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Authors: Jane De Suza

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BOOK: SuperZero
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30. Some things should always be a secret

About a week later, the Superhero School held a big public ceremony. Each batch had graduated from one level to the other. It drew masses of people even from neighbouring towns to cheer on the kids who had saved the day. The large field in front of the school building was packed with chairs, and when the seating ran out, people thronged the aisles, the sides, the back, climbed on walls and trees and even the tops of cars parked outside. Mom was given a chair right in the front row, her concussed head covered in a huge flowery turban. Vamp Iyer, too, was out of hospital, still vowing never to touch a drop of blood, much to his father, Vamp Iyer Senior's despair. Whatever would happen to the blood-sucking bloodline? A milk tooth on a vampire? It brought shame to the entire clan!

Double-Headmistress swept in majestically. She'd survived! She came straight up to me and hugged me.

Head 1: Thank you, SuperZero, on behalf of myself and Head 2.

Head 2: Thank you, Head 1, but I can speak for myself.

Before they started the whole thing again, a buzz announced: ‘You did good, boy. I never did doubt you, not even for an instant. And never let me catch you doubting yourself again.'

‘But I was such a loser. Did you really know I'd turn out super?' I whispered.

‘I didn't know.'

‘Then how come you believed in me?'

‘Everyone is good at something, SuperZero. And every kid needs someone to believe in him.' He stopped and sighed. ‘I'm having this problem with a kid penguin now. He doesn't know just how grand a dancer he is.'

‘Hey, that's a film. I saw it,' I said. What—does everyone take their ideas off TV?

There was a makeshift stage set up in front of the school building for the graduation awards. I saw the camera van and Tara Rumpum, reporting dunno what even before the event had begun. The Mayor, who was our chief guest, drove in then, and flagged off the ceremony.

They had seated Gra right in front on a big silver throne chair. He had his Chinese straw hat on. Mom and Dad sat on either side of him. Even BigaByte had a chair of his own, which to my dismay, he'd begun to chew on.

The superkids all lined up on either side of the stage. The seniors got on first and received a wild round of applause as Double-Headmistress thanked all their teachers, and
mentioned all the great things they'd done. I did my thing with my new red-beam power when TRex came on, and his medal flew right out of the Mayor's hands. TRex had to jump up to grab it, but it hopped around just a little out of his reach. Ya, ya, I know I was being silly!

The high-schoolers, the mid-schoolers, the junior superkids were on next, and they all got applauded. And then it was time for us freshers.

Double-Headmistress went on and on about each kid's brilliance and potential, blah, blah. Nineteen odes to nineteen little first-time heroes were read out: Anna Conda, Slime Joos, Blank (whom no one even saw because he was so shy; only his pink, blushing cheeks were visible), Vamp Iyer, Lizzie Lizard—and the others from our batch, all hoping to be heroes one day, but not quite there yet.

Head 1: Blah, blah

Head 2: Blah, blah

Head 1: Blah, blah, SuperZero, blah

What was that? The whole crowd rose to their feet cheering. I guess it was my time so I stood up and took a bow.

Head 1: ‘And this young man had shown us what true promise is. He never gave up . . . he never listened to those who tried to stop him.'

Head 2: ‘Exactly like you . . . hush, my lines now . . . and he brought pride to his legendary grandfather, the one and only Grazoooooor!!!'

The crowd erupted wildly. Roses were thrown in the air.

Head 1: ‘Will the Grazor please come up to stage? Will the . . . Grazor! Grazor!'

The crowd fell silent and in the silence, a snore rose from the throne seat. Gra had fallen asleep!

Head 1: ‘Before we end, we must tell you all that this has been one of the finest weeks in the history of this city. Eggster has been captured and is in jail, and the bees have been destroyed in the cow dung . . .'

Head 2: ‘. . . though the biogas lab has put up a “No Swimming in our Cow Dung” sign.'

Head 1: ‘And the only mystery that remains is how our dear teachers got so violently sick. Especially poor Masterror, who has been squirming in pain ever since.' (I saw Dad grinning at me and I grinned back, letting out a secret whoopee).

Head 2: ‘Who poisoned them?'

‘Me!' Tara Rumpum declared, jumping on to the stage. ‘Ask me!'

Was the reporter actually claiming she'd poisoned the staff? What would the people of the press not do for a good story? But really . . . poison?

Tara Rumpum hollered on, ‘I know how. I, who have brought you the latest action, unsung, unasked. Now you have only to ask me.'

And then, in front of hundreds of people who watched agog (except for Gra, who was still fast asleep), Tara
Rumpum held up a long stick on which, like a flag, waved a pair of underpants.

What? Would she stop at nothing to get attention?

‘This, good people, is a pair of undies. This smelly, fungus-ridden purple underwear is what gave the teachers of Superhero School food poisoning. This was found in the water tank from which the staff room gets its drinking water. Someone threw them there, and they've been lying in the tank for months on end, fungused and stinking. It's a wonder the teachers are all not dead by now.'

I stared. Surely that was not . . .

‘Which pathetic person does this disgusting purple underwear belong to?' screeched Tara Rumpum at the top of her voice.

I slid lower in my chair, and hoped Mom wouldn't yell ‘Poopykins' or something like that. She did frown a bit, squinting hard, but didn't, thankfully, say anything. I hoped the bump had dimmed her vision.

I looked down at my shower curtain yellow duckie undies and sighed. Looks like they—with their zeroes—were here to stay. And as for my original purple undies and who threw them into the water tank . . . who knows? He or she was definitely not telling, and I was definitely not finding out.

Some secrets, especially, if you're a budding young superhero (now that you've heard my awesome tips) . . . some secrets should never be told.

Superhero School

Q 1. Was your child born with a) tights b) undies c) cape d) mask e) any special mark?

Child was born with a big frown. Kicked the doctor. Peed on his birth certi icate (his own birth certi icate, not the doctor's).

Q 2. Did your child get bitten by any suspicious creature?

Child got bitten by neighbour's child. (Neighbour denies it, which is why it is suspicious).

Q 3. Does your child exhibit any strange behaviour?

Child is very strange at all times. Believed till the age of four that he was a dinosaur, not human. Tries to turn his eyelids inside out. Pulls things out of his belly button and eats them.

Q 4. What superpower does your child exhibit?

Child turns lights on and off, turns wool into worms and turns everyone's hair grey.

Q 5. Does the child have superhero parent/s?

Child has a supermom who has 15 hands and 20 eyes, or that's the way it feels, with all the work around here!!!

(signed Mom).

* Superhero School cannot be held responsible if anything happens to your child i.e. if he gets swallowed by another child, or gets turned into a polyp.

* Children who discover their superpowers sometimes get so excited that they are still climbing walls up and down China.

* Any child who breaks rules, or breaks teachers into two, will be sent home immediately.

* Some celebrity children like SpiderEgg and BatDroppings are under celebrity management, and cannot be invited to birthday parties.

* If your child turns out to have no super powers, or is allergic to spandex, please donate his or her tights to our Flying Saucer Foundation.


SuperZero was a twinkle in his mom's eye when Niyati Dhuldhoya adopted him, fought for him and kicked him, and me, into action. This book is unconditionally hers. Pia Hazarika, for the cover, and Nimmy Chacko, whose round-the-clock dedication to this book finally drove her to the pub.

Jit Chowdhury, for giving these characters life and ignoring the brief and budget. Asha Nehemiah, the kindest author I've met. Itisha Peerbhoy, fellow writer and fellow loon. Mita Kapur, who moonlights as my guardian angel. My readers, who keep asking for more.

Finally, those who keep the cheerleading, the reading, the coffee going: my mother, my friends, my family. Suroop, without whom I'd be lost. My boys, Neel and Nikash, who coached me in superpowers and boy talk. (Cute is out. Wicked is in.)

Thank you. The write's been awesome! Epic! Wicked!

About the Illustrator

Jit Chowdhury draws everything except a monthly salary. He has his own studio in Kolkata, from where he takes freelance jobs and draws stuff he loves. He studied in the most prestigious art schools in India—Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, Srishti, Bangalore, and Design Institute, Indore. He also wrote and illustrated a column for a magazine,
. If he's angry with people, he draws horns on them.


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Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd, 7th Floor, Infinity Tower C, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon - 122 002, Haryana, India
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
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Penguin Group (Australia), 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3008, Australia
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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, Block D, Rosebank Office Park, 181 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in Puffin by Penguin Books India 2014

Copyright © Jane De Suza 2014
Illustrations copyright © Jit Chowdhury 2014

All rights reserved

Cover illustration by Pia Hazarika

ISBN: 978-0-143-33334-0

This digital edition published in 2014.
e-ISBN: 978-9-351-18848-3

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser and without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above-mentioned publisher of this book.

BOOK: SuperZero
10.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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