The Friends of Custard House
Now, you must consider that we are talking about the India of the 1930s. The British were ruling the country. Little boys and girls were expected to behave in a certain way. They were never to be seen covered in dirt. They were never to be heard yelling at each other and even their games were expected to be civilised.
Yes, they could play cricket and cards and chess perhaps, but they had to always remember to say 'please' and 'I beg your pardon' even to their friends. There's no denying that it's wonderful to meet a well-mannered child. But Robert Custard, son of Brigadier Theodore Custard, stationed in Dehra Dun, India, was just TOO well mannered… until…Viju came into his life!
Who is Viju, you might ask? Viju was the ruffian little boy of Brigadier Custard's new gardener. Viju's family moved into the quarters at the back of Custard House after the old gardener took retirement and went away.
Viju was the youngest in his family and the only boy. Robert Custard was the youngest in his family and also the only boy. It was natural for these two to get together, one might imagine, and to have the time of their lives. But no, it didn't happen so easily. First of all, Robert was the son of a Brigadier and Viju was the son of a gardener. It is very sad that this should have kept them apart. Next, Robert was English and Viju was Indian. It is sad that this too should have kept them apart. And last of all, Robert was always so shocked to see Viju's dusty clothes and dusty hair that he himself stayed apart! All in all, it was very sad that so many silly, unnecessary reasons kept these boys from becoming friends for so long.
The year was 1932. The great Indian monsoon was expected. Mango trees were laden with fruit and the Koel's song was continuous. Legend has it that when the Koel sings it must rain.
The first fat raindrops fell to the dry earth. From his room Robert looked out of an open window. The thunder grew louder and the wind grew stronger.
Soon the rain poured down heavily from the skies. Robert thought to himself: "Oh! What a drag! I can't even go out for a walk now." His yellow Labrador, Giant, also looked out the window and wagged his big, fat tail. Giant was named 'Giant' because he really was very large!
The Friends of Custard House [Stories for kids]
By Amrita Chak; Illustrations by Kusum Chamoli
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