Go to the forest or home, and if you see an elephant, will you be afraid? If the answer is 'no' then the child who asked the question will come and blow in the other child's eyes.
The eyes will either close or it will start watering. Then others will start laughing and teasing. This game is played by Ann Maria and Sneha's friends but not them. Because they know the forest.
Not only elephants but they also know other dangerous animals. They lived in a small hut made by plastic sheets. A house with no door, windows or washrooms.
It's not a joke, their dream was a safe home.
NEW YEAR, NEW START
The New Year is a new start for Ann Maria, Sneha and their mother Simi. Now they can forget their old plastic house on the forest border.
The New Year is giving new rays of hope to their life. It was the Kalady Rotary Club that came forward with the idea to build a house for Simi, wife of late Malayatoor Kalluvathukkalil Puthussery Martin.
Elephants, tigers and wild boars on prowl are a menace at Kalluvathukkal area. They often kill domestic animals too.
Poisonous snakes are another problem. Poor daily wagers are their neighbors. Among the lot, their house is on the border of the forest. Ann Maria is a class 5 student and Sneha in UKG. Their house stood on a 4-cent plot fenced with wooden stumps.
Their house had no door; they use a piece of cloth to cover the area in the night. There is one cot for the three inhabitants of the house. There is no water and light and they had to rely on neighbors for their most basic needs.
Rain or winds used to terrify the kids, forcing them to run towards their neighbors’ houses. Martin, their father, was a quarry worker who died two years ago following an illness.
Their only relief is that Martin's eight siblings and their families are living nearby. Since they had no title deed for their plot, Simi didn't get any financial assistance to build a house. Since Martin's was a natural death, they didn't get any government assistance on that count too.
Simi works in private company to look after her family. The kids have to walk through a path riddled with rocks to reach the road to get a bus to school. The plight of the family was reported by Malayala Manorama on October 21, following which Kaladay Rotary Club came forward to build a house for them.
As part of their charity effort, the club spent Rs 4,20,000 to build the 700 sq ft house. Bringing building materials itself was a difficult task due to the rocky pathway.
Simi and kids have moved into their new house. Now they heave a sigh of relief - there is a ceiling above their heads, and there is safety within its four walls.
Now they don't have to stay awake to keep vigil for wild animals at night. Kids have a place to stay safely after they return from school. Besides, they can now play the elephant game with their friends too.