It was easily one of the most productive times I have had in the recent days. It was a holiday, I was at home and my grand-daughter Jeevthi had come home. She had just woken up from her afternoon nap, and I was given the task of seeing to it that she ate some food. Fortunately, my mom had prepared ‘ellu-saadham’, or sesame-rice you may call it in English, which Jeevthi likes. So, one part of the problem was solved. The other part, the time she takes to eat, is the difficult one, as it can stretch anywhere from half an hour to sometimes more than an hour. Everybody at home likes to pass on this task to the other.
As luck would have it, it started drizzling, and I took her out to feel the cool drops. Being a boisterous child that she is, she started enjoying the drizzle, dancing and jumping amidst the drizzle in the open front yard. Jeevthi always likes to sing and dance, and chooses her song according to the situation she is in. So, she naturally chose to sing ‘Rain Rain Go Away’. After a while, when the showers turned heavy, we quickly moved into the house. I made her sit on the doorway to watch the pouring rain and I also sat by her side, both of us sitting comfortably covered by the roof. We started playing, extending our legs out in front so that our feet alone were drenched by the pouring rain. You must remember that in between all this, as we were enjoying the play and rain, I was giving her a spoonful of sesame rice now and then.
Soon, water from the pouring rain started collecting near our gate, and big drops falling on the water made bubbles rise on the surface. She was curious to know how the bubbles form, or where they came from, and I did my best to explain it to her. All of a sudden, she shouted “B for Bubbles!” and there was a streak of lightning in my mind as to why I shouldn’t capitalise on the mood. I asked her to look around and name all things that start with B. At first, she could not do it, but with a little help, when I pointed to the plastic milk sachet container we had tied to the gate, she picked up the idea fast and yelled, “B for Box!” I was glad, and asked her to say the colour of the box. Pat came the reply, “B for Blue!” Then, “B for Black”, as a black car was passing through. Then came “B for Brown” as I pointed at the trunk of the coconut tree standing tall in front of us, followed by "B for Butterfly" as she saw one fluttering through the rain . Thus we started exploring our own little world, words coming one by one just like the showers, in a trickle at first followed by literal downpour! I was amazed how she had registered all these words and was able to cough up one by one, with just the pointing of my finger to help her get a clue.
As I pointed by finger to my motorcycle, she shouted “B for Bandi!” and quickly, on her own, corrected it to “B for Bike!” At the next feed of a spoon of rice, she said on her own “B for Bath”, which I accepted, as Bath in our mother tongue means rice.
I pointed to the crow, which, to my surprise, though getting drenched, was still sitting on the overhead electric wire throughout, and Jeevthi said “B for Crow!”
“What?” I asked, and she realised B and C didn’t match, and I realised I had to help her. So, I guided her, trying to get the common word for all things that fly – crow, pigeon, sparrow, etc. I was again amazed she could get the idea and quickly tell, “B for Bird!”
Catching on with the game, she now started recalling words even without our having to see them around us. She was able to bring up more words - B for Biscuit; B for Baby; B for Boy; B for Brick; B for Balloon; B for Book; I counted more than a dozen words.
All this, while we were still enjoying wetting our feet in the rain and getting a spoonful of rice into her little mouth once every few minutes. As she was also enjoying the game, I had no problem getting her to eat two full bowls of rice, which is no mean feat at all! The game kept extending as long as it was raining, and came to slow stop as the showers thinned down back to drizzles and finally stopped with “B for Bicycle", "B for Bell" and "B for Bed”, as we moved into the house.
Yesterday, almost a week after this happened, my son had come from Bangalore for a break. We were all surprised when Jeevthi, on seeing him, all of a sudden, shouted in joy, “B for Ballu!” He must have wondered what was happening.