Age Group 6+

Big Bully and M-Me by Arti Sonthalia

Hole Books by Duckbill Publications

‘Big Bully and M-Me‘  is about finding answers to the question: Why do some kids bully? It’s an answer to solve their social problems. It’s the easier way out to manage their emotions, to solve issues and get things done. As the name suggests, bullying is the underlying theme of this book. Usually, we think the person being bullied is the victim. We overlook the reason why ‘the bully’ is resorting to bullying. Through this short story, the author has tried to throw light on the situation of not only the one being bullied but also the bully.

This is the story of a boy named Krishna, who prefers being called Krish without the Na. Krish is a short boy and he stammers. The story begins with a basketball match between the class students where Krish’s team loses. Ishaan, the tall bully of the class stands in front of Krish and snatches the ball from him and teases him about being short. Krish is bullied by Ishaan at every opportunity the latter gets. So much so that even Krish’s best friend Green is unable to help him.

In the class, their teacher, Mr Dennis Fergusson, popularly known as Dennis the Menace, announces an extempore speech event for the semester end show. For the event, the entire class was to be divided into pairs of two each. Krish dreaded the semester end shows because he hated to participate due to his stammering but his mom always encouraged his participating. He didn’t want her to know about the extempore speech event, because then he would have to deal with pressure from her to participate- yet he knew he couldn’s stop her from knowing about the event. Moreover, this year the prize to the winning pair was extremely tempting. The winners would get tickets to the new aquarium park.

Also Read: Bullying in Schools:10 Effective Classroom Strategies to Nip It Early!

The pairs were already being made by Mr Fergusson and they could not be changed. Krish and Ishaan were partners. The practice for extempore begins with full vigour. Mr Fergusson calls Krish’s mom to tell her about the event. He goes through a lot of negotiations with his mom which ends with his mom promising a new bicycle if he performs well.  Krish is having sleepless nights over the extempore and comes up with dozens of excuses to avoid practice the sessions or anything remotely associated with the extempore.

One day Krish goes to Green’s house that’s just two houses away from Ishaan’s house. On his way back home, he passes by Ishaan’s house and hears him call out Krish for a game of football. Krish agrees. As usual, Ishaan pushes him and throws him down. Suddenly he sees someone challenging Ishaan to play the game with him. Krish soon realizes that it’s Ishaan’s older brother as he looks like a taller version of Ishaan. As they begin their game,  the older brother pushes and yells at Ishaan every time he tries to tackle the ball. At the end of the game, the older brother gives one final push and kick to Ishaan before he leaves the scene. Ishaan is clearly upset and is now worried that Krish would tell everyone in the class about the incident. But Krish promises not to do so.

The D-day comes and everyone is excited as well as nervous for the extempore. Each team presents their extempore speech and soon it is the turn of Krish and his team. Ishaan and Krish manage to pull the show well and soon the winners are announced. Krish is delighted that he is able to speak so much in the given three minutes. Krish not only manages to perform well in extempore but also wins Ishaan as a friend.

Also Read: Child Behavior: 7 surprising factors that could make it weird!

The author has beautifully handled the two sensitive issues of stammering and bullying among children. A person who stammers can also perform well if encouraged in the correct manner like the supportive teacher and family of Krish. “Big Bully and M-Me” suggests that we need to look beyond the bully to find out the reasons for his behaviour. The bully could be a victim sometimes.