Children are imaginative and curious, which is what makes them so different from adults who almost always lead a mundane life. But what happens when a child’s brain is over-imaginative and borderline paranoid? Meet Avi, the protagonist of Help! My Aai Wants to Eat Me, who is convinced that is Aai is keen on gobbling him up, after watching a documentary that fills his mind with wild ideas. Read an excerpt from the book to find out what happened, below!
“All in all, not Avi’s favourite day.
Until it was time for environmental science a.k.a. EVS—a subject Avi LOVED.
He loved it as much as figs love wasps (so much so that they let the wasp pollinate the fruit and die inside them—‘till death do us part’, just like in the movies that Baba and the Maushis watched and loved).
He loved it more than birdwatchers loved the forest owlet, which had been believed to be extinct for 113 years until it was rediscovered right here in Maharashtra—the same state that Avi lived in!
Avi loved it more than . . . well, it was his favourite subject. Unlike HJ who loved maths and art and always got 24 out of 25 marks in them. And today was EVS Film Day! Which meant they all got to watch a wildlife film instead of studying. Avi settled down next to HJ, his knees aching from having stood for thirty-four minutes outside the classroom. ‘Arre, how will I play cricket today?’
‘Yeah?’ asked HJ. ‘That bad?’ ‘Shhh . . .’ Kshama hissed like a snake and glared at the two boys. ‘Do you want to spend another class outside?’
Avi bit back a retort—Kshama was the class monitor and could easily report him and then he would have to miss EVS Film Day. He had already seen films about climate change, about a tigress called Machli, and one about ghost crabs!
Miss Mankad, who taught EVS, walked into class. Every time Avi looked at his favourite teacher, he was reminded of a meerkat—an upright spine, broad head and large, bright eyes. Except, unlike meerkats, she was six feet and one inch tall. Clearly, she did a great job of teaching, given that Avi knew more facts about the natural world than his herd of classmates put together.
Miss Mankad shut off all the lights and Avi and Kshama closed all the curtains, turning the room into a dark den, perfect for watching a film. Even more perfect, it was about bears! Avi watched open-mouthed as jamun-like bear cubs wrestled on the screen, a mama sloth bear battled with a tiger (and won) while defending her cubs, and then . . .
SOMETHING HORRIBLE HAPPENED.
SOMETHING TERRIBLE. HORRIBLE.
Even worse than the day Avi was having. Another mama bear ate up her second-born cub.
At first, Avi thought she was licking the bear cub. But no. She just gobbled the cub up. Slurp. The baby was gone. Back into her tummy. Where he had lived for so long. Avi’s eyes widened. He gripped his pencil box tightly. What just happened? Did she . . . Really? No, that could NOT have happened. He squinted in the dark to see his classmates’ expressions. He couldn’t make out much, but did Kshama also look horrified? Or was that just her usual expression?”
Curious about what happens next?
Get your copy of Help! My Aai Wants to Eat Me to find out!
Illustration credits: Priya Kurian