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This story is taken from “Some More Short Stories” by Sigrun Srivastava. It tells us about a boy who really wants a table tennis set for his birthday. His friend tells him to chant “Unke, Munke, Timpetoo” seventeen times at midnight while running around a banyan tree for his wish to come true. But the only house in their neighbourhood with a banyan tree belongs to a scary old woman. However, it turns out that this woman is quite different from what they had imagined.
Rohan– the narrator who wants a table tennis set for his birthday
Muk- Rohan’s friend
Mrs. Groover– a scary old lady in the neighbourhood who used to be the principal of their school
The narrator, called Rohan, mockingly said that he would have a fantastic birthday that year. He would only get a pair of shoes and a hand-knitted pullover. He had asked for a table tennis set, but his mother said that was not possible.
His friend Muk told him to try something. He said if he really wanted something badly, all he had to do was run around a banyan tree at midnight and chant “Unke, Munke, Timpetoo” seventeen times. The narrator asked why he must say it seventeen times and at midnight.
Muk did not know but said that trying it out would not harm him. Rohan thought it was all nonsense, and couldn’t think of any banyan tree in his neighbourhood. There was one in old Mrs Groover’s garden but he did not dare enter her garden at midnight. Mrs Groover had been the principal of their school till last year. She was very scary.
Rohan tried to forget about Unke, Munke, Timpetoo, but the thought kept haunting him till the day before his birthday. He told Muk that if he came along, he would go to Mrs Groover’s garden that night and do it.
Mrs. Groover’s Garden
Muk asked why he should go along. He had no secret wish. But Rohan said they should go and wish for his table tennis set. At ten minutes to twelve Muk and Rohan met at the back of old Mrs Groover’s garden. They climbed and sat on the wall and looked down into the dark garden. When they saw the banyan tree, they jumped down and went to it.
Rohan wondered if Mrs. Groover was awake but Muk said that it was too late. Then Rohan started running chanting “Unke, Munke, Timpetoo” over and over again. He felt scared. So, he tried to get it over quickly and increased both his speed and chanting.
Suddenly there was a ferocious bark, Rohan froze. Lights turned on inside Mrs Groover’s house, and the backdoor was pushed open. Mrs. Groover called out for whoever was there and said she would send the dog at them unless they answered. Rohan told Muk to say something but he was climbing up the tree.
When Rohan saw Mrs Groover about to unleash the dog, he told her he would explain everything. He told her everything although he feared she might not believe him. But she listened to me without interruption.
She finally asked if he believed that Unke, Munke, Timpetoo would help him. Rohan said he hoped so. She told him to finish his rounds then and asked him to use the front gate while leaving. So, he finished the remaining six rounds and left her garden using the front gate, swearing he would never return.
Rohan’s Wish is Fulfilled
On his birthday, Rohan was happy to get a new pair of shoes and a hand-knitted pullover. And then he saw a very big parcel. It said it was to Rohan Khanna from Unke, Munke, Timpetoo. Rohan looked at Muk, who was just as surprised. His mother asked who Unke, Munke, Timpetoo was.
Rohan bent over the parcel and began to open it. He found a table tennis set in it. It was not brand new, but still fabulous. Muk swore he had nothing to do with it, and so did Rohan’s parents. He wondered if old Mrs Groover was responsible for the surprise. He finally gathered up the courage to ask her one day.
He used the front gate and rang the bell. He had practised his lines many times, but when she looked at him, he became nervous and started stuttering. He asked her if she believed in Unke, Munke, Timpetoo.
Mrs Groover replied softly but seriously that she did believe in Unke, Munke, Timpetoo because she had wished to have somebody over for tea today, and Rohan showed up just in time.
From that day onwards Muk and Rohan went to see old Mrs Groover quite often. It was not just because she had the best tea and cookies but because they liked her. And they had one thing in common- they all believed in Unke, Munke, Timpetoo.
This story shows us that people are not always what they seem to be. Rohan and Muk think Mrs. Groover is very scary, but she turns out to be a kind woman who just wants some company. It also shows us how something that seems to be nonsense, such as Unke, Munke, Timpetoo, can create beautiful bonds between people.