A CBT PUBLICATION
CHILDREN Man Overboard
I stood on the deck of S.S. Rajula. As she
slowly moved out of Madras harbour, I waved to
my grandparents till I could see them no more.
I was thrilled to be on board a ship. It was a new
experience for me.
"Are you travelling alone?" asked the person
standing next to me.
"Yes, Uncle, I'm going back to my parents in
Singapore," I replied.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Vasantha," I replied.
I spent the day exploring the ship. It looked
just like a big house. There were furnished rooms,
a swimming pool, a room for indoor games, and
a library. Yet, there was plenty of room to 11111
The next morning the passengers were seated
in the dining hall, having breakfast. The loud-
speaker spluttered noisily and then the captain's
voice came loud and clear. "Friends we have just
received a message that a storm is brewing in the
Indian Ocean. I request all of you to keep calm.
Do not panic. Those who are inclined to sea-
3 sickness may please stay in their cabins. Thank
There was panic everywhere. An old lady pray-
ed aloud, "Oh God Have mercy on us. My only
son is waiting for me in Singapore."
A gentleman consoled her, "Don't worry,
Madam, it's only a warning. We may not be
affected at all."
Another lady, who was sitting beside me, look-
ed very ill. "Not rough weather I'm already sea-
sick. A rough sea will be the end of me"
I could not understand why all the elders were
so upset. I remembered the several sea adven-
tures I had read. Excitedly, I turned to the elder-
ly gentleman sitting next to me. "Uncle, won't it
be thrilling to face a storm on board a steamer?
Have you ever been on a ship during a storm?"
"It can be quite unpleasant, you know," he re-
plied rather severely. "I remember a time when
the ship on which I was travelling ran off course.
We were wandering on the ocean for a couple of
I remembered my class teacher, an English wo-
man, telling us in class one day, "When I crossed
the English Channel on my way to Singapore,
there was a big storm near Gibraltar. The ship
rocked to and fro. Everything in the cabins roll-
ed up and down. Even the heavy pianos in the
lounge went crashing against the walls."
4 This made my imagination run wild. Turning
to 'Uncle' again, I said, "Wouldn't it be fun if the
storm broke when we have lunch? Then the
tables, with all the food on them, would run away
from us. And the chairs, with us sitting on them,
would be a merry-go-round."
Everyone round the table stared at me in hor-
ror. I thought to myself, 'Oh, these adults, they've
no sense of adventure. How dull they are'
The storm didn't break, but in the evening a
strong wind started blowing. The ship rocked to
and fro, rocking and rolling to the music of the
wind. Huge waves were dashing against it. Even
though the deck was slippery, I was running
around. That's when I noticed Uncle leaning over
the railings. I ran up to him, thinking he too,
was enjoying the experience. "Good morning,
Uncle, isn't it lovely?" I asked him.
But he wasn't well at all. He was retching over
rails and looked rather blue about the mouth.
I felt sorry for him. "Can I be of any help? Shall
I call the doctor?' I asked him.
He couldn't reply, but only held up his hand.
As another bout of retching shook him he leaned
over the railings. At the same time a huge wave
lashed the ship. It lurched violently and the man
tumbled over the railings into the wild sea. For
a second I stood rooted to the spot. Then I ran
like someone possessed, shouting, "Help Help
5 Man overboard Save him" I must have made a
lot of noise. I heard footsteps hurrying even that
early in the morning.
Tears streaming down my face and shouting
incoherently, I ran full pelt into an officer.
"What's the matter? Why are you making so
much noise?" he asked in a stern voice, I was
surprised to see it was the captain.
"Oh Sir" I blurted out in relief. "A man fell
into the sea. Please save him."
"Where?" he asked, immediately on the alert.
"There," I said pointing a finger.
He did not wait for more details but ran at
once to a room full of officers. "Man overboard,"
he cried. "Stop ship. Drop anchor. Quick" His
instructions were immediately obeyed. The cap-
tain then raced to the upper deck. I kept trailing
behind him. "Lower the life-boats and crew into
the sea towards the helm," he said. "There is a
man overboard." Here again the men quickly
People started crowding the deck. "What's
happening?" somebody asked me.
Word soon went round. Everyone was tense.
Only an occasional, "There he is" could be heard.
Someone asked, "Who is he?"
Another replied, "Don't know."
Meanwhile two life-boats moved towards the
man. I stood close to the captain. In his anxiety,
6 he gripped my shoulder tightly and I winced.
"You're hurting me Sir," I protested.
"I am sorry, my dear. The sea is very rough
today. I hope my men can reach him in time. My
ship has never lost a passenger before," he said
crossing himself. He was watching the rescue
operations through a pair of binoculars that hung
round his neck.
The boat was too far for me to see what was
happening. I tugged at the Captain's sleeve.
"What are they doing, Sir? Have they rescued
the man?" I asked him.
"They've caught him by the arms and are pull-
ing him towards the boat." He was giving me a
running commentary. "Oh what bad luck A sud-
den current has swept the man away dragging
two of the sailors with him." He sounded nervous.
Just then he noticed the passengers crowding
against the railings. "Keep away from those rail-
ings" he shouted. "We don't want another
accident." The ship had dropped anchor but was
heaving up and down.
I borrowed the captain's binoculars. Now I
could see the rescue operation clearly. The crew
in the rescue boats threw a strong rope to the two
sailors in the sea and shouted, "Catch". Both of
them were good swimmers and soon had caught
hold of the rope. Then, with powerful strokes, they
swam towards Uncle. One of them caught hold
7 of him, while the other tied the rope round his
waist. With Uncle between them and the rope
secure, the sailors swam back to the life-boats. The
rescue team in the boats leaned over and heaved
the three men into it. In a jiffy the boats were
heading back to the ship.
"Thank God" muttered the captain making the
sign of the cross again, "They've managed to save
him." He turned to the passengers thronging the
railings. "Please do not crowd round the man
when he is brought up. He will need immediate
medical care." Then he saw the ship's doctor stand-
ing with a couple of nurses. A stretcher was also
being brought close to the railings.
"Doctor Is everything ready for the patient?"
the captain asked.
"Aye, aye, Captain," nodded the doctor.
The captain moved away to restore order on
the ship. I edged close to the doctor and asked,
"What will you do to him, doctor? Will he be all
"Aye, I think so. All the water will have to be
pumped out of him. He'll have to be given arti-
ficial respiration and kept warm."
"How do you pump the water out?" I asked.
"We put him on his stomach and massage him
until he brings it all up," he replied.
As soon as the rescue team reached the ship,
Uncle was placed on the stretcher and rushed to
8 the hospital room. The captain then came to me
and said, "Run along now and play with your
friends. I'm busy, but will send for you when I'm
through. I might even have a surprise for you."
When he turned away, I quietly sneaked into
the hospital room to see what they were doing to
the patient. Two nurses were scurrying to and fro
with trays full of medicines and syringes. Another
was rushing off with Uncle's wet clothes. I stop-
ped her and asked if Uncle was conscious. "Not
yet," she replied, "but he's better now. He should
regain consciousness in a little while."
The ship was still rolling, so I couldn't play any
games. I went and sat in a cosy chair in the lounge
and started reading a story-book. I was feeling
drowsy and must have dozed off. The next tiling
I knew was somebody saying, "Wake up, child.
You're Vasantha, aren't you? The
to see you in his cabin."
I looked up to see a sailor standing before me.
It took me a minute to recollect the rescue ope-
ration and the captain telling me, "I'll call you
I followed the officer eagerly. He left me out-
side the captain's door, saying, "Go right inside."
I knocked and entered. The captain was stand-
ing in the middle of the room. When he saw me,
he came forward and literally swept me off my
feet. He was still smiling when he put me down.
10 "You will have plenty to tell your friends, eh? Now
close your eyes."
I did so. Seconds later, I heard him say, "See
what I've got for you."
On opening my eyes, I saw a big brown box.
On it was written:
"WITH THE BEST COMPLIMENTS OF
I took the box and eagerly opened it. "Oh,
what a lovely ship" I exclaimed. "Does this really
belong to me? Can I keep it?"
Lying snugly on a velvet backing was a most
beautiful model of the ship. On it was inscribed
"B.I.S.N. & Co. S.S. RAJULA." I placed the box
carefully on the table. Then I threw my hands
round the captain and hugged and kissed him.
He patted my cheek and smiled as he saw me
lift the box and walk happily out of his room. I
proudly showed my present to everyone I met.
"See what the Captain has given me. Isn't it
"Yes, indeed," was the unanimous verdict.
I was the happiest person on board that day.
11 When Papa Scolded Me
"Baby, come for breakfast. Your milk is getting
cold," called Bhaiya, my elder brother.
I quickly put on my slippers, picked up my
favourite doll, Beeta, and rushed out into the
verandah. It was a beautiful day. The morning
air was most refreshing. "Ah, how lovely" I said
aloud, taking a deep breath. I ran across the
verandah, with Beeta tucked under my arm.
While I gulped down the milk, I heard Papa
calling out to the driver.
"Papa is still here, Bhaiya. He hasn't gone to
the clinic, today," I said overwhelmed with joy.
Being engrossed in a magazine, Bhaiya did
not reply, but I could see Papa talking to someone
in his room, which was opposite the dining hall
facing the verandah.
"Papa Papa I don't have to go to school, it's a
holiday. Do you have a holiday, too? Look, Beeta
has got fever," I said, all in one breath.
"No, my dear child, I don't have a holiday to-
day. You go and play while I talk to Mr. Singh.
He is very ill. I'll ask the compounder to give
your doll some medicine," Papa said lovingly.
12 It was quite unusual to find my father at home
at that time. Normally he was in his clinic before
I woke up. So I was very happy. My father wiped
his spectacles with the kerchief as he listened to
his patient carefully.
I was on the balcony when I heard, "Baby
Baby Come here, see this." It was my brother
from the verandah. He had spread himself on an
easy chair and our dog, Tom, was dancing round
on his hind legs. I burst out laughing.
"Papa will give medicine to Beeta," I said,
"And I'll ask Papa to give some medicine to his
darling daughter, because. . . .because she laughs
and laughs," said Bhaiya, tickling me and sending
me into fits of laughter. Being the youngest child
in the family I received everyone's attention and
affection. Papa of course, was the most
I ran from one end of the verandah to the other
and then onto the balcony, staying close to Papa's
room to attract his attention while I played. I
swung on the curtain, thumped on the door, tap-
ped on the table, pulled and pushed the chair.
"Look, Bhaiya, what a variety of sounds they
make," I said, pulling the chair, then leaping up
and rapping on the door, clapping my hands,
jumping all the while.
"Don't," pleaded Bhaiya, not taking his eyes off
13 the book in his hand.
Racing back to the window of Papa's room, I
saw him still busy with the patient. I loved to see
him there before me, while I played. 'He must
be liking it, too,' I thought, 'to see me play around
in his room.'
I dragged a chair and climbed onto the table.
This at last drew Papa's attention.
"Baby, be careful, you'll fall down," he said
"Look, Papa, I am taller than everyone," I grin-
ned from ear to ear making my eyes disappear.
All one could see was a set of white teeth and
Both Mr. Singh and Papa smiled. Papa did not
look convinced. So I said again raising my hands
above my head. "Papa I'm a big girl, now."
He nodded with a smile and continued talking
to the patient.
I touched all that I could reach with my hands
till I got to the black switch. 'No, you should not
touch it.' I was imagining what my mother would
'If you touch it, you'll get hurt,' Bhaiya had
told me once. This was a 'forbidden' article for
me, but how attractive it looked — black against
the light blue wall. Unable to resist the tempta-
tion to touch it, I pressed the switch and the light
came on. I immediately switched it off. I was
14 scared, I looked at Papa with large anxious eyes,
but he was busy writing. He did not see me. I
looked at Papa again and then at the switch which
begged my hands to touch it again.
'I'll do it just once more, okay?' I said softly to
myself. I repeated the mischief once more and
was unable to stop myself from doing it again and
again. I seemed to have disturbed Papa who was
15 concentrating on the patient's problem. Without
looking up from the book, he said in a serious
voice, "Don't do that, you might get a shock."
The klick-klack of the switch and the glowing
bulb fascinated me, "Baby, come here, let Papa
do his work," called my brother.
I ignored everybody. This was the most fasci-
nating game for me at the moment.
TIow fantastic I press — the light is on, I push
— the light goes off', I muttered.
The patient, obviously, had some serious prob-
lem. My father sat with four books open in front
of him. My running around had certainly disturb-
ed him. Completely exasperated, he put down his
pen and spectacles and shouted at me, "You're not
listening to me. GET DOWN FROM THERE"
His loud voice broke my trance. I gaped
at him wide-eyed. He fixed his gaze on me, ex-
pecting to be obeyed instantly. I was shocked at
being scolded so loudly by him — scolded by
Papa. Papa, a very soft spoken person, who was
known never to raise his voice, had SHOUTED
in anger at his darling daughter. I was very angry
I jumped down from the table with a loud thud
and raced up and down the balcony. My breath
quickened, my face went red with anger, and my
eyes felt hot with unshed tears. Throwing my
hands about, I raced up and down wanting to
16 destroy everything that came in my way.
Hearing the commotion Bhaiya came out.
"What is it?" he asked. My fury found a ready
victim and I ran towards him and pushed him. I
felt like bursting into tears. I rushed and pulled
at the curtain in Papa's room, which came down
with the force. I saw Papa talking to the patient
with his usual patience.
How unthoughtful of him He is not a bit
bothered about my being so angry with him. 1
was fuming all the more.
I went back into the room, stamping my feet
noisily in anger. Standing close to Papa, I raged
vehemently, "Why couldn't you say it softly?
Why did you speak so loudly to me?"
The next moment I came out on the balcony
and stood beside the money-plant pot. My eyes
were now full of tears. I plucked a leaf and shred-
ded it to pieces. The sound of a chair being pushed
in Papa's room reached my ears and then I heard
his footsteps coming closer to me. I tried to run
away in annoyance, but Papa caught me. He pull-
ed my face towards his and picked me up. Tears
came rolling down my plump cheeks. He patted
my head lovingly and wiped my tears.
"Oh, you big cat" said Papa, ruffling my hair.
This affectionate gesture melted my wrath. A
moment later I was once again happy playing
round the house.
17 To The Memory Of A Lion
Tanaji Malusare was Shivaji's childhood friend
and companion at arms. He was very brave and
daring. Shivaji proudly called him his Sivnha or
Lion. Tanaji had planned and fought many a bat-
tle by the side of his leader. They were deter-
mined to free their land from Mughal domination.
Tanaji lived in the small town of Umratha. One
morning, Umratha wore a festive look. Colourful
bunting fluttered in the streets. There was a
Mangal Kolas at every door. Tanaji's son was
to be married that day. People went in and out
of his house, busy running errands.
Just then a messenger came galloping down the
street. "Look" cried a man who had noticed him
in the distance. "What news can he be bringing?"
he asked Tanaji's servant who was near him. Be-
fore the servant could reply, the rider came to a
stop in front of them. He leapt off his horse and
said, "Where is Tanaji? I must see him at once."
"In the house Sir," answered the servant. He
had recognised the rider. "I'll take you to him."
"Sire," the servant called out.
"Pots decorated with mango leaves and a coconut.
18 Tanaji and his wife were busy selecting and
packing clothes and ornaments for the bride and
"Who is there?" he asked.
"Suryaji," replied the servant.
Tanaji put aside the jewel-case he was holding
and stepped forward. "Come in, Suryaji".
Suryaji entered and bowed to Tanaji and his
"Welcome, my friend. What brings you
here?" he asked. His wife, too, stopped inspecting
the sari she had in her hand.
"Ka/e wants you at Raigarh immediately," re-
Tanaji knew at once that it was something
serious. He turned swiftly to his wife and put his
hand affectionately on her shoulder. "My dear,"
he said, "you know I have to go. Postpone the
wedding. My first duty is to my leader and my
land. Come, smile and bid me farewell. Do not
wony. Suryaji and my men will be with me."
Tanaji's wife was stunned. She held back her
"Please wait," she said and went in to prepare
the 'tilakan d 'arti' for the farewell.
s 3Vermillion mark on forehead.
co "moving a lighted lamp round a soldier before he goes to
19 Tanaji buckled his sword and stepped out of
the room. He ordered his men to be ready to ac-
company him. The news spread and soon the
soldiers assembled outside his house.
After his wife had applied 'tilak' on his fore-
head and performed the 'arti\ Tanaji took leave
Leading an army of horsemen, he rode fast to
reach Raigarh fort. Tanaji walked straight into
Shivaji's room and found him sitting in a pensive
mood. "Raje, I'm here at your service," said Tanaji
"Oh my Sivnha has come" exclaimed Shivaji.
He embraced Tanaji and said, "Come, sit down.
We have a difficult assignment. Ma Sahib feels
that the other forts are not safe so long as we
do not recapture Kondana fort.
"Udai Singh Rathor is in command of the
Mughal forces. His men are guarding the three
gates. His sons are also with him. All of them are
brave fighters. There is also the killer elephant
Chandrawati. She is a force by herself. I have
thought and thought, but can't find a way of cap-
turing the fort. You are the only one who may
be able to find a way."
The lines deepened on Tanaji's brow. Then
he spoke. "I have a plan. The fort is guarded only
on three sides. We will try to enter from the west."
"What?" Shivaji sprang up. "Enter from the
west? You're not planning to climb that precipice?
It is unassailable."
Tanaji said coolly — "No, Raje, it is not the
way I intend doing it." He then explained his plan
to Shivaji in detail.
"It is a daring plan," said Shivaji anxiously.
"Very difficult to execute. Everything depends on
just one thing."
"Yes, it is difficult, Raje, but not impossible.
4 Queen Mother.