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Chapter: SHORT STORIES FOR CHILDREN kids school student

Brought To Book

Brought  To  Book
This has got to stop immediately," Justice Mathematics said in a stern voice, rapping the hammer for silence in the court. He pushed back the horn-rimmed glasses up his nose and glared first at Manu and then at the crowd in the court.

Brought  To  Book!



"This  has  got to  stop  immediately,"  Justice  Mathematics said  in  a  stern  voice,   rapping  the  hammer  for  silence  in the  court.   He  pushed  back  the  horn-rimmed  glasses  up his nose  and  glared  first  at  Manu  and  then  at the  crowd  in the  court.


Everybody   respected   him,   even   Manu,   so   a   pin-drop silence  fell  in  the  court  instantly.


"Let   us   proceed,"   Justice   Mathematics   said   nodding his  head.   "Your  witness,   first,"   he   gestured   at  the   torn Ms.  English.  Manu  chewed  his  nails  nervously.


"Your   Honour,"   began   the   lady,   in   a   trembling  voice,


"when  I  came  to  this  house,  I  wore  a  lovely  pink  and  grey dress,  shiny and unmarked.  And,  Sir, just look at me now."


Everybody  gazed   at  her.   Her   dress  was   unrecognizable.


Covered  with  ink  and  grease  spots,  mercilessly  dog-eared and  two  corners  chewed  away,  she  looked  a wreck.  Tears rolled  down  Ms.  English's  cheeks.


Offering her  a handkerchief,  Justice  Mathematics  asked gently,  "How  did  it  happen,  Ms.  English?"


"Well,"   sniffed  Ms.   English,   "this  boy,"   she  pointed   at Manu,   "brought  me  home  a  few  months  back  but  never bothered  to  cover  me  properly  with  the  nice  brown  paper his  father  had  brought."


"Did  Manu  not  get  scolded  and  punished  in  the  school for  that?"  Justice  Mathematics  enquired.


"Oh,   yes,   he   was,   repeatedly,"   said   Ms.   English   in a tearful voice,  "but all the punishment and  scolding slipped off  him  like  water  off  a  duck's  back!"


"Not  only  did  he  ruin  my  looks,"  she  continued,  "he  also ill-treated  me."


The  audience was  stunned,  ill-treating a delicate  creature like  Ms.  English!  How  terrible!


By   now   tears   had   started   rolling   down   Ms.   English's big   eyes.   And   stopping   only   to   sniff   delicately   in   the handkerchief,  she  told  everyone  about how  Manu  dropped her  carelessly,   stuffed  her  anyhow  in  his  crammed  bag, sometimes  next  to  the  lunch  box  dripping  with  oil!


Manu  turned  red  as  many  pairs  of  eyes  glared  at  him.


Oh!  why  had  he  not  listened  to  his  mother,  who  had  told him many times to take care of his books!  He was otherwise a  good  boy  and  even  managed  to  stay  within  the  first  five ranks  of the  class.  But  he  was  extremely  lazy.


"Manu!"   the   stentorian   voice   of  Justice   Mathematics brought  him   back  to   reality.   "What   do  you   have   to   say for  yourself?"


Manu managed  to  mumble  an  apology,  "I  am  sorry,  Sir!"


"What   do   you   mean   by   saying   'sorry'?"    screamed Justice   Mathematics.   "You  have  to  undo  what  you  have done.  Do  you  understand?"


He  looked  above  the  top  of his  glasses  and  seemed  as  if he would  like  to  bite  Manu.  "Next!"  he  barked  at  the  peon.


Mr.  Geography  stood  up  shakily  and went to  the witness box.  He  was  in  a worse  condition than  Ms.  English.  He  had no  cover,   the   'Contents'  page  was  hanging  in  on  its  last threads  but  the  worst  part  was  the  maps.  They  had  been filled  in  mercilessly  with  all  the  colours  in  the  paint  box!


"Yes!"  prompted  Justice  Mathematics.


"My story is quite similar to Ms.  English's," Mr.  Geography said  in  a  broken  voice.  "All  my  fellow brothers  laugh  at me whenever  Manu  pulls  me  out  of his  bag.  I  especially  envy my  brother  who  belongs  to   Sushmita.   She  has  not  only covered him neatly,  her handling is  so gentle that he always looks  as  if he  has just  stepped  out  of the  bookseller's  shop, and,"  he  added,  "she  fills  in  her  maps  with  a pencil!"


And  so  it  went  on  with  all  the  books,  copies,  pencil  box and   even   the   school   bag   complaining   about   Manu's negligence.  They  looked  battered  and  the  worse  for  wear.


Justice  Mathematics' face  became  dark when he  heard that


Manu tore  off pages  from  the  copies  to  make  paper  planes.


Manu withered under  his murderous look.


Mr.  Pencil  Box  complained  that  Manu  never  cleaned  it.


As  a  matter  of  fact,   he  had  covered  the  court  floor  with pencil  shavings  the  moment  he  had  stood  up  for  witness and  accidentally  opened  himself!  This  was  not  all.   Manu chewed   him   whenever   he   got   stuck   for   an   answer!   He pointed  at  his  pock-marked  body  for  everyone  to  see.


The  elderly  and  ponderous  Mr.  School  Bag  lumbered  to the   witness   box   with   his   broken   straps   and   buckles dragging behind  him.  "I  might  as well be  a sack of cement,"


The  began  in  a  grave  voice,   "as  that  is  how  I  am  treated.


Manu   never   packs   me   the   night   before   as   all   sensible children   do   but  leaves   it  till  the  very  last  moment.   And then,  naturally there isn't any time  to  do  anything but cram everything  in  anyhow.  With  the  result,  neither  my  friends inside  nor  I  am  happy."


"Your  Honour!"  piped  a  small  voice,  "I  also  want  to  say something."


Justice Mathematics  looked  carefully and found  that the voice   belonged   to   a   small  notebook,   much   in   the   same condition  as  others.


"All right,"  he nodded,  "please come to the witness box."


The young  Master  Notebook marched  to  the  witness  box and  took  the  oath,  "Your  Honour,  it  has  become  a regular practice  and  I  don't  know  how  long  I  will  be  able  to  bear it..."  he  stopped,  all  choked  up.


"Do  go  on!"  prompted  Justice  Mathematics  gently.


The  Master Notebook got hold  over himself and  continued,


"It   started   a   few  weeks   back.   Manu   was   solving   some problems  in  Mathematics,  one  of them  was  tougher  than others  and  he  failed  to  solve  it.   Can  you  imagine  how  he vented  his  anger?  Well,  he  threw  me  against  the  wall!"


A  shock wave  rent  the  courtroom  and  everybody  started talking at once.  Justice Mathematics went red with anger as he  banged  the  hammer  loudly,  and  you  could  see  that  he was wishing that  the  table were  Manu.  Manu,  meanwhile, stared  at  his  boots.  Was he  really that  cruel?  He  felt really ashamed  of himself.


"I  intensely  dislike  such  children who  do  not take  proper care  of their books," Justice  Mathematics  said  in  a serious voice,   all  the  while  eyeing  Manu   sternly.   "However,   this court  is  different  from  the  other  courts.  Here  the  punishment  is  decided  by  the  victims  and  we  decide  by  majority if the  verdicts  are  more  than  one."


He  looked  at  all  the  bedraggled  books  and  notebooks, pencils and pencil box,  and the school bag in the court. They, in turn looked at Manu,  each and every one of them in terrible anger.  Manu trembled in his  shoes.


"Let  us  thrash  him  first  and  then  throw  him  against  the wall  as  he  threw  me!"  this  was  the  Master  Notebook,  his voice  shrill  with  fury.


"No!  no!  Let us  all  bite him  and  let him  see how it feels to be chewed!" This,  obviously was Mr.  Pencil Box.  He became so  agitated  that  he  once  again  opened  himself and  spilled some  more  pencil  shavings  on  the  floor!


"I  suggest  dragging  him  around  the  courtroom  a  dozen


times  will  be  a  good  punishment,"  said  Mr.  School  Bag.


"Why  don't  we  all jump  on  him  together  till  he  yells  for mercy?"  exclaimed  Mr.  Geography,  rubbing  his  hands  in anticipation.


This appealed to  all of them  and even Justice Mathematics got up from his  chair to join the gang!


Menacingly they all advanced towards  Manu,  who  looked around  frantically  for  somewhere  to  run  to,  somewhere  to hide...  Nothing! There was no place to run to!


The  mob  was  almost  upon  him  when  a  soft  voice  rose above the frightening silence, "I say,  stop it!  Please,  do stop!"


Amazed,  everybody  turned  around,   even  Manu  opened his  eyes  a  crack  which  he  had  shut  in  fright.


Then the petite Ms.  English rose from her seat and  spoke to  Justice  Mathematics  in  a  firm  voice,   "I  don't  mean  to interrupt,  Your  Honour,  it  is just  that  I  feel  that  everyone deserves   a  second   chance  and,   after   all,   this  is  Manu's first  offence,  he  deserves  a little  consideration."


Manu looked  at her in  admiration,  he  could have hugged her!  She was the one who had been treated most shamefully by  him  and  look  at  her!  Standing  so  staunchly  by  him!


The others too  saw reason and  slowly backed off,  agreeing to  give  Manu  a  second  chance, "Manu,   see  that  you  never  ill-treat  a  book  again!"  was Justice  Mathematics'  parting  shot.

"Manu!   Manu!"   a   hand   started   to   shake   him   and   he jumped.   Had  the   others  changed  their  minds   about  not punishing  him?


"Oh!  Manu,  do  get  up.  You  will  be  late  for  school!"

Slowly  Manu  opened  his  eyes.  Why!  He  was  in  his  bed!

Yes!  There  was  the  battered  bag  on  the  floor,  the  books, half  on  the  floor  and  others  stuffed  in  the  bag.  But  what was  this?  The  English  book  was  lying  near  his  pillow  and seemed  to  smile  at  him!


Manu's   mother   was   astonished   to   see   him   rushing through the  chores  and then  sitting down to  glue and  cover his  English  book  that  very  morning! Next   year   Manu   Sharma   got   the   prize   for   the   'Best-Looked-After  Books'.

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