The Potato Peeler's Club

Submitted into Contest #55 in response to: Write a story about a meeting of a secret society.... view prompt


Mystery Kids

It was the middle of April. Just after the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. The lockdown has been in place since mid March. Curfew has been implemented to prevent people all over the island of Sri Lanka, from gathering in large groups and venturing out in public. People have been self isolating themselves at home.

The schools have been closed for sometime due to the outbreak of the Corona Virus. Many children have been doing their studies online in the meantime, trying to make up for lost time. All over the island there were strict rules put in place by the health authorities and the government to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

It was close to three in the afternoon on a Saturday. Ten year old Sita sat on a stool waiting, inside the small playhouse made by her father, in their back garden, with a note book in her lap and a pencil in her hand. The playhouse had been made using woven coconut branches which walled up the house right around and covered the roof, while the structure was made using sturdy wood from various trees. The playhouse was tall enough for a girl with her height to easily walk through without crouching and spacious enough to move around. 

As she sat inside the playhouse now, admiring her father's handiwork, twirling the pencil skilfully with her fingers as she kept gazing at her ‘Frozen’ pink wristwatch from time to time, sighing heavily. 

“Where are they? What is taking them so long?” she asked peering through the makeshift curtain her mother had sown and attached using one of her old sarees, which served as a door.

“I do hope they will get here soon. We will have to have the meeting on another day if they don't come,” she said shrugging her shoulders and glancing towards her toys which consisted of an ‘Elsa Doll’, a Rag Doll named Polly, a ‘Winnie the pooh bear’ and ‘Barney the Dinosaur,’ placed on a small desk beside her stool, whom she referred to as her ‘Silent Observers' and whom she sometimes consulted when it came to making important decisions regarding club matters.

A moment later she heard footsteps. She peered through the curtain again and saw her two best friends Kamala and Amali approaching the clubhouse, which is what she called it whenever they had their secret meetings . As they reached the entrance they pretend knocked on the curtain saying, “knock......knock!" in unison.

Sita hearing this, cleared her throat and replied, “magic word, please!”

The two girls replied in unison again saying, “Potato!"

“Shhh! Not so loud!” Sita yelled as she pulled the curtain aside and let the now giggling pair enter and take their seats in any of the vacant small wooden chairs inside.

She stared sternly at her two friends who were her classmates from school, still giggling and said, “Members, you have to learn to keep your magic word a secret! How many times have I told you not to shout it out but whisper it, so no outsiders will hear it?”

“Hmm? How many times?” she repeated the question with her hands on her hips in a typical school teacher manner, as neither of the giggling girls answered.

“At least a hundred times, Madam Secretary" replied Amali, finally, the talkative one of the two.

“Yes, at least a hundred times, but still you end up shouting the word for everyone to hear. Members you need to take this seriously!” replied Sita slightly annoyed at her two friends.

“Yes, Madam secretary!” replied the girls who by now have ceased giggling.

“Now, all we have to do is, wait for the other two members to join us for the meeting” Sita looked at her wristwatch again and said, “'s already fifteen minutes after three, what is taking those two so long?"

A few moments later they heard the sound of footsteps approaching towards the clubhouse. Sita peered through the curtain to make sure it's not her bothersome younger brother coming to nag her as usual. She heaved a sigh of relief as she saw that it was not her brother but the two members they were waiting for, her neighbour friends Maya and Fareeda, who were nine and eight years old respectively.

Once they approached the clubhouse, Maya who were carrying a backpack said, “knock....knock!”

“Magic word, please!” sita commanded.

“Potato” whispered, Fareeda, grinning.

“You may enter and take your seats members" Sita said grinning, while glancing towards Amali and Kamala saying, “see? That is how you do it!”

“Yes Madam Secretary" said the pair once again in unison looking down, slightly embarrassed.

As Maya and Fareeda took their seats and settled down Sita took a moment to look at each of their bright faces adoringly and smiled at each and every one of them.

Sita, and Kamala are Buddhists, Amali is a Christian, Maya is a Hindu and Fareeda is a Muslim. They have been good friends ever since they were toddlers living in the same neighbourhood in the city of Kandy.

Finally, Sita spoke addressing the small gathering. 

“Welcome, members, once again to the annual general meeting of the “Potato Peeler's Club, which is held three times a year during school holidays.”

The other members started applauding as Sita finished her welcome speech.

“Madam Treasurer, I hope you have brought along our President and Vice President to this meeting?” she asked glancing towards Maya who picked up her light blue ‘Moana' backpack, unzipped it and took out Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and placed them on the small desk, alongside the other ‘Silent Observers,' next to Sita who was seated facing them.

“A job well done, Madam Treasurer, ten points will be added to your ‘A Good Job Score Chart’ said Sita nodding at Maya and making an entry in her book who beamed with pride.

Sita continued looking over at Kamala saying, “See? Member Kamala, member Maya remembered to bring along our President and Vice President to this meeting, unlike last time, when you forgot and left them at your house when it was your turn to look after them." 

“I am sorry Madam Secretary, it won't happen again!” Kamala pleaded making a sad face.

“Alright, now don't be sad. It's no use crying over spilled milk!” as, my Amma says all the time when I do something wrong.”

She went on, “ok, shall we start the meeting?”

All said “Yes" at the same time, excitedly.

“Fine, I will start with Kamala. Tell me how is your potato peeling skills coming along, has it gotten better since our last meeting?” Sita queried.

“It has gotten a bit better” replied Kamala proudly showing off her silver star on her notebook given by her mother.

“Well done Kamala!. five points will be added to your score chart, said Sita smiling.

“Next is Amali, tell me how you are doing?” Sita asked glancing towards her.

Amali turned to her chart on her notebook and lifted it so Sita could see, saying, “my potato peeling skills have gotten better, I got a gold star!” she said proudly, turning her book, so that everyone else could see.

“Well done Amali, you will get ten points for your hard work.” Said Sita feeling rather proud of her friend as she scribbled on her chart once again.

“Now we come to the two youngest members of the club,” Sita said turning towards Maya and Fareeda.

“What about you, member Maya?” she asked.

“I haven't improved at all, some potatoes are really big and really hard to peel and they are slippery too!” Maya replied rather nervously.

“Well, you can start with the smaller ones first and when you get used to them, move on to the bigger ones, next time,” advised Sita looking at her as Maya nodded in agreement feeling encouraged.

“I give you five points Maya" Sita said scribbling in her book again. 

And now, we come to the youngest, Fareeda. How did you do with your potato peeling Fareeda?” Sita asked looking at her tenderly.

“I can only peel the small potatoes still, even that I find hard to do” Fareeda replied shyly.

“That is ok Fareeda, we, all of us started with small potatoes in the beginning and worked our way to the big ones. Don't worry you will do better as you go along said Sita, giving Fareeda an encouraging smile as Fareeda giggled happily.

“I will give you five points Fareeda, for trying” said Sita as her little friend smiled shyly.

“Now, each of you tell me how many potatoes you have peeled since our last meeting?”

Kamala said, six, Amali said, eight, Maya said, five and Fareeda said, three.

“Not bad, but you all can do better!” replied Sita.

“Now let us all give each other an encouraging clap for a job well done, because as we all know potato peeling is a very hard thing to do” Sita said as she started to clap while one by one the others joined in.

“But not so hard as scrapping coconuts!” replied Kamala giggling after they stopped clapping.

“Yes, well, we are not here to talk about our coconut scraping skills. That we can do at our next ‘Coconut Scrapers Club Meeting’. I think that brings to an end another “Potato Peelers Club Meeting” Sita said standing up as the others followed suit.

Just then she heard her mother calling out to them saying, “Lamai, it's tea time, come inside, all of you!”

And so, the members of the “Potato Peelers Club,” exited their club house one by one, happy and contended.


August 20, 2020 04:11

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Melissa Hassan
01:19 Aug 25, 2020

Thank you. I am so glad you think so!🙂


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Brittany Gillen
14:28 Aug 22, 2020

Melissa - Thank you for submitting your hastily written story. 😉 I think you did a lovely job capturing the lives of little girls. The dialogue is so genuine, and the point tally such a great detail. I also love the mention of another club, since one is never enough. My only feedback would be the pandemic setting. It works fine with one exception - the end, where the mom calls them “all” inside for tea. I live in America, so maybe it is different in Sri Lanka, but here during the lockdown kids were not supposed to have playdates. As a resul...


Melissa Hassan
14:47 Aug 22, 2020

"Hi Brittany, thank you very much for your feedback. I am glad you enjoyed it. In some parts of Sri Lanka, I believe that people still gathered, especially in close knit neighbourhoods. As they also let their children interact with one another despite warnings. And also, children here do not venture out even to their neighbour's houses without the grown ups knowing about it or being escorted by at least one adult. So therefore I couldn't imply that they sneaked in without anyone knowing. As for the girls whispering the 'password' I guess I ...


Brittany Gillen
17:51 Aug 22, 2020

Makes sense. 🙂


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Melissa Hassan
04:17 Aug 20, 2020

'Amma' - Mother 'Lamai' - Children This story was written in haste on Wednesday night and submitted on Thursday morning after I had this crazy idea in my head. Unsure whether it was wise to change the 'Society' to 'Club.' Also, unsure whether the story goes against the prompt. I hope I have written it well and hope you enjoy reading it never the less. Feel free to comment. Thanks!😊


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