“Your daughter seems to have three heroes, Mrs. Padmanabhan,” said the Teacher, her eyes obscured by her spectacles.
A bespectacled teacher. Mrs. Padmanabhan sighed. Double guessing her would be a no-brainer. Salt and pepper hair, to boot. The young Subhadra Padmanabhan, successful, upwardly mobile Bank Executive, proud parent of the said young daughter, dressed impeccably in an elegant starched saree, chic and confident, looked questioningly at the Teacher. Her left eyebrow twitched upwards, a fraction, a shade disdainfully, carefully tempered.
“Well, Ma’am, you know, we do a movie perhaps once a week, sometimes one in two weeks. It depends. We’re movie buffs, you see.” Clearly, she expected the Teacher not to see.
“Ah. Yes. Yes. But, not those heroes. I wonder if she even know they are heroes, incidentally. Hers? Well, they are pretty obvious, if you know them.”
Mrs. P’s left eyebrow descended. Faint confusion crept into her eyes. She didn’t give up, or in, though.
“Perhaps you could elaborate? She’s only eight. I’m sure you know that?” She was dying to arch her eyebrows, but resisted.
The Teacher sighed. Perhaps she shouldn’t, she thought. She carefully removed her spectacles, let it hang from her fingertips, as she rested her chin on interlinked fingers, her elbows on the table. Then she smiled.
Mrs. P was charmed by her twinkling eyes, the crows-feet that laughed too, in abandon with the eyes. Her chic, taut frame relaxed slowly. She wondered if she could sigh too. Noisily. Parent-Teacher meetings (they called it a conference in the earlier school!) from before, that school, flashed in her memory.
The stern, stentorian voices; the unblinking accusatory looks she received; the guilt she carried away.
All of eight and her daughter was a hellion. No doubt on that score. Never still, always spinning, literally and figuratively, on her toes. And twinkle toes she did have! She almost smiled. Nothing fazed the young one. She was her grandmother’s delight – the said grandmother being the only one she would listen to; and books were all she would sit still with.
Mrs. P shook herself from her brief reverie –
“She’s a delight, too, that one,” the Teacher was saying, still smiling. Mrs. P’s breath caught.
Then she let out that sigh. Noisily. Her eyes widened. She did not know how to respond to that. A tiny smile showed itself at the same time.
“She’s been here, what… all of two months now?” The Teacher sorted through her papers on the desk, the spectacles back on her nose. Peering over them, she asked Mrs. P, “Could you tell me what she’s like at home?” The smile never left her face.
Mrs. P looked up and warmed to the salt and pepper soul. She’d understand, she thought, and launched into an animated description, not holding back, on her enfant terrible, as it were. Her darling daughter – self-deprecating, sometimes, laughing often, love filling her words, even when she seemed exasperated.
The Teacher let her finish.
“Sorry,” Said Mrs P., looking embarrassed, when she finally stopped, “I didn’t realize… I didn’t mean to go on so…” Suddenly conscious, she twisted her hands, uncharacteristically troubled.
The teacher reached out and covered her hands with her slight, care-worn, chalk-frosted ones.
“It’s ok. I love watching you parents come alive, when you speak of your offspring. And I do understand. I can’t not. I see them here, too, don’t I?”
“Achutha,” continued the Teacher, ” is wise beyond her years. She’s childlike, childish and precocious, all at once. And when you love her so, why don’t you TELL her too? Hmmmmm?”
“Oh, you don’t know her! she’d never listen to anything I tell her to do, ever again! Definitely no! She’d be so shocked you know…”
“A bit more time with her, please, Mrs. Padmanabhan, that’s all I ask.”
“Ok,” uncomfortable now, Mrs. P suddenly stood up. “Who did you say were her three heroes? Probably someone from her class?”
“I didn’t say. But now that you ask, I’d say they were Charlie, Swami and Calvin.”
“Great! Could I meet them sometime?”
“Sure, Mrs Padmanabhan, you only have to ask her! She’d be delighted.”
24 September, 2014
The third of the exam days, the first few lines came… and by the end of the day, I had to finish it, for I could do nothing else but get it out. 😀 😀
Paper correction was supposed to be the only thing on the agenda today, and that’s the only thing I did not do 😛 The writes are rather demanding and one HAS to let them have their say, else one is doomed to always dwell upon them that did not publish here. 😛 Ciao