“Mama has sent these croissants for you”, said the little girl beaming at the old lady as she settled herself in an empty chair.
“O Thank you sugar. How did she know I drool over these and was even thinking of paying her cake shop a visit! Your mother is the kindest soul I’ve come across in ages. Your mother, she is a lovely lady and I’m sure you will grow up to become a fine one like her. So child, what story you want to listen to? Let us pick up a book that we haven’t read yet, what do you say?”
On other days, the little girl would go with her to the book shelf loaded with books and pick up one she wished to be read from. But today, she remained seated, immersed in her own train of thoughts. Her countenance amused the old lady who watched her for a while before speaking with a gentle smile, “Looks like you have something on your mind kid, haven’t you?”
To which the little girl replied with a sense of curiosity, “Nanna, all these fairies, dwarves and mermaids in books, are they for real?” She paused and then added in a tone of disappointment, “Mama says they’re not real, no one has seen them.”
Eyes of the old lady brightened up. “Oh! So this is what is bothering my little princess”, she replied with a faint hint of surprise. “See child”, she continued slowly, “it depends on you, whether you want to believe in them or not. Some people have recounted their tales of encounter with fairies or in a broader context, fairy-like people. Their stories are the ones we’ve read in those books. Yes, they have added their own imagination while writing these stories but, how else do you think all the fairy tales have been written, kid?”
Spirits of the little girl rose at this reply from her next-to-mama-favorite person. At least nanna believed in them. And, she was thrilled to know that a wise lady like her with all her worldly experience believed that fairy-like people existed just like she did.
“So, nanna, you mean to say that you really believe that fairy-like people exist?”, she asked to be doubly sure.
“Yes, of course child, I do”, nanna replied reassuringly.
“I knew I was right nanna. I always felt that fairies exist. Wish mama was here, how would she react when she comes to know that you also believe that fairies exist? But she is busy at the shop now. Will have to wait to tell her.” She was exultant at this discovery of hers.
Nanna was happy to see the grin on girl’s face now that her faith in fairies had been restored. “Come child, let us read some stories till your mama gets free. Then you can go and tell her everything you want to”, she said to keep her occupied.
“Oh yes nanna. But, before that, I have another question for you.”
“Ask away, my child. Ask away.” Nanna said encouragingly but wondered what else was to come her way.
“Have you ever seen fairy-like people?”
A flurry of images flashed past her eyes at this question. She should’ve been prepared for this, but nanna wasn’t. She could not lie to her. Nor she could tell her the truth. She noticed that the girl was looking at her impatiently. She needed to think fast. It was a long awkward pause before she chose to answer.
“No child, but I know about such an encounter though, through an old friend of mine”, she continued knowing what would come next from the girl, “and I am sure you would like to know more about it, won’t you?” The dimpled smile was back on child’s face as she nodded in affirmation.
It was not that her nanna spoke softly, but the little girl leaned towards her to listen to this real life fairy tale. She did not want to miss a word. After all, she would have to narrate it to her mama to make her believe in fairies.
Nanna could sense anticipation in the child’s eyes and so she took a deep breath and cleared her throat to begin.