Care to share?

Care to share?

There was a young girl who loved chocolate so much that she was ready to do anything to guard her spoils. Anything? Well, read on...

Ranjini loved chocolate. It was her favourite flavour and the one she chose whether cake, biscuit or ice-cream. It was also why the party held in Class VI proved particularly exciting for her. It was end-of-term and every class was allowed to organise a small get-together. It happened to be Vasanth’s birthday too and his parents offered to host the party.

There were two huge cakes – one was chocolate, and a whole range of snacks. There were many games too. Ranjini was thrilled when she beat the rest in a word game. The answers to all the clues ended with ‘age’ and Ranjini was the only one to come up with all the answers. The prize was a gaily-wrapped box.

What could it be? She could not contain her excitement and before she left school, Ranjini went to a quiet corner and opened it. How wonderful! It was a box of shell-shaped chocolates. She popped one into her mouth. How heavenly it tasted!

Thrusting it into her bag, she hurried home. She could barely wait to show it to Amma. Amma would take just one and leave the rest for her to enjoy. Then, suddenly, a dreadful thought struck her. Her cousins, Ajay and Rinku, were coming over to spend a few days.

Amma would insist that she share her goodies with them and, oh no, they would finish them in next to no time. Especially Ajay, he was rather greedy! What could she do?

Ranjini stopped under a shady tree to think. The prize was undoubtedly hers. She had worked hard – well, not so hard. The evening before, she had happened to do an almost similar puzzle in a magazine. This was why she was able to think of words like ‘garage’, ‘garbage’ and ‘image’. But this hardly diminished the fact that the prize was hers and hers alone. But then there was one thing she could do

. She would not breathe a word about her win to anyone, not even to Amma. As soon as she went home, she would run up to her room and hide the box, taking it out only after her cousins left.

Greatly relieved, Ranjini walked home quickly. No sooner did Amma open the door than she rushed to her room.

“What’s the hurry?” Amma asked after her. “Have your milk first.”

“I’m not hungry,” she replied. “We had a lot of snacks in school. Remember, it was Vasanth’s birthday.”

She would have to think of a secret place before Amma came after her with more questions. Not her drawer for Amma opened it at times for paper or pen. Her cupboard? Even that was not safe. But there was hardly any place else. It would have to do.

She stripped the wrapping off as it could draw attention and thrust it into her bag. Then she tucked the box deep into the lower-most shelf. Once more, putting her hand in, she pushed it right back. Then she ran to Amma.

Ranjini did enjoy her cousins’ visit. They played games and visited friends. They went out to dinner and to a movie too. They visited the Butterfly Park and went shopping. The days flew by and it was only now and then that Ranjini remembered her secret. She hugged it to herself.

The day after her cousins left and when Amma had gone to the market, Ranjini went to her room and opened the cupboard with a happy heart. What a shock she got!

The entire area was sticky and when she drew her hand out, it was covered in melted chocolate! Quickly, she washed her hands and drew the clothes out. She was left looking at a thick, dark mess. All her blouses were smudged with brown. Her heart sank. Never had she felt so helpless. She had not only lost all her chocolates, but worse, Amma would come to know what she had done. It was something that she could not hide.

In a daze, Ranjini sat there. Quite some time must have passed for Amma came in asking, “What happened? Why are you sitting here in the dark?”

Ranjini burst into tears and the truth came tumbling out of her. Amma heard her in silence and then said, “Ranji, you know you have done something very wrong. But you have been punished already. You will now remember that it does not pay to be selfish and dishonest. As for the blouses, they can be washed and will be as good as new.”
Ranjini smiled through her tears and put her arms round her mother.