## The Secret Code

Ananth was in class 8 and of all the subjects, he loved maths. The complex mathematical equations and puzzles scared other children of his age, but not him. He loved solving puzzles, brain teasers and riddles. His classmates called him a ‘Wizard—a mathematical wizard’.

One day during the lunch break, Ananth helped Ajay solve a tough mathematics equation.

Back in class, Ajay said to the other classmates, “Do you remember the comic scene in the Hindi movie, Namak Halaal, wherein actor Amitabh Bachchan says, ‘I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English’?”

“Yes, our parents have shown us that scene on TV,” replied some. Others shook their heads as they hadn’t seen the movie.

Ajay continued, “Like Amitabh in that movie, Ananth too talks Maths, walks Maths and laughs Maths.”

Everyone laughed and Ananth blushed.

Ananth was a shy, polite and helpful classmate and friend. His classmates would bring their problems to him, mostly related to Math. But lately, they had also started bringing their personal problems to him. That was because Ananth had a solution, sometimes a unique one, with a mathematical twist for their personal problems too.

One day, Manu who sat next Ananth in class was looking sad. “What’s the matter, buddy?” asked Ananth.

“I wish you could help! I want to make a nice ‘Happy New Year’ card this year for my parents. But don’t know what sort of card to make for them,” said Manu.

“It has to be something nice. Simple yet modern, with a twist.”

Ananth thought for a while and said, “How about wishing them mathematically?”

Manu stared at him.

“Look, we will use numbers to convey a simple beautiful message,” said Ananth excitedly.

“Okay, go on. I am listening.”

“On a card, draw a square, inside it, draw a smiley face and write 81777 below it. Then inside the card, on the left, write 555 and on the right side, write 7519.

“What do these number games mean?” asked Manu, looking blankly at Ananth.

“Why don’t you think about it? I will give you a hint. The alphabets A to Z are numbered 1 to 26,” Ananth prompted him to try.

“Oh, let me see. Then in 81777, the number 8 stands for H. The number 1 stands for A… Oh, how interesting! Then the number 7 stands for G. That makes 81777 mean HAGGG. What does that even mean?”

Ananth laughed out loud.

“That’s the twist. If any alphabet has two digits or is a compound number, like K is number 11, we add up the numbers. To get K we add the digits on number 11, that is 1+1 = 2. So the number 2 can mean B or K. One has to find out exactly which alphabet 7 represents, to make a proper word,” Ananth explained further.

Manu gave it a try again, “Okay. Here, I do know that the word would be HAPPY… because we are writing a ‘Happy New Year’ card. P is the 16th alphabet. So 1 + 6 = 7 and Y is the 25th alphabet and that too is 2 + 5 =7. Quite interesting!”

Anita, who was listening from behind them, piped in, “I will find the next secret code. It’s 555 right. So the 1st number 5 stands for N…because N is the 14th alphabet… so 1 + 4 = 5. Then 2nd number 5 stands for E, the third number 5 stands for W… since W is the 23rd number of the alphabet series… so 2 + 3 = 5.”

John, the laziest student in class said, “The other number 7519 on the right means YEAR… there is no need to calculate. ‘Happy New Year’.”

Manjula, who was quietly listening to everything, said, “In Whatsapp, we use only three alphabets—HNY. So I will make a card with just three numbers 857 for those alphabets. H would be 8, N would be 5 and Y would be 7.

Manjula wondered, “Imagine the confusion on our parent’s faces when they see the numbers 857, instead of the usual HNY.”

“Yes, and instead of ‘Happy New Year 2021’, they see 81777 555 7519 2021,” giggled Manu.

“Thank you for your suggestion, Ananth. I will make this card today,” said Manu.

“You are good with colours and calligraphy, too. So I am sure that the smiley on the square and the dancing numbers will look fantastic on your card,” Ananth said.

Manu laughed on imagining the numbers in various styles.

At home, Manu got to work. He cut the card paper and made a popping yellow smiley in the front.

Above the smiley, he wrote, “Guess what this means!” as a teaser for his parents. Below it, he wrote the numbers, “81777” in beautiful calligraphic style. Inside the card, on the left, he wrote the numbers, “555”. On the right side, he wrote “7519” and coloured the card.

On December 31, he presented the card and two roses to his parents. His sister, Pinky, also gave them a floral card and chocolates. Their parents were surprised and thanked them.

His father looked at the numbers on Manu’s card and asked, “What do these mean? Does it mean a smiley?”

“No. Keep guessing.”

His mother said, “Then it must be sleeping since that’s what you love to do.”

They laughed.

“Wait. Let me see. I think it stands for Happy…,” said his father, he then turned the page, “New … Year. You used the numbers for the alphabets! Very nice, Manu. Good colours and beautiful calligraphy.”

“You wished us in a secret code. Do you plan to be a detective?” asked his mother.

Manu answered immediately, “No. A Mathematician!”

They all laughed.

A very HNY or 857 to all!!

## Santa Claus’s Lesson

St Peter’s School was buzzing with energy. As Christmas approached the excitement level of children increased.

The children were eager to know who would become Santa this year. Last year, the Headmistress, Ms Nancy, had chosen Zeba to be Santa and she had beautifully played that role.

She had dressed exactly like Santa and had made all the children laugh till their belly’s ached.

No one knew how and when Zeba had placed the toffees, chocolates, pencils and pens in their bags during the assembly. After that day, everyone started calling
her Santa.

But something had troubled Zeba that day, but she did not tell anyone anything about it.

This year, too, Ms Nancy wanted to choose Zeba as she fit the role perfectly, but when Zeba was selected again, she said, “Ma’am, I am delighted to have
been chosen for the role of Santa again, but….”

“But what, Zeba? Tell me. Is there something you want to say?”

“Ma’am, I love dressing up as Santa. But, I won’t go to the playground as Santa
this time.”

“Why not? Santa normally roams around the entire school,” replied Ms Nancy.

Zeba then told Ms Nancy that hiding away from the teacher’s watchful eyes, some children had forcibly snatched all the toffees and chocolates from her. Afraid that they would trouble her further, Zeba did not complain about the incident.

Ms Nancy smiled sympathetically and said, “Alright, Zeba, you will not go to the playground this year. But Santa will.”

“But how, Ma’am?”

“You don’t have to worry about that Zeba,” she replied, smiling to herself.

Ms Nancy made up her mind on how she would identify naughty children and teach them a lesson.

Christmas was usually celebrated at school on December 24.

Many children made beautiful paintings for Christmas and these were displayed on the corridors of the school, in Ms Nancy’s office, the staff room and in all classrooms.

The Christmas tree was beautifully decorated, and various presents were hung on it for the children who were thrilled to see the tree and the presents.

Soon, the assembly started, and everyone waited impatiently for Santa to come. Zeba arrived shortly dressed as Santa and began distributing gifts amongst the children.

Santa’s pockets were filled with chocolates of different colours and flavours. All the children were desperately waiting for Santa to come to them.

Santa would sometimes throw a bunch of toffees, chocolates and gifts to the children sitting on the stage.

The children would then jump trying to catch them with shrieks and laughter. Watching the children enjoy, Ms Nancy and other teachers were smiling.

After the assembly ended, all the children went back to their respective classrooms. Santa had to now go to the playground, but Zeba was not willing to go there. Just as she was walking towards the ground, she noticed another Santa already there.

“Who is that?” Zeba thought to herself.

All the children thought the Santa on the ground was Zeba. The gang of the naughty children had made a plan like last year to steal chocolates and toffees from her.

George, Robin, Pinky, David, Salman and Rohan slyly excused themselves from their classes and rushed towards the playground. Just like last year, this time, too, they planned to forcibly snatch gifts from Zeba as Santa.

As soon as they reached the playground, they cornered Santa. They were surprised that Santa did not protest this time. Last year, it had been a struggle to get the gifts from her.

Circling Santa, George said loudly, “Come on, Santa! Give us all the gifts quickly.” But Santa remained silent.

Robin said sternly, “Hey, Zeba, why aren’t you saying anything? Last year you protested so much. Why are you standing silently as if you are dumb? Is your tongue paralyzed?”

Hearing this, everyone burst out laughing.

“Seems like our fear has made her dumb. When it comes to us, even the strongest ones become speechless. What is she then in comparison?” said David, boastfully.

“Well now, let’s hurry. Take all the gifts from her before a teacher comes around, otherwise, we will all be in trouble,” warned Rohan.

“Yes! Rohan’s right. Let’s quickly grab all the gifts from Zeba. Doesn’t she look like a huge pumpkin with all her pockets filled with gifts?” sneered Pinky.

“Oh, I remember! Last year, her cap was filled with chocolates, too. I am going to take them again,” said Salman and pulled at Santa’s long, red cap. The children froze in shock as soon as the cap came off.

They ran as the Santa was no one other than Ms Nancy. Watching them stumble and fall while trying to run away, Ms Nancy too started laughing.

Zeba and her friends who were watching the whole scene from a distance also burst out laughing.

The naughty children went back to class and pretended as if nothing had happened. But in reality, they were terrified. They knew Ms Nancy wouldn’t let them off without punishment.

Ms Nancy had to teach them a lesson too. She then sent the peon to bring George, Robin, David, Pinky, Salman and Rohan to the principal’s room.

They came to the room with their hearts beating fast, wondering what Ms Nancy’s punishment would be. What if she expelled them from school?
Even before she could say something, they all started frantically apologising.

Ms Nancy replied, “Children, I haven’t even punished you yet and
you are already apologising. Do you really think I look like a huge pumpkin?”

Their faces reddened and their eyes welled up with tears, “No Ma’am, you are very nice. We promise to never say such horrible things about anyone.”

Ms Nancy understood that the children had realised their mistake and regretted it. There could be no greater repentance than that—their regret was their punishment.

Wiping away their tears and handing them a chocolate each, she said, “Children you have admitted your mistake. That is the best thing to do. Remember not to repeat this mistake in the future. This chocolate is a reward from Santa for this. Now go to your class and concentrate on your studies.”

George, Robin, Pinky, David, Salman and Rohan had been taught a good lesson by Santa Claus that day. They promised never to repeat their mistake.

## Santa’s Letter Box!

It was the month of December and Christmas celebrations were everywhere in Woodland forest! Christmas held a very special place in everyone’s hearts and King Leo lion wanted to do something new for children, this year. He called his minister, Teddy bear and asked him to place a post-box at Centre Square, the main ground in Woodland and name it: Santa’s Letter Box.

“Announce that the children may drop their letters to Santa in the box, asking for the gift they wish from him on Christmas,” instructed King Leo to minister Teddy.

Minister Teddy liked the idea, but was worried about getting the letters delivered to Santa. “Your Majesty! This is a great idea, but how will we deliver the letters to Santa and how will our children’s wishes be fulfilled?” he asked King Leo.

King Leo smiled. “We will go through all the letters and arrange gifts for the children ourselves,” he said.

“That’s great, Your Majesty! I will ensure that the necessary arrangements are made to make this Christmas memorable for the kids,” he said excitedly.

The next day, Santa’s Letter Box was put up at Centre Square. The children were excited and surprised to see the letterbox! For the next few days, all of them were busy writing letters to Santa, thinking about the gift they wanted from him on Christmas.

Roly deer wanted a dollhouse. Skippy squirrel wished for a flying helicopter. Damru donkey had a guitar in mind while Koyal cuckoo fancied a microphone. Zilu zebra wrote that he wanted a pair of sports shoes. There were many more wishes from all the children and the letters poured into the letterbox.

The letters were collected daily from the box and King Leo read each of them, ensuring the gifts were arranged as per the children’s wishes. Minister Teddy updated the wish list on a daily basis and ordered new items every evening so that all the gifts could be delivered on Christmas Day.

Finally, it was Christmas Eve. The children were eagerly waiting for their gifts that Santa would drop at their homes at midnight. Minister Teddy opened Santa’s letterbox to check if any child had dropped a letter there at the last moment. He found a letter from Gaju elephant, requesting to meet Santa Claus on Christmas Day! Minister Teddy read the letter and kept it in his pocket, with a smile on his face.

The next day, the children woke up early in the morning! Roly was thrilled to see a dollhouse in her room. Skippy found a helicopter beside his bed. Damru found a guitar on the table in his room and Zilu got his sports shoes! The children were thrilled to receive the gifts they had asked for!

In the evening, a grand Christmas party was hosted by King Leo for the children. The kids were all discussing their gifts with each other at the party, but Gaju elephant sat silently in one corner.

“No, King Leo! Santa did not fulfil my wish,” said a disappointed Gaju.

King Leo became very upset! He had instructed minister Teddy to ensure that every kid’s wish was fulfilled and if minister Teddy found a wish that was difficult to be fulfilled, he had been instructed to inform King Leo about it.

While King Leo was looking for minister Teddy, he heard the children cheering and clapping loudly. Santa Claus had arrived at the party! “Santa! Santa!” the kids called out.

Hearing this, Gaju jumped and turned around, and was thrilled to see Santa standing in front of him, surrounded by the children. Gaju went and hugged Santa and thanked him for coming to meet him. Santa gave him a gift too! Gaju was happy now and he joined the other children. All the kids danced to the tunes of Christmas carols along with Santa.

King Leo was surprised to see Santa at the party, but he was happy to see Gaju having fun now. He went to look for Teddy, who could not be found anywhere.

“Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” the king suddenly heard someone wish him from behind. It was Santa with his big round belly, wishing him in a deep, thick voice!

“Merry Christmas!” King Leo wished him too, but when he shook hands with Santa, he realised it was his minister, Teddy!

Minister Teddy apologised to King Leo for not informing him about his plan and told him about Gaju’s letter that he had found in the box at the last minute.

“I decided to disguise myself as Santa and come to the party to fulfil Gaju’s wish,” explained minister Teddy.

King Leo felt that Teddy was a true minister. He appreciated him for making all the arrangements for Christmas and making the event memorable for all the kids of Woodland!