Tanya and Pepper

The summer vacations had got over! The schools had re-opened. Tanya had mixed feelings. On one hand she was happy. She was glad that she could meet her friends in school .She wanted to talk to them about the trip that she had made to Singapore in the vacations. At the same time, she was sad. She had got used to sleeping till 9 am in the
morning. There was no home work! No examinations too! During vacations, Tanya was used to getting up leisurely and doing things at her own pace! Her mother seemed to have become far more considerate during the vacations! With the school reopening, the mad rush would start again!
Tanya was 9 years old. She was studying in Class IV in Vidya Niketan School. Some of her best friends in school were Aarushi, Disha, Pooja and Sanjna. Tanya was earnest in her studies. She always got good scores in her exams. However, she dreaded the subject of History. But she somehow managed to study History with some help from her father Amol Parker.
Tanya’s father Mr Amol Parker was working in a big company. He had a blue coloured Wagon R car. The car was fondly called by her father as his ‘blue eyed boy’. Tanya loved the weekends. Every weekend her parents took her to different shopping malls in the city of Bangalore. Tanya’s mother Madhavi stayed at home and took care of the household chores. They had a part time cook and a servant who took care of all the cleaning and washing.
Oh, how wonderful it was to drive in her father’s blue eyed wonder! The shops were so lively. There were crowds in all these malls. Tanya had so many toys to choose from! Every alternate Saturday, Tanya got some gift or the other! Tanya had a collection of Barbie dolls that she was so proud to show to all those who came to their home. The Barbie dolls were her prized possession.
The Parkers lived in a palatial home consisting of two floors in Bangalore. They had a spacious garden in their back yard. A part time gardener came home every week. He watered the plants, planted new saplings and plucked flowers. He also removed the weeds. There was a mango tree in their garden. Tanya loved the mango tree and its shade. She often kissed the tree goodbye before going to sleep.
The window in Tanya’s room overlooked the garden. Every night Tanya would say, “Good bye, Mango Tree. See you. Bye Bye!” Similarly, in the mornings before going to school, Tanya would bid goodbye to her favourite mango tree. She drew two eyes, a nose and mouth on the tree. Sometimes Tanya imagined that the tree smiled at her. “See you Tanya, study well and come back soon”, the mango tree would say in a gruff voice.
As a small kid in nursery, Tanya would practice this nursery under the same mango tree.
“Donkey Donkey
What do you do?
Carry loads for all of you!
Donkey Donkey
What do you eat?
Carrots so sweet and Grass so Green!
Donkey Donkey
I love you...
I love you my boy, I love you too.

The place where they lived was isolated. It was away from the main street. Each street had an independent house. But the neighbours rarely spoke to each other! They merely smiled at each other and waved their hand!

Sadly, Tanya had no other children of her age to play with. She had no friends to play. Tanya was lonely. The mango tree was her only companion!  Of course, she had her Barbie dolls for company too. Then there was Bunny Rabbit, Chikoo the cat, Chamkoo the monkey, Baloo the bear ... all of them adorning her doll house! There was joker Tinny too... Tanya would speak to her dolls every day after coming back from school. Tanya loved her dolls very much!
One evening Tanya walked into the garden. It was drizzling.

“Tanya, do not go to the garden. It may rain heavily. You will catch a cold” shouted her mother. She was busy browsing the internet.

“No, mama, I will be back in a moment,” so saying Tanya hopped into the garden.

She was happy. Her teacher had told in the class, “Tanya is a sweet girl”. She had got full marks in the English dictation!

Tanya was singing a song. 
“Lakdi ki kaati
Kaati Pe Ghoda
Ghode Ki Dhum Pe
Maara Hathoda”
Suddenly she heard a mild noise. What was it? Where was it coming from? Tanya looked here and there! She was afraid! Then she heard the noise again. It was coming from the wicket gate at the far end of the garden. But the wicket gate was closed. Who could it be?

The rain had stopped for a while. The pleasant smell of mud was irresistible. Tanya cautiously treaded towards the gate. Huddled close to the gate was a small puppy. It was completely white. It had dark blue eyes. It had a small tail. It was cute! But how had this puppy landed here? Where was its mother? The puppy looked at Tanya and stopped making the noise. But it started wagging its tail!

Though frightened a bit, Tanya patted the pup on its back. The puppy started wagging its tail. It made a strange noise.
“What do you want puppy? “Asked Tanya.
“Huf Huf “said the puppy.
“Okay. Are you hungry?” asked Tanya.
“Huf Huf” said the puppy.
“Do not worry. I will get you some milk” so saying Tanya rushed to the kitchen. She walked stealthily once she stepped inside her home.
“Tanya, it is getting dark. Don’t go to the garden now. Mosquitoes might bite you, “shouted her mother.
“Mama, I am back. I am going to my room,” Tanya shouted back.

Helping herself to a cup of milk and a few glucose biscuits, Tanya rushed to the garden again. She was afraid that the pup might have left her gate! But, no, the pup was very much there. As she neared the puppy, it started wagging its tail!
Tanya fed the pup milk and biscuits. The pup seemed to love it and looked at her longingly.

“I will call you Pepper” said Tanya patting the puppy that had sneaked in through the gate.

Days passed by. Tanya and Pepper became good friends.
“You should not enter the garden, when I am off to school” Tanya would admonish Pepper. Pepper would say, “Huff Huff” and wag his tail. Eventually, Tanya’s mother found out the secret behind the vanishing biscuits. Amol and Madhabi were not exactly fond of dogs. So, they chided Tanya. Tanya was sad. She started crying.

“Don’t be a fool and waste your time as well as ours”, said her mother.

“But, mama, I love Pepper”, cried Tanya.

“Pepper, my foot. Don’t you dare play with that dog again! It is after all a street dog. So what if it is white? “Questioned her mother.

Her father said softly, “Tanya, you are a good girl. Right? You are

Papa’s girl? Correct? Do not play with dogs”.

“But papa, many of my friends have dogs in their homes. My classmate

Aditya Ponnappa has two dogs - one is Hitler and the other is Macho. Aditya keeps on talking about them in the class,” whined Tanya.

“Tanya, you know that your mother is not particularly fond of dogs.

You know that, don’t you? So, do not be stubborn”, pleaded Amol.

Tanya kept quiet. She was sad that she could not meet Pepper anymore. Tanya’s visits to the garden had become infrequent. She could only see the mango tree from her window. She did glimpse Pepper waiting for her sometimes. She wondered what Pepper would eat if she did not feed him milk or biscuits.

“O,God, please help my Pepper. Give him food so that he doesn’t go to sleep hungry” Tanya fervently prayed to God.

The thought of a hungry Pepper made Tanya eat less. One night it was raining heavily and Tanya heard the huff huff sound that was so unique to Pepper. She silently prayed for Pepper’s safety.


“Huff, Huff”... Madhavi  came to the front door  on hearing the noise. It was that street dog that Tanya was so keen to rear ! What did it want.?

“Shoo, shoo” Madhavi tried to shoo away the dog. But the puppy which had slightly grown persisted.

Suddenly, Madhavi remembered that Tanya was nowhere to be seen. Where was Tanya ? She had come from the school, changed and as usual had gone to play near the gate. Panic stricken, Madhavi opened the gate only to find that Tanya was lying a few yards away. Perhaps, she had fainted. O, my god, if some speeding vehicle had passed by that lane, then !

Madhavi called up Amol and soon they were off to meet  Dr Jaydev Pai, the paediatrician in the neighbourhood.

“Nothing to worry” said the doctor. “She seems to be slightly anaemic. I will prescribe an iron tonic for her and she will be alright in a few days.”
“Can she go to school, doctor ?” asked Madhavi.
“Why not ?She can !” said Dr Jaydev Pai.

The relieved parents returned home. Standing near the gate was Pepper. Madhavi went near Pepper, “ Thank you, Pepper. Thank you very much”.

Tanya was thrilled to see Pepper again. She jumped with joy ! Within no time, the Parkers adopted Pepper . Tanya and Pepper were thus united ! Tanya is very happy. What about you?


More by :  G. Venkatesh

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