C got a diya from her school and showed it to me. Pretty little clay lamp attached to a plate with red, sparkly, paint. For some reason, she didn’t trust me enough to hand it over for appreciative inspection.
‘This is the not for you’, she informed. ‘ Yours is in the Mumbai.’ (C is quite fond of the definite article.)
Similar wariness of me handling diyas can be witnessed in my household, but I wasn’t about to let THAT get in the way.
‘Why can’t I hold it?’, I ask.
‘This is the not yours’, she replied and hit me on the hand.
‘Whose is it then?’
‘The Big ban’
‘The BIG BAN!’, she yelled.
‘The Big Ban?’, I’m a little confused now. She’s making diyas for a clock in London? (Yes, I know it’s the Big B-E-N, thank you so much.)
I pull her closer, to follow her mouth (constantly rounded in surprise, anticipation, partial scream, full-bodied yell, etc., etc.).
‘This diya is for…’, I ask slowly, my eyes never leaving her lips.
‘THE’, she replies slowly. Okay, she thinks I’m a dud, but so what.
‘THE BIG BAN!’, she finally concludes loudly.
Of course, I had made the arrogant presumption that if I didn’t know what the freaky Big Ban was, she wouldn’t either. But humility crept into me like gastro, and I asked her:
‘What’s the Big Ban?’
‘The Big Ban is the big ban’, C replied and touched the diya to her forehead. How we do after a puja.
‘BHAGWAAN!’, I correct her, with relief. So it’s not as if she knew something I didn’t.
She’s irritated now.
‘This is for the Big Ban!’, she says with finality, wondering how this dense woman didn’t get it the first few times it was hollered. She scoots to find her Mommy.
I’m left staring at the diya and wondering…
‘Bhagwaan – the big ban’
C should make message T-shirts for agnostics. So what if she’s four? She gets them.