Saturday, 13 February 2010

New Friend

Today the help ("maid" is politically incorrect I'm told) brought her 11-year-old daughter with her. Adiv was ecstatic. He welcomed her with a big grin, called her chechi (didi) and introduced her to all his toys. First the cars, then his Santa, Pooh bear, Elmo, and Lion. And when she sat down with her mother for lunch, Adiv stood by her, watching and talking. He told her about the pigeons outside the balcony, unkoo's picture on the fridge, his scooter, and his Dada (he proudly showed her Ro's picture). Once she was done, he pulled her out of the kitchen. He wanted to show her a video, but she offered to push him on his scooter. He agreed immediately. After kicking his ball for a bit, and playing on his scooter, he then lined up all his stuffed toys on the sofa. He sat beside them, and then waited for her to do the same. She was hesitant, but he urged her to sit.
"Sit Chechi", he said emphatically, pointing to the empty space beside him. When she did, he filled her arms with his toys and gave her his favorite book. She was visibly pleased, and soon they were playing some very interesting games. She was more comfortable by then, and had begun flaunting her english skills. "Sit straight", she told Adiv, while she pushed him on his scooter. Then it was her turn. "Read book", he told her, showing her the monkeys in his book. Then he gave her other little knick knacks to look at.
A very easy, uncomplicated friendship had developed between them.
I began wishing Adiv wouldn't change as he grew up. Like all children, he was oblivious to class distinction and prejudices. He saw the little girl as potential playmate. They'd played some interesting games together, and nothing else mattered. She was very young, but quite aware of the differences between our families. However, once she understood we weren't going to insult her or make her feel like less of a person, she got more comfortable. She sat on the sofa comfortably, and began enjoying herself.
The games continued, till her mother was ready to leave. Adiv wept when she left, and had to be distracted with a candle on some bread pudding. We sang "Happy Birthday" to him, after which he cut us slices and then went to sleep. Just before nodding off, he asked me if chechi would come.
"I'll tell aunty to bring her again", I promised.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Return of the Bearded Giant

It began like any other evening. All of us were busy with mundane activities, when the door bell rang. Mummy who was on the phone, motioned me to open the door. I looked out of the door-eye-viewer and ran into my bedroom immediately. Surprised I hadn't opened the door, Mummy got up and politely let in our guest; the parish priest.
Meanwhile, I was in my room putting on a tshirt for Adiv. Before the priest rang the bell, he'd been lounging around in a pair of shorts, and I didn't want the man to see him like that. I had memories of his previous visit (long time ago), when he'd lectured me on the evils of diapers. He left after he made me promise that I'd stop being lazy and throw out the diaper. I couldn't let the man know that Adiv was still in a diaper.

Excited about all the commotion, Adiv who was now wearing a tshirt that hid all signs of a diaper, ran out to greet the new guest. We imagined he'd be scared, but he seemed happy to see the priest. He merely looked up at the bearded man who towered above him and smiled. The man merely smiled at Adiv, offering no hand in friendship. A serious, strict man with definite views on what was right and wrong, he usually made an appearance only when the church needed money. He didn't mind your absence in church, as long as your money made it on time. So we assumed this visit was about money as well, and not about the people in this household.

If you know Adiv, you know he is a friendly child who loves people. He has little trouble befriending strangers, and is almost offended when they give him no attention. Last week it was the HDFC man who fell prey to his charms. What started as a discourse on the merits of an NRI account, soon became a game. Mummy had just handed around glasses of juice (Adiv also got one), when Adiv ran forward saying, "cheers". Slowly he brought out his toys and gave them to the agent who was by then quite emotional. "As a child I never got such toys", he explained. Soon he was playing with Adiv's cars and action figures. Adiv hoped the priest would be just as willing.

He began talking to the priest, to which the man who wasn't particularly amused said in malayalam, "he speaks no malayalam?"
"No. Only English", explained Pappa.
The man gave Adiv a disapproving glance.
"Oh no, that's going to be today's lecture", I feared and hid in the dining room.
Luckily, he seemed intimidated by the english-speaking two-year-old.
"OKay. Come here", he said hesitantly.
Adiv took that as a sign of friendship and told him about the phone he'd broken earlier in the evening.
"Endha?", he asked Pappa.
"Just being friendly", said Pappa, who was quite amused.
Adiv was now telling the priest, "Mimi, very naughty", and that had me in splits. Luckily, the priest still hadn't noticed me in the background.
A very interesting conversation followed.
Adiv: Adi break phone. Mimi fix phone.
Priest: Oh ok. Come on.
Adiv: Adi hand time. (pointing to a watch that had been drawn on his wrist)
Priest: (turns to Pappa to tell him about the Holy land tour)
Adiv: Adi has specs.
Priest: Okay.
Then suddenly Adiv left the room. The priest seemed relieved. However, almost immediately Adiv returned with a little bag filled with his cars. He wanted the priest to see his cars.
"Okay okay", said the priest and got up.
"Let's pray", he said.
We stood up immediately, urging Adiv to close his eyes and fold his hands. He stood up reverentially, and listened to the prayer. Once the prayer was over, the priest sprinted to the door with hurried goodbyes. Adiv who seemed surprised, began insisting on going with him. An embarassing tantrum followed, but the priest was far too nervous to even bother lecturing me. Without waiting for the lift, he hurried down the stairs. We laughed for a while!
An hour later, he called sheepishly. He'd forgotten his cap at our place, and he wanted to come collect it. Adiv who'd just finished his bath, seemed excited about seeing the priest again.
"How come he is friendly with that serious priest", asked Mummy.
"Can I try on his cap before he comes", I asked.
"No. Better not", said Mummy.
"Can I wear it and take a picture", I asked.
"Adi wear cap", urged Adiv from the background.
"Blasphemy", said Mummy and put the cap away.
Nevertheless, the day ended with the cap being returned to the man who'd accompanied the priest, and he forgot (I assume) to ask for money!