Summer means a long break from school, games with cousins and usually, if you are lucky, some thrilling story sessions with your grandmother. But perhaps children today have forgotten these simple joys of summer?
“Summer vacation at your grandmother’s house?” Sushma Aunty asked, “I envy you! You’ll have so much fun — listening to stories, playing with cousins and sleeping on the terrace!” Minu nodded because there wasn’t anything else she could do but she was thinking of how she and her cousins spent every summer with Aaji. They had fun, yes. But they didn’t do any of the things Sushma Aunty had mentioned. Minu thought of how her cousin Shefali spent hours on the computer, and how the boys — Shefali’s brother Sanju and Minu’s brother Nitesh — watched TV all day while she read the summer away.
Had they ever been on the terrace? Minu didn’t think so. And as for asking Aaji for stories, none of them even had the time to talk to her! This summer, Minu decided, would be different!
The very first evening at Aaji’s the house was plunged into darkness. Shefali emerged grumbling about a mail she wanted to send while Sanju and Nitesh moaned about missing their cartoon show.
“Let’s go on the terrace!” Minu suggested. The others weren’t keen on the idea but without electricity there was nothing to do in the house. So they trooped up, Aaji leading the way and Minu carrying a durrie.
“Now what?” Shefali asked, when the durrie had been spread out and they were all sitting on it.
“Aaji will tell us a story!” Minu said.
No one seemed terribly excited at the treat but when Aaji started telling them the story, they were swept up in the frantic pace as demons and magicians fought and thrilling things happened. Even Shefali groaned when Aaji stopped at an exciting point.
“What happened next?” Sanju demanded.
“Let’s find out tomorrow!” Minu suggested. She scrambled to her feet and went racing down the stairs. The others followed.
Strangely enough the power went off at exactly the same time the next night and immediately the children, reminded of the story, clamoured to hear the rest of it. And since there was no power it made sense to go up to the terrace. The power went off a few more times that week. By the third day they had all got used to the idea of spending the evening on the terrace and were soon racing up the stairs without the lights going out. It was Shefali who suggested that sleeping under the stars would be fun and after that they all slept on the terrace. Aaji was hard pressed to find new stories and often one of the others would step in with their own contributions.
On their last night with Aaji, they had dinner on the terrace and it was Sanju who put all their feelings into words when he said, “This has been the best summer vacation ever!”
Minu smiled. The trouble she had taken to locate the main switch had been worth it. It had given them all a joyful Granny summer!
This story was published in Young World, the children’s pages of The Hindu.