Just as she stepped into the verandah, Mridu’s eyes fell on the odd-looking chappals she had noticed when she arrived. “Ravi!” she whispered to him. “Whose are those?”

     Ravi turned and glanced at the shabby-looking, but sturdy old slippers. He beamed and nodded. “These are just the right size,” he said, picking them up. Mridu and Meena followed him nervously back into the garden.

     “Here!” said Ravi to the beggar, dropping the slippers in front of the old man. “Wear these and don’t come back!” The beggar stared at the slippers, hurriedly flung his towel over his shoulder, pushed his feet into them and left, muttering a blessing to the children. In a minute he had vanished around the corner of the street.

     The music-master came out of the house and took an unappreciative look at the three of them sitting quietly under the tree, playing marbles. Then he searched for his chappals in the verandah, where he had put them.

     “Lalli!” he called, after a few moments. She hurried up to him. “Have you seen my chappals, my dear? I remember having kept them here!”
     Ravi, Mridu, and Meena silently watched Lalli and the music-master search every corner of the verandah. He scurried around, looking over the railing and crouching near the flower pots to look between them. “Brand new, they were! I went all the way to Mount Road to buy them!” he went on saying. “They cost a whole month’s fees, do you know?”
When Mridu went inside the verandah, she saw the same strange slippers she had noticed when she arrived.
Mridu noticed the same old worn-out chappals!
She asked Ravi to whom it belonged. Ravi turned around to take a look at the old, ragged slippers but noticed it was strong and solid. He smiled and nodded; he said those were the correct size and picked them up. Mridu and Meena went behind Ravi into the garden tensed. Ravi dropped the slippers in front of the old man and told him to wear those slippers. He also warned him never to come back. The beggar saw the slippers, he threw his towel over his shoulder, quickly wore the slippers and left the place in a minute. He also said some blessings in a low voice for the children. He was quickly out of sight. He wanted to leave the place quickly, and maybe he feared the elders might find out what the kids had done and take back the slippers, so he disappeared around the corner of the street in a minute.
The music-master finished his violin class with Lalli and came out. He was not happy that his slippers were missing. He saw the three children sitting under the tree and playing without any noise. He felt something was not correct. He searched for his chappals in the place where he had removed them. He called Lalli, and she came there in a few minutes. He asked her kindly if she had seen his chappals as he remembered that he had kept them in that place. Lalli and music-master began to search the whole verandah. He moved quickly, searching the rails, moved the flower pots to search for his chappals.
The master scurried around, crouching near the flower pots to look between them.
Ravi, Meena and Mridu were quietly watching the scene. The music-master grumbled that it was a new pair and that he had to go till Mount Road (a place in Chennai) to buy them; it had cost him a whole month's music tuition fees.
Meanings of difficult words:
shabbyin poor condition through long use or lack of care
strong and solid
beamedsmile radiantly
mutteringsay something in a low or barely audible voice
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). Honeycomb. A Gift of Chappals - Vasantha Surya (pp. 18-32). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.