Thanks to the exploits of The Boy on the word processor, the nascent blog post I wrote has been deleted.
Various experiments were performed by The Boy on a solitary sentence I had churned out after almost half an hour’s worth of staring at the screen when said boy decided to alter words here and there to check the various colours in which a spelling and grammar check was going to underline words.
Several minutes were spent finding words that were not words so that the underlining could happen effectively until we discovered that it isn’t easy to misspell words when you badly want to. Then fonts were changed and clip art inserted and magnified to fill the entire screen until the sentence was edited beyond recognition.
Hence, on the palimpsest of my poor, solitary sentence, having run out of ideas, I had no option but to regale you with stories by The Boy himself.
The Boy, being an only child, has to often entertain himself going round and round the room making car noises or hand movements that signify flashing lights and switches and a myriad other actions that are hard to figure out. It is only lately that I have understood that there are stories behind many of these actions when the boy has run to me during breaks from his studies with his mom and made clear that he is compelled to act out all these stories that he is a part of.
Eight, I realize, is a very curious age for storytelling, an act which requires us to move smoothly quite without apology between fantasy and reality. When The Boy was a baby, he had a wide-eyed belief in his baby stories about the little elephant and the old woman and the baby bear going to the market as reality.
At eight, he comes to us and relates something fantastic. On the rare occasion that the story is within the believable spectrum for adults, someone will be shocked and say “Oh really! This pen can do that?” or “Where did the lizard go?” and he will lower his voice and say michi michi (meaning make-believe) so we know to take his cue and go with the flow of accepting his fantasy as reality.
So here are two tales by The Boy himself:
Story 1: The Tape Measure King, Prop: Simple tape measure
The Boy opens a drawer of stationary items that he has been forbidden to open and takes out a tape measure running wildly around the room for some time. He insists on measuring everyone’s waists including his own, narrowly misses tripping on the tape several times and then spots a word underneath the numeral 1 on the inches side.
“Look, look, it says Crown here.”
“Why does it say Crown here?”
“It’s probably the name of the company that manufactured this tape measure.”
The boy quickly slides his palm down the entire length of the tape, entangling himself in the process but reaching the other end.
He cannot contain his excitement.
“Look, look, the symbol of a crown!”
Indeed there is a small emblem of a crown with three sceptres. I’m about to say that this is perhaps the logo of the company which manufactured the tape when I see in The Boy’s shining eyes that this thought has occurred to him as well.
He suppresses this thought quickly though.
“Don’t be fooled by this tape measure. It isn’t a tape at all. The Wicked Witch has turned the King into a flat tape with a curse. The whole of him has become this tape measure but only the crown remained at one end.
But this isn’t the King. The Wicked Witch has taken the king-turned-tape and made millions of Xerox copies of him. This is only one of those copies. The original tape, which is the real King, lies somewhere hidden while these copies are in everyone’s houses. Yet, this crown and the tape is still the King.”
Story 2: The Magic Stick, Prop: Broken stick of a deadbolt
The workmen have put up several new doors in the house when one of the deadbolts has come off releasing the cylindrical metal stick inside. The stick is brown, smooth and heavy and about five inches long. This has fallen into the hands of The Boy.
Enter The Boy, running.
“Do you need a flashlight?”
Since it is broad daylight I am forced to say no.
“No, really. Do you need a flashlight inside water?”
I get a little hint. “Maybe. If it’s dark inside a waterfall.”
Lots of dancing around because The Boy knows now I am willing to play.
Click, click. Wizzzz . . . fzzzzzzz. . . zzzzzzz. Hand movements showing lighting of the bolt. Some dancing.
“This stick is magic. It lights up at one end. The flame is yellow and burns even in water. You can see right into the waterfall.”
“Really?” Mom enters the room and having been paying attention to the workmen, she only hears part of the conversation and thinks there’s really some new gadget in the house. ”What is it?”
“No, really,” says The Boy in a conspiratorial tone with a slightly embarrassed smile. But he isn’t so old as to privilege reality over fantasy yet.
So I ask, “Can I light the gas stove with this?”
“Yes, you can. But remember, the stick only lights at one end. And you can pray and ask for it to perform one magical act at a time but you have to ask before you use it. It can light up space, you can take it inside a cave, you can bore through ice and you can check your throat with it. But you can’t put out the light. You can’t pray for that.”
This is greeted with silence because I am rather more interested in where I misplaced my scrunchie than in boring through ice at the moment.
“So what magical act do you want it to perform now?” insists The Boy.
I realize my life has run out of magic. I cannot make any suggestions quickly. I am not eight.