It’s the school summer holidays in India, it’s too hot for the school bus and too hot for algebra. There are two little boys that live next door to my in-laws and they both love playing with Alfonso. I’ve known these kids for nearly two years now, they call me “Lauren didi“. Didi means “elder sister” in Hindi. A couple of months ago the younger boy, who is four years old, must have heard someone refer to me as a foreigner. After knowing him for well over a year, he suddenly called me “foreigner didi“! He scooted towards me on his lime green scooter, with a huge beaming smile on his face, and said, “hello, foreigner didi“. He seemed pretty proud of himself as he zoomed away, leaving me with my jaw dropped.
So, school is out for summer and the boys elder sister, their didi, is visiting Nagpur. She was too scared to play with Alfonso, instead she asked me about the books I like to read.
“Do you like books?”
“I love books!”
“Have you read Harry Potter”
“Yes, I have”
“Have you read all of them?”
“Me too, I love Harry Potter!”
“Harry Potter is from the same country as I am from!”
The little girl’s eyes lit up when I told her that I belonged to the same country as her favourite fictional character. On the other side of the room, playing with Alfonso, the elder of the two little boys was listening to our conversation and seemed very concerned.
“Lauren didi, is Voldemort from your country also?”, the little boy asked.
“Yes, he is! Scary huh?”
He stared at me blankly for a while, frowned, gulped and quickly wiped the horror from his face with a small smile. I can only imagine he was thinking, “woah, I shouldn’t get on the wrong side of Lauren didi then”.
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