Avni had a glum look on her chubby face. They had recently moved to the village owing to her father’s job posting. This house was huge compared to their cramped apartment in the city. It had a garden and a swing too, but Avni wasn’t happy. She missed her friends.
‘They must be playing now,’ she mused, wanting to cry.
She hated this boring place. Even at school, no one from her class of fourth-graders spoke to her properly.
‘Why did we come here?’ She burst into tears.
The creak of the gate made her lookup. A boy, probably the same age as her, walked in saying, ‘Ma is not well, she won’t come tomorrow, tell your mother.’
So he was Kamala Bai’s son.
‘What’s your name?’ Avni asked.
‘Babloo,’ he replied shyly.
‘Which class are you in?’
‘ I don’t go to school. I look after my sister when Ma goes to work.’
‘Oh,’ said Avni before asking hopefully ‘Will you play with me?’
Hesitating briefly, he said ‘Okay.’
They played hide and seek and catch. They played on the swing and with her dolls.
It was great fun.
‘Come again tomorrow,’ Avni said before he left.
Babloo came every day. He taught Avni to climb trees and catch butterflies. Avni introduced him to video games and the internet. Over shared snacks, she would tell him about he the big city and he listened with great interest. She taught him to read and write. With her father’s intervention, she got him admitted to the local school.
Six months later, Avni didn’t miss the city anymore. She had grown to love everything about the village—the trees, the fireflies, the birds by the lake, even her school. The best part was that she had found her best friend here.
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