Friday, September 07, 2007

From this end to that...

The other day, I was hunting for a b'day-gift for a friend's 1-year-old-to-be daughter, Zarah. After visiting quite a few toy-stores & gift-shops, I landed up at a children's-only exclusive gift-shop called 'Bonsai', just round the corner. I was so impressed by the myriad of cute little things specially crafted to engage these curious little minds. Some sound, some run, some flash, some move, some tickle, some bore... I couldn't help thinking of how privileged these kids of today are! My eyes kept roving over all these goodies when involuntarily they stopped. They were fixated over something... An abacus!

The sight of this abacus had tickled such sweet memories from my childhood, that had nearly been erased over the decades... I had this class teacher called Sr. Emilia for my pre-primary class. A fair elderly swiss nun with silky white hair and kind blue eyes. The radiance of those soft blue eyes beamed peace of some rare kind... The calm that yogis attain thru' penance & knowledge, when the secret of this world dawns upon them!

It was she who had first introduced me to an abacus.
One summer afternoon, she had slipped a shining bead over its silver line, slowly, as though guiding a child across a hurdle. And when the bead reached the other end, she had looked at me with those beaming blue eyes thru' the silver lines and said "Ten"! It was magical! I didn't quite understand the meaning of the act, but it had enchanted me, nevertheless. The same act, but over the upper line, made her say "Hundred"!

Higher the achievement... higher were the rewards... The beads got rarer as the lines got higher & had greater value. One bead accounted for thousands & lakhs, values that made no sense then! Higher achievements were rarer, hard to come and extremely invaluable! The movement of one higher bead stunted the motion of so many lower ones!

Don't know why, but nothing else interested me thereafter... I packed this one in pretty gift-paper, though it said "Age-group 3-7". I know for now, it won't interest Zarah. She will be too enchanted by the sounds, colours & movements of other things that'll be gifted to her. But as she grows, one calm summer afternoon, her mom will slip a bead over its silver line, from this end to that & say "Ten"!

It'll enchant her then & way later, she'll realize the meaning of the act. It's then that she will have crossed 'from this end to that'.