The first word my daughter speaks, I mean, if you don’t count her fluency at exchanging noises with the pigeon that visits our balcony, is “PAPA”. It is a fine Sunday morning. I am grumpy from work. And generally cursing the newspapers for not brightening up my mood. And then, she lets go of a rather loud ‘PAPAA’.
It blows me. Shoot me straight out into the stratosphere of happiness. And having watched enough melodramatic Tamil movies where such and similar scenes are usually announced with moist eyes, quivering lips and a dream sequence in Bali, Belgium or some such beguiling location with a bevy of semi clad women.
The bevy of semi clad women stay only on-screen, but the eyes do moisten up and the chest puffs out in pride. This is a unique moment in our family history. I think.
And then, I look around to check, if the missus has heard my daughter calling me ‘Papa’ and it being the first reported word that she ever spoke. Like all men with vanities and insecurities, I considered making this my Facebook status. Such innocuous sounding achievements have the capacity to go viral. Besides, this was indeed significant.
The missus is busy rearranging the wardrobe. Apparently, she hasn’t heard.
‘Did you hear what she just said?’ I ask. With a self-conscious roll of the head. Of a king who has annexed his neighbouring territory.
‘No’. She says. ‘What did she say? Any new sounds’?
‘I mean, you didn’t hear?’ I ask? Rather annoyed that such a rather important milestone in the daughter’s life went past the missus’s ear without causing it to twitch. Perhaps she can’t handle this and is plain jealous.
‘She has been pouting newer sounds every day these days’ she says.
THIS IS IT. The little wonder calls me ‘Papa’ and the missus pushes it under an assortment of ‘sounds’. This is it. I muster the courage and decide to use a slightly louder than usual tone and let her kindself know that our dear daughter had uttered the first proper word in her life: “Papa”
But just before I start, I want to be doubly sure myself. Did she say ‘Papa’ or was it an assorted babble that clung together to sound like ‘Papa’ to me? Now, I am not sure. I think it wiser to wait and cajole the little wonder to say it again.
A variety of things that usually get her excited get done. Like tickling her. Throwing at her, her favourite teddy. Crawling the floor. Trying somersaults like a Romanian gymnast and ending up a shade lower than a fat circus clown who is having a bad day.
She claps her hand. Let’s go of another set of laborious and loud cackles into the air. She laughs. Sometimes loudly. She claps even more animatedly. BUT, No ‘papa’!
I am dejected. Like if you went and told Tenzing Norgay that the peak he climbed was not Mt.Everest after all, but a look-alike in the neighbourhood.
The missus by now is done with her wardrobe setup. She looks at me. “Your mood seems to have dipped. Something wrong?” she asks.
I don’t reply.
‘Let me show you something that would brighten your day’, she says. And reaches for her iPad. With a few swipes of her index finger, out pops a video.
Of the little wonder. Playing in the hallway. Loudly yelling and rolling over. And suddenly spouting, ‘Mamma’ ‘mamma’ and running towards the missus.
‘Recorded yesterday’. Says the missus. ‘The first coherent word she has ever spoken is mamma. Nice, no?’ she says. ‘Nice’, I say. And even get a smile out, sullenly looking into the newspapers. Reading them is a pointless rigmarole. But today they come in handy.
‘Very nice’, I say. I can see that the missus is trying hard to hide her glee.
At that very moment, the little devil says, ‘papaaa’ and extends her hands in my direction, wanting to be picked up. I pick her up and say, ‘the only word she has said TODAY is Paapaa, ok?’. It was like Tenzing renaming the neighbourhood hill as ‘The Everest’!
In a few days, the birthday comes along. Along with it comes the birthday cake. And it says, ‘Happy Birthday PAPA’. The eyes moisten. The lips quiver. A dream sequence follows in Bali, Belgium or some such beguiling location with a bevy of semi clad women. And that was that.
Nowadays, the most often repeated word that the little wonder says is PAPA. Really. Just ask the missus if you doubt me!
Kavi dabbles in writing, reading, traveling, photography, long distance running amongst other things. He and Shanti have their hands full with their adorable toddler, Kayal. In-between all of this, he gives an arm, leg and everything else to earn a living. Usually accomplished by punching keys, attending meetings and trying to sound profound. He blogs at http://kavismusings.blogspot.com & tweets @kavismusings. Just in case you are intrigued enough to know more about him please head to http://about.me/kaviarasu.