape only till 3 oclock. After that, Ill have
to be that hairy creature again."
"Oh! How sad!" he said soulfully, "But whose that other
Sheela present in the class."
"Shes some apparition created by that clown, blockhead."
"We got to do something. I will save you, princess. Dont worry."
Sheela, by then, started doubting whether his intention was to pull her
legs again. She gave a stern stare and wanted to give a piece of her mind
once he recognized her reprimanding stare. But Shibu did not seem to do
so. He sat in a thoughtful posture with his extended fore finger pointing
towards the roof and once in a while patting his right cheek with it.
He sat in that posture for too long and when Sheela reached the point
of breaking down with impatience, he suddenly moved forward and caught
her right hand. He scrutinized her palm for a few seconds and when Sheela
asked, with beads of perspiration breaking out all over her face, "What
are you finally going to do, tell me please."
He said, "Thats what I am thinking hard about."
"Oh! You are irredeemable, you clown of the millennium."
"No. Its not like that." He jumped out of the bed all
of a sudden and ran out of the room. He came panting heavily brandishing
a Tiger biscuit packet.
"You see this? I am going to transform you to your funny looks. I
mean to what you were before."
Sheela was bewildered. She stuttered when she spoke, "you mean with
"Yes. Now munch one." She obliged him with a startling obedience.
She munched her way through a few biscuits. Shibu was watching her attentively
with bulging eyes. Nothing happened. She did not cough as he expected.
The clock struck two. He had to work against time. He mustered confidence
from all the hidden dark chambers of his brain.
"Wait now." He went out as before and quickly came back with
a brand new poster of Sachin Tendulkar flashing his customary smile. Shibus
hair was disheveled and he looked very excited. He held it before her
face, "Close your eyes and pray now. Pray to Sachin."
Sheela closed her eyes promptly and began mumbling some half-learnt prayer.
There was piety on her tired face. She was like a docile devotee before
a godman. Shibu looked satisfied. He too closed his eyes and tried to
meditate. But in a few minutes, he dozed off. He suddenly awoke hearing
a cough. When he opened his eyes again, he saw Sheela coughing for the
second time. And then the third cough. At this point, a miracle began
unfolding before his eyes. Sheela began to shrink like a plastic toy melting
in fire. Shibu was tongue-tied and the vision was frightening and sickening
for him. In another five minutes, she disappeared in thin air.
Shibu felt released from the magic spell after this and a myriad of emotions
flooded his heart. He slumped on the bed and broke into an uncontrollable
sob. It took him a while to figure out why he had been crying. But his
heart still pained as if it had been stamped by a heavy feet. He slept
for an hour and when he woke up with bulging eyes and a swollen face;
his mom told him that Sheela was on the phone. Shibu sprinted like Mohd
Kaif towards the phone and snatched the receiver.
"Hello" he screeched.
"Yes, I am here" Sheela replied calmly.
When Shibu went to class, the truth was evident to everyone as clear as
daylight. Sheela had exposed all of Mohans black dealings. It was
found out that the answer sheets for the half-yearly exams had been tampered
with and the Principal formed an enquiry committee to trace out the culprits.
The entire class was excited. It was awaiting Mohans arrival. They
were all against him and were seething with anger. They planned to tease
him to tears once he came. They would throw him out of the window as a
form of punishment. But they had to wait for three days till the news
came that Mohan was bed-ridden with fever. Still, the class decided to
visit him and went to his house.
Mohan cut a pitiable figure on the bed, with his sunken and delirious
eyes. Sheela alone went over to him and stroked his forehead. He gave
a thankful smile mixed with pain. She had a quite talk with him for ten
minutes. When she came back, she convinced everyone that it is divine
to forgive Mohan as he had received enough punishment for his wickedness
and was penitent. Shibu wondered how she suddenly became religious and
very much suspected she carried a halo behind her head. The reunion came
as expected and everyone except Shibu was relieved. It was followed by
an exchange of jokes, bursts of laughter and boys vying with each other
to talk with Mohan. Tea and biscuits were served. Mohan was blushing with
gladness and half of his fever seemed to have gone. Sheela was running
the whole show.
The entire class went on merry making and some boys in their frenzy even
tried to lift Mohan from the bed. Sheela was there in a flash to save
the hopeless fellow. The boys then tried to lift Mohan and he felt like
being strangled and crushed. How sad! Nobody was there to save him. A
party followed and a few impish boys planned to trick Sheela into eating
a few Tiger biscuits that were served during the party.
A rumour going round was that Mohan had promised to teach Sheela the magic
trick that could transform her into a charming, medieval princess with
a knight who will fight many a duel for her sake.
"Oh, my goodness! Is it going to be the same story all over again
now?" Shibu wondered.
© R. Abilash Chandran March 7th 2007
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