How Chandni was cured of her crochety ways

Last Updated : 16 June 2011, 14:51 IST
Last Updated : 16 June 2011, 14:51 IST

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Their parents, the Mirzas, had urged Rani to help grumpy Chandni to smile more often! “She loves you a lot. Perhaps you can get her to change,” they said. Rani tried, in vain.
One evening, Rosy, who worked as governess at the Mirzas’ house, called out to both the girls: “Come down fast for dinner! Come before the food gets cold.”

Rani came to the dining table quickly, but Chandni continued to talk on the phone. Several reminders later, Chandni put the phone down and ambled downstairs.

When she reached the dining table, she saw Rani’s empty chair. “Where is Rani?” she asked Rosy. “She’s finished her dinner,” replied Rosy, who was busy sorting the cutlery.
Chandni sat down at the table and spooned some soup into her mouth. “Ugh! It’s tepid,” she said, making a face. Rosy called out to the cook, “Jacob, please re-heat the soup.”
Jacob was a young, tall lad with light hair. Chandni was surprised to see the stranger.

“Who is he?” she demanded. “He’s the new cook. It’s his first day here today,” Rosy said.
“Hmmph,” Chandni grunted, “His first day and he serves tepid and bland soup!”
Placing the salt sprinkler in front of Chandni, Rosy said: “You came late to dinner, so the soup went cold. And the salt shaker is always on the table. Help yourself!”
Annoyed at being reprimanded, Chandni got up in a huff. “First, you invite strangers home in Mummy-Daddy’s absence and then...” she said, stamping her foot.

“I did not invite Jacob,” Rosy said, and counted to ten before adding, “your mother hired him.”

“And then, you even cover up for their faults!” Chandni finished with a flourish and stomped her way out of the room, pushing Jacob roughly aside. Jolted by Chandni, Jacob fell down with a loud ‘thud’ and his head hit the sharp corner of the table.

“Mummy!” Jacob cried out in pain. Chandni stopped in her tracks. The voice sounded very familiar. “Mummy...” she heard Jacob sob again.

“Chandni! Call Dr Raghavendra. Quick! Your sister is hurt badly and is bleeding profusely.” There was panic in Rosy’s voice.

Chandni ran back into the room and could not believe what she saw. It was not Jacob but Rani who lay next to the table in a pool of blood. Rosy went to phone the doctor.

Once the call was made, she rushed to the medicine cabinet to get the first-aid kit, while a distraught Chandni cradled Rani in her arms.

Dr Raghavendra’s clinic was only a block away. He drove the two girls and Rosy to hospital and informed the Mirzas.

Rani lay very still because the doctor had injected her with a pain killer. Chandni kept asking, “She will be all right, won’t she?”

While Dr Raghavendra concentrated on driving quickly to the hospital, Rosy tried to placate Chandni. “Pray,” she suggested, softly.

The Mirzas were waiting anxiously for the girls at the hospital. An attendant shifted Rani onto a stretcher, and wheeled her into the operating theatre. No one spoke. Chandni felt terribly guilty. She was scared, anxious and ashamed. Her thoughts were intercepted by the nurse.

“Sir,” she addressed Mr Mirza. “Would you want to file a police report against the person who hurt your daughter?”  Police report! Chandni shuddered at the thought. She had committed a crime and now the police were going to…

In tears, she cried: “I hurt my own sister…I did it…it’s…it’s all my fault!” Rosy  gently interrupted her and began explaining. “It was Rani’s idea to disguise herself to teach Chandni a lesson. She even used the stilts that Aunty Ahmed bought last year from America as a gift for the girls. That is how she looked so tall...”

By the time Rosy finished, the surgeon came out of the operation theatre.
He said, “Rani is out of danger, but she is very weak. She has lost a lot of blood, and we have started transfusion. We will have to keep her under observation to gauge the intensity of damage. Otherwise, you have nothing to worry about.” Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. He added, “One of you can spend the night with her.”

Mrs Mirza decided to stay at hospital while the others went home. Chandni spelt a restless, sleepless night. She was the first to hear the telephone ring. Dawn was  breaking. Mr Mirza rushed to take the call. “Thank God,” she heard him mumble.

Rani had regained consciousness. After a hurried breakfast, which Rosy prepared, they rushed to hospital. In the room, they were in for a shock. Instead of Rani, there was a tall figure, swathed in the white bed sheets standing next to Mrs Mirza!

“Hoooo... Hooo... I am Jacob’s ghost,” said the figure as Mrs Mirza tried hard to hide a smile!

Chandni ran to hug her sister.

“Easy does it!” Mr Mirza was quickly at the swaying ghost’s side to support her!
“Oh Rani, stop it!” Chandni implored. “I’ve learned my lesson well, but you had to pay a heavy price for it!”

Rani threw off her ‘ghostly cover’, and whined dramatically, “Why did you come so late? Where is the sun? When will it rain? Why is it so hot here?”

Everyone burst out laughing. Just then the doctor entered. “I guess being a good person makes you a hard nut to crack,” he said. More loud laughter followed.

Published 16 June 2011, 14:51 IST

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