Written by Amrita
I came out of the metro station, checking my watch. It was already 4 pm. I needed to reach home, as my children would be home anytime now. My mobile rang and the screen displayed ‘Home’. So, I knew my children were already home!
I walked faster, even as I picked up the call, expecting my daughter to ask me where I was. “Hi Zoyu”, I said in my special phone call voice. I am greeted with howling from the other end. I try to calm my 6 year old down. Wonder if she has had some quibble with her brother for not been allowed to watch TV or some routine fight of that nature. But this time, the matter was about school. I am more concerned. This is not routine. She asked me for her teacher’s phone number. I told her I will be back home in five minutes and for her to wait. I saw an ice-cream cart. To distract and sooth my crying daughter, I asked her which ice-cream should I bring home. My daughter says “none”. So I gather that the matter is serious as even an ice-cream failed to distract her and her howling continues.
When I reached home, Zoya was sulking in the corner, but not crying. I asked her what the matter was. Between explaining and bouts of crying , that reappeared, I gathered that it was all about loosing a storybook in the school. I agree with her that matter was serious.
Zoya received a near wordless picture book, ‘Good dog Carl’, the previous day through a friend visiting. Zoya promptly took it to school for the ‘sharing’ time, when children bring something special with them that they want to share with rest of the class. The picture book was outstanding, so I was pleased with her choice and desire to share the book with others. In her crying bouts Zoya said multiple times, that she loved the book, and now it is lost. I am more worried that the book did not belong to us, it belonged to a library and hence we needed to be extra careful about the book and its safety, as the book was a shared resource. While I was trying to stay calm, I was angry at myself for having allowed the book to leave our home.
Seeing an exasperated mother -daughter pair, my son, Anand pitched in. “Can’t we order a copy of the book?” The ten year old joins the drama with a practical suggestion. “I don’t know if the book is available. Even if it is, that copy of the book belonged to Tahir, so that can’t be replaced”, I reply.
By that time I had gathered that just when the school was about to get over, Zoya had brought the book and her water-bottle with her to the playground and kept in the thatched hut that children had made. While the water bottle was picked up by our driver, picking them up, the book wasn’t. I called her school teacher and she did not pick up the phone. I send her a message. After allowing myself to come out of my exasperation of loosing a ‘library book’, I call the school office hoping to find someone in the office. Fortunately, the phone was answered. I explain the crises and request the person to check for a picture book, ‘Good dog Carl’ in the thatched hut and explain how Zoya has been worried sick for the last 45 minutes and how the book belonged to the library and hence must be found.
I call back after 10 minutes and am told that the book has been found. We are all relieved!
Good dog Carl by Alexandra Day is a special book. The book takes you through a delightful adventure that the dog Carl and a baby left in the dog’s care have, while the mother is away running errands. It is affable, homourous and full of surprises. It is a near wordless book with one sentence each on the first and the last page of the book.
Now something about how the book from a Goa library reached us in Delhi to begin with! Sujata, founder of Bookworm was coming to Delhi on work and asked if my children wanted any books. I asked Anand and he asked for a Morpurgo book. I was pleased since he had been reading Wimpy kid, Captain Underpants and numerous double digests of Tinkle as his staple reading diet in the last few months. While I want him to take decisions about what he wants to read, I cannot help but wonder he when will add some more diversity and nutrition to his reading diet. So I passed on the request for Morpurgo. When I asked Zoya, if she wanted a book from Bookworm library in Goa, there one big emphatic “NO”. Feedback for me to not over-do book purchases, I know.
Sujata nevertheless brought ‘Good dog Carl’, knowing that the book is outstanding, was loved by her son when he was young and knowing how very fond Zoya was, of dogs and thereby making a fine choice.
Next day, when Sujata left for Goa, Zoya said, “I will miss her”. I am sure she will.