Long ago when my seven-year-old cousin Anjali asked me what I want to be, I said, “I want to be a writer.” My mother was near us, listening to our conversation. Anjali asked, “So, why aren’t you a writer yet? When are you going to be a writer? At sixty?” I pushed her, and I saw her soon regaining her balance. Rising onto her toes, she started hitting my shoulders. She said to my mother that we were playing. But, I did not see her for long.
Hours later, she came near me and said, “I will never talk to you again.” When I asked, “Why do you say that, Anjali?”, moving my fingers through her forehead, she said, “I know that we were not playing.”, and walked away. I stood there numb, as if I were struck by lightning. I found it hard to talk to her again, though she wanted me to.
Little girls like Anjali gave more insight into myself, and into other people. I learned a lot from her, and the twelve-year-old Krishnapriya who tortured me saying “I know what you want.” in the middle of a conversation. When a deep, ominous silence follows, she would say, “Now, deny it.” She would say much later: “You can marry me when I grow up.”
Once she created a fake profile to mail me saying that beneath my new blog post, there is some help I “badly need”. She had written: “The whole purpose of blogging is that you can be yourself. Who are you trying to impress here? I am not impressed, and the people who are impressed does not really matter.” And then after reading my angry response to her comment, she said, “I am sorry. But, I did not expect you to handle this so tactlessly.” Years later, when I checked out her Orkut profile, she asked, “Cannot forget me yet, my love?” She added me, but I found it almost impossible to talk.
I have always used such people as my learning material.