Lavinia was born prematurely two years after Lakshmi was born. Two April babies, their paths follow each other, but apart from being two delightful little children their personalities are poles apart. Lavinia is more attached to her mother and her face lights up more when she sees her Appu than when she sees me. She is someone who doesn’t pick fights with her sister unnecessarily and gives in most of the time, but when she knows that she is in the right she doesn’t let up easily either. A fiery little soul she takes delight in everything she does. Unlike her sister she is not frightened of the big bad wolves of the world or the highest slides in the adventure playgrounds. On the dance floor she will be the first person bopping along to the tunes. It is difficult to sit her down to read her a story unless it is something that interests her. She delights in showing off her new words and keeps repeating them till she knows we’ve heard her. She also has the habit of picking things up and hiding them in unusual places. The tv remote and landline handset can be found hidden in the spice cupboard and the house slippers conveniently in a corner of the house which only she will know where. If you can’t find anything and ask her, she will run and get it for you. So it is not a case of dumping things wherever she pleases, but tidied up in a place where you cannot find them. An inquisitive mind which likes to probe everything she comes across, she has found a way to open every bottle, squeeze empty every soap and moisturiser tube and switch on every electrical appliance within her reach.
The other day I find that she had hidden one of her mother’s books amongst a pile of stationery. ‘The Diving-Bell & the Butterfly”. A book that I didn’t know was languishing in our house for all these years. A book I had read so much about. I don’t normally like reading books or articles written by ill or dying authors however good the review, but this was different. I put it aside to read. It is an extraordinary book written by the chief editor of the French Elle magazine. He had suffered a massive stroke and developed locked in syndrome. The only muscle he could move was his left eyelid. With this he has narrated the most beautiful book that I have ever read. There is hardly any self pity, but if there is, it is delivered with humour. Apart from reminding us about life’s value without actually spelling out the words it reminds us how beautiful words can be if coined together with care. He mentions Sandrine, the speech therapist, who helps him communicate with his loved ones, especially when they ring him while she is present. He describes her presence in this instance as helping him intercept and catch fragments of his life the way you catch a butterfly.
Lavinia is one such butterfly in our lives. The colourful child with the cheekiest of smiles, the little bundle of energy who is two today. Happy Birthday Lavinia.