The First Word

Compliments of the season dear readers.
It’s the season to be jolly so here’s a light story inspired by a beautiful friend and her precocious precious little daughter. Wishing you all lots of laughter in your life with each passing moment….

The Editor,
The Washington Post.

Dear Editor,

I am an almost four-year-old boy, a genius, and have recently come to face a baffling situation. If you could pose my dilemma to your readers, I hope one of them would be able to ascertain the reason behind the perplexing behavior of my parents over the past few hours.

Let me introduce myself. I am Deep Damodar, also known as ‘Duke the Wiz.’  I play four musical instruments, the piano, the ukulele, the tabla and the flute. Several videos of mine, playing Indian as well as Western classical melodies on these instruments, have gone viral on social media.

I am sure you must have seen them too. I also have a penchant for Math and jigsaw puzzles. I first put together a 1000-piece puzzle at eighteen months. Amma had just started to work on this puzzle, which was a picture of a litter of Labrador puppies. I love dogs and I was fascinated by the way the shapes fit in together. As I saw her struggle to find the right pieces, I took over from her and completed the puzzle in under two hours. Amma (mother) was nice enough to step aside. You see, I work best alone. I have completed hundreds of complex puzzles, since then. Most of them customized by Hasbro just for me.

Until recently, my parents have been extremely encouraging and proud of all that I have achieved. They have made sure I have received continued tutelage from the best music teachers and gurus in the world viz. Pandit Zakir Hussain, Yanni and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.

Each time I mastered a raga or a symphony, they celebrated it with the world by uploading my performances on YouTube. Appa, (father) recently, got Puzz 3D to make a 18,000-piece model of the Taj Mahal, just for me to tinker with. He created an Instagram account to post all my completed puzzle works.

They have always been a step ahead in providing me with challenges which is amazing because as I have never asked them about what I need or want. As you may know, I do not speak. Or did not until this morning when I uttered my first word.

Not that I could not or did not know how to talk. I just did not feel the need to. My parents made sure we were clothed and there was always delicious food on the table. Amma is a very good cook. And I was always provided with a new challenge to keep my mind stimulated. To me, talking seemed like a waste of time. There was always so much more fun stuff to do.

Yesterday, though I realized how sad Amma was when I overheard her say tell grandma how heartbroken she was that she may never hear my voice. Amma is a passionate singer. Yesterday, in her conversation she divulged that her dream was to pass on her knowledge of Carnatic music to her children. I love Amma deeply and only want to make her proud. So, I made up my mind to finally break my silence.

I visualized Amma do a happy dance and gleefully tell her family and friends about it.  Ah! How I wanted to see her happy! Probably a clip of me finally talking would go viral too. My first word had to be grand!

I dwelled on what should be my first word. Should I take the name of Lord Ganesha as Amma always invoked his blessings before starting something new? Or should I say ‘Amma?’ As I wrestled in my mind on which one would make a legendary entry into the world of speech, I felt my hands tingle and my throat tickle. My eyes fluttered too. I was very excited knowing how excited mom would be. Maybe, she would whip up my favorite dessert, gulabjamuns, too.

Then it occurred to me I had to be careful, if I took her by surprise she would fall off the chair she was sitting on and hurt herself. I would have to say something in context to what we were doing to not startle her too much. My entry had to be subtly grandiose.

Amma was with my 6-year-old sister, Diya, helping her with her language arts homework on the kitchen table. I sat next to them working on a Sudoku and eating cereal. Unlike me, Diya struggled with academics. They were completing her worksheet for rhyming words. Ah! If I came up with a rhyming word that Diya struggled with, my entry would be smooth, just like Amma’s movie idol, Rajni Sir’s grand scene entries.

I waited with bated breath for the right moment. I felt my heart pounding hard as Mom and Diya went through the list of words.

“Cat – Mat
Sat – Rat
Hot – Pot
Fan – Ran
Boy – Toy
Jet – Net
Man- Can
Sit – Hit
Bun –Run.

Good job Diya, Four letter words now”

I perked up. This was surely something Diya would falter with. ‘Ahem’ I cleared the tickle in my throat, not wanting to sound like a squeaky toy when the time came.

“Bank – Tank
Pack – Lack
Wish – Fish
Duck – …”

This was my chance! Diya did not know the answer!

“F***” I proudly said.

Mom did not respond. Why? Maybe I was too soft?

“F***!” this time I made sure I was loud. Also, it was a popular word if President Drumpf used it so often in his tweet this morning.

I waited eagerly for the fanfare. But Amma shut the book and walked away. “Let’s work on this later Diya” she said her voice trembling. There was none of the pomp I had hoped for. No gulab jamuns either. Amma locked herself in her bedroom for the rest of the day. I could hear her soft sobs. Appa later announced that that I did not have to go to school today. Something is terribly wrong, I know it. Why else would this big achievement of mine be hushed up?

Sir, could you please throw light on why my parents behaved the way they did?

Deep “Duke” Damodar.


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