‘There is a boy in my class Appa’, she said. The other night. After we had switched off lights and indulged in some conversation. It was one of those moments. The mild twirl of the fan and the myriad ways it was distorting the otherwise plain ceiling was our only witness. Her words twisted me awake. I waited for more.
“You know appa, he knows everything. He knows where Alleppey is. He knows all answers to questions even before the teacher completes the questions. I don’t know how he does it Appa”.
I was more awake than awake. She was in a talkative mode. “So what kannamma? So what if he knows everything?”
I had walked away from such inane competition everytime it tried to ensnare me. There was always someone who knew more, scored more marks, drove a better car, lived in a better house and heck, had more visitors on his blog. Endless conversations with wise men and women and a perpetual pipeline of books that aided reflection got my boat moored on other shores. Not to mention the relentless presence of overachievers in every domain I decided to experiment. And I reminded myself that it was not as though I was out of it completely!
The fan’s effortless twirl brought alive memories of the meandering ways of life.
“You know Appa, I really don’t know how he knows everything. I thought Only YOU know EVERYTHING Appa”.
Ah! I thought.
I mean, if there was a conversation that I ever wanted to freeze frame, this would be it. The realisation that one young chap was already altering the notions of my prowess in her head, welcomed me to reality. “I don’t know everything Kannamma”, I told her. There are lots of things that I don’t know. Like I don’t know how Samar knows everything.”
She giggled and then broke into a laugh. The fan continued its slow swirl and that was the only sound that punctuated the night. I thought sleep has enveloped her whilst I was my awake self.
Time’s swirl staggers memory and it becomes like distant planets that need a telescope to view. It is fascinating that a quiet comment or a simple nudge can do the job of a well-made telescope. For an odd comment can propel you to reflect and help you see the universe in full, long after you have traversed the orbits of distant planets.
I wondered what races I ran in my mind? And who all I raced with? But before a thought train could take me any further, her hand tugged at mine. She hadn’t slept yet. I realised.
In a chirpy a voice that has never stopped me from bringing a spring to my step, she said, “You know Appa, Samar always says, he knows everything. You say you don’t know everything. I think you are telling the truth.” After a pause, she added, “That is good Appa”.
I am still in the race, I told myself. Even whilst wondering why is she so much in love with the truth and such stuff that the modern world has a lesser fondness for.
It was then that it hit me. That I was racing a young chap called Samar in my mind! Against the backdrop of an even more transient trophy: my daughter’s attention. I let go of a silent laugh.
She was asleep in a bit. I woke up for a glass of water and couldn’t help switching on the night light to see her. She was fast asleep. Perhaps lulled by the peace that she had applied the balm as well. I didn’t know, and I didn’t want to know.
The moment and the night to be thankful for was enough. The fan swirled my smile forward. We slept holding each other’s hands.