Here she comes, my chirpy little butterfly. Her presence can never let any of those Sunday afternoons to be lazy. And she is just too hyperactive for an afternoon nap.
“Maa, Biju uncle was saying that we can start keeping some more leaves in the box”, finally breaking the ice of the slumber moment. She has been a lot busier these days with her favorite uncle. Dr. Bijendranaath Chatterji is an entomologist, working as a professor at the Stanford. I wonder how a sexagenarian came to befriend my 9 year old daughter. But they seem to be very close. I see a spark in my daughter’s eyes whenever she gets to learn something new. Though a very meticulous listener, she has a gamut of questions readily available to be thrown at you at any time.
“Maa, what are you thinking? I asked you about the leaves.” Pointing towards her caterpillar home, she kept shaking my arm. Among all the insects, she was fond of butterflies, like all of us were at that age. But unlike us, who used to try capturing those tiny colorful angels and then leaving them once bored, she wanted to grow her own butterfly.
Maybe it’s the name. I have read somewhere that names do have some kind of psychological effects on the person. Seeing myself lost again, she left my arm and jumped into the sofa.
“Accha thik achey Titli. We will get some more leaves today. But don’t you think there are enough leaves already in the box?” [Titli means butterfly in Bengali]
“You were not listening, were you? I told you the reason”
And she started again – a detailed life-cycle of a butterfly, the four stages of the metamorphosis and everything. I was amazed at her knowledge. Though the source was known, I liked her inquisitive nature. She just pranced towards the garden door as soon as I have accepted the proposals for six more leaves. Whenever she is happy, which she usually is, she never walks – she will spring around.
Another week passed by looking at Titli’s very own titli in progress. It kept munching day and night. And once in a while it will be shedding its’ old skin. The new skin was not just a beautification process but was in fact helping the caterpillar to grow even bigger. All this was going on and much more was going on in my own Titli’s head.
She usually sits by the butterfly box each day after returning from school. Lost in her thought, suddenly she sprang up. I knew, it’s going to be the question hour – ‘Title Wants to Know’!
“Maa, does this guy know it will become a butterfly someday? Or is it simply munching around?”
Now that was deep, if you take it in that way. This question is something, which I can relate to, even at this stage of my life. But keeping my thoughts at bay, I chose to give her a bland answer.
“I don’t think so. Maybe it is really hungry. So it keeps gobbling.”
“But, Maa, in a week it will stop everything and curl into a zombie-tomb, waiting to wake up again someday. I think it knows the future.”
“It may be true. What’s the point? What do you want to know?” I was hoping she won’t probe me in the same area again. Or else I need to find a way to respond to the most profound question of life and should be able to make it believable for a 9 year old kid. Now, that will be tough.
“Maa, did I know before that I will be born as Titli?”
Even though, I knew something major was coming this way, I never expected it to be of such complexity. Overwhelmed and happy at the same time, I asked Titli to come near. Taking her on my lap I told whatever I could think of at that moment.
“My dear, may be you knew. May be you even saw yourself with me. I don’t know for sure. But there is one thing which I know for sure. I was in love with you the day you came into my womb and may you also felt that. So, all I can say is this is what keeps us all going. This is what love and passion is all about, without which this whole world is meaningless. It becomes a very sad reality then.”
“Maa, I didn’t understand whatever you said at the end. But, can you tell me, if it’s so important to find your love then how shall I find it?”
“Beta, see there, it’s curling up”, pointing towards the caterpillar, “Maybe it’s time for the big nap. Likewise, when you need to do a reality check on your love or find where your passion lies, just shut yourself out from everything like this. Close your eyes and wait for the sound. You will get a reply from someone. And you need to just believe it. And when you have done that, you will be opening your eyes to see wings of success and happiness have appeared on you.”
“Who will be replying me?”
“It will be you, Titli. You will know someday.”