My niece just spent a good long week at my place and it was nothing but wonderful. (The same niece who presented me a little souvenir when I was at her place) Yes, there were times when I was losing it completely trying to keep a nine year old occupied and entertained all day long but I never took it out on her. Well, I tried my best, as best as I could despite not being a fan of the kids. (In my defence, I don’t hate them either.)
But this kid, is really special to me, has always been. I have never met a kid like her. You will see what I mean.
When she was here, I could not help but notice that what my brother and his wife used to tell me was nothing short of true, “She is just like you.” Earlier, when they used to tell me this, I tried ignoring the fact assuming it as their fondness for me. (Yeah, I know I give myself too much of importance 😉 )
But the more I stayed with her, I realised that they weren’t kidding. She is precisely, unerringly like me.
And you know what my first thought used to be? “Oh, my!!! Another mess like me? What is to happen of her?”
She brought the exact replica of my childhood in front of me. It was as if I was looking at a flashback in mirror, only she was a little more cuter and sweeter and the adjectives can go on.
She loves all the same things which I used to love; she reacts the very same way that I used to do. She is fond of colours, loves to sing despite the fact that we are no singers, her tantrums, her habits, her behaviour, the list goes on.
I use ‘Used to” for myself above, because reality hit me hard a few years back and it changed me. Well, it wasn’t a shock to me, because I had been dealing with it for years, only I did not want to accept it. But then I question again and again what will happen of this lovely kid?
I don’t want her to turn like me. I know reality cannot be overlooked or evaded and one day even she will have to grow out of the fantasy land. But, only I don’t want her to be troubled and moved like me.
I use ‘like me’ a lot today which reminds me what I am like. “I am just like her” which again I don’t want to be. So if I am like her and my niece is like me, it is like the genes are flowing down and we will keep creating messes like us. (We should just stop marrying, you know 😉 )
Coming back to my niece, I knew she would grow beyond her age, considering our long known family drama, and the fact that no one cares in our family to keep the kids away from the things which they needn’t know. But I did not see that coming so soon. This was precisely the reason why she was at our place; to avoid the family scenes.
But I don’t think that made any difference.
I know for a fact that when her mother is not around she takes care of her younger brother. She does small things like bringing him food, asking him if he wants milk, looking after his homework- as if she were a teacher. She doesn’t do all of this to enact a mother or a teacher, which most other children would do at her age, she does all of it because she cares, because she knows that she needs to do it. I know it, I know this because I have seen her performing the caring one, I know this because I have done it myself.
So when she came to my place I was happy and relieved that at least she would avoid a little of the drama and could have a week of saneness and being a carefree child.
But something happened after she left, which is still boggling my mind.
This is what happened and this is the reason why I say that I have never met a kid like her.
Her parents did not have the time to come pick her up, neither were we free to go and drop her at her place which would require at least a day’s break. So her father asked her to send her with an uncle that we know and was travelling the same way. I don’t exactly know what is the right age for a kid to be left alone at home; or to let her travel alone for a journey of four hours? But it just doesn’t feel right for a nine year old to be left alone. Though I do remember very well being left alone at home, and so is she left alone most of the times.
So we all thought that she left with the so called uncle and reached safe home, when she called me from home in the night.
I kept checking on her while she was travelling and so did her father.
(Since she has a phone which her dad gave her only since she was alone here. We weren’t supportive of it at all, but since she had it only for the time being, we thought it was okay.)
But today, we got to know the real story, the story that she wasn’t giving away yesterday, the story which was kept from everyone but her father.
In the midst of the four hour journey the said ‘Uncle’ needed to buy a pack of cookies on a railway station for which he got down alone….
And yes, if you were guessing, you might have guessed it right; because he did miss the train leaving that poor little child alone.
After the train moved the panic must have begun in her, but before anything happened her dad called her and warned her off any kind of people. (I cannot begin to think what her state of mind would have been then)
She was left alone for two hours in a journey; she kept playing games, and talking to her father, her mother and me. But she didn’t give away anything. I called her like four times but all she said was I am playing and I will call you as soon as I reach.
Her father reached the station even before the train would arrive and picked her up. Only then must have he breathed a sigh of relief, I am pretty sure about that. But apart from those two people no one new anything.
When they reached home her mother was briefed about what happened, and she scolded her for not telling her anything. My niece’s reply broke my heart-
“Mom, I know you have high diabetes and blood pressure and if I would have told you this then you would have got tensed and then you might have fallen sick, I know you already have a lot of problems going on so I didn’t tell you!”
And when I got to know this, I asked her too, why didn’t you tell me?
And she retorted, “I know you’d have done the same thing. And I am just like you!”
And this broke me completely.
Here, I was trying to keep her away from everything, but I just didn’t realise that she was already captivated in all of it. She was already beyond her years.
I know most people would say that these kinds of experiences make you strong, bold and practical; they give you the strength to deal with life. They sure do, but most importantly you lose a lot too in all of this. It sure makes us strong and resilient, but it also, makes you too practical and feeling-less. By the time you grow up you are hollow inside, and all that is left is a concrete body. You are referred to as pessimistic, gloomy and heartless.
But the fact is we aren’t heartless, we do have a heart, just ours is shielded with facts and truths. It is not that we don’t love ourselves, we do, with all our might we do. But when it comes to our loved ones, we go even a step further than we could, or we should and love them with borrowed might.
And this is what I didn’t want her to go through. I didn’t want her to grow beyond her years, but she already has and I can do nothing about it.
I am just like ‘her’, and she is just like me…
PS: I attach the two links here that I refer to from my previous posts.