RK Narayan’s short story for kids: A new arrivalhttps://indianexpress.com/article/parenting/learning/rk-narayan-short-story-for-kids-a-new-arrival-5733325/

RK Narayan’s short story for kids: A new arrival

"He hovered about uncertainly. The hushed voices, hurry, seriousness, agitation, hot water, and medicine-preparations for ushering a new person into the world-were too bewildering for Swaminathan's comprehension. Meanwhile, Granny kept asking something of everybody that passed by, and no one bothered to answer her."

rk narayan
RK Narayan (Express archive photo)

Mother had been abed for two days past. Swaminathan missed her very much in the kitchen, and felt uncomfortable without her attentions. He was taken to her room, where he saw her lying dishevelled and pale on her bed. She asked him to come nearer. She asked him why he was looking emaciated and if he was not eating and sleeping well. Swaminathan kept staring at her blankly. Here seemed to be a different Mother. He was cold and reserved when he spoke to her. Her appearance depressed him. He wriggled himself from her grasp and ran out.

His Granny told him that he was going to have a brother. He received the news without enthusiasm.

That night he was allowed to sleep on Granny’s bed. The lights kept burning all night. Whenever he opened his eyes, he was conscious of busy feet scurrying along the passage.

Late at night Swaminathan woke up and saw a lady doctor in the hall. She behaved as if the house belonged to her. She entered Mother’s room, and presently out of the room came a mingled noise of whispers and stifled moans. She came out of the room with a serious face and ordered everybody about.

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She commanded even Father to do something. He vanished for a moment and reappeared with a small bottle in his hand.

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He hovered about uncertainly. The hushed voices, hurry, seriousness, agitation, hot water, and medicine-preparations for ushering a new person into the world-were too bewildering for Swaminathan’s comprehension. Meanwhile, Granny kept asking something of everybody that passed by, and no one bothered to answer her.

What did it matter? The five carpets on Granny’s bed were cosy; her five pillows were snug; and Granny’s presence nearby was reassuring; and above all, his eyelids were becoming heavy. What more did he want? He fell asleep. The lights kept burning all night. Whenever he opened his eyes, he was conscious of busy feet scurrying along the passage.

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Late at night Swaminathan woke up and saw a lady doctor in the hall. She behaved as if the house belonged to her. She entered Mother’s room, and presently out of the room came a mingled noise of whispers and stifled moans. She came out of the room with a serious face and ordered everybody about.

She commanded even Father to do something. He vanished for a moment and reappeared with a small bottle in his hand.

He hovered about uncertainly. The hushed voices, hurry, seriousness, agitation, hot water, and medicine-preparations for ushering a new person into the world-were too bewildering for Swaminathan’s comprehension. Meanwhile, Granny kept asking something of everybody that passed by, and no one bothered to answer her.

What did it matter? The five carpets on Granny’s bed were cosy; her five pillows were snug; and Granny’s presence nearby was reassuring; and above all, his eyelids were becoming heavy. What more did he want? He fell asleep.

The Tamil pundit, with his unshaven face and the silver-rimmed spectacles set askew on his nose, was guiding the class through the intricacies of Tamil grammar. The guide was more enthusiastic than his followers. A continual buzz filled the air. Boys had formed themselves into small groups and carried on private conversations. The pundit made faint attempts to silence the class by rapping his palms on the table. After a while, he gave up the attempt and went on with his lecture. His voice was scarcely audible.

Sankar and a few others sat on the first bench with cocked up ears and busy pencils. Swaminathan and the Pea sat on the last bench.

‘I say, Pea,’ said Swaminathan, ‘I got a new brother this morning.’

The Pea was interested. ‘How do you like him?’

‘Oh, like him! He is hardly anything. Such a funny-looking creature!’ said Swaminathan, and gave what he thought was an imitation of his little brother: he shut his eyes, compressed his lips, folded his hands on his chest, protruded his tongue, and tilted his head from side to side. The Pea laughed uncontrollably. ‘But,’ Swaminathan said, ‘this thing has a wonderful pair of hands, so small and plump, you know! But I tell you, his face is awful, red, red like chilli.’

They listened to the teacher’s lecture for a few minutes. ‘I say, Swami,’ said the Pea, ‘these things grow up soon. I have seen a baby that was just like what your brother is. But you know, when I saw it again during Michaelmas I could hardly recognize it.’

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(Excerpted with permission from Malgudi Schooldays-Puffin Classics by RK Narayan, published by Penguin India.)