The little tornado

Katrina, Fiona, Nargis, La Nina, Doris... And then there is Laya, the little tornado that tore through our house turning it into a veritable battlefield.

It was a case of "vini, vidi, vici'. Nothing was in place anymore. The drawers were flung open and the contents examined with an investigator's detail and strewn to the ground - papers, clips, tablets, et al. Her eyes gleamed with a discoverer's delight at unearthing the world's marvellous secrets. Then came the process of retrieval, when on bent knee, she tried to restore everything to its place. She gave up the effort halfway as a waste of precious time and went away in search of greener pastures.

Sofa covers and cushions in the living room came off with a flourish and, this time, the restoration work was easier, putting them back all in a heap. She walked holding on to the sofa from one end to another and engaged in conversation with whoever was sitting there. "Huh," she would say and then "Oh," probably meaning "All's right with the world". The magazine covers were ripped off and the books on the centre table had a narrow escape.

Since she could not sit at the dining table she had her food sitting on it with the air of a queen. She ate with particular relish whatever was sweet and pushed away the spoon with total distaste whenever she didn't like something. She ate to the sound of music and whenever Itsy Bitsy Spider came on, she rocked back and forth in sheer delight. So we called her the rock star. She would brook no opposition when her mother asked her to desist from crawling into corners or under the table. Crawl she did and sat up with triumph in her eyes.

She was like a tiny mermaid in her little plastic bathtub on the terrace among the potted plants and the trees that bent over with their benevolent grace. She would be happy to have a leaf or a flower floating in her bath water. She loved to be carried from one end to the other of the terrace and she joined in with the trilling birds on the trees. Everybody had a turn with Laya and she laughed and clapped her little hands when you played peek-a-boo. What can match the innocence of that laughter, the laughter of angels! No wonder Francis Thompson said, "Look for me in the nurseries of Heaven."

She would abandon her crib and sleep in the crook of her mother's arm and in that instant, one could see the age-old bond between mothers and babies. When she was leaving, she waved us a hearty bye-bye obviously not knowing the pain of farewells. Every time a child is born, the world is renewed in innocence.

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