Here is a story of Mantrini who lives in Coimbatore, India with her parents Raghav and Shanti. Little Mantrini just turned four and was gifted a spacious sand pit in her backyard where she loves playing and enjoys the ample space all to herself. Mantrini’s mamma is expecting her second baby and although little Mantra has been well-informed of a new sibling in sight, she does not fully comprehend that she will have to share everything, including her precious sandpit with her new sibling.
On a lazy Sunday afternoon, it was Shanti’s turn to rest after lunch while Raghav played with Mantra. Of late, it was becoming easier to engage her because of her new-found love – the sandpit. Little Mantra would promptly take her pail and spade with a couple of cookie moulds and plop herself in the sandpit for hours, playing and making castles and pretend-cookies. This Sunday afternoon was no exception. Raghav decided to relax on his favourite armchair with a book and oversee his daughter’s play.
Just as the book was beginning to get more gripping, Raghav heard a squeal from the bushes. He shut his book and was ready to run when he heard Mantra’s excited voice from behind the bushes, asking him to come there immediately. Raghav wanted to see what was causing all this exuberance and ran to see an army of ants marching towards the bushes.
What follows is the conversation that transpired between Little Mantra and her Appa. Although, we like to call it a conversation, Raghav is bent on calling it an interrogation, one that was a lot trickier than a job interview!
M : “Appa, Appa, what are these?”
R : “Oh!” Raghav’s excitement had waned a little on realising that all this fuss was over some ants. “ These are just ants, Mantra.”
M : “Where are they going?”
R : “Umm… to their home.”
M : “Where is their home?”
R : “Somewhere in those bushes.”
Mantra, on hearing about a home in the bushes, promptly declared, “ I want to go there now!”
R : “We cannot go into an ant’s house Mantra. It is too small.”
Mantra paused and glared at the ants and in no time bounced back with her next question, “ Is there an amma in the home?”
R : “Yes”, Raghav was surprised at his vote of confidence in this reply.
M : “Is there a paapa (baby) in the amma ant’s tummy?”
R : “I don’t know Mantra.”
At this point, little Mantra seemed pensive and almost as if her curiosity had been satiated. As Raghav turned to head back to his chair, she shot back another question, “Appa, Appa, does the ant go poop?”
R : “Yes, I’m sure they do.”
M : “I want to go poopy too.”
Raghav lost all hope of finding out what happens next in the book and shut it. “ Okay, let’s go inside.” Mantra ran towards him and continued asking questions in between breaths. “Does the ant wear diaper, appa?”
R : “No kanna, not at all.” Raghav was becoming more and more surprised at his expertise in the matters of ants.
While Mantra was on her potty, she didn’t stop her questions and continued, “ Does the ant like Dora?”
R : “No kanna, the ant likes sugar and all things sweet.”
M : “Can I bring the ant inside to play? I will give it sugar. It can be my friend.”
R : “No, Mantra, you cannot do all that. Ants will bite you.”
Mantra was about to ask her next question on why ants bite and how they will bite her if they were her friend, when Shanti entered the room. Raghav, who was perspiring at this point with the way the questions were progressing, gladly let Shanti answer Mantra’s questions and returned to his lazy chair.
On his way back, he couldn’t help but wonder how his four-year old daughter had managed to ask him more questions than his manager at work!