The following short story (500 words) was written for my first Open University course back in 2008. The objective of the exercise was to write in the voice of a child.
With a loud honk the car screeched to a bumpy stop. I cuddled teddy. A pile of stones blocked the road ahead.
‘We’ll walk from here,’ Mummy said paying the driver.
A tiny girl stood by the pile of stones. She was stamping her feet and waving her skinny arms at a group of donkeys. Her feet were dirty and bare. I stared down at my Barbie trainers. She looked at me. I smiled, but she poked her tongue out. “What a horrible girl,” I thought. At that moment an elephant came plodding up the road. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The only elephants I had seen had been at London zoo and this elephant had a man on his back.
‘He’s a working elephant and because he’s so big and strong he is going to help clear the road,’ Mummy said pointing.
‘I can’t wait to tell Mrs. Christy,’ I said excitedly, jumping up and down, waving teddy.
My teacher, Mrs. Christy, had said how lucky I was to be going to India on holiday. Nanny Ruth had not thought I was lucky, as I had heard her saying to Mummy that India was not the best place to take a seven year old. Mummy had said that she was talking nonsense, which I thought was very brave. I had often heard Nanny Ruth call Mummy Bohemian. I hoped it meant something nice.
It was so hot, like the time we went to Greece, but there was no beach here in Udaipur.
‘Come on Phoebe, lets find the market,’ Mummy said dragging me away.
The market was crowded and had a funny smell that tickled my nose. Tables were piled with mountains of red, yellow and orange sand. I reached out.
‘No Phoebe, you mustn’t touch. Those are spices for food,’ Mummy explained pulling me back.
Beautiful ladies hurried by in long, floaty, dresses called saris. The colours were pretty like those in my kaleidoscope. Some balanced packages on their heads, which I thought was very clever. Children giggled or called “namaste” when I smiled at them.
A lady in a green sari squatted on the floor. Her hair was white. In her nose she had a sparkling jewel like
Mummy’s. Around her were millions of twinkling bangles. I had never seen so many. She smiled. She didn’t have any teeth.
‘Why don’t you choose one?’ Mummy said.
I picked up a purple glittery one; it felt smooth and cool in my sticky hand. I tried, but I couldn’t stop looking at the lady’s pink gums. I wondered if she was too old for the tooth fairy.
A man stirred a giant black sizzling pan. Flies buzzed around his head. My tummy rumbled.
‘We’ll eat back at the hotel,’ Mummy laughed.
Suddenly I remembered teddy.
‘Mummy, I’ve dropped teddy.’ I sobbed.
I felt a tap on my shoulder. There stood the barefoot girl and in her hand was teddy. She handed him to me. Our eyes met, I smiled and then she was gone.