November 4, 2010

The Second Child

He was the second child, unobtrusive in every way. For the short time while he was the last child, he had been important. Then came along another to take his place and gone were the days of hanging onto his mother's skirts and he had to relinquish his seat on his father's shoulders. He slipped quietly into oblivion. Remembered only when he did something exceptional or terribly bad. Sometimes he felt like he could disappear and no one would notice. The elder one had once been his playmate but then she had grown up and had giggling girl friends to take his place. The baby wasn't old enough to be much of a playmate but at least he tried. As he grew, he found more interesting things to engage him than his elder brother.

One day, an old relative came to visit. Like others before him he paid more attention to the others than to the second child. He stayed longer than any other visiting relative. The second child liked him very much. He would go out all day and come back with sweets for each child and while he didn't pay him any more attention than the rest, he still liked the sweets. He told them stories every evening after every meal and while the baby always fell asleep before the story ended and the first child usually found TV more interesting, he listened attentively as the relative weaved tales of magic. For that short while he was the only one, all attention was on him.

Time passed and the relative went away but the second child never forgot him . he had found his way out of obscurity. He made up stories and read them. As the baby grew older, he fell in love with his elder brother's tales and hung on to his every word. His parents took notice when he won inter school writing competitions. They sang his praises to all and sundry when he brought home a generator as 2nd prize.Their interest heightened as he won state competitions. He became the golden child as his first book sold a million copies.

He was awarded the Orange Prize yesterday.

His mother insists on being called 'Mama Nobel Laureate'. His father insists he took after him. His sister has two children and invokes his name to correct them. The baby has a beard now and has taken up writing classes along with the burdens of medical school.

He realizes too late that the spotlight was not very different from obscurity. It is just as demanding to be hero as it was to dream of being one.

1 comment:

  1. Unlike him, I am the last born, though I won no Orange Prize [what does it matter, I can afford to buy my own oranges], my place by Mum's wrapper is sealed in Heaven.
    Nice one Kiah