13 February 2014
It was the sleepy patter of his legs that created my first memory of him. A 3-yr old, waddling out of his room, excited with the prospect of a birthday cake awaiting on the table yet apprehensive of the stranger called me, who had walked into his house.
I’ve always prided myself to be a kid magnet; making friends with someone a decade or more younger to me never really posing a difficulty. Brimming with confidence, I took my first step towards him. Smiling my winning smile. For a minute, he reminded me of an animal caught in the headlights. Stunned and too scared to move. And all of a sudden, he burst into tears and hid himself in his mother’s arms!! The roles were now switched. I was the one who was left stunned…
That night I went to sleep a little disturbed. A member of the age group I absolutely adore had rejected me. It was a heartbreak too raw. Sleep flitted in and out and somewhere in between my eyelids met each other for the night. When, suddenly I was vaguely aware of someone staring at me. Bleary eyes welcomed the morning sun and a blurred outline slowly cleared itself. It was him!! A new day, a new beginning. There he was, standing at the edge of my bed, making me feel like a museum exhibit. Treasured, valued and fascinating!!
From that moment on, a friendship took root. Between 3-yr old him and 21-yr old me..!! He made me an ardent fan; I lapped up each word, followed his every command. In return, he finished up his milk in 10 minutes flat and cleared up his toys after each play session. He introduced me to a world I had long since explored. The world of novel discoveries, of irrelevant but adorable banter, of finding joy in banging together kitchen vessels and of creating hills, valleys and tunnels by hanging towels over chairs. With him, I learnt how children grasp language, how they experiment with it, taste it and test it..!! I saw how absorbent the young human mind is, how näive and how flexible. In each song he blared out from his throne on the toilet seat and in each new word he learnt to pronounce in the right accent, I felt my heart swell with pride. I had no contributions in his achievement, but I was glad to be a spectator of his growing-up phase. I’ve spent the past 5 years of my life studying a language and yet it took a kid of 3 years to teach me a language that really matters. The language of love…
Today as he turns 5, I pray that his ever-curious mind never stops churning out questions. It’s the questions that actually matter, not the answers.
And to his parents who are going to kill me for egging him on, remember that I’m the answer to all your questions 😉
Happy Birthday, Rishit 🙂