Climbing down the stairs to go to the weekly Sunday bazaar, on the first floor landing I met this little fellow, tiny for his age, with a ready smile in a mouth that housed broken crooked teeth. My mom introduced us, he being a kid of a neighbor that my mom is acquainted with.
Because having a serious conversation with a kid is always fun, we asked him his name and whose child he was – the usual set of questions. He answered promptly and unhurriedly, without a fuss or a look, and then with those kind but serious eyes asked me my name. I told him “Shivani” and my mom repeated “Shivani bua” (bua means father’s sister that in India people often use for unrelated people too) for his benefit. He looked at me in all earnestness and asked me where were we going. I told him our destination. He then asked me, very kindly and inquisitively, “Aap mere ghar aaoge?” (will you come to my house)
I smiled and said, “If you invite then I will surely come.”
He was satisfied with the answer and asked me to come to his house once we come back from the market, and ran to his house.
He stood outside the door of his house, while we were still waiting on the stairs, mom being engaged with another neighbor. He shouted from downstairs to tell me that this was his house, where I was to come. He rang the bell with an impatience that only kids seem to possess, while constantly looking up to see if we were still there. His elder sister opened the door after delay of a minute or two and told him that he mustn’t ring the bell that way. He, not bothered with her admonitions, said “shivani bua.. shivani bua.. see.. she is standing there” and went in shouting my name, telling everyone in his family.
It was so nice, so interesting, to meet this little gentleman. I guess good manners are never old fashioned and genuine warmth is always pleasing.
In this era, when children do not wait for teenage years to grow up and announce their need for “space” and proudly walk around holding their head high with a mild contempt for every other walking-talking being, it was refreshing to find this fine little boy. I was told that he knew everyone in the apartment complex and strikes up conversation with anyone new or known. He takes to himself to walk around greeting and talking to people in general. I loved the fact that I saw in him what I secretly perceived childhood to be like, sans the mobile and the PSPs, sans the TV, sans the addiction to gadgets. A childhood should be for walking about, discovering new things around you, making friends, being open to new experiences and life in general.
This perfect little gentleman just made my day 🙂