Funday Times

Best of Friends

By Shireen Senadhira

Sarita was an only child and she was given almost everything she wanted. So, she thought it was her right and became rather bossy. She never wanted to share her toys, games and sweets with anybody.
Yes, as you can guess, she became unpopular in class. Her mother, however, noticed her ways and thought of how best to tell Sarita without making her daughter angry and rushing away.

When Sarita walked down her lane and the neighbours saw her, Sarita pretended not to notice them. Her neighbours thought of Sarita as a 'silly brat,' but, Sarita didn't know it.

One day, a new girl arrived in Sarita's class and her name was Nilmini. The newcomer lived close to Sarita in the next lane. Nilmini spoke to Sarita, wanting to be friends, so that they could go to school together and play too. But, oh no! Little Miss Uppity had no time for newcomers and went about without even a glance at Nilmini.

Once, in the music class, the Music teacher rapped Nilmini's knuckles hard and threw her music book on the ground.

Nilmini picked it up and went out of the room with tears in her eyes. Sarita saw what happened as she was waiting for her music class, but went straight to the piano room ignoring Nilmini. Another time, Nilmini got her arithmetic all wrong and was scolded by the Maths teacher and was kept after school.

Sarita grumbled aloud, “Now, we'll all get late and the van will have to wait too.” They shared a ride back from school. “Sarita why are you late?” asked mother when Sarita came home.

“Why? The new girl got all her sums wrong again and she was kept after school to do them.”
“Sarita, why didn't you help her? What a good chance for you to become friends with her”.
“I don't have any time for dumbos,” replied haughty Sarita.

Sarita was in the fourth grade and she still loved to listen to stories that mother told her. So, that evening, before dinner, mother and Sarita were in the verandah and mother started telling a story.

“Once,” mother said, “there was a brown ant crawling up a tree near a pond and from a branch on top, he fell into the pond. There, he was in the water struggling to keep himself from drowning. A dove on top of the tree, saw what happened and nipped a leaf off the tree. The leaf fell into the water near the ant. The ant climbed on it and was saved. When the leaf floated to the bank, the ant gained ground and when he looked up the tree, the dove had flown away. The ant never forgot the incident.

A few days later, the ant saw the dove trapped in a net thrown by a poacher. The ant waited nearby. When the poacher arrived and lifted the net slowly and put his hand under to catch the dove, the ant bit his foot hard. The poacher yelled in pain and jerked his hand to clutch his foot. The net came off its pegs and the dove made good his escape and flew away.

So, Sarita, see even a little ant can help you greatly at times.” Sarita thought about this story the whole evening and the next morning too. When she went to school, she saw Nilmini struggling with her sums. Sarita went over and told Nilmini nicely how to do them and made her explanations simple. Nilmini was happy and said, “Nobody ever explained the sums so well.” Next day, the teacher was surprised at Nilmini's correct sums and commended her. Sarita just shrugged her shoulders when Nilmini thanked her.

During Art class, Sarita was showing off and she threw a bottle of powder paint up in the air and tried to catch it but, the bottle slipped out of her hands and fell to ground and broke into pieces. Of course, the paint spilt all over and it was a mess. Everyone was startled.

The teacher scolded Sarita and gave her two smart raps with a foot ruler. Sarita was angry and upset as the entire class started laughing. That was not all, the teacher said, “Sarita, you will have to wait after school and clean up this mess and pay for the bottle and the paint. Also while you are at it, clean the entire classroom, desks, chairs and easels. Wash all the brushes and palettes and dry them too.”

A big task for a little girl indeed! When Sarita was left alone in the art room after school, she sat down and began to cry. Then crept near her, another little girl. Yes, it was Nilmini. She put one arm around Sarita's shoulders and said, “Don't cry Sarita. I'll help you and we can get all this cleaned up in no time.”

“Thank you,” whispered Sarita.

Then they started to clean the art room and it took them a long time. But the art room was neat and trim when they finished. They were proud of their work. From that day the two became the best of friends.

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