My three-year-old niece is a baby with baby bangs and squinty little eyes. Aunty, I lob you,” she sings and my heart melts. She is an attention seeker who wants to be pampered by a special loved one in our family… just like me. So we compete for attention at home and jealousy burns ‘cold cold heart’.
So I push her away, ignore her but with my heart squeezed like it’s going to burst and overflow with love. A hardcore metallic outside- that’s a façade I put up for this little baby. A little whimper from her lips, I remind myself not to be beguiled, and then she starts questioning…. “Aunty what are you doing?” “ I am ironing,” I reply.
“What is ironing?”
“It makes clothes good,” I say not knowing how to explain creases to a baby.
“How?” she asks…
“By means of electricity,”
“What is electricity … Where is it?”
Her innocence touches me… “How much more innocent can one be,” I think … But instantly I am reminded of the enmity.
In the presence of the loved one she is an archenemy. I stoop over them with my eyes gazing and burning through her body as she rolls on the living room sofa with the loved one… the thunderous silence brewing in my head paused by childish cackles as the loved one tickles her.
At other times, I sit beside the loved one holding hands. A glint of jealousy in her eyes and she comes racing trying to entangle our fingers and trying to slip in her small paw.
The loved one laughs. I boil and burn. She struggles even as I tighten the grip. Now her face is contorted … she is ignored and not the apple of someone’s eyes. A wail slips from her lips… the loved one quickly releases the hand and tries to calm her.
Faster than lightening her face breaks into a smile. But surprisingly she snuggles onto my lap and leans on me, gazing upwards into my eyes. Her little paws gently tugging my fingers for comfort.
My heart melts again.