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The International Writers Magazine
Dreamscapes Fiction

R.Alibash Chandran

Shibu 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 quivered slightly.

"Is that a magical puppy?" Shibu asked, with his eyes still widened, like half-bloomed sunflowers. "Yeah! It’s 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 Mohan’s 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.
"It’s 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 Shibu’s mother offered and said finally, "Don’t give it biscuits, very important…especially Tiger biscuits."
"Why? What happens if I give Tiger biscuits?"
"When I gave, it coughed three times and disappeared in a second."
Shibu’s 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 can’t believe. So it disappeared, eh?"
"Don’t give Tiger Biscuits." He stressed every word.
"No! Never! I won’t!" 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.
Sheela’s 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. Shibu’s 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 Shibu’s 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 puppy’s. 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 o’clock 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 didn’t recognize half-sleepy Shibu’s presence. But Shibu was shocked to the core of his heart.
"Sheela! How come you are here? Why are you crying? Why… you didn’t 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! Don’t be silly, you goof! Understand the situation I am in."
"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 didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t seem to be hurt this time. She replied, "I will be in this shape only till 3 o’clock. After that, I’ll have to be that hairy creature again."
"Oh! How sad!" he said soulfully, "But whose that other Sheela present in the class."
"She’s some apparition created by that clown, blockhead."
"We got to do something. I will save you, princess. Don’t 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, "That’s what I am thinking hard about."
"Oh! You are irredeemable, you clown of the millennium."
"No. It’s 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 these biscuits?"
"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. Shibu’s 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 Mohan’s 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 Mohan’s 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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