Mar 3, 2008

Oh very young one

She trudged up the driveway with her little purple sled and contemplated the two-feet-thick snow. I watched in amusement as she tentatively stepped onto the snow and sank all the way to her waist. Some of the boys were already sliding down the hillside. Their ecstatic whooping propelled her to take another step further and she sank deeper into the snow.

"Rabiah, do you need a hand?" I asked, not exactly sure how I'd be able to help if she'd said yes.

She half turned her head and the pink hood covered her face. She had to turned her whole body around in order to address me. "No, it's ok," she replied. She looked down at her feet. "Yeah, it's ok," she repeated, I thought, more to herself than to me. Her head shook an assertive 'no', her eyebrows knitted in worry but her rosebud lips mouthed the words so emphatically I momentarily forgot she was only four years old.

"Are you sure?" I repeated. She came back with a firmer nod but with a hint of the same worried expression. I looked over at my brother. He laughed and gave a helpless shrug of his shoulders. Alright, let the girl be her own guinea pig.

I decided to hold my camera at the ready and followed at a safe distance. Inevitably I did have to pluck her out of the snow and carry her purple sled, which she soon forgot in her struggle and her haste to catch up with the boys.

Watching her advance towards the slopes, my face was frozen in a smile. What a perfect picture - the girl in her pink get-up, the purple sled, the clean white snow and the crisp air. Her cuteness, her innocence and her infinite confidence to venture fearlessly into the (relative) unknown unassisted filled me with something near-celestial. Was it happiness? Pure, pristine pleasure? Exhilaration? A state of transcendence? I couldn't be sure but if the scene replayed itself a million times over, I was certain I'd never tire of it.

I couldn't put a finger on what aspect of this picture that was putting me in a state of a natural high. The pleasure was so tangible I could almost taste it on my tongue. I did, however, discover a child's God-given shield against the malice of the world - their cuteness. At that moment I couldn't imagine anyone in their right mind who would harm a child. Such conviction amidst the fear. Such confidence despite the anxiety. And the prettiest face to go with all that.

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