They say the best things in life happen when you’re looking the other way – That is how it was with K – My younger one. When the knowledge of him came I was still so overwhelmed with the responsibility of my older one (Just one year old then) that I failed to recognize the blessing I was being given.
All that changed soon after K was born. He was the easiest child to look after. Undemanding almost apologetic in his needs. K spent hours in his crib waiting patiently for me to finish tending to his elder sister , as if saying “Don’t worry about me mum, I can wait.”
This zen-like attitude towards everything continued through babyhood. Even as a toddler K had a deep love for all things spiritual – temples, mosques, churches, prayers, bells, chants. He always had an affinity with those in distress – Street kids on the road, the sick and the old anywhere . But his deepest concern was reserved for the animals – I still remember the day K (who was almost three then)and I had gone vegetable shopping.
When the vendor shooed a cow away from his greens , K ‘s eyes brimmed over with tears. Never one to draw attention to himself and being careful to not hurt the vegetable vendors feelings he waited till we got back in the car to ask if we could please share our vegetables with the cow. I noticed then that he’d been crying. Of course we shared the vegetables but I only realized what a deep impact the incidence had made on his mind when almost three years later a friends asked K “What he wants to do when he grows up?” He replied”I want to be very very rich!(And just as I began to gloat over managing to raise a practical bania in a house full of dreamers, he followed it up with) … So I can look after all the animals in India” And then a look at me “Mum, if I am very rich can I look after all the animals of the world?” There really was no other way to reply to that one, besides a ‘Yes’ .
It isn’t easy to raise gentle generous souls. It means remembering to pack extra tiffins for the street dogs one meets on the way to school and bear with the chilly wind or the hot ‘loo‘ as the case may be while the little one rolls down the window and insists on feeding each one with his chubby hands making sure that none are left out of the ‘treat’. It also meant keeping handy change and a kind word for every beggar kids who comes asking for alms. The hardest part though has been to answer his ‘innocent’ queries about the ‘ways of the world’. “Mumma, it costs so much money when we go out to eat how come the beggar finds food in five rupees?”
K is bright – He has always been top of his class. He is talented – He plays the tabla and the drums since he was four. He loves tennis and reading books. He is crazy about sports facts and has a memory of an elephant but the real reason he makes us proud is his love for people. When the maid comes back to work after a short sick leave, he is the one most likely to ask her , How she is feeling. I am not the best cook but no matter how bad the food is, K takes a look into my eyes and manages to find something positive to say about whatever I have served. I have seen him give his favorite toys to his younger cousins if they want them, even though it tears his heart apart. Infinite times he has protected his elder sister from my wrath by taking up the blame that was rightfully hers or at best shared. K can see the tears behind grown ups fake smiles and is wise beyond his years about relationships and sense of duty. He is an old soul in a young child’s body – Generous beyond compare, extremely gentle and so, so, caring.
A well meaning friend once told me “K is too ‘girly’, he needs to live with boys and become a bit tougher”. Maybe she is right! I too worry about him. The world is often unkind to those who place others before themselves. Those who make choices keeping in mind not only their own needs but everyone’s feelings often have the hardest decisions to make. The road ahead for K , may not be an easy one but if anyone was meant to walk this path it was him.
As a parent I just pray that god give him the strength and the ability to pursue the path of his soul. And that the ways of the world do not mar my little baby’s generous spirit.
Happy 10th Birthday K! We love you…