“Zeb, the answer to this question is Giraffe. You see Elephant is the biggest animal on land but you have been asked about the tallest animal which is Giraffe,” the teacher secretly passed this information to her during the examination. While narrating the incident at home, Zeb said that she did not change the answer. “That would be cheating!” For a seven year old this was the ultimate act of deception one could perform. She lived in her own world where ‘cheating’, ‘trickery’, ‘deceit’ and ‘betrayal’ did not exist. She was a carefree soul who perceived the whole world as a perfect fairyland where nothing could go wrong. She was her Mummy’s Zeb and the world was her Zeb, ‘the gift of the Lord.’
After every paper during her examination she used to run eagerly to the candy shop near her school and wait for her parents. It was exam time and school was off earlier than usual. Zeb loved to look at the candies as she was fascinated by the variety of colours they came in. She adored candies and wanted to taste each one of them. She used to get a treat when her parents finally arrived. This routine had become much likable to her. When others prayed for the examination to end soon, she wished it could last longer. The pure joy and exultation those candies gave her was incomparable. She felt ecstatic observing those candies and arduously waited for her parents. She imagined it to be her ‘Neverland’ and herself to be its ‘Tinkerbell.’
One day her parents got late and Zeb started getting restless. She was anxiously waiting for her treat but a delay in her parents’ arrival meant a delay in having the candy. She could not resist any longer and went up to the Candy Uncle and asked him if she could have a candy when she had no money. At first, he gave her a disconcerting look, then smirked and told her, “Yes, sure you can have a candy but you have to do something for me and it is going to be our little secret.” She felt enthralled and was ready to do anything and expected to be asked to sing, dance or recite something, like always, to earn a candy. Of course she would tell her parents about it and pay the man later. For the time being it did not seem a bad idea so she agreed to it. “Come and give me a peck on my cheek,” he told her. She did so and put her hand out for the candy, delighted to get it so easily. She was elated when he put it in her hand and felt enormously happy on her achievement. He told her if she wanted more she had to do something else. Perceiving it as another easy chance to earn a candy, she agreed. He lowered his face to her ears and whispered, “You like playing with balls. Don’t you? Let us play with some balls and I will give you what you want.”
In the attic of her house,
the depth of her heart
rests an old closet.
She dare not open them.
The deadened wailing reveals
More than she could know.