“Mama, do you know that the river of respect is fake?”, Richa told me as she suddenly recalled something. I guessed that something had to do with her school..
“Really!”, I exclaimed so innocently like I really believed that suddenly existent imaginary river. That was the best show of attention I could put up as I was busy with editing a picture that I had taken during a recent vacation while I answered her.
Then, N enters the scene. They had just walked in to the home from school. I could see she was hiding tears in her eyes..
She announced her friend V was moving to Arkansas.
“Mama , you know I’m not feeling bad that A is moving to another school next year cause I can still meet her over the weekends or some other time, but, V moving to Arkansas is really hurting”, she said.
“I’m so sorry”, I answered, “you’re loosing another friend”, without giving much thought to my words.
Next year when the girls move to another school, the kids are going to be divided into 2 different schools depending on the location where the kid’s reside. When N had told me that her friend “A” will be in another school I felt really bad. They had been together since kindergarten. I really felt pain inside me..more than N felt herself..She had seemed fine with that.
“You know this is the internet age..Keep in touch through emails and soon one day you may find that you both are joining the same college”, I tried to console her.
She just smiled as she began to leave the room.
“Didi..have you been in the river of respect?”, Richa interrupted stopping N before she left.
“No”, N replied.
“but, K has been in it”, she added.
“Are you in it, Richa?”, she asks her back.
“No…I wasn’t selected”, Richa replies, visibly disappointed.
“You know it is totally fake, the River of Respect is totally fake”, she added her 2 cents as she completes her sentence.
Surprised at that reply…N said..
“You have to be good for being good and not for the purpose of getting selected into the river of respect”, she tried to educate her.
“I am a good girl and I have always been so”, Richa retorted back to her.
“I try to be so good to everybody but, they still didn’t select me”, she said feeling rejected…unable to understand the secret behind the selection process into this FAKE River of Respect. As fake as this river was supposed to be..getting into it seemed priceless to her.
“Mama, you know I try to be so nice with my class friends, even at Montessori! If a little girl is not getting to stand first I talk to the other person and make them understand that she needs to stand first because she is little. I also help my friends get answers sometimes. If they are smart they understand my answer”, she continued with little emphasis on modesty.
“If somebody is sad and crying … I talk and act silly and make them laugh and they forget they were sad”, she said..
As Richa recalled all her good deeds justifying why she should have been selected into her fake river of respect, I wondered, if she realized that there isn’t anybody else in this world who felt she deserved this medal as much as me, her Mom…I would have put her name in the river a million times even if a thought of doing some thing good occurred to her.
Then I saw this glimmer in her eyes at that moment, as she told me.
“Mama, why don’t you frame my picture and put a tape in the back and give me so I can just stick it on that River of Respect.”, she suggested.
This elusive River of Respect, as fake as it was to her..she was ready to do anything to get into it, to be a part of it, even, sneak her picture into the River of respect if that could be done..
OH sure! it could be done..what with a photographer mom who can fake so many thing in and out of an image..she was sure that this could be a sure possibility.
“Richa, you are already there in my River of Respect”, I tried to console her.
“What River of Respect?”, she asked..
“Where is it?”, she taunted me.
“See …. right here”, I tried to swing my hand to draw a river making a swishing sound..
“Can you hear your name ringing?”, I asked..
Totally ignoring what I said..I could see her eyes light up with another idea…She suddenly realized that she could create her own River of Respect.
She jumped out of her seat and disappeared into her room, only to appear back with a paper and crayons. I saw her getting busy with creating the River of Respect, a real river where all the good things she does would get recognized and no good deed is missed.
And that wouldn’t be a FAKE one after all, would it?! She would get to decide whose names belong in that River. She would proudly put her name on it..not because it was her’s but because she knew in her heart that she deserved it. She had done all that it took to get into that noteworthy list. I could hear her murmuring her plans of the drawing that she intended to put on that paper.
As she brought the paper and stuck it on my desk, I noticed that she had put “Mama” and “Papa” in that River too. Did I deserve that? I know there wasn’t any other merit I had scaled to get into that list other than being her mom! Well moms…here is one sure perk of being a MOM! If your child ever creates a REAL river of respect…You’d be the first one they would put on that list.