At the bottom of my nephew’s bed at the top of the stairs of a house in Singapore, my father scratched around and found Paddington. (PB to those in the know.) He examined the red duffel coat and blue felt hat. And then went to his room, to bed. I nipped downstairs for a last cup of tea. When I returned, PB was missing. Since the nephew has been ruthlessly evicted from his room by his Aunty Shai, and is keeping his parents awake in their room, there was only one suspect.
‘I’ve never had a soft toy,’ said the thief. ‘I think I’ll keep him...’
At the local library, Rafael borrowed a book called ‘Let’s Pretend’: a book which I find extremely peculiar. To be three years old, and be able to distinguish between pretending, imagining for real, and the real, seems to be a feat of extraordinary mental prowess. No wonder the little dude gets so exhausted by the end of every day. He traverses three worlds at all times – two more than we do. He is a leopard, prowling between table legs, claws and teeth at the ready. He is pretending to be a leopard, escaped from the zoo, but is also a hungry boy wanting chocolate and ice cream instead of invisible chunks of meat. He is not a leopard at all. He is only a little boy. And not really scary at all.
In my suitcase at this very moment is a leopard suit. It is awaiting his birthday, but so far, just the thought that there is a leopard in my suitcase, unseen, has satisfied his imagination. Will the suit delight or repulse him? I shall report.
Meanwhile the niece and her grandfather embark on convoluted conversations at breakfast and lunch, and call out to one another at the top of their lungs. Some things are wonderful just as they are. No pretending required.
Today is Navroze - Parsi New Year. Happy Navroze to all of you, and may the rain rain, or the sun shine, according to your needs...