Adventure on Wheels
Two petty thieves, Subbu and Golu, steal a van for a robbery to repay Bonnet Bhai, a local gangster. But their plan goes awry when they find that the van they’ve stolen has three young orphans in it. The oldest of the three, Jhilmil, convinces the thieves to take them along.
And so begins their topsy-turvy journey as they try to navigate the city and outwit the cunning Bonnet Bhai.
A rib-tickling, rollicking adventure that will have you turning the pages faster than the wheels of the van!
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The Grey Van
The tiny vada pav stall sitting under the large peepal tree had come to life in a dingy corner of the long dusty road adjoining the railway tracks. The sweaty sunburned vendor worked furiously under the dull light of the lone bulb hanging from the tree, even as the withdrawing sun revealed an indigo sky over Mumbai.
Golu smacked his lips and lifted the vada pav from the dirty plate with his chubby fingers. ‘Yummy,’ he mumbled, sinking his teeth into the hot potato patty. The juicy filling melted in his mouth, but he couldn’t stop the green chutney from dripping down his brand new mauve shirt. He was about to ask the vendor for a napkin when an old grey van came rumbling down the uneven road. ‘Subbu, target acquired.’
But Subbu, Golu’s tall, lanky friend was busy eyeing the sizzling bhajjis dancing away like firecrackers in the large black round pan. ‘Subbu,’ hissed Golu, nudging him, ‘the van’s here. We have to go now.’
‘Huh?’ said Subbu, momentarily distracted.
Just then, the vendor slammed a plate of the piping hot bhajjis on the glass counter. Subbu was about to reach for the biggest one when Golu slapped his hand away.
‘But I’m hungry.’
‘You have to forget your hunger when you’re on a mission,’ mumbled Golu, stuffing the rest of the vada pav into his mouth and wiping his oily fingers against his faded jeans. ‘Now, let’s get going.’
The thick aroma curled around Subbu’s nostrils as he eyed the golden brown bhajjis longingly. But Golu was already half way across the road. He picked up his plastic bag reluctantly and followed with long awkward strides.
The grey van slowed down and sputtered to a stop under the dim flickering light from the street lamp.
Golu threw a quick glance at his watch from over his fake Ray Ban goggles. ‘Right on time,’ he smiled, moving his eyes up and pretending to admire the posters of Shah Rukh Khan’s latest movie pasted untidily on the back wall of the super market. ‘It’s perfect for the job. I’ve been keeping an eye on it for the past few days. It belongs to the Sweet Angels of Mercy Orphanage.’
Subbu stopped in his tracks. ‘We’re … we’re stealing from an orphanage?’ he gulped. ‘I don’t want to go to …’
But before he could complete his sentence, the door of the grey van flew open and a large woman in dull blue robes and a white garment across her head heaved herself out. She reached inside and pulled out a few cloth bags, then slammed the door and waddled towards the entrance.
Subbu drew in his breath. ‘She … she reminds me of Sister D’Mello,’ he said. ‘Don’t you remember? She was our geography teacher, the one who always hit me on the knuckles with a ruler.’
‘How can I forget?’ chuckled Golu, slapping his fat thigh. ‘It was so funny to watch you scream like a girl.’
‘I’m scared, Golu,’ sniffed Subbu, rubbing his knuckles. ‘What if she has a ruler?’
Golu glared at him. ‘That was like twenty years ago. You’re a full grown man now. So behave like one.’
Subbu slipped his hands tightly into his pockets and stepped inside Golu’s shadow. They sidled up to the van as casually as they could and peeped inside.
‘I see the keys,’ cried Subbu, breaking into a small dance.
Golu almost pounced upon his friend and slammed his hand across his mouth. ‘Quiet, you idiot,’ he whispered through his teeth. His eyes darted to the guard stationed at the back entrance of the super market. But fortunately, he was busy chewing tobacco with an old black radio pasted against his ears. ‘What’s the matter with you? Do you want to alert the entire neighbourhood? Now don’t move a muscle while I use my skills to open the door. You’re lucky I took the time to master this art.’
‘You mean this door?’ mumbled Subbu’s lips from under Golu’s palm, pulling on the shiny handle. The door swung open.
Golu goggled at it, his mouth wide open. ‘Just get inside,’ he muttered, climbing onto the seat while cursing under his breath. ‘And not another word from you.’
‘Is that her coming back?’ said Subbu, peering into the side mirror.
Golu jumped in his seat and even though he was hardly five and a half feet, managed to bang his head against the ceiling. ‘Where? What? How?’ he cried, turning the key roughly in the same instant. The engine coughed like a sick patient and went dead.
Publisher’s website: http://scholastic.co.in/