‘Look at that, little one’

©2012 Nim Gholkar All Rights Reserved

I have often chosen to walk to school with my kids. A twelve minute walk  if done briskly, i find it a welcome change from being constantly in the car. Typically though,  choosing the walk option means we have to leave an extra ten minutes earlier than usual.  As we walk, i can almost predict the order of questions i will ask the kids to make sure nothing is forgotten at home (which is often the case, I’m afraid). And so i begin by asking if they have remembered to pack their homework, their fruit, their lunch, their drink bottles, their hats, their library books…..The power walk continues at its frantic pace as i ask one question after another. There is a logic to this after all. Should we need to turn around and return home to retrieve the forgotten hat or homework, I would rather know while we are still quite close to home, rather than finding out that something earth-shatteringly important was left behind after arriving at the school gate.

And so, in quite the same manner as usual, we were walking (well, half walking-half jogging) to school this morning. The sun had finally peeped through the clouds and there was a welcome respite from the rain that had been coming down in buckets since yesterday. I began mentally ticking-off my check-list of homework, hats, fruit etc etc. In the middle of this check-list, i paused long enough to suddenly yell out ‘ OMG, is it your clarinet lesson today? We have forgotten to bring the clarinet’, only to be told calmly that today was not clarinet day. Phew. One less thing to worry about. And on we continued.

Just then, as i was about to take a deep breath and begin my next round of questions, I happened to look across the road and saw one of the loveliest sights in the world. A grand-dad was walking his little grand-daughter to school. Her little hand held his and they walked at a pace that was so slow and relaxed, it was simply a pleasure to watch them. The old man, although slightly stooped and tired-looking, nonetheless carried the little child’s school bag over his left shoulder. I slowed down my own pace so as to be able to observe them, only because i knew instinctively that here was one of life’s great lessons unfolding before me.

The pair continued walking slowly, hand in hand, with not a moment’s worry about how very soon the school bell was going to ring. I saw the grand-dad stop suddenly and point at  pretty pink and purple flowers that were  waving at them from someone’s front yard. The little girl (who could not have been more than five years old) paused and looked in open-mouthed awe at the nodding flowers. I saw her look up at her grand-dad and ask some question (they were too far for me to hear her) and i saw the grand-dad shake his head. I could have bet my last dollar that she had asked if she could pluck the flower. And wisely, since it belonged to someone’s front yard, grand-dad gently said no. I saw her face pucker up with disappointment as only a five year old’s can. But then, grand-dad bent and picked up a stray pink flower that had dropped to the ground from the branches, and handed it to the little child. Oh, the absolute joy on the little girl’s face. She began skipping down the road, still holding grand-dad’s frail , thin arm.  I forgot my own usual string of questions as i continued watching this amazing sight. The old man stopped a few more times. Once he pointed up at the sky, and the little girl looked up, squinting in the sun, and burst into a delighted laugh as she saw a bird swoop low and then soar off into the sky. The duo continued walking, stopping next to observe a little puppy that was dancing around his owner’s feet as the harried owner tried to walk a brisk morning walk.

Before i knew it, i had reached school and the bell was ringing loud enough to be heard all around Sydney. There were no doubt a few dozen questions i hadn’t got the chance to ask the kids. But it didn’t matter. I had just watched an amazing and priceless phenomenon. In today’s frenzied world, where we are all constantly rushing all day long from pillar to post, it was deeply touching to see a grand-parent’s bond with his grand-child.

I blinked away a sudden rush of tears as i saw him hug the little one and wave and wave and wave till she was finally out of sight.