Aditya was upset. His aunt, who he was close to, had just phoned him to inform that she would not be coming over during the summer vacation because some important work had come up.
Later that day, when Anju, the laundryman’s daughter, came to deliver the ironed clothes, she saw Aditya looking glum.
“What happened, Aditya? Are you unwell?” asked Anju.
“I am alright, Anju didi. I am just sad that my aunt, Reema won’t be coming over to stay with us during the summer holidays. I was really looking forward to her visit. She said she would teach me how to make toys with paper. We had also planned a short trip to Shimla,” said Aditya.
“That’s sad. In such cases, I have a way to make my wishes come true and it always works!” said Anju.
“What do you do?” asked Aditya, perking up.
“It’s a secret,” said Anju.
“Oh, please share your secret with me, Anju didi. I want my aunt to come as soon as possible!” Aditya pleaded.
“Okay, but you should not share it with anyone else,” said Anju.
“I surely won’t!” Aditya assured her.
“Okay. So, all you have to do is stand under a peepal tree at midnight, light a lamp and make your wish. It will come true,” said Anju.
“Who told you this?” asked Aditya.
“My grandma. She has a solution for everything,” said Anju proudly.
“I could try it but there’s just one problem: How will I step out of my house so late in the night without being accompanied by an adult?” asked Aditya.
Anju thought about it and then said, “I am older to you! I can accompany you.”
“Thank you, Anju didi!” said Aditya elated.
“You are my friend and you share all your toys with me. This is the least I can do for you. I will also bring the lamp,” said Anju.
“But didi, where will we find a peepal tree?” asked Aditya.
“Do you know the sweetshop at the junction? There is a peepal tree behind it,” said Anju promptly.
“Isn’t that a bit far?” wondered Aditya.
“So what? If you want your aunt to come, you will have to do it. I will meet you outside your house tonight and take you there,” said Anju.
“Okay. I will come out by 11.30 p.m. and meet you near the gate,” said Aditya.
That night, after his parents had gone to sleep, Aditya came out of his house and saw Anju standing by the gate. Together they walked to the peepal tree.
When they reached the peepal tree, Anju handed over the lamp to Aditya. Just when he was about to light it, a dog walked towards them barking.
Aditya got scared on seeing the dog and started to run. The dog ran after him, and Anju ran behind the dog. The dog caught up with Aditya and pulled his pants, because of which he fell down hard.
After sniffing around and realising that Aditya did not have any food, the dog walked away.
When Anju reached, she saw Aditya crying. Assuming that he had been bitten by the dog, Anju ran to inform his parents.
Aditya’s parents were surprised when they heard what happened. They immediately rushed him to the hospital.
Aditya woke up the next day at the hospital and saw his aunt standing next to his bed.
“Aunt Reema!” exclaimed Aditya. “How come you are here? I didn’t light the lamp under the peepal tree.”
“Peepal tree? Lamp? What are you talking about?” asked Aunt Reema puzzled.
After Aditya narrated the entire incident, Reema laughed. “Aditya, when did you start believing in such superstitions? And why didn’t you just call me if you wanted me to come?” she asked.
“Anju didi said her wishes always came true whenever she lit a lamp under the peepal tree at midnight. So, I wanted to try it too,” replied Aditya sheepishly.
“Now, because of these superstitions, look what happened—you have fractured your hand and will have to take rest for at least two weeks,” said Aunt Reema.
“But how did you come?” asked Aditya.
“It was anyway my plan. I had informed your parents, but I told them not to tell you because I wanted to give you a surprise,” said Reema.
Aditya felt foolish. His aunt was here but he wouldn’t be able to enjoy the time with her because of his fracture.
“No more silly superstitions for me!” Aditya resolved.