My Little Princess
“I am participating in a dance program coming weekend”, my 9 year old daughter announced coming from her dance class with an unmistaken air of authority.
“And you will take me to my favourite ice cream shop to eat strawberry ice cream if I do well in it”. The announcement and the self-declared reward was an affirmation and not to seek permission as used to happen in good old times in our era.
I skipped a heartbeat envisaging the imminent dance of the household before the actual dance program. The whatsapp dance group of the parents started working in a fast forward mode exchanging information of shops for dress, costs, distances, do’s and don’ts. My premonitions proved true as the next 5 days, we started running around post to pillar for the special dress, dupatta, necklace,matching bindis etc. After a long tiring day at office, I had to compulsorily see rehearsals instead of news in the evening. My little one was entirely focused on the dance program like the mythological story of Arjuna who could only see the eye of parrot. My own old generation mindset which had nothing to do even remotely with dance wistfully wished if she would put only some part of such focus when it came to her studies. As the dance mania engulfed the house increasingly every day, I could not but stop wondering how a small girl overhauls the nature of a person and house.
Growing up in a two boys household is the closest one can get to hostel life even before entering one. Chaos,fights, noise, indiscipline and staying away from any ‘girlie’ thing was the norm. So when girls took charge of the house in a sequence, the one whom I was married to and the other who was result of it, life changed like never before. While I could at least attempt a contrary point of view with my better half, no amount of reasoning could work with the little one. It becomes a bit difficult to disagree with innocent wide-eyed stubbornness. The girlie things which were subject of mocking in my boyhood were now in life with a vengeance. Pink was a color which I would not have touched with a barge pole and now we had a full room with a pink theme with a pink fan and shelves to boot. A doll was a doll at the end of the day, but now I was party to purchase a dozen odd Barbie collections. My count and knowledge of fairy tell princess ended with mixing up Cinderella and Snowhite as to who loses the shoe and who lives with funny looking dwarfs. But now a room wall had a sort of kitty part of more of these princesses with more names like Rapunzel and Little red riding hood. My wife being in-charge of the discipline department in house and less susceptible to charms of same brethren would often be at cross roads to her. Quite often I would be playing a mediator like a UN observer between warrior nations on controversial issues like hair styles, length of the skirt etc. to give a weak verdict in favor of the younger girl. This would invite a ‘you are going to spoil her’ refrain from the older one. cheap flower girl dress
Coming back to the dance program, after herculean effort and countless rehearsals, the D-Day arrived. The dance was a group kathak dance on a semi-classical music number. The silvery white dress with a bright red foil and golden embroidery came with a heavy name called anarkali and equally heavy price. It was quite a sight to see the normally giggling teenage girls pull off a perfectly coordinated dance in the most elegant, gracious manner. It was received with a thunderous applause from the audience mainly comprising of parents and grandparents. Suddenly all the running around for the last week looked worth it. We reached home quite late still basking in the beautiful memories of the performance and adulation. My little one was too tired to speak and she sat on our big sofa with eyes closed under the amber light of chandelier.
I was watching her at a distance intently. All the while, life slips away as series of un-noticed moments, while sometimes a single moment captures life like never before. It was one such moment. My little one whom I remembered crystal clear as bundle of joy when she arrived looked like a grown up girl. May be it was the full length dress, or the amber light accentuating her tender beautiful dressed up face, or her matured expression or it was purely imagination of my mind, the single moment aged her up in my mind. There was something about the moment which I did not like. She was behaving like a grown up matured girl all through the evening. Why do our kids have to grow up at all ? Perhaps for the first time in life, I felt that there will be a day when she will go away from me. After all, every fairy tale ending had a young handsome prince taking her away to live happily ever after. Suddenly the norms of the society seemed grossly unfair. It was beside the point that a few years back, I did not have fraction of these thoughts when a young girl came in to my life. These and more such thoughts made me uneasy. It was an anti-climax ending to a beautiful evening. Sleep is a major casualty when the mind struggles with life thoughts at night. It was an uneasy night. I did not know when I gave in.
“Why did dad not take me to strawberry ice cream parlour yesterday ?”.
I woke up to see my little one showing a huge tantrum at the top of her voice. The anarkali had been replaced by now with pink pyjamas. Her mom’s explanation about being late and tired, the ice cream being on the other side of town etc. were all falling on deaf ears.
“Now you only tell the apple of your eye” her mom said exasperated by now and getting further agitated by the smile on my face.
While my wife could not understand the smile on my face, I was happy to see my little one in childlike mode again. Somewhere I thought that yesterday I was over reacting to the situation. Aging was a process which neither me not my little one could change. I will grow old and she will turn in to a matured woman. That was the unalterable wheel of time. What time cannot change will be my relationship with her. She will have her own equations with the world around, for me she will always be the un-reasonable princess demanding whatever she wants.
Much to the agitation of her mom, I gestured her to come along. And at that moment, happily we left for her favorite strawberry ice cream, me and my little princess.