Keith Antony, my neighbour, was in love. He requested my aid to woo his girl. Nothing strange about that; but Keith is 9 years old. The object of his affection was ‘purple-eyed’ Anita, his classmate.
Keith and his parents are like family to us. I was flattered into helping out when Keith and his younger brother Colin said that I was the only adult they knew (besides their mummy) who was pretty, sweet, helpful and ‘young’ (what???)
That decided it. When I was a child, I thought that late twenties was the prime of old age. So I agreed to be taken into confidence – with a threat that I would contact chicken pox if I disclosed their secret to anyone else besides my best friend (chicken pox meant house-arrest to them)
Keith showed me a photograph of his lass, who in my opinion, had eyes that were definitely black. But purple sounded like ‘romance’, said little Colin. He had heard the word in Sunday School.
I began to worry. Was he out of his young mind? Somebody in senior class had to learn a verse from the Book of Romance that week, he said. Keeping a straight face, I informed my friends of tender years – that ‘Romance’ was much different from ‘Romans’.
Apparently Cupid was very active in their school. But Anita showed no interest in Keith; unlike Betty, Colin’s girlfriend, who agreed to marry him – when they crossed their names and discovered that they were destined for wedded bliss.
I informed them gently that love’s course does not always run smooth. But Keith insisted that he would love Betty even if the world was ‘hit by an ice berg and he had to die saving her’. (Warning to his mummy: This is what happens when kids watch portions of the Titanic, unsupervised) I told the love-struck lad that ice bergs are few in our vicinity. He suggested spending his entire allowance on her. My financial alarms started ringing and I advised that candy hearts might do the trick. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be.
Colin wanted his big brother to first discern if his feelings were reciprocated before showering Anita with gifts. (I always thought that lad was shrewder) In the end it was agreed that the two little men would approach the lady the next day, armed with a candy bar and a Barbie sticker and unleash their charm. I was more worried than I showed (I had sharpened a pen while helping them with their homework) but I pretended to be brave for the sake of my boys.
I spent an anxious day. I made sure that their tea would be generous because, so far in life, they had no sorrows that a jammy doughnut could not banish. The school bus came to our door and Colin tumbled out (he always does) and Keith was having an animated discussion with his friend on …wait a minute, Harley Davidson bikes! I wondered if he was considering gifting his lady love one.
Colin set my heart to rest. Apparently, Anita had called Keith names and Colin had gallantly come to his brother’s aid by pulling her hair. Before I could chide him for hurting a girl and forcing her into love, he showed me his badly scratched arm. Obviously, Anita was a fighter. Purple eyes, my foot. I meekly wondered what had happened to the gifts – the brothers had shared the candy during recess to console their wounded hearts. They then sold the Barbie sticker to Steve from kindergarten, to gift to his mother on her birthday! (Egad)
I came home wiser and subdued. But as my best friend and I laughed over their tribulations, we could not help comparing their so called puppy love to adult love. The admiration for a loved one’s nature, the desire to please, the wooing, the worry of family over their child’s choice, the supportive sibling (we may have our fights, but nobody fights us), the harsh reality of choosing a poor partner…the pattern was the same. At least kids end it happily.
PS: Names in the above story have been changed to protect myself from chicken pox.
By Linda Joseph Kavalackal,
Christ & Co.