Hello once again, friends. Here is the fifth post in ‘The Little Girl’ series being written for children. Hope you enjoy reading this one!
It was the longest walk of her life in the snow. The roads were not their usual self. They were quiet and cold. Most shops were closed. Only few had their shutters half-open, the shops dark and mysterious from the inside. Some of the street lamps shone with a yellow light. The snow fell softly over her cap, mittens, the brown coat and on the road. At places, it lay like a formless heap of white cotton.
The little girl looked at her aunt, who walked carrying a backpack full of snacks and hot tea. Her nose had turned red, reminding the little girl of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The little girl touched her own nose with her hand. It felt numb.
“Aunt, is my nose also red just like yours?” she asked.
“Yes darling, it is.”
‘Mother was always right about not going out in the snow,’ thought the little girl. Even with a double pair of socks and mittens and a cap, her hands and feet and her ears were freezing.
“How far is the hospital?” she asked.
“Not very far, just a little,” said the aunt. “But tell me, have you decided on a name for your sister?”
The little girl had never thought of that! Why hadn’t it occurred to her? What would she call the baby?
“How about Gayatri?” asked the aunt.
The little girl had several friends in school. She liked most of them. They liked her too. One of the girls in her class didn’t speak much. Even when the little girl had tried talking to her, she hadn’t been very… ummm… let’s say, very kind. Her name was Gayatri.
“It’s nice aunt. But I think it’s a kind of tongue twister. I will find it hard to pronounce. Could we think of something else?”
“Oh, yes! There are plenty. But first let us go inside and meet the baby.” The aunt said pointing to a signage on the top of a huge gate.
L-A-D-Y R-E-A-D-I-N-G H-O-S-P-I-T-A-L
The little girl had a weird feeling in her stomach. Just like a worm had wiggled down her belly. Was it time yet for deworming? She walked inside a white and red building, holding her aunt’s hand. The hospital smell was familiar- she had visited the place after a fall from the stairs once. Stingy and ever-present – that is how it smelt.
But it was warmer than outside. They walked through a corridor with shut doors- all white in colour.
321, 322, 323… which of these was her little sister’s room? Her aunt stopped right in front of a door which was half-open.
“Excuse me,” she knocked. “Room number 345.”
A nurse dressed in white with a navy-blue cardigan buttoned up to her neck, sat at her table, knitting. Her white stockings reflected the orange colour of the rods of the heater placed close to her feet. Her cardigan was a better version of a high neck. It could be buttoned up and would still keep the neck warm. The little girl decided to recommend it to her mother.
“End of the corridor,” the nurse answered without bothering to look up from her knitting.
By the time the aunt thanked the nurse, the little girl was already half-way down the corridor.
Room number 345 was no different from the outside. A white, expressionless door with a regular knob. But it didn’t bother the little girl. She knew it was going to be different from the inside- bright and noisy. She turned the knob to open the door.
“Aha! Look who’s here,” announced the little girl’s grandmother who sat on a white cot.
The little girl looked around in amazement. She felt nervous in that room. It was different from what she had imagined… so quiet like a library. She knew everyone in that hospital room but still they looked unfamiliar. Her father sat on a chair next to another cot on which lay her mother, seemingly unwell, her hand pricked with a needle secured by a white bandage. The little girl was restless. She had hoped to see her mother sitting with a tightly swaddled baby in her arms.
Where was the baby, her sister?
“Who are you looking for, little one?” her mother asked from her bed.
“She is looking for her sister, aren’t you?” asked her father.
The little girl nodded.
“She will be here in some time,” said her mother. “Meanwhile why don’t you come and sit here, next to me, and tell me all about the snow outside and how you spent last evening.”
Strangely, the little girl was not sure she wanted to sit next to her mother. Thankfully, the door opened and in walked an attendant with a small bundle in her arms. She handed over the baby to the little girl’s father and walked out.
The grandmother and aunt huddled close to the father, peering over the baby, talking to her. The little girl stood on her toes to have a glimpse of her sister, but in vain. She was high up there in her father’s arms.
“Would you like to hold your sister?”
She heard her mother’s voice. Almost immediately, everyone turned towards the little girl. The grandmother then made her sit cross-legged on the empty cot and father gently placed the sweet-smelling bundle on her lap, making sure to place her one hand beneath the baby’s head and the other around her legs.
The little girl was scared. The baby looked at her with her tiny eyes. The elder sibling tried whistling to her, just the way she had seen in some movies. But all she could manage was to blow out cold air and screech.
“Do you like your sister, little one?” asked the grandmother.
“She doesn’t know how to answer your question dadi, and I am no longer little!” the ‘not-so’ little girl blurted.
Everyone in the room burst into laughter, as the little girl drew up a long list of questions in her mind to ask her aunt on their way back.
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Read the previous posts below,