When a 7-year-old girl showed her love for reading books

I love being in the midst of children. No matter whether you are tired, upset about something, or down and out, children make you come alive. It’s their innocence, curiosity for small things, witty repartee, questions (unending, sometimes) and sheer common sense that puts to shame an adult’s intellect that endear them to one and all. A few days ago, I got invited to a birthday party. She was as pretty as they come, the daughter of my friend’s sister who has spent many years in the US of A and who now likes it in China. I had never seen the little girl before and I was keen, especially after she had come home when I wasn’t around and had reportedly gone chattering non-stop to the dozen.

At the evening party, however, it took me a while to find her in the rush of family, friends, relatives and visitors. And then I spotted her, standing right in front of her birthday cake, sparkling eyes aglow, focused on the candles, on the birthday cake and an array of specially made cup cakes (they seem to be the flavour of the season, saw some of them on Master Chef). She was undoubtedly excited; perhaps overawed by the occasion or perhaps a tad shy, knowing that she was the centre of attraction.

Later, of course, she blew out the candles, cut the cake with a little help from her mother as her father proudly took pictures of her, and as her older brother watched fascinated from the sidelines. Well, girls are always so special, aren’t they? Formalities over, she quickly bounded in and out of the bedroom before settling down to sample the cakes and all the rest that was on offer.

Well, that quite wasn’t the all of it. While the adults tried to make sweet conversation (I failed miserably) after they had gorged on samosas and cakes and had their fill, I suddenly noticed the birthday girl seated in an expansive chair in the drawing room, surrounded by adults but oblivious of what or who was around her, her eyes riveted to the pages of a storybook she had received as a birthday gift. Her friends were playing in the bedroom.

In a world where they say the printed newspaper is dying and where children do not have the time or the inclination to read, I was stumped to see this little girl proving all the doomsayers wrong. What a heartwarming sight she made! I wished then that the other children who were there and many others would be inspired by her. I truly was, and I really felt having missed out in recent years all the reading I had done during my school and college days. For me, it was the sight that made the evening. Not the birthday cake, or the exquisitely made cup cakes, bless their makers.

Well, you charmed somebody almost ten times your age, Lakshmi! May the reading habit continue and perhaps you may graduate to become a writer some day. Her brother Pranav is a prolific reader, somebody whispered into my ear at the end. May be, she had picked up the habit from him. Full credit to him for that. But on her birthday, it was Lakshmi who floored this writer.

Pictures show Lakshmi blowing out the last two stubborn candles; immersed in what she probably loves doing best; and before her birthday cake(s) wondering what to do next.


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