The sun shone through Gayatri’s window. It teased her eyelids open. She yawned, stretched and got out of bed – things she had done a thousand times before. For Gayatri, today began like any other day.
Gayatri Verma was a bright, 12-year-old girl with sparkling eyes and dimpled smile. She was an eighth grade student in a local school, forever praying to God for a new bicyle. She hated travelling in a school bus. After all she was big enough to ride the bike on busy streets. But who would make her mother understand?
She had just finished tying her striped tie over her blue and white uniform when her mother called, “Guddu! Guddu Verma, don’t forget to keep your shorts. Remember, you have gymnastics after school.”
Gayatri hated it when her mother called her that! Guddu was such an awful name. It sounded as if Guddu was someone with two pigtails and thick black spectacles!
As she ate breakfast, Gayatri’s thoughts turned to her two best friends, Nitya and Mitu. They both loved to call her Guddu. Her parents too liked the sound of Guddu. The Verma couple found the name very affectionate and charming. It was beyond Gayatri’s understanding how anyone could find the name Guddu charming.
Gathering her school bag and lunch, she kissed her mother and left for school. On her way out, Gayatri looked down and spotted a small pink square envelope lying on the porch. There was no name on it. She picked it up, admiring the curly design on the envelope. Another pamphlet publicising a newly opened fast food joint in her locality, Gayatri decided. Thinking she would like to copy the design in her art class, Gayatri put the envelope in her pocket.
At lunch time Gayatri hurried to meet her friends in the canteen. Mitu was there. She had wild curly hair and an equally wild sense of humour! She could always make Gayatri laugh. They had known each other since kindergarten.
Nitya was new to the school. She was new in town. Gayatri and Mitu had met her on the first day of school. Most kids thought Nitya was very snobbish, but they both knew it was shyness on Nitya’s part that made her keep away from most of her classmateschildren.
“Hey, Gayatri!” called Mitu. “I have egg paratha today. Wanna trade?”
“Sorry Mitu,” Gayatri answered. “Mom made me my favourite sandwich today.”
“I have chocolate pudding too,” teased Mitu.
Gayatri thought about the pink envelope she had found on her way to school. The envelope with a design that she wanted to draw out in her art class. But she did not really need the envelope. She could remember the design and, besides, she really loved chocolate pudding!
“Mitu, I found this neat envelope on the porch this morning. Do you want to trade it for your pudding?” Gayatri asked.
Mitu studied the little pink envelope. Like Gayatri, she thought it might be fun to draw the curly design.
“Sure Gayatri, I am too full for the pudding anyway,” said Mitu.
The bell rang and it was time to get back to class.
When Mitu went back to her class, a girl called Lovely walked in with a fistful of new pencils. Mitu’s pencil had shrunk to nearly half its size, she had sharpened it so often. She offered to trade the pink envelope for one of Lovely’s pencils.
Lovely looked at the paper. Underneath the design were several numbers written in a line. Among them were the numbers 10 and 13. Ten was the month of October in which Lovely was born and 13 was her birth date.
“Sure,” Lovely agreed, “I’ll trade.” She was thinking, it just might be lucky!
Later, during the maths class, Lovely found she was out of paper. She turned to her friend Rimjhim seated behind her.
“I have this lucky paper. I’ll trade it with you for some paper, okay?”, Lovely told Rimjhim.
Rimjhim loved anything ‘lucky’. She studied the small pink envelope and decided it would make a great bookmark for the book she was reading! She agreed and placed the lucky envelope in her book.
After school, Gayatri, Nitya and Mitu walked towards Gayatri’s mother’s car. She was going to drop them to their gymnastic class. Just then Rimjhim came running up to the car. Her mother had called the school saying she wouldn’t be able to pick her up and Rimjhim didn’t want to take the bus to the gymnastic class.
Rimjhim told Gayatri, “I’ll give you my lucky bookmark if you let me come with you.”
Gayatri stared at Rimjhim’s bookmark. It was the same pink envelope she had found on the porch this morning! It was crumpled now, and one of the corners was bent, but there at the top was the design she wanted to draw.
How did Rimjhim end up with it?
Gayatri smiled and said, “Hop in.” Then she tucked the envelope back into the same pocket where it had first rested.
Later that evening, while Gayatri was getting into her pyjamas, she heard her father shouting downstairs. Her father rarely shouted! Something was wrong!
She ran downstairs and into the living room. Her parents were sitting on the sofa in front of the television.
“Dad, what’s wrong?” Gayatri asked.
Her mother said, “Honey, everything’s okay. He’s just disappointed. He bought a lottery ticket last night and somehow lost it. He’s been playing the same number for years and tonight, his number finally came up! We’re both just disappointed.
Gayatri’s father said in a shaky tone, “I don’t understand how I could have lost it. I put it in my shirt pocket, then I drove home. I stopped at the porch to pick up the evening newspaper, then came into the house. I didn’t know it was gone until now, when I looked for it.”
“Dad what did the ticket look like?” Gayatri asked thinking about the small pink envelope.
Her mother smiled, “Guddu, it looked … well, like a lottery ticket. Don’t worry about it. It isn’t like we lost something we already had. We’re no worse off than we were before.”
Gayatri ran upstairs and pulled the envelope from the pocket of her uniform. Then she took it downstairs to the two people she loved most in the world.
“Did it look like this?” she asked hopefully.
They stared at the paper, then at each other. Suddenly, as one single excited voice, they both screamed, “Gayatri!”
“Tomorrow we shall go to the market to buy you a bicycle,” her mother exclaimed happily. “I think you are responsible enough now.”
Guddu Verma smiled. Her parents had called her Gayatri!
Then she smiled again, imagining how her friends would react on seeing her with her new bicycle. Today indeed had been a very lucky day!