A mind of their own

Children’s antics can be quite endearing. They bring joy to all those around. My niece is hardly five years old but bubbles with confidence. She likes reciting poems at every family gathering. She begins with one and ends up reciting five or six and is happy when everybody around claps.

My brother is posted in New York and has been trying his utmost to make her learn Hindi by having her attend Hindi classes for two hours every Sunday near their place. He started teaching her the Hindi alphabet when she was a four-year-old. To my brother’s despair, she understands Hindi but isn’t ready to speak the language. Her mother is Kon­kani and does not speak in Hindi, too.

Last year, they came visiting India. We were all lounging in the drawing room, when she suddenly took centre stage, bowed and began addressing everyone. “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, grandmas and babies. Welcome to my show.” On being asked which show it was, she replied with aplomb that it was a cool show. We all broke into peals of laughter.

After listening to umpteen fairy tales, she insisted on wearing the costume of a princess, complete with a tiara, for her birthday party. She loves listening to Cinderella over and over again and how she lived in cinders curfewed to the kitchen by her stepsisters.

When she was small, any morsel of food put in her mouth would either be spit out or chewed and gulped if she relished its taste. So, my brother and sister-in-law got a rough estimate of her likes and dislikes in food. Now when she refuses to have milk with honey, my sister-in-law asks her which animal loves honey. Prompt comes the reply, “Bear.” She is then told to follow suit and she does. 

When her mother was expecting a second child, she made a painting entitled, “My Family” with both her parents, herself and a baby. On being asked what baby, she would simply say, “It is coming soon. I am so very excited. I will love it a lot.” When her baby brother arrived, she took on the role of a dutiful big sister. She would exercise him by folding his arms and legs and singing ‘Hip, Hip, Hurrah”. When he started sitting, she said to him, “I am so proud of you. You have got talent. You are sitting on your own!”

She imitates what she hears at school and on television. Now, her baby brother is six-month-old and quite happy-go-lucky. My brother and sister-in-law send videos of him gurgling away merrily. He is a happy child and is in the best of spirits while playing with his loving sister.

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A mind of their own

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