Tooth Fairy..!

She had got up twice during the night I heard later, hoping to catch the tooth fairy at work. The next morning the two little teeth still lay under her pillow. The fairy had forgotten to deposit the promised silver coin.

‘Daddy,’ she said as she got out of bed and walked to the sitting room, clutching the tiny molars in her hand, ‘I don’t think the tooth fairy comes anymore.’ ‘The tooth fairy,?’ I asked, looking at the two little teeth in her palm and suddenly remembering what I had forgotten to do last night. I looked away guiltily. ‘Can I take them to school,?’ she asked.

I nodded and she walked slowly away. A little girl disappointed with the fairy kingdom. I watched as she got ready, my growing up eight year old. ‘Its time,’ I thought, ‘that she stopped believing in fairies, she’s got to face the world of reality and what better time than now. Tooth fairy days are over.’ I patted myself mentally for finally becoming a strong rational parent and helped her search for a plastic bag to put the teeth in. She put both the teeth into the little plastic packet and carefully packed it into her school bag. She had cried I had been told when the second tooth had been pulled out, ‘The first was painless,’ she said, but the second hadn’t wanted to leave her pretty mouth so easily. I watched her little face, intent on tying her shoelaces. She saw me watching and suddenly looked up and smiled. The two little empty spaces stared accusingly back at me.

‘Amrita,’ I said calling her by her full name, normally it was just plain Amu, ‘I think its time we had a little talk about tooth fairies.’ I stopped as she looked up at me. Suddenly I couldn’t continue. Those two innocent eyes and the two empty spaces challenged me to go on. ‘Get hold of yourself,’ I told my feeble mind, ‘It takes courage to be a father.’ I fidgeted and patted her fringe into place. She was still looking at me, waiting for me to continue. ‘Childhood dreams and silly fantasies have to be broken some time or other,’ I said to myself firmly. ‘You are a big girl now,’ I continued, slightly irritated with myself, ‘and big girls …….’ She looked up at me and smiled. I stopped. She walked to the dining room. My little eight year old.

I had had enough. I ran to my bedroom and fished in my drawer where I kept my change. I searched for a five rupee coin and my heart felt glad as my fingers found one. I closed the cupboard and then stopped. ‘Two teeth’ I thought aloud, ‘need two silver coins.’ I searched again wondering whether there was another. The tooth fairy it seemed was on my side, there was one wedged in the corner of the drawer. I tiptoed to her little bedroom. Her pillow still looked crumpled as I slipped the coins under it and then I ran back to the room where she was still completing her breakfast.

There was a trace of a milk mustache over her innocent lips. ‘You are a big girl now,’ I continue, ‘and tooth fairies come a little late in the morning for big children.’ I moved out of her way as she ran, nay flew to her bedroom.. There was a squeal of joy and a cry of ecstasy. She came back clutching the two silver coins. There was a sparkle in her eyes again.

‘Thank you daddy,’ she said as she hitched her school bag onto her now elated shoulders. ‘Thank you for reminding the tooth fairy.’

I waved her goodbye as she walked to where the school bus picked her up every day, and I crept back to her little bedroom. The crumpled pillow lay on her bed, but there was something different all around. The tooth fairy had surely been there!

I felt glad I’d kept her innocent of adult explanations for a few years more..!


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