There is this square. In the middle of the mall I go to. The mall has a Gym wherein i've been a member for a few months now. And its sort of become a ritual for me to finish gym and head for the prayer hall and after the night prayers, spent a while sitting on the benches in that square, listening to Outlandish or Jal or some other soft music. The most soothing part of this is the waterfall created. A semi-concaving stone wall, upon which water decends slowly, as if walking down a staircase. The lights from the little pool below make it all the more enticing to glare at. A perfect soothing place after a nice workout.
Yesterday was no different. After a long workout, I finished prayers and walked to the square. It was empty as usual (one of the reasons I like it so much) In a daze i was pulling at the doors, and then the ol' brain (which was resting after the heavy weight sessions) kicked in and said, DUDE...PUSH !!! It worked. I went and slumped on the bench, pulling out my phone to listen to something soothing. The week was going tiring. Physically and Mentally. I had quite a lot on my mind. From financial issues to other people's dirty laundry (metaphorically speaking). I was ready to brood my mind away listening to some sad stuff and gazing at the waterfall. I was tired. Really really tired. Again it was more mental than physical.
At that very moment, as I stood on the threshold of Depression Room, the square's door opened. At first I couldnt see who opened it. In the next fraction my eye flicked to a short figure using its entire strength to push the glass door open. I smiled at the sight of the little curly haired blondie who managed to keep the door open so as to stand there right in the middle of the air conditioned lobby and the square. "Excuse me", she said. The smile on my face widened. Its not everyday that pretty young ladies come up and make the first move at me, okay THEY NEVER DO. This time it was different. This 4 year old gorgeous was speaking to me, unless of course there was an imaginary friend she had. "Yes??" I hollered back.
"There is a mouse in there...Two of them", she warned
I almost let out a laugh at the little one's inconsequential fear. I mean, I had bigger things to worry about right?
But then I stopped myself. If there is one thing I know about kids, is that they will take much more interest in speaking to you or paying attention to you if you treat them like grown ups. So laughing was out of the options list.
“I don’t think a mouse would come out to me, mice are scared of me” , I offered.
“But you cannot kill them !!!” she said with shock on her face. The idea that humans can be more powerful than mice was clearly very new to her 4 year old self.
“But I can throw them off the roof” I offered. I mean, come on, I had just done bicep curls with 25 Kg barbells. A 50 gram rodent is probably going to be the least of my lifting problems. I wouldn’t even have to bend my knees.
“Did you see the mice here??’’ I asked her
“Yes…Yesterday I saw 2 mice here” , she said.
“Well then they would have gone to another mall by now right??”, I offered.
“Noooo” she said. “The mouse is not by Allah. It is Shaitaan (The chief devil) who put them here. They are not good. Shaitaan is doing it.”
I was stumped here. I mean, 9 times out of 10 I have an answer ready before my debating opponent finishes her/his sentence. This 4 year old girl had just scored the 10th time. I had no logical answer to continue my argument with her. After a pause of 3 seconds, (Which in debating and argumentation is eternity), all I could manage was
“Where did you hear that??”
“I told you, Yesterday I saw three mice here” she explained
((Before I could cut her off about the previous statement under oath wherein she mentioned 2 mice, she cut her self. ))
*Holding up 2 fingers* “NO NO, TWO MICE..I saw two mice here yesterday”
I couldn’t help but smile at this sharp one. This was one awesome devil’s advocate in the making. “What’s your name li’l one?” I asked.
“I don’t know” She said
I raised an eyebrow, probably she didn’t hear me. You see there was about 3 meters between her and I. The distance stayed that way for the entire conversation.
I repeated the question, “You don’t know your name?”
“OH…My name is Alena” she replied as if it didn’t matter. Surely the Mice-warning was more important than her name here right??
At this point I just wanted to pounce on her and cuddle the heck out of her. Oh and her cheeks were the colour of li’l peaches. Which went really well with those yellow hair.
She renewed her warning to me. “I am telling you there are mice here”
I looked around and said, “I don’t see them, see… they are afraid of me”
Her face changed. She had a “HUFF” in her body language which said WHY DOESN’T THIS GROWN UP TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY….WHY DOESN’T HE UNDERSTAND?? She was on the verge of marching up to me and slapping me for my insolence. And I was on the verge of pouncing on her and showering her with kisses.
She figured it was a lost cause I guess, and she asked me,
“What is your name??”
I smiled and said “My names is Faraz”
She ran the name through her head. After a few seconds, she looks at me with an impassive face and said “That is a very nice name”
Wallahi, the way she said that, was in-describable in words. I was this close to bursting out with laughter. The Kid-Adult rule kept me silent. I don’t remember the last time when a lady looked me in the eye and in an unassuming manner told me that she found my name nice. I smiled at her, and I could swear she smiled too. A moment of friendship was afoot I presumed. I was delighted at the hope that she’d walk up to me and shake my hand.
“Listen,” she said. “There are two mice here. THAT’S IT, I cannot understand you”
With that she walked off. Or rather, Marched off. The huff was big. Reallll big.
I was alone again. And I just couldn’t stop grinning at the little encounter.
I ran the entire conversation through my head again. I looked out through the glass walls looking for her. She was walking around, serious and in deep thought of whom to save next. She was like a little superhero. Or Super-heroine if you please. For her, the most important thing was to make people wake up to the danger facing them, and saving them. I was a lost cause to her, but that did NOT deter her from her aim to save the planet from the evil mice.
Suddenly, my problems didn’t seem so big. My financial worries were passed off by my mind as “WE’LL CROSS THE BRIDGE WHEN WE GET TO IT”
My problems with the close ones in my life was passed off with “WHATEVER”
And so on and so forth.
I thought of those days when I used to pretend I was a super hero. Come on, we all have. Which of us hasn’t nourished the dream of growing into a caped crusader, to save the planet from eternal doom. For a few moments I went back to my childhood, those days with wooden swords, towels around my neck, big jumps off the sofa sets. How the world didn’t matter then. At that time my opponent was an imaginary villain who threatened my loved ones. I never tired of fighting them. Just like Alena never tired of warning and saving people.
Suddenly, 4 minutes with a 4 year old made me realize that through your eyes, your problems are big. We dont tire of fighting them when we're young, Why give up when we grow older?? Moreover one day you will outgrow these eyes, you will see more of the world, then look back and realize, “Damn. I have fought lions in my life, to think that once I was worried about mice??”
To elucidate, At that time, my son’s problems will be peanuts for me, but for him, they are real problems. REAL BIG problems. Suddenly….life seems manageable.. To summarize it, I have 4 words
“…THIS TOO SHALL PASS !!!”
Alena also happens to be the name of my new born niece. Whom I never dreamt of speaking or beholding, because of the distance separating us.
Ironical that the little angel comes to me in a disguise. I pray my niece grows up to be just as fearless, bold and utterly adorable little super-heroine as my last night’s Dame in shining armor…..