Short Stories for children book

Short Stories for children book

Man Overboard

I stood on the deck of S.S. Rajula. As she slowly moved out of Madras harbour, I waved to my grandparents till I could see them no more. I was thrilled to be on board a ship. It was a new experience for me.

“Are you travelling alone?” asked the person standing next to me.

“Yes, Uncle, I’m going back to my parents in Singapore,” I replied.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Vasantha,” I replied.

I spent the day exploring the ship. It looked just like a big house. There were furnished rooms, a swimming pool, a room for indoor games, and a library. Yet, there was plenty of room to 11111 around.

The next morning the passengers were seated in the dining hall, having breakfast. The loud­speaker spluttered noisily and then the captain’s voice came loud and clear. “Friends we have just received a message that a storm is brewing in the Indian Ocean. I request all of you to keep calm. Do not panic. Those who are inclined to sea­sickness may please stay in their cabins. Thank you.”

There was panic everywhere. An old lady pray­ed aloud, “Oh God! Have mercy on us. My only son is waiting for me in Singapore.”

A gentleman consoled her, “Don’t worry, Madam, it’s only a warning. We may not be affected at all.”

Another lady, who was sitting beside me, look­ed very ill. “Not rough weather! I’m already sea­sick. A rough sea will be the end of me!”

I could not understand why all the elders were so upset. I remembered the several sea adven­tures I had read. Excitedly, I turned to the elder­ly gentleman sitting next to me. “Uncle, won’t it be thrilling to face a storm on board a steamer? Have you ever been on a ship during a storm?”

“It can be quite unpleasant, you know,” he re­plied rather severely. “I remember a time when the ship on which I was travelling ran off course. We were wandering on the ocean for a couple of days.”

I remembered my class teacher, an English wo­man, telling us in class one day, “When I crossed the English Channel on my way to Singapore, there was a big storm near Gibraltar. The ship rocked to and fro. Everything in the cabins roll­ed up and down. Even the heavy pianos in the lounge went crashing against the walls.”

This made my imagination run wild. Turning to ‘Uncle’ again, I said, “Wouldn’t it be fun if the storm broke when we have lunch? Then the tables, with all the food on them, would run away from us. And the chairs, with us sitting on them, would be a merry-go-round.”

Everyone round the table stared at me in hor­ror. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, these adults, they’ve no sense of adventure. How dull they are!’

The storm didn’t break, but in the evening a strong wind started blowing. The ship rocked to and fro, rocking and rolling to the music of the wind. Huge waves were dashing against it. Even though the deck was slippery, I was running around. That’s when I noticed Uncle leaning over the railings. I ran up to him, thinking he too, was enjoying the experience. “Good morning, Uncle, isn’t it lovely?” I asked him.

But he wasn’t well at all. He was retching over the rails and looked rather blue about the mouth. I felt sorry for him. “Can I be of any help? Shall I call the doctor?’ I asked him.

He couldn’t reply, but only held up his hand. As another bout of retching shook him he leaned over the railings. At the same time a huge wave lashed the ship. It lurched violently and the man tumbled over the railings into the wild sea. For a second I stood rooted to the spot. Then I ran like someone possessed, shouting, “Help! Help!

Man overboard! Save him!” I must have made a lot of noise. I heard footsteps hurrying even that early in the morning.

Tears streaming down my face and shouting incoherently, I ran full pelt into an officer.

“What’s the matter? Why are you making so much noise?” he asked in a stern voice, I was surprised to see it was the captain.

“Oh Sir!” I blurted out in relief. “A man fell into the sea. Please save him.”

“Where? ” he asked, immediately on the alert. “There,” I said pointing a finger.

He did not wait for more details but ran at once to a room full of officers. “Man overboard,” he cried. “Stop ship. Drop anchor. Quick!” His instructions were immediately obeyed. The cap­tain then raced to the upper deck. I kept trailing behind him. “Lower the life-boats and crew into the sea towards the helm,” he said. “There is a man overboard.” Here again the men quickly obeyed him.

People started crowding the deck. “What’s happening?” somebody asked me.

Word soon went round. Everyone was tense. Only an occasional, “There he is!” could be heard.

Someone asked, “Who is he?”

Another replied, “Don’t know.”

Meanwhile two life-boats moved towards the man. I stood close to the captain. In his anxiety, he gripped my shoulder tightly and I winced.

“You’re hurting me Sir,” I protested.

“I am sorry, my dear. The sea is very rough today. I hope my men can reach him in time. My ship has never lost a passenger before,” he said crossing himself. He was watching the rescue operations through a pair of binoculars that hung round his neck.

The boat was too far for me to see what was happening. I tugged at the Captain’s sleeve. “What are they doing, Sir? Have they rescued the man?” I asked him.

“They’ve caught him by the arms and are pull­ing him towards the boat.” He was giving me a running commentary. “Oh what bad luck! A sud­den current has swept the man away dragging two of the sailors with him.” He sounded nervous. Just then he noticed the passengers crowding against the railings. “Keep away from those rail­ings!” he shouted. “We don’t want another accident.” The ship had dropped anchor but was heaving up and down.

I borrowed the captain’s binoculars. Now I could see the rescue operation clearly. The crew in the rescue boats threw a strong rope to the two sailors in the sea and shouted, “Catch”. Both of them were good swimmers and soon had caught hold of the rope. Then, with powerful strokes, they swam towards Uncle. One of them caught hold of him, while the other tied the rope round his waist. With Uncle between them and the rope secure, the sailors swam back to the life-boats. The rescue team in the boats leaned over and heaved the three men into it. In a jiffy the boats were heading back to the ship.

“Thank God!” muttered the captain making the sign of the cross again, “They’ve managed to save him.” He turned to the passengers thronging the railings. “Please do not crowd round the man when he is brought up. He will need immediate medical care.” Then he saw the ship’s doctor stand­ing with a couple of nurses. A stretcher was also being brought close to the railings.

“Doctor! Is everything ready for the patient?” the captain asked.

“Aye, aye, Captain,” nodded the doctor.

The captain moved away to restore order on the ship. I edged close to the doctor and asked, “What will you do to him, doctor? Will he be all right?”

“Aye, I think so. All the water will have to be pumped out of him. He’ll have to be given arti­ficial respiration and kept warm.”

“How do you pump the water out?” I asked. “We put him on his stomach and massage him until he brings it all up,” he replied.

As soon as the rescue team reached the ship, Uncle was placed on the stretcher and rushed to

the hospital room. The captain then came to me and said, “Run along now and play with your friends. I’m busy, but will send for you when I’m through. I might even have a surprise for you.”

When he turned away, I quietly sneaked into the hospital room to see what they were doing to the patient. Two nurses were scurrying to and fro with trays full of medicines and syringes. Another was rushing off with Uncle’s wet clothes. I stop­ped her and asked if Uncle was conscious. “Not yet,” she replied, “but he’s better now. He should regain consciousness in a little while.”

The ship was still rolling, so I couldn’t play any games. I went and sat in a cosy chair in the lounge and started reading a story-book. I was feeling drowsy and must have dozed off. The next tiling I knew was somebody saying, “Wake up, child. You’re Vasantha, aren’t you? The Captain wants to see you in his cabin.”

I looked up to see a sailor standing before me. It took me a minute to recollect the rescue ope­ration and the captain telling me, “I’ll call you afterwards.”

I followed the officer eagerly. He left me out­side the captain’s door, saying, “Go right inside.”

I knocked and entered. The captain was stand­ing in the middle of the room. When he saw me, he came forward and literally swept me off my feet. He was still smiling when he put me down.

“You will have plenty to tell your friends, eh? Now close your eyes.”

I did so. Seconds later, I heard him say, “See what I’ve got for you.”

On opening my eyes, I saw a big brown box. On it was written:


I took the box and eagerly opened it. “Oh, what a lovely ship!” I exclaimed. “Does this really belong to me? Can I keep it?”

Lying snugly on a velvet backing was a most beautiful model of the ship. On it was inscribed “B.I.S.N. & Co. S.S. RAJULA.” I placed the box carefully on the table. Then I threw my hands round the captain and hugged and kissed him.

He patted my cheek and smiled as he saw me lift the box and walk happily out of his room. I proudly showed my present to everyone I met. “See what the Captain has given me. Isn’t it lovely?”

“Yes, indeed,” was the unanimous verdict.

I was the happiest person on board that day.


When Papa Scolded Me

“Baby, come for breakfast. Your milk is getting cold,” called Bhaiya, my elder brother.

I quickly put on my slippers, picked up my favourite doll, Beeta, and rushed out into the verandah. It was a beautiful day. The morning air was most refreshing. “Ah, how lovely!” I said aloud, taking a deep breath. I ran across the verandah, with Beeta tucked under my arm. While I gulped down the milk, I heard Papa calling out to the driver.

“Papa is still here, Bhaiya. He hasn’t gone to the clinic, today,” I said overwhelmed with joy.

Being engrossed in a magazine, Bhaiya did not reply, but I could see Papa talking to someone in his room, which was opposite the dining hall facing the verandah.

“Papa! Papa! I don’t have to go to school, it’s a holiday. Do you have a holiday, too? Look, Beeta has got fever,” I said, all in one breath.

“No, my dear child, I don’t have a holiday to­day. You go and play while I talk to Mr. Singh. He is very ill. I’ll ask the compounder to give your doll some medicine,” Papa said lovingly.

It was quite unusual to find my father at home at that time. Normally he was in his clinic before I woke up. So I was very happy. My father wiped his spectacles with the kerchief as he listened to his patient carefully.

I was on the balcony when I heard, “Baby! Baby! Come here, see this.” It was my brother from the verandah. He had spread himself on an easy chair and our dog, Tom, was dancing round on his hind legs. I burst out laughing.

“Papa will give medicine to Beeta,” I said, showing off.

“And I’ll ask Papa to give some medicine to his darling daughter, because. . . .because she laughs and laughs,” said Bhaiya, tickling me and sending me into fits of laughter. Being the youngest child in the family I received everyone’s attention and affection. Papa of course, was the most affectionate.

I ran from one end of the verandah to the other and then onto the balcony, staying close to Papa’s room to attract his attention while I played. I swung on the curtain, thumped on the door, tap­ped on the table, pulled and pushed the chair. “Look, Bhaiya, what a variety of sounds they make,” I said, pulling the chair, then leaping up and rapping on the door, clapping my hands, jumping all the while.

“Don’t, ” pleaded Bhaiya, not taking his eyes off the book in his hand.

Racing back to the window of Papa’s room, I saw him still busy with the patient. I loved to see him there before me, while I played. ‘He must be liking it, too,’ I thought, ‘to see me play around in his room.’

I dragged a chair and climbed onto the table. This at last drew Papa’s attention.

“Baby, be careful, you’ll fall down,” he said tenderly.

“Look, Papa, I am taller than everyone,” I grin­ned from ear to ear making my eyes disappear. All one could see was a set of white teeth and chubby cheeks.

Both Mr. Singh and Papa smiled. Papa did not look convinced. So I said again raising my hands above my head. “Papa I’m a big girl, now.”

He nodded with a smile and continued talking to the patient.

I touched all that I could reach with my hands till I got to the black switch. ‘No, you should not touch it.’ I was imagining what my mother would have said.

‘If you touch it, you’ll get hurt,’ Bhaiya had told me once. This was a ‘forbidden’ article for me, but how attractive it looked — black against the light blue wall. Unable to resist the tempta­tion to touch it, I pressed the switch and the light came on. I immediately switched it off. I was


scared, I looked at Papa with large anxious eyes, but he was busy writing. He did not see me. I looked at Papa again and then at the switch which begged my hands to touch it again.

‘I’ll do it just once more, okay?’ I said softly to myself. I repeated the mischief once more and was unable to stop myself from doing it again and again. I seemed to have disturbed Papa who was concentrating on the patient’s problem. Without looking up from the book, he said in a serious voice, “Don’t do that, you might get a shock.”

The klick-klack of the switch and the glowing bulb fascinated me, “Baby, come here, let Papa do his work,” called my brother.

I ignored everybody. This was the most fasci­nating game for me at the moment.

TIow fantastic! I press — the light is on, I push — the light goes off’, I muttered.

The patient, obviously, had some serious prob­lem. My father sat with four books open in front of him. My running around had certainly disturb­ed him. Completely exasperated, he put down his pen and spectacles and shouted at me, “You’re not listening to me. GET DOWN FROM THERE!”

His loud voice broke my trance. I gaped at him wide-eyed. He fixed his gaze on me, ex­pecting to be obeyed instantly. I was shocked at being scolded so loudly by him — scolded by Papa. Papa, a very soft spoken person, who was known never to raise his voice, had SHOUTED in anger at his darling daughter. I was very angry with him.

I jumped down from the table with a loud thud and raced up and down the balcony. My breath quickened, my face went red with anger, and my eyes felt hot with unshed tears. Throwing my hands about, I raced up and down wanting to destroy everything that came in my way.

Hearing the commotion Bhaiya came out. “What is it?” he asked. My fury found a ready victim and I ran towards him and pushed him. I felt like bursting into tears. I rushed and pulled at the curtain in Papa’s room, which came down with the force. I saw Papa talking to the patient with his usual patience.

How unthoughtful of him! He is not a bit bothered about my being so angry with him. 1 was fuming all the more.

I went back into the room, stamping my feet noisily in anger. Standing close to Papa, I raged vehemently, “Why couldn’t you say it softly? Why did you speak so loudly to me?”

The next moment I came out on the balcony and stood beside the money-plant pot. My eyes were now full of tears. I plucked a leaf and shred­ded it to pieces. The sound of a chair being pushed in Papa’s room reached my ears and then I heard his footsteps coming closer to me. I tried to run away in annoyance, but Papa caught me. He pull­ed my face towards his and picked me up. Tears came rolling down my plump cheeks. He patted my head lovingly and wiped my tears.

“Oh, you big cat!” said Papa, ruffling my hair.

This affectionate gesture melted my wrath. A moment later I was once again happy playing round the house.

To The Memory Of A Lion

Tanaji Malusare was Shivaji’s childhood friend and companion at arms. He was very brave and daring. Shivaji proudly called him his Sivnha or Lion. Tanaji had planned and fought many a bat­tle by the side of his leader. They were deter­mined to free their land from Mughal domination.

Tanaji lived in the small town of Umratha. One morning, Umratha wore a festive look. Colourful bunting fluttered in the streets. There was a Mangal Kolas* at every door. Tanaji’s son was to be married that day. People went in and out of his house, busy running errands.

Just then a messenger came galloping down the street. “Look!” cried a man who had noticed him in the distance. “What news can he be bringing?” he asked Tanaji’s servant who was near him. Be­fore the servant could reply, the rider came to a stop in front of them. He leapt off his horse and said, “Where is Tanaji? I must see him at once.” “In the house Sir,” answered the servant. He had recognised the rider. “I’ll take you to him.” “Sire,” the servant called out.

“Pots decorated with mango leaves and a coconut.

Tanaji and his wife were busy selecting and packing clothes and ornaments for the bride and the groom.

“Who is there?” he asked.

“Suryaji,” replied the servant.

Tanaji put aside the jewel-case he was holding and stepped forward. “Come in, Suryaji”.

Suryaji entered and bowed to Tanaji and his wife.

“Welcome, my friend. What brings you here?” he asked. His wife, too, stopped inspecting the sari she had in her hand.

“Ka/e* wants you at Raigarh immediately,” re­plied Suryaji.

Tanaji knew at once that it was something serious. He turned swiftly to his wife and put his hand affectionately on her shoulder. “My dear,” he said, “you know I have to go. Postpone the wedding. My first duty is to my leader and my land. Come, smile and bid me farewell. Do not wony. Suryaji and my men will be with me.”

Tanaji’s wife was stunned. She held back her tears.

“Please wait,” she said and went in to prepare the ‘ tilak and ‘arti’*** for the farewell.

“His Majesty.

s 3Vermillion mark on forehead.

co “moving a lighted lamp round a soldier before he goes to battle.


Tanaji buckled his sword and stepped out of the room. He ordered his men to be ready to ac­company him. The news spread and soon the soldiers assembled outside his house.

After his wife had applied ’tilak’ on his fore­head and performed the ‘ arti\ Tanaji took leave of her.

Leading an army of horsemen, he rode fast to reach Raigarh fort. Tanaji walked straight into Shivaji’s room and found him sitting in a pensive mood.


“Raje, I’m here at your service,” said Tanaji bowing.

“Oh! my Sivnha has come!” exclaimed Shivaji. He embraced Tanaji and said, “Come, sit down. We have a difficult assignment. Ma Sahib* feels that the other forts are not safe so long as we do not recapture Kondana fort.

“Udai Singh Rathor is in command of the Mughal forces. His men are guarding the three gates. His sons are also with him. All of them are brave fighters. There is also the killer elephant Chandrawati. She is a force by herself. I have thought and thought, but can’t find a way of cap­turing the fort. You are the only one who may be able to find a way.”

The lines deepened on Tanaji’s brow. Then he spoke. “I have a plan. The fort is guarded only on three sides. We will try to enter from the west.”

“What? ” Shivaji sprang up. “Enter from the west? You’re not planning to climb that precipice? It is unassailable.”

Tanaji said coolly — “No, Raje, it is not the way I intend doing it.” He then explained his plan to Shivaji in detail.

“It is a daring plan,” said Shivaji anxiously. “Very difficult to execute. Everything depends on just one thing.”

“Yes, it is difficult, Raje, but not impossible.

4 Queen Mother.

We will prepare well and we will succeed.” Tanaji sounded confident.

“Very well, go ahead with your preparations. May Goddess Bhawani* bless you.”

Tanaji bowed to Shivaji and left. He called Suryaji and some of his personal friends who were waiting in the adjoining room. He swore them to secrecy and then told them of the plan.

“We begin preparing at once. Drill the soldiers, perfect them in the use of arms, but do not tell them for what. We have to take the enemy by surprise.’

Soon everything was ready. Tanaji called his friends, and announced, “Tonight we attack. It is a moonless night and nothing will be visible. All of you must be absolutely silent as you ap­proach Kondana fort. I will take the iguana Yash- wanti. With her help, we will scale the rock.” Then he turned to Suryaji. “You are to take the rest of the men and wait at Kalyan Gate. We will throw it open for you.”

Last minute preparations over, they marched to the fort quietly as shadows. In a short while they reached the foot of the precipice. Tanaji tied a rope to Yashwanti’s neck. Then he threw her up hard, so she could clutch the wall. But the iguana lost her grip and slithered down.

“Shivaji’s family diety.

“Oh, it is a sign of bad luck!” exclaimed one of the soldiers.

Tanaji whirled round, “Who said that? There is no place for superstition in a soldier’s life. He must only have faith, in himself and in God.”

Tanaji once again hurled the iguana up with greater force. This time Yashwanti gripped the top of the fort wall. Tanaji breathed a sigh of relief.

“Hand me the bag containing the ropes,” said Tanaji. A soldier gave it to him and he slung it on his back.

“I go up first. I will tie the ropes to the pro­jections on the wall and let them down. With their help you can all climb up. Remember not a sound.”

Tanaji held the rOpe tight and climbed up and up till he reached the ramparts. The soldiers followed him. Within minutes they were at the top.

Tanaji whispered, “There must be a number of guards posted on the ramparts. Take them unawares and silence them. They should not be allowed to sound the alarm. We’ll get down and attack the soldiers inside the fort. Let’s go.”

The men stonned the fort and overpowered the guards in no time. Shouting ‘Jai Bhatoani’, they rushed into the fort. The Mughal soldiers offered stiff resistance and a fierce hand to hand fight ensued.


One of the Mughal soldiers quietly slipped out and rushed to inform Udai Singh.

“The Marathas have entered my fort? But how?” cried Udai Singh.

He sprang from his bed and hurried to the next apartment. “Wake up, my sons. Tell the mahout* to get Chandrawati. She’ll crush the Marathas in no time.”

Udai Singh’s sons joined in the battle and the mahout sent Chandrawati charging into the fray. The Marathas fought bravely. The casual­ties were heavy. Among the first to perish were Udai Singh’s three sons and Chandrawati, the elephant. Tanaji went looking for Udai Singh.

Udai Singh had by then heard of his sons deaths. He rushed into the melee. “Tanaji, you have a lot to answer for. You can’t escape me.”

“That we’ll see,” cried Tanaji. With drawn swords, they closed in.

Both were brilliant swordsmen. The battle raged fiercely round them. The attackers had got the better of the defenders. In a strategic move, a section of the Maratha soldiers had thrown open Kalyan Gate.

Tanaji and Udai Singh were locked in a life and death struggle.

Both were tired and bleeding profusely. Udai “Elephant-driver.

Singh made a gallant effort and plunged his sword into Tanaji’s chest. Tanaji stumbled and fell. Quite unexpectedly he sprang up and inflic­ted a mortal wound on a triumphant Udai Singh. He fell dead. Tanaji, too collapsed and died.

All was quiet when Suryaji entered the fort. He rushed around, looking for Tanaji. He found him lying in a pool of blood. He knelt to feel his pulse.

He looked aghast at his dead friend. His grief soon turned into anger. “We must complete your task”, he muttered, drawing his sword.

The Marathas, infuriated by Tanaji’s death, fell on their foes like tigers. Udai Singh’s death had taken the fight out of the Mughals. After a brief struggle, the Marathas won the battle. Kondana fort was once again in their hands.

Suryaji returned to Raigarh fort to inform Shivaji of their victory. He was anxiously waiting for them.

“Raje, the fort is taken,” said Suryaji.

“Good. But where is Tanaji?”

Suryaji hung his head and remained silent.

“Speak, Suryaji!” cried Shivaji shaking him by his shoulders. “What has happened to him?”

“He is dead!” Suryaji said in a broken voice.

Shivaji’s face went pale as he mumbled, “The fort is won, but my lion is gone.” He turned and walked to the window.


He stood there looking out.

A memorial to Tanaji stands on the spot where he fell. It is called ‘Sivnha Garh

“The lion’s fort.

Download DPF file

10 comments share file Word


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *