- Sujatha Narayanan

Jessie Willcox Smith

(Listen to the audio version of the story here. Read by M.V. Swaroop.)

Long, long ago, not so long ago, there was a little tremor that shook the earth. The same night, the cries of a baby girl shook the hospital corridor, as the nurse held her out for Daddy. She was pink. She was white. She was red. She was, in one word… colourful.

The hospital corridor.

A flash of light. And in Daddy’s strong arms, the baby girl wailed…

Daddy had a worried look on his face. A flash of light rained in on the hospital corridor.

The baby girl, his Fairy, would grow up slowly. Way too slowly for her parents’ demands. Too slowly to catch up with her older sister. Too, too slowly to catch up at all.

Fairy would be friendly, sweet, she would wail her way through crowds as she learnt how to walk and would come to spend her evenings on the terrace looking up at the sky, counting as soon as she could climb. Around twilight, she would count clouds. And she would point out shapes too. One cloud would be the baby teddy from Goldilocks. One would be the dog she so feared crossing on her way to preschool. Another cloud was a car – it would become her favourite. One inside which she saw herself, next to Daddy, atop the world, going for a spin.

As night fell, Fairy would count the stars. Every one of ‘em. Painstakingly so. She would memorise patterns, gather the stars in one bunch and mark corners around them, so she won’t miss her count. She would even have a notebook in which she would name her star-corners.

Each day from school would be a weary, heavy day for Fairy, loaded with words of depressed doldrums – maths, physics, chemistry, biology, history, English… Fairy would think and think and she would never have the right answer for any of her teachers. Her Mommy would not have one too. So off to school Fairy would go and when she returned she would run up. The terrace – her heaven, her home, to clouds and her stars.

One day, Fairy saw Him. Yes, it was Him. Flashes of brilliant light flew past her car cloud and Fairy almost jumped up in one leap and found herself on top of it. She was flying! Atop the world. Atop her terrace. And she wasn’t scared. She wasn’t falling off. As Fairy looked around, she saw a string of white horses galloping towards her. Even before she could react, she was scooped up by a Big Hand, like an ice cream from a cup – and all she could feel was a warm glow, a soft, tender caress, as she looked up.

A flash of light rained in on the hospital corridor.

And in daddy’s strong arms, the baby girl wailed…

Daddy had a worried look on his face.

The nurse came up to Daddy. Worried.

Baby girl had stopped wailing. Stopped moving her shivering arms and legs. It all just stopped. As instantly as it had begun.

Through it all, Mommy didn’t react they said. Daddy was upset in a way about that too. Not a single instance of a breakdown, no blame, no tears, no mourning. How could she be this way?

Then one day, Mommy went missing for a while.

Daddy didn’t find Mommy anywhere inside the house. He searched for her everywhere and ran up the stairs to the bedroom and then to the terrace above.

There was Mommy – on that singular corner on the terrace, looking up at the sky – with one finger counting and the other finger, keeping count.

Daddy almost heard himself as she uttered the name.


Sujatha works behind the camera on voice overs, script, costumes & as a line producer. She runs a creative production house called Thinking Hats and believes in the philosophy of ‘Anbe Sivam’.