Child (aged 3 years, 9 months) Speaks:
Mom said, "Fencing. That's what our child will learn."
"Fencing? You mean teaching him to jump over the fences?
Where are fences now, anyway?" was dad's reaction. As
would have been any other dad's reaction to such an outlandish
expert is coming from France, and he's holding fitness and
agility tests for kids aged 4 to 12. Our son will go. He'll
select his pupils, only 6 of them, tomorrow. These fortunate
six will then train with him over the next year or so."
but our son isn't four yet…"
"That's what you know and I know.
"But fencing is a dead art form."
"Ah! You and your logic. Will you ever take me seriously?
Fencing is what regents do, and fencing is what our child
it with a thunderous assertion of finality. No more questions
to be asked. I looked at my dad. I have seen this look of
broken pride in his questioning eyes and brows often. I know
he wants to jolt her, with blunt expressions like 'will you
please talk sense for once?' I'm sure he'd like to trade such
one-sided situational defeats with mom but like most other
dads I know, he has to make do with whatever gets thrown at
him. But still, his dog's life is better than my pup's life
(mom calls me her puppy); at least the dog doesn't get pushed
into wielding a rapier twice his size.
ask me please if I want to be there…. You must bear
in mind that at my age in today's supersonic age, I am an
oddity of sorts, because I am more like what you all were
as children. My classmates are close to cracking complex algorithms;
my peer is getting ready to participate in international computer
gaming competitions; my classmates have already learnt the
big things in life, things like what all they want from their
class, how they themselves wish to go about acquiring this
knowledge, and so on. And I am yet to learn to hold a pencil
the right way. Still, a mother never stops thinking the world
for her child, does she?
I would have to act, and act fast. When my parents were away,
I added ice cubes to my bath, gulped down chilled water, tired
myself to death, and at night stayed up without the blanket
laying there shivering and praying to the good wizard and
all the goblins to give me fever the next day. I took care
not to keep my bedroom lights switched on for fear of Wee
Willie Winkie, lest he spotted me up in bed. Thinking, praying,
and hoping for the best, I didn't realise when I dozed off.
I woke up with a thermometer in my mouth and a worried looking
mom and mildly amused dad poring over my face.
it then. It's unfortunate that he'll not be able to go for
his fencing test today," dad said with a suppressed sigh
of relief and a renewed affirmation in the mechanics of divine
"Why?" that followed from mom resulted in raised
eyebrows in both us men, albeit for different reasons. My
immediate concern was, "Isn't my fever high enough to
be made to stay home? All prayers gone to waste…".
mom's logic was being unleashed upon us with a vengeance,
"Why should this mild temperature prevent him from doing
something he'll genuinely enjoy? He'll pop a paracetamol and
be fine in a minute."
So I was
coddled for a few seconds, shown few websites on the sport
(just to prepare me to face the mummified jumping jacks),
and bundled off soon thereafter into the car for destination
but true, the turnout at the test centre was huge. If you
thought, and dad certainly did, that just a handful of deranged
free willies would be interested in something as archaic and
outlandish as fencing, think again. Whether it was the fear
of Draconian parents that brought them there, or their own
volition, I wouldn't know. But they were there swarming the
place, mostly boys, each of them jumping around like trapeze
artists and few flexing whatever baby muscles they could boast.
I was the tiniest among them. But to tell you the truth, while
I was still distressed at the very prospect of having to face
the masked man and was still hoping against hope for that
pleasant twist in the tale, the rest of them looked happy
to be there. Boys at this age, I tell you. Why can't they
be more like me: all sensible, quiet, and understated…
our names and dimensions was fed into their database. I heard
mom put 'four years and four months' against my name, and
explain quickly that I am short for my age. But more the activity
I saw around me, my fears looked real. So this was it. Until
then, since I had been holding mom's little finger all the
while, I was unperturbed. But when we were lined up and led
into the torture clamber, I looked back at my doubly anxious
mother and lost it. What began as a weak snivel soon became
an uncontrollable sob, and there I was running back to her.
I wailed and told her I was scared, and that I thought the
man in there was going to eat me, and that the walls in there
were also ready to gobble me, and that I am not a brave boy.
I told her I knew she was disappointed, but I really wanted
to rush to the toilet.
hugged me tight and whispered close to me, "No my pudding.
It is all right. You're just my little baby. The problem lies
somewhere else. Let's go home…" I didn't quite
get what she meant by that, but it felt wonderful to be back
in her arms. And even more wonderful to be taken to towards
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