Toddy is one year old and I am looking for yet another milestone. She talks, walks and still crawls when she is chasing a stray ant or looking for a minuscule glittery object. Oh! She is such a delight but I am always on my toes to match the supersonic speed with which she stops to change track and head towards varied directions to try out a skill, climb chairs and even windows. Ooops! At times she scares the living daylight out of me. The moral is that if there is silence when Toddy is awake then she is busy with some new antic and it’s time to snoop and pry.
On one such occasion I was busy chopping veggies for Toddy’s soup when I realized she had abandoned the apple, her doll Chamki and her favourite sipper that was used to water the plants near the kitchen door. Ah! She was out on a new adventure spree and she was unusually quiet. I tiptoed around the house and found her sitting near the window. As a sun beam found its way to make a circle of light, Toddy sat there trying to hold the beam of light and the dust particles that were clearly visible. Believe me, she looked like a yogi, absolutely at peace having found the divine light she was looking for. I admired her cute ways as she opened her little fist and closed it to catch the beam. Ah! She smiled, giggled and babbled to herself. It was something like, “abba, paru, muaw, Ahaaa!.” I stood there mesmerised at her discovery of the Sun.
Instantly I was reminded of a picture of Tyndall Effect in my nephew’s environment science book. I asked for it. By evening I got the book and at night I showed the picture to Toddy and she sat up in bed, took the book from my hands and exclaimed, “Fow! (read Wow!). She immediately opened her fists to hold the beam in the picture. She pecked the book not once but innumerable times. Then she turned the pages to find pictures of trees, flowers, people, homes, animals on the street. This small incidence opened the door to the world of books, pictures and words. She continued with her ‘Fooows’ that became longer with the circular ‘Os’ and in no time Toddy went to sleep with the book tugged tightly in her little arms.
Like all moms, I excitedly shared Toddy’s antics with my mum. She asked me to introduce Toddy to picture books but I was supposed to stick to my earlier tactical move ‘Treasure Hunt’ … Yes! I borrowed a picture book from my neighbour and casually placed it near my baby’s pillow. Oh! I don’t think I can aptly describe the pleasurable scene but I’ll give it a try. So Toddy woke up, rubbed her eyes and climbed on my lap to be with me. As I rocked her to and fro she became fidgety all of a sudden. Yep! The book had caught her eye. But playfully I continued to rock her …this time faster whispering sweet nothings in her ear … but to my utter surprise Toddy struggled, pushed my arms away and excitedly grabbed the book with a sense of wonder in her eyes. She opened it to find the sun, the moon and the stars …Oh! the sky had come on earth to be with Toddy. She quickly turned to me and said, “Mumma! Mumma! Shee (read see)”. Her eyes reflected her sense of wonder. From here began a journey of pictures, stories and babbling ways to discover the world through Toddy’s eyes. Oh! Even pictures communicated with my little one or did she feel the need for communication through all possible means. She fell in love with the beam from the Sun that fell on a flower bed in one of the pictures. She kissed it and then carefully she placed the page close to her cheek… understanding her instantly… I turned my face away from her eyes and made the sound ‘Muaw.’ Toddy turned to look at me and babbled, “Mumma! Mumma! Muaw…thish (read this) Toddy Muaw!” Oh How happy my angel was with a peck from the book. Thereafter we went on a pecking spree.
After dinner, Toddy and I would venture out for a while. But I still remember that night was so special as my baby just stood in the open looking up at the sky….”Mumma! Mumma! See … Ahaaaaa!” Gently I picked her up and I showed her the moon. Toddy clapped her hands and repeated, “Mumma Moom!(read moon)”…. Fow (read wow) Moom! Slowly the food in her tummy, a long exciting day and of course the ‘MOOM’ finally put her to sleep.
Toddy loved the world of books and her urge to know the names of the pictures amazed me. Her vocabulary increased in leaps and bounds. Within a few days she became friends with the stars and the sky, the moon and the sun. Slowly we introduced new books that gave her the inkling of the world she lived in. Our outings increased as we exposed her to the real forms of all the pictures as far as possible. Her book on flowers accompanied her to the park. Oh! How bewildered Toddy looked when she saw flower beds, trees and the green lawns. Next her book called the Animal Kingdom introduced her to a wide variety of animals and their homes. Now her visit to the zoo was perhaps the best experience as she met the docile animals with great warmth and friendliness; she even walked towards the deer and looked at them with wonder as they grazed and leapt about. The monkeys made her laugh and she almost jumped up in delight when she saw a baby monkey climb on her mother’s lap to gobble a banana….Toddy shrieked…”Baby eat banu(banana) … she turned my face to enjoy the view and babbled, “Mumma …baby …eat banu.” The birds made Toddy wriggle out to hold the wired cages and peep at the big, small, colourful and noisy birds. Oh! The way she squatted on the grass to babble at the parrots, her eyes wide open and her focus on all their birdie-antics. The white eagle and the hawks made her climb on her dad’s solid shoulders and the roar from the King of the Jungle, oh! It completely froze her. She almost climbed inside her dad’s jacket to hide herself from the fury of the lion; crying out …Aao Chalo! Chalo (let’s go).
That evening Toddy slept soon after a bath and her dinner. But the philosopher in me compelled me to ponder that little children were so sensitive to different auras. Yes! Her warmth towards the deer and her scare of the lion showed her natural insight. I smiled at the lessons learned, ‘I will remain the approachable deer and never ever roar my angel away.’ With this affirmation I dozed off.