You must be wondering how a story can begin with a title puddle. Well, this is not about a single puddle, but about a boy who loved puddles.
Bunty was seven years old and studied in class two. He was a good student and an obedient boy. He did his homework, drank his milk and ate his carrots and beetroots without a fuss. That is to say he was almost an ideal child.
I use the word almost because he behaved in a perfect manner on most occasion except when he saw a puddle. Strange as it may sound it seemed to have an electric effect on him. From a shy, quiet boy he was transformed to a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. The moment he saw a puddle he would take three or four steps back, look longingly at the water and then charge. He would run full speed then jump high in the air and finally land bang in the middle of the puddle, splashing water all around, clapping his hands and shouting in glee.
A couple of moments later he would quietly walk away as if nothing had happened. His shoes would be muddy, his legs would be splattered, his grey school uniform would have dark, dirty brown patches. But he would march on oblivious to all this, a faint smile on his face.
“What is this Bunty? Again your clothes are in a mess. How many times I have warned you!” Rohini ma’am, his class teacher would shout.
“I am sorry ma’am. I stepped into a puddle and ....”
“Then why don't you look where you are going? Any way this is my final warning. Next time if you come in this state I’ll mark you absent and send you home.”
Bunty would quietly listen to the lecture and go back to his seat.
Back home his ma would scream.
“Again! Again you have come back looking like a pig.”
“I stepped into a puddle ma.”
“You don’t step into puddles. You jump into them. You think I don’t know you.”
“I can’t help it ma.”
“What do you mean you can’t help it? I have never heard anything sillier.”
“Ma whenever I see a puddle something happens inside me. I can’t control myself. I have to jump into it. ”
“Nonsense, I think you do it only to irritate me.”
“Believe me, Ma. I have tried many a time to stop myself. Even tried avoiding the road where there is a puddle. But how many roads can I avoid. And whenever, wherever I see a puddle I forget everything else. I have even got into trouble over this.”
“Once when I jumped into a puddle, the water and mud splattered on an old man. He was furious and chased me with his walking stick.”
“And yet you won’t step making an ass of yourself!”
“Please, ma, I told you jumping in a puddle is something I can’t resist.”
“Bah! don’t give me that nonsense. I am warning you, next time you get your clothes dirty I’ll spank you.”
A couple of weeks later, on a Sunday morning, Bunty lazily opened his eyes and looked around. He was in his bed. He got up and drew the curtains of the bedroom window. It had rained all night. The garden was bathed in rain drops. Right in the middle of the lawn were two puddles. Bunty wanted to get out of the bed, rush into the garden and jump into the puddles. But he hesitated. He knew his ma had been very serious when she had warned him last time. And he didn’t want to annoy her on a Sunday. This was the day when she made his favorite masala dosa followed by a yummy chocolate cake. As he stared longingly at the puddle he saw his mother step into the garden. She was s swearing a nightie and carrying the newspaper. His father had gone for his morning jog.
Bunty was about to call out to his mother when he stopped. She was staring at one of the puddles with a strange expression on her face. She then looked around. From where she was standing she couldn’t see Bunty.
As he watched she went back five or six steps and looked around once again. She then broke into a trot. She took seven eight steps, leapt into the air and landed bang in the middle of the puddle. Her feet, her ankles, her nightie were all splattered with mud, but her face was wreathed in smiles. She reminded Bunty of Guddi, their neighbor’s three year old daughter playing with her puppy.
“Wow! Ma! That was perfect. Even I couldn’t have achieved a better landing,” Bunty yelled clapping his hands.
Startled, his ma looked around and on seeing him turned red with embarrassment.
Bunty ran into the garden and hugged her.
“You scoundrel, you were spying on me,” she looked at him with mock anger, her face changing from red to pink.
“Of course not, ma. But tell me didn’t it feel great?”
“Y...yes. It’s, it’s fun,” she said.” But that doesn’t mean I’ll allow you to make a mess of your clothes and shoes everyday.”
“Oh! Come on, ma. Don’t be a spoil sport. And just imagine if Papa comes to know about your fantastic jump into the....”
“You rascal, you are trying to blackmail me!”
“Of course not ma...but suppose when I am talking to him, it just slips out that you are a greater expert at puddle-jumping than I...”
“Okay, okay, I got the message.”
“You’ll stick to your puddle-jumping in the garden. If it rains we’ll have natural puddles or else we can create artificial ones on Sundays and holidays.”
“Wow!,” Bunty clapped his hands and gave his ma a big hug
“But Bunty no more jumping on the road okay!”
“Okay, ma, but you’ll have to join me from time to time. It will be much more fun when we do it together.
Ma looked at him with a twinkle in her eye, a soft smile on her lips. She grabbed his hand and pulling him forward yelled, “What about now!”
“Yahoo!” Bunty shouted and mother and son landed bang in the middle of a wet and slushy puddle.