A Problem of Change

One day, Isha’s mother gave her a 100-rupee note and asked her to buy a kilo of onion and half a kilo of potato from the market. After a while, Isha came back home and handed over the bag of vegetables to her mother and said, “The potatoes cost Rs.10 and the onions were Rs.20 a kilo. So, I paid the shopkeeper Rs.30″

“That’s good, Isha. Can I please have the balance money?” asked her mother.

Isha handed over the change to her mother.

On counting it, her mother realised that it was short by Rs.10.

“Did you spend money on anything else?” asked her mother.

“No, Mummy. This is the change given to me by the vegetable vendor,” said Isha.

“In that case, I think the vegetable vendor has either made a mistake or cheated you. He has given you Rs. 10 less. Did you count the change after he gave it to you?”

“I did,” said Isha.

“Then I think you have not calculated correctly,” said her mother.

On hearing this, Isha became sad.

“Don’t feel bad, Isha. You can improve your arithmetic skills with daily practice. Learning to calculate correctly will help you not just to score marks in your exams, but will be useful in your daily life too,” said her mother.

“I do try to practise, Mummy, but I find it difficult sometimes. Is there an easier way to learn to calculate?” asked Isha.


“Yes, there is. Let me teach you how to calculate using your fingers. Now, try to answer this by counting with your fingers: I have 10 mangoes and you have given me another 20 mangoes. How many mangoes do I have in all?”

Isha counted her fingers one by one. “One, two, three… 10. How do I count further?” she asked.

“Continue counting your fingers again from 11,” said her mother.

“Oh! Okay. So, 11, 12, 13…30!” she said finally. “30 mangoes!”

“Good, Isha. Now, let’s try subtraction. If I have 10 mangoes and I give away 3 to our neighbours, how many mangoes will remain with me?” asked her mother.

Isha held up 10 fingers and folded 3. “Seven!” she replied triumphantly.

“Very good! Now, I’ll teach you how to subtract larger numbers like 100 minus 30,” said her mother and began doing the sum on paper. Isha observed her attentively and then answered, “70!”

“That’s right. See, how easy learning to calculate can be. With daily practice, you will be able to add and subtract faster. Now, let’s go to the market and ask the vegetable vendor for the balance,” said Isha’s mother.


“And perhaps he is weak in calculating too. I will teach him a few calculations,” said Isha.

“Ha ha! You are already a master mathematician!” laughed her mother.

Kanga – The Runner

Kanga, the kangaroo, jogged a little where she stood. She tried to loosen her body. She felt nervous as she stepped on the start line. She secretly wished that all other participants in the race would stumble and fall.

“I keep wishing for this though I know it will never happen,” thought Kanga.

Soon, the chequered flag went up and the whistle was blown. The race began. All the animals ran ahead in no time leaving big clouds of dust behind.

When the dust settled, everyone saw that Kanga, too, remained behind.

Zack, the zebra was Kanga’s coach. He could not believe his eyes. “Go Kanga! Go! Go!” Zack screamed.

Hearing Zack’s voice, Kanga came out of her daydream. She started hopping quickly, but it was too late.

Many animals were about to reach the finish line. But Kanga didn’t give up. To make up for her lost time, she pushed a monkey from behind. It was a bad idea because the monkey fell and hurt his knee.

Despite this, Kanga did not win the race. Zack was unhappy. It showed on his face. “What happened?” Zack asked Kanga.

“The whistle wasn’t loud enough, and the chequered flag did not go up either,” said Kanga.

“It did, Kanga. And the whistle is the same one that has been used for years,” said Zack.

“Maybe it is broken now,” said Kanga.

“Stop it! I heard the whistle. It was loud and clear,” shouted Zack.

“Were you daydreaming again? And why did you push others on the track? That is not sportsmanship,” said Zack.

“Others also push us on the track. What’s wrong with that?” replied Kanga.

“Maybe some do, but not us. Our club wants to win because of our talent. Playing smart is one thing Kanga, but cheating to win is another,” explained Zack.

Kanga didn’t say a word. She just felt angry about everything and everyone around her.

Zack and Kanga had been practicing for three years to make Kanga the best runner in the jungle. Kanga was good at running. With just a few long hops she would make others disappear behind her. Zack knew that she could be the best.
But she thought more about others than improving herself.

“Concentrate!” Zack used to tell her during practice.

“Focus on your game,” Zack always whispered to her before any race.

Zack wanted her to think about her own performance. But Kanga always looked at others to check how others were faring. She had even started pushing others now. Zack scolded her, but that was not enough.

After the fight with Zack, Kanga went hopping alone. She felt too angry and upset to go and meet her friends.

Kanga ate some soft green grass and went to have some cool water at the pond. Many animals would come to the pond to drink water.

As Kanga was sipping water, she heard someone say, “You hoped quite well in the race!” She looked up, surprised, to see Gary, the giraffe.

Gary was in the same sports club, but he was training under another coach.

“What?” asked Kanga.

“I said, nice hopping in the race,” told Gary.

“Yeah, but I did not win the race. Now everyone is laughing at me because I forgot to start when the whistle blew,” said Kanga sadly.

“It is okay. Such things happen sometimes,” said Gary.

Kanga said, “My coach isn’t happy that I pushed the monkey. Why are you are praising my hopping?”

“Because I liked your hopping. Your hops were filled with energy. You could have won the race if you had started on time,” said Gary.

“You have long legs. Do you think you won the race because of that?” asked Kanga.

“Could be, but I cannot hop,” said Gary.

Kanga did not understand what Gary was trying to say. Gary looked at her confused expression and explained, “See Kanga, the rhino has strength, the horse has power, and the cheetah has strong muscles. I have long legs. And you can hop. Each one of us has our own strengths.”

Gary was right. Kanga remained silent.

“It is about you, Kanga. Think about what you have. Use your strengths wisely. Make them better by practice. Then you too can win someday,” said Gary with a friendly smile.

Kanga realised what her coach Zack had been trying to tell her all this while.

“You are right Gary. My coach tried to explain this to me many times, but I did not understand,” said Kanga, looking sad.

Kanga decided that she would meet Zack and say sorry to him.

“Thank you so much, Gary. And hearty congratulations for winning the race,” Kanga smiled at Gary, without a hint of jealousy in her mind.

“Thank you, Kanga. Good game to you too!” cheered Gary happily.