The Stepmother by Anne Ranasinghe

The Stepmother by Anne Ranasinghe

The main heroes of this story are the boy Lakshman and his stepmother. As it is said at the beginning, the conflict is built on the traditional image of the evil stepmother. At least, this is how Lakshman views his father’s new wife. Things have been going differently, since the stepmother appeared in their house. The boy does everything to provoke his stepmother. Once she decides to buy new shoes for Lakshman. The boy protests, although he really needs ones. He just does not want to be seen together with his new mother by his friends. If he doesn’t go, there will be no shoes – this is the verdict of the stepmother. Lakshman breaks an expensive almirah to take revenge. It was the wedding gift of the newlyweds. But what will be his punishment? And will they be able to find a compromise if the most expensive, what the boy has – his savings for a bicycle – are put at stake?

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The Stepmother by Anne Ranasinghe

Marrying a man who already has children makes you a stepmother, a difficult part to play in a family. And stepmothers in stories are often mean and unkind to their stepchildren.

Lakshman, who is nine, knows this very well. He never wanted a stepmother. Why ever did his father marry her? Maybe if he is horrible to her, she will go away again…

Lakshman ran his hand over the surface of the cupboard and breathed in the pleasant smell of newly cut wood. An almirah, with four doors, two above and two below, and a shiny key in each one – what use was an almirah to a baby! Nobody ever made almirahs with four doors!

Carefully he turned the keys to look inside. In one half, there was a place to hang clothes – small clothes. The other half had narrow shelves. Underneath, there were two long, wide shelves. Somebody – she, he supposed – had already put some toys there, baby things, plastic cups that fit into each other, little wooden bricks, and coloured balls. Angrily he banged the doors shut. What a complete waste!

The Stepmother by Anne Ranasinghe

In his bare feet he walked down the stairs to the back of the house, to the kitchen area. The old Amme was squatting on the floor, cutting up vegetables for the meal. A row of pots and pans stood on the floor, and Kandy, the Alsatian dog, was sleeping peacefully beside them, his tail occasionally waving away the flies. Both Lakshman and the Amme knew this was against the rules – the rules the new woman had made after she took control of the house. But they understood each other, the old cook and the boy. He squatted down opposite her, watching her. Although he was nine he was small for his age – small, but strong. He wore an old shirt and a too-small pair of washed-out blue trousers.

For some time he watched the Amme in silence. Then, in his rather high little-boy’s voice, he asked, ‘Where is the bloody woman?’

The Amme did not stop her cutting. She said calmly, ‘She’s getting dressed to go out. She wants you to change and go with her. To buy new shoes for school.’

The boy sighed. He picked up a piece of sugarcane and began to suck it noisily. That was really too bad! Did she really think he’d go out with her, walk in the street where all his friends would see him? True, his father had said she would help him and look after him. But that did not mean she could give him orders, or that he had to do what she wanted. Why, he wouldn’t go with her for anything – not even if she offered him a bicycle…

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