When little Nimmi came home from nursery school, Malli didn’t come to play with her. He was crying and Achchi was trying to calm him. When Nimmi tried to touch Malli’s leg, Achchi told her not to do so. “Malli is not feeling well,” she said.
When Malli was put to bed, Nimmi tried to go in to his room. Amma stopped her. “Don’t come to this room darling, Malli needs to rest,” she said. “What is wrong with Malli?” Nimmi asked.“Malli has got chickenpox!”
Nimmi went out and sat on the bench. The whole house was quiet and it felt very empty without Malli shouting and running around. She felt sad and bored. She didn’t even feel like playing with her toys. ‘It’s more fun playing with Malli,’ she thought sadly.
Nimmi walked towards the gate. Dave the naughty boy next-door was on a mango tree in his
garden. “Why are you with a long face? Where is your Malli?” he asked. “Malli is not feeling well. He has got chickenpox. They won’t even let me into his room.”
Now Dave is a naughty little boy who likes to tell lies and fool others. He pulled a serious face.
“So have you found a farm?” he asked solemnly. “A farm? For what?” asked Nimmi. “To put your Malli in there when he turns into a chicken,” he said. “Malli is not turning into a chicken!” Nimmi cried angrily.
“What do you know?” little Dave started to lie “I know a little boy who got chickenpox.
He started to itch and little
feathers grew all over him. Finally he turned into a chicken and his family left him at a farm!”
Little Nimmi was so shocked that she didn’t know what to say. Dave the little liar continued to frighten poor Nimmi. “Do you know why they won’t let you go into his room? That’s because they don’t want you to get scared
seeing him turning into a chicken!”
Nimmi turned to go back home. “Go and check if your Malli is
itching. If he is, then he’ll get
feathers very soon!” shouted naughty little Dave, laughing to himself.
Poor little Nimmi ran home as fast as she could. She peeped through Malli’s window.
Oh no! Dave was right, Malli was scratching himself and there were some sort of bumps all over his body… probably little feathers about to come out.
Nimmi sat on the bench sadly. She pictured Malli with feathers and a beak. Having Malli as a chicken won’t be any fun. He won’t be able to ride the tricycle or play ball with her. And if he gets angry, he might even peck. But what she feared the most was what Dave said about leaving him at a farm. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Don’t cry darling,” Nimmi’s Amma sat next to her and cuddled her. “Malli will be better soon!”
“But he will be a chicken!” wailed Nimmi. “He’ll grow feathers and you will leave him at a farm.”
Amma looked at her in surprise and started to laugh.
“Whoever told you that?” she asked laughing. “Chickenpox doesn’t turn little children into chickens. It’s only a sickness caused by a germ. In about two weeks, Malli will be fit enough to play with you again.”
Nimmi’s eyes turned bright with happiness.
“Is that true?” she asked, “Then why did you stop me from going in to his room?”
“When someone has chickenpox it can make others also sick. That’s why we kept you away.” Amma looked at Nimmi and smiled “And do you know what…when you get it once, it won’t bug you again!”
“Oh that is good!” Nimmi shouted happily “Malli won’t be kept away from me again, because of