A Child Once Again
It was one of those days when you don’t want to do anything but just sit in the balcony with a couple of blankets, feel the breeze as it brushes your face, look at the stars and listen to good music.
Yeah, I do that quite often and trust me, it helps you forget about everything for a little while and enter a whole new world of your own. However, sometimes, it so happens that amidst all this music and the breeze and the stars, your eyes begin to close and you are not there anymore. You are soaring to a completely different universe where nothing could ever go wrong.
I didn’t realize when I had dozed off. It was like, one moment I was enjoying the beauty of the stars and the next, I was in another paradise, the music still playing but only loud enough for me to hear. It was like a park for children with the only difference that it was angelic and transcendent.
There were only a few children for such a majestic place. In fact, by the time I sat down on a bench, there was just a little girl playing with a cute puppy with black & white spots. After playing with the dog for what seemed like forever, she got tired and went to the water pipe. The sun rays were dancing on her hair, which made it difficult for me to take a look at her face. It was not until she was done drinking water and going to the swing that I noticed something. I don’t know how it could be true but the little girl with fairy hair was me, just 12-13 years younger.
I guess I was staring at her too hard, she came to sit next to me. I was out of words but before I could come up with something, she decided to break the silence by saying, “You look pretty”.
I had never thought that a kid calling me pretty could flatter me so much. I was smiling when I answered, “Not more than you.” That was the most I usually talk to unknown people but she was not a stranger to me so the words left my mouth before I knew, “So, which school do you go to?” One look at her face told me that this was a concept she was not familiar with. Maybe, they don’t have schools here. Without answering, she shot another question, “Are you worried about something?? You look like you are.” Now, that was a question I had been asked a lot of times but I did answer, “Not exactly. A lot of stuff goes on in my mind at a time. You won’t understand. It’s too complicated.” She frowned like she was thinking hard of a solution and clapped her hands together like she had just made an unbelievable discovery and said, “Why don’t you stay the night and then when we see a shooting star you can make a wish.” I couldn’t help but laugh, when she didn’t seem to get it I explained, “Honey, there are no shooting stars. It’s all science. You’ll understand when you grow up.”
Utter shock crossed her face, I could tell that she was furious but I had no clue why. I was saved the trouble for she exclaimed, “How can you not believe in shooting stars!” Now, as patient as I am, I was not up for explaining the concept of science to her when she wasn’t even familiar with a school. “I am imagining all this, ain’t I? You’re not real. This place isn’t real”, I pointed.
She gave up asking questions and started saying things which were obvious according to her. She just wanted me to understand. “What a sad life you must lead! You’re afraid to accept that something so beautiful can indeed be real. You don’t think that shooting stars exist, which means you don’t believe in magic. Why is a lot of stuff going on in your head at the same time complicated? They are your thoughts, aren’t they?? Why do want to run away from them?”
I am pretty sure that she was going to deliver a whole speech had I not interrupted, “We”ll meet after 10 years and I’ll ask you the same questions and we’ll see how you answer.” She was bewildered at the interruption and stood up, like she was gonna take off.
However, before turning her back on me she did say, “I know what I am going to wish for tonight, to never grow up.”
This simple yet innocent wish had me in tears. I wanted to wait there, play with her-with myself, but someone was pulling me off my chair. It was my mom, “Get inside, it’s freezing out here.” I was furious at her for ruining the perfect dream so I stomped in to my room without another glance at her. I tried to shut my eyes hard, wishing silently that the little girl would come back. But she did not.
The next morning, while getting dressed, I looked at my reflection in the mirror and it struck me like lightning. It was weird but still made perfect sense. The little girl had never left. She had been with me all along, silent but there. She is an intrinsic part of me, the one that believes in magic and shooting stars. It was this dream, that made me realize that it’s okay to have tons of wishes that may seem unreal to people, that it’s not foolish to believe in magic, that not everything is taught in schools, that things are only as complicated as you want them to be and that maybe growing up and growing old are not the same things after all.
Suchita Vichare| Edited by Nandini Raghav Kapur