Lakshmi’s Saturday classes have resumed and I need to pick her up from her dance lesson and take her for a swim session. The road is unfamiliar and my satnav directs me. On the way back the suction cap comes lose and the GPS falls off the dashboard. “The stupid thing has fallen off” I mutter to myself. “You mustn’t say that word” Lakshmi reprimands me. “Have you ever heard Amma say that word? Or Dada, or even Lavinia?”. “Ok, ok, I get it. What should I be saying then”. “Well you could just say- it fell off.”, Lakshmi replies in a calm and measured voice. The day has arrived when my grandkids have started advising me.
There are times when I laugh out loud at their innocent remarks, smile as they peer at me with a quizzical look, beam with pride when they have mastered a new skill. Then I have days of despair when Lakshmi plays up and pushes her boundaries trying to work out how much she can get away with. Lavinia on the other hand knows exactly what she wants and knows how to get it. She doesn’t get upset that often but if she does she sticks to her guns. If she wants you to pick her up she will do it with her silent protests. There is no crying and following you till you give in but she stands her ground and won’t budge till you’ve picked her up. Two kids who should be alike and yet totally different in their personalities. Lavinia’s little squeals of “chechi’s not lettin’ me” is now replaced with a bullish attitude. It is now Lakshmi who cries out because her sister has harmed her. “Say sorry to your sister” is met with a defiant no. Lavinia is quite happy to give Lakshmi a hug but saying sorry is out of the question. As far as Lavinia is concerned her chechi deserved it.
The other day when the two wouldn’t go to sleep I snuggled between them in the darkness waiting for them to drop off. “I love you ammamma” said Lakshmi on one side. Not to let her sister out do her, Lavinia repeated the phase from the other side. But then she added “I love Appu too and Amma and Dada and Nana and Gummy”. “I love them too” Lakshmi responded. “My knee is hurting” said Lakshmi. “Mine too”, Lavinia joined in. “Shhh, go back to sleep, you can tell me all about it in the morning”, I tried to quieten them. “My knee is better now”, Lavinia finished. Next a sneeze from Lavinia’s corner. “Bless you”, Lakshmi murmured, “Thank you”, Lavinia replied softly. Soon they were both fast asleep.