Rasan lost a milk-tooth today. Not that it is the first one, but it is surely the first when the tooth fairy won’t be visiting her. Ever since age 6 when she lost her first milk tooth, I have been faithfully acting the elusive fairy and placing a Canadian loony or a two-dollar coin from my forex residues. The excitement that accompanies the ritual cleaning of the tooth- before she places it under her pillow for the tooth fairy to find it spic and span and place an equally shiny coin in exchange for it - is simply endearing. She sleeps that night without fuss for I have told her that the tooth fairy visits you only when you are asleep. She even forces me to sleep early lest the fairy should turn back and not give her the promised coin. The shine in her eyes in the morning upon waking, in the anticipation of that coin is worth all the treasures in the world. The yell with which that coin comes back to me, and finally goes to her piggy bank is so innocent.
Tonight she asked me point blank, “Mama, hasn’t it been you all through, who used to put that coin?” This is not the first time that she has doubted it. Last month, when Jai lost his first tooth, she told him to clean it nicely and put it beneath his pillow so that the tooth fairy finds it worth exchanging for a dollar or two. And surely he found a two dollar coin beneath his pillow. Next morning, she expressed her doubt about me being the tooth fairy but I shoo-shooed it by turning my face away and saying no. But both my children are very particular about not taking a “hmm” for an answer and making me say out aloud what I want to say. Their pet line is “injh nahi, uchi bol ke dasso!” That is their way of ensuring that I don’t lie or try to put them off the track. Anyway, I tried to manage with a "hmm" thinking it was perhaps too early for her to lose that faith in fairies.
Coming back to her question tonight, I ignored it gently and concentrated on Mahesh’s incoming call. Finally the call had to end; she was awake still and repeated the question. I couldn’t lie tonight and said, “Okay, you want the truth? Yes, it has been me.” Thank god for the half-dark room. She bawled, “aaannnn, too bad.” So I went to the bed, lay next to her and explained why I went on doing it. Then I asked her, “Wouldn’t it have been rather good if you didn’t know the truth?” The rational being inside her spoke, “No, its okay, I suspected it. But now I am not feeling good that there is no tooth fairy.” “Well, with your new found knowledge, don’t you dare tell Jai the truth,” I warned. “Okay, I won’t baba,” said she, “but I feel like crying,”
Oww my baby, she is already feeling the heart-breaks as the childhood beliefs start to vanish. But she decisively said, “Okay Mama, don’t put any coin beneath my pillow today, lets see if the tooth fairy comes,” Is there still a trace of that fantasy in her mind? I wouldn’t want to kill it. “Right, I won’t. Lets see.”
And I won’t. For sure.
Perhaps I should…???