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Charmed by a child

One day, Kabir will leave his childhood far behind and enter the age of algorithms and artificial intelligence. However, in spite of the naysayers, there is still hope for the irrepressible human mind and that he would still save that spark of imagination.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 21:10 IST

Kabir is a little boy radiant in his beauty, with a mass of curls and a beatific smile that could challenge a Botticelli cherub. Naughty to the core, the first thing he does is chuck the cushions lining the sofa to the floor together with the day's newspapers on the centre table.

He surveys the mayhem with the smug satisfaction of a general who conquered fields and won his wars. Kabir hardly walks; he floats in the air with the speed of lightning like a man on mission, seeking something he has lost.

Not interested in his regular toys, he goes for odds and ends, which he collects and keeps in a plastic tray: broken switches, pens that don’t write, keys that don’t open, corks and bottle tops that no longer fit, a roll of cello tape that doesn’t stick, a long chain of beads, and a piece of silken cloth.

He has a passion for wheels. Since the invention of the wheel, there has never been a greater enthusiast.

He has a line-up of all manner of wheels, from vintage cars to the latest make, buses, trucks, autos, tractors, and trains. He runs his fleet at will across spaces, beds, sofas, and walls and parks them at random on the dining table, kitchen counter, and shoe rack, even stowing them away sometimes in the refrigerator. He delights in their disorder.

He stands on the balcony talking to the birds, staring at the passersby waving goodbye. His is a continuum of words, a veritable volley that expresses his bubbling, overflowing self.

One particular word I can identify from the babble is ”Iyyah.” It is a pretty comprehensive one-word vocabulary that could mean almost everything, provided you can piece out the meaning depending on the context.

And quite often I am bang on target and rewarded with the most glorious of smiles. Kabir brooks no authority; he is a law unto himself. In all his naughtiness, he has reflective moments when he has that faraway look in his eyes, perhaps pondering over the larger questions of life.

When his wishes are not honoured, he kicks up a tantrum, but when his protests are overruled with a firm hand and a frown, he smiles, cajoling and persuasive, and unleashes his charm offensive.

When it doesn’t, he withdraws and lies down by himself on the sofa, disgruntled with the world and its denizens. Ever the seeker, he recovers his sunny disposition, and off he goes in search of fresh pastures.

One day, Kabir will leave his childhood far behind and enter the age of algorithms and artificial intelligence. However, in spite of the naysayers, there is still hope for the irrepressible human mind and that he would still save that spark of imagination, the questing spirit, the ability to see a world in a grain of sand and splendour in the grass.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 21:10 IST)

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