“What I have asked amma this morning?”

Tamil Original : Gopalakrishnan Murugesan

English Translation: V.Chandrasekaran


“Appa,  tell me. What I have asked amma this morning?”

Nivetha’s voice invited my attention. She stand near to me with rolling eyes. Immediately she pulled out the newspaper from my hand. She had a rubber in her left hand and a pencil in her right hand and looking like Vishnu with Sangu and Chakra. I can see a rare confusion in her face instead of the usual enthusiasm. Her face had a rare stiffness.

“Tell me dear. What do you want?” I tried to pull her near to me. Whenever she came to me she use to jump upon my lap and garland my neck with her hands. This time she did not jump upon my lap. She just stand before me with stern look. She asked me again.

“What I have asked amma this morning?”

There is no clue to me about what she is asking. Now she put her hands upon my thighs and looking my face for the answer. Her glittering eyes are looking me with lot of expectations. 

“What do you want? Tell me once again Dear?”

“Tell me Appa. What I have asked amma this morning?”

I could not tell the answer at once. What she could have asked her mother this morning? She could have asked whatever she wanted. A lot of things are there to ask her mother. As soon as she wake up from her sleep her questions also use to wake up along with her. Questions flow from her like a stream. Wherever she goes behind her mother, in the kitchen, in the hall, in the garden, questions are also running along. Only when she tells her that she has to ask all these question with appa, she comes to me. 

Only for the past two months a habit of playing with herself in a husky conversation is developed. She use to play with the names of her neighbouring friends in her imaginary world. Even in this play she use to talk a lot. Always instructing others like her teacher. She use to threaten her mates like her mother and her Vani teacher. At times she use to make fun like the housemaid. 

“What I have asked amma this morning?”

I want a little time to prepare myself to find the answer her question.

I started asking her “When you have asked Amma? Before my leaving to the office or after?”

She blinked her eyes as if she is thinking about what I have asked. Only a second. She slapped upon my legs and asked “What I have asked amma this morning?”

Her voice is the same even now. I could sense the toughness and firmness.

“Ok Ammu. Just tell me. When did you ask Amma this question? Before taking bath or at the time of leaving to school?” I could sense myself the absurdness in my question.\

She didn’t go back. Took some time. She went back for a while and stared shaking her head. She closed her eyes as if she is thinking about what I have asked. After a while She rushed back to me and put her hand upon my thighs as before and asked with a straight look in to my eyes. 

“Appa. Tell me. What I have asked amma this morning?”

I began to lose my temper. She has been asking the same question again and again. Only the order of the words are keep on changing and not the question I do not know how to find the answer and even I do not know what to do now.

“What is this Ammu. You only asked the question. How you are expecting me to know what you have asked Amma.?”

She did not move. “Amma is telling always that you know everything. Then why don’t you tell me what I have asked Amma this morning?”

I looked her face and eyes. I could remember the moment I took her in my hands in the delivery ward of the hospital. My wife was lying in the bed and looking at me. Her face was beaming with a sense of achievement. She was tired but so happy. Nivetha, then the little baby, was with her eyes just like a thin lines upon the rosy face. When her tiny hands and softy legs were stared moving my hands were trembling and I feared that I could not handle her. In a very husky and tearful voice I called her “Ennadi Kutti?”. At the same moment she started crying in a creaking voice. The sister took her from me consoling her “Don’t cry my dear. Appa called you Di. Ok. Ok. We will tell amma.”

Nivedha brought me to this world by touching my face. She asked again. “What I have asked amma this morning?”

I remember that she did not start to speak in the age when the kids are expected to start talking normally. She use to reply only by signs and by shaking her head or hands. Only after her second birth day she started talking. When she started talking, we could not sense that she is talking like a child. It was very clear and firm. No confusion of words or sentences. Whatever she speaks she use to speak it as if a well matured girl is speaking. 

Now she started to express her dissatisfaction. “Please tell me now Appa. What I have asked amma this morning?”

I could not find a way to stop her asking. Unfortunately my wife is not available now to save me. I do not know where she is?

“Ok. Wait. Let me ask you once again. You want me tell what you have asked Amma this morning. Only that much. Ok. Wait. I will tell you.” I started guessing the question she could have asked her this morning. 

“Shall I tell you now?  The question you asked your Amma this morning?” 

She raised and wiped her mouth. I could see a little light in her eyes.

At times when my wife was preparing the Poori in the kitchen, Nivedha use to roll the wet flour in her tiny little hands. Remembering that I told her “You could have asked how to prepare Puri?”

She immediately rejected my answer by shaking her head firmly. I could see the shadow of disbelief in her little face.

“Oh. It is not the question. Then you might have asked Amma the whereabouts of the Thalayatti Bommai we bought in Thanjavur? Am I correct?

Her rosy lips started trembling. I could sense that she is going to cry. 

“Ok. Ok. Just wait. You could have asked amma’s permission to go to Sanjay’s home to play in the afternoon.”

Tears started to roll over her cheeks. Her head keeps on disagreeing my attempts. 

“Have you asked any doubts regarding your home work?” 

She stooped her head down. Her little body was trembling and she started weeping. She did not try to wipe out the tears from her face. She did not raise her head and looked at me. I do not know how to console her. 

I started telling my guessing one after another in a very hasty manner so that any one of my answer can  stop her tears.

“You could have asked when the Moon will get wings to fly?”

“You could have asked why the huge elephant has so tiny eyes?”

“You could have asked can you go to grandpa’s village using your bicycyle?”

She did not acknowledge my effort but weeping continuously. In between tears her lips keep on uttering the question “What I…  asked… amma… this morning?”

All my efforts went in vain. I tried to wipe her tears but she did not allow me. As if to save me from the  embarrassment the calling bell rang. When I opened the door and saw my wife immediately I begged her with relief “Oh God! You are in the right time. Come and Save me! I could not handle this!”.

Without noticing what I am saying she immediately rushed to Nivedha. She took her on the lap and started consoling her. “Ammu kutty. What happened? Appa scolded you. Don’t worry. I am here know. Stop crying.” She starred at me and told in a stern voice “Just for a few minutes only I went for the nearby shop. You are unable to keep this little one undisturbed. Look how she is weeping?” I could not believe my ears. She wiped Nivi’s face and tapped on her back.

“Listen my dear. It is not me made her to weep. She was made me to cry by asking the question she asked you in the morning which I am not aware.”

She looked at Nivi’s eyes and started murmuring “This morning… what question?” At the same time Nivi raised her little hand and closed my wife’s mouth. Now she looked at me and said “You are my Appa. I asked you the question. You have to tell me the answer. What I have asked amma this morning?”

She came down from my wife’s lap and stood before me with the same stern and tough look. Her hands are pressing my thighs and once again she started. 

“What I have asked amma this morning?”


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