Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Frenchman

Roshni was glued to the TV watching her favorite program on TLC. It was a travel show that was featuring the '1000 places to see before you die'. Her three year old son was sitting in his rocking chair and staring at the television. She was admiring the beauty of the Chateaux de la Loire, the magnificent castles in Chambord, when she heard,

 “C'est tellement beau”. (that’s so beautiful)

 “Oui, ses magnifiques” (yes, it’s magnificent) she responded.

 But no sooner had she said so, she gave a shriek of fright and almost jumped out of her chair when she realized it was her little son who said that.

 ‘I must be dreaming,’ she thought, ‘this little brute cannot speak English properly! How in the world could he speak French?’

 She was in the eighth class when her father had asked her take up French as her optional third language. She had managed to score full marks in every exam and even in her boards. But her little one speaking an alien language with the finesse of a local was unthinkable. She tried to brush off the incident from her mind and continued with watching the series.

 “Maman, venez-là, me donner un verre d'eau”

 Shocked, she turned to look at her son, who had just said,

 ‘Mamma, come here, give me a glass of water'

 Was she really hearing him speak French or was she imagining? She picked him up and held him close,

 “Beta, where did you pick up this language?”

 He gave her a sweet smile and a kiss,

 “Maman, je vous aime” ( Mamma, I love you)

 She put him down and called her mom,

 “ Ma, I just heard Bittu speak French! I am shocked, I don’t know what to say…”

 “Really? Have you slept well last night, my dear? Why don’t you take a little nap?”

 “Ma, trust me he did.”

 “Were you studying French when you were carrying him? ”


 “Maybe he was a Frenchman in his previous birth, and he must have remembered something..”

 That reason seemed plausible to her. Maybe he was born in France in his previous birth! How exciting! She had only heard about re- birth and couldn’t believe she was actually witness to such an occurrence. She couldn’t wait to share her discovery with her hubby when he came back from work.

 “Anand, guess what happened today”, she asked her husband as he walked into the house, barely able to conceal her excitement.

 “Did you win a lottery?”

 “You never take me seriously jaanu,” she rued. “Our little bittu was a Frenchman in his previous birth. He speaks French fluently.”

 Then she promptly brought Bittu to his father and asked him to say hello to his dad.

 “Bittu, Dites bonjour à votre père”

 Biitu just smiled and looked shyly at his dad.

 “Ne soyez pas timide” (don’t be shy, she coaxed)

 But Bittu would not speak a word.

 “ Anand, trust me, he did speak French… I don’t know why he won’t open his mouth now.”

 “I trust you my dear, kids are like that .You cannot force them to do anything. I’ll quickly change and join you back.”

 Then he slyly winked at his son who winked back. As he went to his room, he quietly removed a French booklet from under the pillow and hid it in his bookshelf. He was trying to teach his son a few phrases in French to surprise Roshni on Women’s day. Bittu was a fast learner indeed, he thought to himself. Just then Bittu walked in,

“Hello père, Comment était le travail aujourd'hui?” (Hello dad, how was work today?)

Anand looked at him with utter disbelief. Where did he pick THAT up?!!
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