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Funny how some wishes come true sometimes.
My friend and I were having coffee in a café. The place was packed with people – both young and old. Just a couple of tables away from ours, a woman was sitting with her baby. It was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen. Well, aren’t all babies beautiful? A few minutes later, a girl walked into the café, and now my attention turned towards the babe. She came and sat in front of the woman. The baby smiled and gladly went into the arms of the girl who in turn started kissing and cuddling it. I was so jealous!
“I wish I were a baby,” I said, not taking my eyes off the babe and the baby.
“What would you do if you were a baby?” my friend said flippantly, sipping his coffee.
I looked him in the eye, smiled naughtily and said, “Trust me, dude. You haven’t the vaguest idea what I’d do if I were a baby again…”
That night I slept like I’d never slept before. It was the most peaceful sleep I’d had in years and my dreams were filled with angels and butterflies and magic. When I woke up in the morning, I was still smiling. I opened my eyes to see two pairs of smiling eyes looking at me. I noticed something strange – my mother and granny were looking at least 20 years younger. It was only when my mother took her in her arms that I realized I was a baby – again.
What?! I meant it as a joke at the café yesterday. Has that wish come true? Oh, my god! What am I gonna do now? Wait a second. Am I really a baby again?
“Oh, he’s such a beautiful boy!” My granny exclaimed as my mother kissed my forehead.
Oh, yes, I am a baby again.
I rubbed my eyes and saw the clock on the wall. It was 8.30 am. Normally my mother would yell at me if I ever slept until 7, but now she was happily cuddling me in her arms. Are baby days really that good? I marveled. I then remembered my conversation with my friend. ‘Trust me, dude. You haven’t the vaguest idea what I’d do if I were a baby again.’ Well, it was time to take advantage of my wish that had come true during the strangest period of my life.
I was put back in the crib after my granny and mother were done with my ablutions. My dad came and picked me up proudly like King Mufasa picked up young Simba in The Lion King. My mother joined the party and I giggled joyfully as I was getting all the attention in the world. My parents said in chorus, “Happy Birthday, darling!” Well, I was one year old.
I was enjoying each and every little thing that was happening around me – something that I found strange. Maybe because I knew I wouldn’t enjoy those little things in the future.
I found tremendous joy in doing nothing. I was happy all the time. I didn’t have any expectations. And most importantly I didn’t know so many things. Trust me, it was a boon.
I didn’t know there was something called hatred, I didn’t know there was something called sin; when I looked at the stars at night with my wide, inquisitive eyes, while sitting on my mother’s lap, I wondered how to get hold of them as little did I know that there was something called ‘Impossible.’
I didn’t know anything about ‘will power’ when I took my first steps. I just wanted to do it and I did. I was never worried about my failures as I didn’t know the meaning of ‘failure.’ I didn’t fear anything, because I didn’t know ‘fear’ existed. I always did what I wanted to do without worrying about others’ opinions about me. I sang, I rejoiced, I cried, I laughed, I dreamed without any limitations – I found happiness in everything I did and in everything I experienced.
My mother left me on the floor for myself and went inside. I saw a pair of ants that were floundering to carry a small crystal of sugar. That was happening right in front of my eyes and I clapped my hands and laughed as a drop of my saliva fell on the floor. Moments later I heard the chirping of the birds and lifted my head. In the left corner of the room I saw two sparrows fluttering their wings and making delicious sounds. They had somehow found a way into our house. I laughed happily and waggled my body in sheer pleasure. But that pleasure didn’t last as the house maid came and shooed them away. I looked at her, widening my eyes. She smiled at me and started sweeping the floor. I really couldn’t control my anger when she swept the ants off the floor. I cried at the top of my voice, with tears welling up in my eyes. She was flabbergasted. My mother came running and lifted me up.
“What happened?” she asked the maid.
“I don’t know, madam,” she said, giving a confused glance.
I continued crying and I bet she’d have left the job if she had known what I was saying to her in my encrypted baby language.
My mother took me outside and I stopped crying the moment I saw a puppy outside the gate.
“Do you want a puppy to play with?” my mother asked.
I just wrapped my hands around her neck and laughed heartily. I don’t know why, but I was finding extreme joy in such little things of life. This is one aspect I knew I would certainly miss in the future.
A few minutes later she took me to a small park that was just beside our house. Little kids who were slightly older than I were playing around and it was a treat to watch: they ran, they hopped, they shouted, they screamed, they yelled, they laughed, and they fell, lifted themselves up and ran again.
My mother sat on a small stone bench and placed me beside her. I didn’t mind. I started looking around. Every little thing around me had a charm of its own. I was awed! Some time later a yellow coloured butterfly came fluttering in front of me. “Oooooooo,” I made a joyful sound, lifting my hands up in the air. It whirred and fluttered away from me. I was pretty disappointed. It was no where to be seen. Moments later it came again and this time I tried to catch it, but little did I know that catching a butterfly could be difficult. When it came for the third time, I didn’t do anything stupid. I just looked at it and smiled. It made a quick circle around me and sat on my shoulders. I was so happy I laughed and clapped and made joyful sounds. My mother was surprised.
“What’s the matter, my boy?” she said with a smile and picked me up.
The butterfly was nowhere near me now, but I was still happy.
Later in the evening, relatives and family friends started pouring in for my birthday party. Pretty girls came and lifted me up and kissed me. And I kissed them back. My mother brought the birthday cake and placed it on the table. Its bright colours attracted me so much I wanted to grab it before anyone could take it away from me like the house maid did in the morning. My mother sat me on a small red chair and made me blow the candle. Everyone sang and clapped. Then she put the handle of the knife in my hand and made me cut the cake.
I was watching everyone silently. It was time to have my vengeance for the crimes they would commit in the future. There was a certain Mr. Bharadwaj, my father’s colleague who also had a one year old son. He would criticize me sometime after 15 years by comparing his son’s 10th std marks with mine, which would make my father go mad at me.
There was a certain Ms. Rekha who would stop my mother from sending me on a trip to Bombay with my friends 16 years later. And there was my uncle who would stop my father from buying me a Yamaha, and in turn convince him into buying me Hero Honda Splendour. All because he would be opening a Hero Honda showroom 10 years later and I’d start going to college in that bike 17 years from now.
These three people were on the top of my list.
So I peed on Mr. Bharadwaj, bit Ms. Rekha’s cheek, and cried at the top of my voice every time my uncle came to pick me up, which made him look like a pathetic loser in front of everyone.
There was also Mr. and Mrs. Raghupati, who would influence my parents in forcing me to take biology in Pre University against my wishes, but I decided to forgive them as I would be having a crush on their daughter in the future.
The ladies retired to the kitchen, the gents went outside and sat in the porch, and I was left to play with the kids. One of the kids opened one of my birthday presents. It was a box of colour pencils. He took a piece of paper and started drawing a house. He got bored with it soon and left the paper and pencil on the floor and went in search of his mother. No sooner had I picked up the pencil than my mother came to me.
“Sorry to have left you alone, darling,” she said, picking me up.
“Your son seems to be interested in writing,” said one of the aunties when she saw me holding the pencil.
“Maybe he’ll become a writer someday,” said another.
I didn’t know whether I’d become a writer, but I was sure of becoming a blogger.
“Oh, come on. He’s just celebrated his 1st birthday. He has a lot of time to decide on his career,” my mother said.
“You don’t know, Tara. You don’t know how fast they grow up,” said one of the older aunties. She then snapped her fingers and said, “Just like that.”
I was put in the crib later that night and I slept. But this time my sleep was hampered with so many weird dreams, or should I call them nightmares? I was running away from something I was not sure of. No more angels, no more magic, and certainly no more butterflies.
When I woke up I found myself on the bed, with my little brother sleeping beside me.
“Aren’t you going to get up today? It’s already 6.30,” I heard my mother shouting from the kitchen.
I lay on the bed, with my eyes open. It wasn’t a dream, all right. It was real. But I won’t try to convince you if you don’t believe me.
There was so much fun. Every moment was worth enjoying. There was no tension or pressure of any kind. I neither worried about tomorrow nor fretted about yesterday. The fear of failure I have now never existed in my baby days.
In retrospect one thing that stands apart is the butterfly incident that happened in the park. I now understand that success and happiness and pleasures of life are like butterflies; the more you chase them, the more they evade you. Just stand still and do your job. And they will come and sit on your shoulders.
Like me, should anyone of you get a chance to become a baby again, just try and remember every little thing you do in your baby days, because those little things might just be the solutions to your problems in the future – no matter how complex they are.
Copyright © Karthik 2009
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