What are you writing?
I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.
Crap. Now you have to know what she’s writing. You’ve never wanted anything more than to be allowed into her life. You can’t imagine her keeping secrets from you.
I promise I won’t tell anyone.
Oh please. You always blab.
Half an hour of coaxing and cajoling later, your little niece is finally ready to tell you her big secret.
You sense a sudden surge of excitement gushing through your veins. She looks excited too. She looks around to check if anyone else is in the room, runs and shuts the door, and slowly leans toward your ear. Surprisingly enough, you start to get squeamish and fidgety when she begins to talk. She senses your discomfort and pauses to look at you. You tell her she shouldn’t tell you anymore.
But you only said you wanted to know, she says, in her impeccably “Indian” English. I will never be telling you my secrets.
She looks heartbroken (obviously) and doesn’t understand what tricks you’re pulling on her and storms out of the room. She carefully avoids being alone in a room with you all day.
She’ll come around, you tell yourself, alone in your room at night. It’s amusing how, when you’re about to be given something as precious as a little girl’s confidence, which is something you’ve craved for a long time, you suddenly feel nervous over taking it, almost like you don’t deserve it.
Of course you can’t chicken out like this. You’ll ask her again tomorrow, you mutter under your breath, and turn off the lights. But of course you never ask again, and she never tells you.
You don’t know it yet, but when you’re no longer part of her family, no longer her favorite chachi, you will yearn to learn her secrets again.