Arundhati Venkatesh: Petu Speaks

Petu Pumpkin, the protagonist of Arundhati Venkatesh’s Petu Pumpkin: Tiffin Thief speaks out.

When school reopened and I was in class 3, I didn’t dream I’d be in a book. We had a lot of fun that year and a few grown-ups decided it would make an interesting book. Isn’t that great? Very few kids star in books and movies. Fewer still have books named after them. I’m really excited that Petu Pumpkin Tiffin Thief is coming out. Yes, it’s my nickname, so what?

All my friends are in the book too. Oh, wait. You don’t know my friends.

There’s Kiran. He’s the one who came up with the rules for the secret society, passwords, everything. That’s because he always has his nose buried in a book.

Kiran’s the leader of everything – The Gap Club last year, the secret society this year … he’s the leader of everything except the football team.

That’s our Jatin. He’s the captain of the football team. He’s an expert at climbing trees too. He really needs to improve his spelling though, I just can’t make sense of the notes he passes to me in class. He’s the one who tried acting smart and got his finger stuck … but you’ll read about that in the book.

Then there’s Sachin. He’s our music teacher’s pet. When he’s not singing silly songs, he’s snoring. Someday, he’s going to get caught by Sari ma’am and be in serious trouble.

And lastly, Nitin. Nitin’s caricature of Daniel sir went into the book. He didn’t say anything, but I know he’s very pleased. He’s my friend, so I know.

That’s us. Kiran, Jatin, Sachin, Nitin and me – Pushkin Ramadoss. The Awesome Fivesome.

Sari ma’am remarked one day during attendance that all that’s needed now is a Tintin. I don’t think we need anything. We’re perfect. You can’t improve on perfection, as Kiran says.

My favourite thing in the whole wide world is in the book too. Food. Lots of it. There’s gobi Manchurian, noodles, lassi, halwa, dhokla, malpua, mishti doi, petha, jangiri, bisibele bhaath, avial, akki rotti, appams, parathas, pulav, paav bhaji, baingan bharta, chole bhature … Smells fabulous when the tiffin boxes are opened at lunch break.

That’s how it all started.

BHRRRRRRRM… Did you hear that? My stomach’s rumbling. That’s the problem. If I think of food, I feel famished. Oh! I just remembered there’s paneer somewhere. Bye.
Petu pumpkin

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