Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A dance of two souls

Raghav has explored friendships in phases - just like everything else that he has.  His first friend was a little girl we met at a park many years ago (when he was three I think), and then realised much later, that she went to the same school that he went to! They got along like strawberries and cream (Raghav's favourite dessert!). He was soon in her class. Since then, she has been Raghav's best and very special friend. Later, Raghav made a few more friends at school - mostly girls - as I think they were more gentle and docile. But she always had a special place in his heart.

I remember how Raghav was very troubled by what happened at school one day with her and shared it with me. His teacher had chided him for hugging this friend of his in the playground, and forced them to sit apart. A funny reaction indeed to two small kids who were but expressing their love. Raghav cried all night asking me: "...what is wrong in hugging someone you love? You, appa and I hug each other at home because we love each other. I love her.....why can't I hug her then?"

Once he left school, Raghav took a long time to start exploring friendships again. He enjoyed and wanted the time for himself - alone. Initially, I was worried and often tried to coax him to go down to play, just so that he would see other kids and be with them. Very soon, I realised, that just like everything else with him, he had to decide and choose what to do, when to do it and how to do it. It had to come from him - the need and the means to have friends.

When I let go of all expectations and my fears of how I wanted him to be or not to be, I found him breaking free and opening up. A child who was labelled shy and aloof took on another avatar altogether! He came up with novel ways of getting to know and making himself known to other kids in our neighbourhood. He dressed up as Santa long before it was Christmas, doling out gifts to all the kids. I realised yet again that here was a child who knew what he wanted and how to get it!

Then, he made friends with a boy who was much older, but soon started understanding that he was not listening to him, but rather overpowering him. So he moved away on his own slowly. He came up to me one day and said :"Amma, I am so happy that N told me that he is not my friend anymore.....I was wondering how I was going to tell him that!"

Soon, he started playing with other kids off and on and made a few more friends. Exploring each one, has been a struggle - some more, and some less.....but all worth it. Now, I notice a pattern - there is a time when he wants company and finds his own ways of seeking that, a time when he wants to just be in his own space with his own self, and a time in between - when he wants to go back to a comforting, trusted friend. For, he has been by himself of late, after the deluge of people that he called over for Navrathri......we haven't stirred out of the house for more than a month now, except to go shopping for our groceries and stuff. But just two days ago, he mentioned his dear friend and said that we should call her over sometime as he wanted to show her something. I often wonder why he does this. I now feel that he is perhaps using her as his comfort zone to test his own skills or discover himself a little more....

She has been very special to him. He has wanted to keep in touch with her, even after we got out of the school. With all other friendships, he has maintained a distance and has never been so much at ease....but with this little girl, he has been himself. I find it amazing to watch both of them together.....much like two free spirits enjoying the space and energy between them......on the same wavelength.

They don't meet so often now, as she is busy with school and her mom has a little one who keeps her busy. But when they do meet, even if it is after a month or more, they take off from where they started last time.....with total ease and a warmth that has to be felt by being with them. That little girl has an understanding of my son that even I do not have sometimes. Her responses to him are filled with an empathy that adults often find hard to develop. I have not seen any other kid respond to his meltdowns, fusses and joys in sharing something like she has.

One day, some months ago, we took them both to the Planetarium. They had loads of fun together and chats together.....holding hands and walking together, without a care in the world....listening to each other......sharing jokes and facts.....huddling together in the car, watching the world go by.....sharing a snack...and dozing off together after a tiring was so beautiful to just be and watch - two children who filled each others' hearts and our hearts - with love. That day, in the car, on our way back I remember Raghav asking her: "So do you think you will get bored of school like me, one day?" :) "No I don't think so", was her answer. :)

Today, when he wants to meet her again after a few months now, I realise that she might have grown up.....her interests may have changed.....she may not want to play with boys so much anymore
...or listen to him go on about his Lego or trains! But there is a good chance that she might still feel the same way and begin to play with him again from where they left off last time. I wonder if it really matters. For she has been one of our angels from the Universe anyway - one who gave my son the space to be himself without any judgement....a space that is so rare in our world today. We do have a lot to learn from children.

I miss her giggles and their whispers of secrets.....the soft and gentle tunes she tried on the keyboard.....the moments when she put paint to paper to create little masterpieces, quietly egging Raghav on with his.....her sulking when they had a little disagreement , and Raghav cajoling her to get back....I miss her running with gay abandon and Raghav trudging along....or whooshing down the slide together....and enjoying an evening meal....

While she gave my son the space to be and discover himself, our home perhaps gave her the space and time to just be too. I am grateful to the Universe for these precious gifts that we get through children.

It has truly been a privilege for me to be a witness to this dance of two souls!

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