Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Guest Is God

No matter how many toys and books we buy, children always out-fox us by preferring:

1. our company
2. water
3. mud
4. pots and pans
5. real, concrete tasks
6. our company

At least, that's been my experience.

Lakshi and Vijay love it when we have guests because they know that means I will be baking at least one cake, there will be lots of kitchen work to "help" with, the guests will find them amusing and entertaining and they will probably get a few treats. WIN-WIN-WIN!

These particular guests - Meera, Kiran and Ravi - were a particular treat for all of us. Meera is a speech therapist and the daughter of my dear friend Shoba Srinath - one of the finest child psychiatrists in the country. I've had my heart set on getting Meera to come and work for us ever since I first heard of her career plans (which, she told me this weekend, she decided upon in Class Nine!).

(I'm still working on that angle. Watch this space.)

In the meantime, in the present, with no matlabi fantasies of my future capturing of the most gorgeous speech therapist I have ever laid eyes on, they were a delight to have around.

For Vijay, in addition to the amazing experience of having two grown up men sit and listen to him, there was the thrill of Meera's uncertain Hindi. She had enough to keep him engaged but with just enough mistakes to give him the pleasurable feeling of setting her straight. He corrected her verb-noun agreement frequently and gleefully and she - like a good sport and a very quick study - improved enormously in only three days.

And for Lakshi, there was the pure joy of Being. Not yet four, she is still the absolute centre of her universe. She focuses on whatever task is at hand with her entire heart and soul, enjoying others' involvement, but not requiring it.

She moved in and out of the circle the guests created with a cadence determined by her own inner life - sometimes right there in the middle of it all (pretending to be the sabzi-walli and issuing instructions to her many customers) and sometimes, as in this picture, oblivious to us all, intent on her self-imposed dish-washing duty.

I was thinking about guests, and the place they hold in the North Indian home (the South Indians tell me it's not the same where they live), about children and the place they hold in our hearts.

Looking at Lakshi, the two merged into one: "The child is the guest and the guest is God."

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