I took my nine year-old nephew out for a walk one late Sunday afternoon when there was no electricity in the house. His protective mother was giving her litany of do’s and don’ts as he and I put on our sneakers - having only one thing in mind – FUN which means a chance to talk like there’s no tomorrow and experience things together. My nephew is a good conversationalist, he probably makes more sense than some adults. He asks questions that are sometimes out of this world, I feel challenged to think deep and develop skills to answer them. Because he is a kid, I figured it requires conscious effort to deal with it. I perceive it this way because as a kid, I too had a lot of questions – questions not answered well or not at all. He would ask often about science – animals, nature. Looking lost in a moment (in deep thoughts, perhaps), he would look up to me and share a trivia. Because of him, I now know how to counter-attack sharks (punch them in the nose) and that butterflies get to live only for about two weeks and that it’s strange, based on his analysis, that my mom never kills butterflies but kills caterpillars. His mom and my mother (his grandmother) are protective, they curse mosquitoes that fly around him. I have a different view about protecting people, though. Believing it should go beyond the physical, I deem more important is protecting them from ignorance.
So off we went to our destination – this place by the sea. This is where I often go for a walk, to jog around and to spend time being alone. On the way, I took him on stone edges overlooking the sea. Despite his hesitation, he took my hand and sat on the edge with me – watching fish swim under the bridge and little children pick up shells with their father. He was amazed at the sight of an infant in a stroller just left on the beachside while the rest of the family fished with their improvised hook-line-and-sinker. We passed by a cornfield – and he learned that it had been a cornfield all this time. We smelled and probably stepped on goat manure and he learned those circle thingies had been that.
“I can’t believe I have walked this far,” he would say.
We finally arrived at the seaside – people jogging, fishing, playing sports, singing songs. We sat on the edge and he exclaimed upon seeing a sea snake. We went farther and saw little crabs (Do you call them crablets?) and a school of fish. I asked him if those fish in the school are smarter than the other fish. He would smile. I’m glad his being smart has not compromised humor.
It was around six and the sun had begun to set. It was my time to share a trivia. I told him the sunset only becomes beautiful because of dust. I stared at it for a moment – a mix of indigo and orange, surrounding a huge ball of fire – all together reflected on the water. It was too bright, I could only stare at it for a time. To capture it by film or words would be inferior to the experience of being there, watching it. The sunset marked the end of the fine day that was – and the ending had to be nothing else but grandiose. I resolved that endings are not so bad after all and can even be beautiful. Though he was having so much fun watching the crabs crawl, I had to take his hand. It was getting dark. We started walking back because it was time to go home.