Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Frenchman

Roshni was glued to the TV watching her favorite program on TLC. It was a travel show that was featuring the '1000 places to see before you die'. Her three year old son was sitting in his rocking chair and staring at the television. She was admiring the beauty of the Chateaux de la Loire, the magnificent castles in Chambord, when she heard,

 “C'est tellement beau”. (that’s so beautiful)

 “Oui, ses magnifiques” (yes, it’s magnificent) she responded.

 But no sooner had she said so, she gave a shriek of fright and almost jumped out of her chair when she realized it was her little son who said that.

 ‘I must be dreaming,’ she thought, ‘this little brute cannot speak English properly! How in the world could he speak French?’

 She was in the eighth class when her father had asked her take up French as her optional third language. She had managed to score full marks in every exam and even in her boards. But her little one speaking an alien language with the finesse of a local was unthinkable. She tried to brush off the incident from her mind and continued with watching the series.

 “Maman, venez-là, me donner un verre d'eau”

 Shocked, she turned to look at her son, who had just said,

 ‘Mamma, come here, give me a glass of water'

 Was she really hearing him speak French or was she imagining? She picked him up and held him close,

 “Beta, where did you pick up this language?”

 He gave her a sweet smile and a kiss,

 “Maman, je vous aime” ( Mamma, I love you)

 She put him down and called her mom,

 “ Ma, I just heard Bittu speak French! I am shocked, I don’t know what to say…”

 “Really? Have you slept well last night, my dear? Why don’t you take a little nap?”

 “Ma, trust me he did.”

 “Were you studying French when you were carrying him? ”


 “Maybe he was a Frenchman in his previous birth, and he must have remembered something..”

 That reason seemed plausible to her. Maybe he was born in France in his previous birth! How exciting! She had only heard about re- birth and couldn’t believe she was actually witness to such an occurrence. She couldn’t wait to share her discovery with her hubby when he came back from work.

 “Anand, guess what happened today”, she asked her husband as he walked into the house, barely able to conceal her excitement.

 “Did you win a lottery?”

 “You never take me seriously jaanu,” she rued. “Our little bittu was a Frenchman in his previous birth. He speaks French fluently.”

 Then she promptly brought Bittu to his father and asked him to say hello to his dad.

 “Bittu, Dites bonjour à votre père”

 Biitu just smiled and looked shyly at his dad.

 “Ne soyez pas timide” (don’t be shy, she coaxed)

 But Bittu would not speak a word.

 “ Anand, trust me, he did speak French… I don’t know why he won’t open his mouth now.”

 “I trust you my dear, kids are like that .You cannot force them to do anything. I’ll quickly change and join you back.”

 Then he slyly winked at his son who winked back. As he went to his room, he quietly removed a French booklet from under the pillow and hid it in his bookshelf. He was trying to teach his son a few phrases in French to surprise Roshni on Women’s day. Bittu was a fast learner indeed, he thought to himself. Just then Bittu walked in,

“Hello père, Comment était le travail aujourd'hui?” (Hello dad, how was work today?)

Anand looked at him with utter disbelief. Where did he pick THAT up?!!


  1. OMG! what a turn of events! what a climax in a climax! sorry my comments dont seem to mk any sense as i am still reeling under the influence of ur story! i had these goosebumps all along trying to predict the end..kept me on the edge! each story tops the earlier one!

    1. thanks Lilac... i am touched to see so many kind words...

  2. sweet one :)
    and yes, for a child that young, he is super quick learner - no doubt

    btw, you yourself know french do you? wow! i don't know any foreign language. the french bits in the story made me want to whip myself for not taking any classes as i once planned to

    1. Thanks Sujatha...It means a lot to me that you always read all my posts and put in your valuable comments too!!

  3. LOL! That kid is a reaaalll fast learner! :) And so adorable too :) Honestly,I want to learn French.It's been the biggest current dream of my life now among so many others.And I love watching TLC!!!! It truly fascinates us of it's rich multi cultured programmes :)

    1. Thanks jen...I love TLC too...{"j'adore" TLC ;-) }

  4. wow this was excellent- I especially loved the ending because as one other commenter mentioned- it is a twist on a twist :) the dad got the shock in the end!

    Love it!

  5. Why was the dad shocked? To me, "hello dad, how was work today?" sounds like a fairly common phrase to be included in a french booklet.

    Would've been dhamaakedaar, if bittu'd addressed him in spanish instead. :)

    Nonetheless...the story was awesome..and I'd not have known till the end. Gripping, yet humorous. Strengths, strengths all..hold on to it.

    1. Oh, I thought it was apparent..Dad was shocked because he had not taught him those phrases... so was bittu indeed a frenchman in his past life..?? maybe that was the shock value!!

    2. Yes, I see what you mean, and I still maintain, the main plot was superb! But the last one, to me it was not apparent. I'll tell you...

      Imagine this line instead.

      Anand looked at him in disbelief. He hadn't taught him that!

      So the reader knows ke despite the booklet, the boy framed that sentence on his own.

      (Also remember, when you say disbelief, that itself is enough for the writer to imagine shock. The 'shocked' word is redundant.)

      As for it being apparent, the booklet could've always had that phrase right? It's a fairly common phrase for a learner's booklet (how are you, where are you going, papa goes to office etc). Also remember, we've maintained that the kid is a fast learner, so he could have picked up all these words from different sentences and made up his own. Why not?

      We can't assume that the reader will understand that the dad hadn't taught him that. So then, the 2nd twist must go on to negate that, and explain this - as i showed in the example.

      Some things are apparent in a twist, agreed, but not everything. That proves that no two readers see it with the same perspective. The reader should always get shocked in the end, not ask questions, or guess ke 'haan, yeh hua hoga shaayad' (like u explained). It then dilutes the twist.

      Sorry, if I'm being too critical. It's just that, the story was really awesome till the end. Even the twist was totally unexpected, but the last sentence brought a question mark to my face, rather than getting shocked. So, I just thought it might help to put things in perspective.

      But yes, ultimately, nothing is set in stone, as I always say. I just gave my 2 cents as a 'reader's observation.'

      Again..the plot was incredibly thought out. Very nice! :)

    3. Bittu is just 3 yrs old... I have a 3 yr old at home, and I can tell you he cannot read anything, leave alone french or even english!!

      But anyway I got ur point of view (that it is not apparent dad could have taught him that)and so I decided to add a last line,I think it may add to the clarity.

      Ur inputs are always valuable, And let me tell you , ur two cents have much more value than just that!! So thanks a ton for stopping by to stop by more often..

  6. :)

    Packs a punch now.

    PS: I'm amazed at how your stories are turning out have the rare talent of combining innocence, tongue-in-cheekiness, humor, AND a twist in the end. Far far better than what even I could do. Please continue writing and give some thought to publishing. Seriously.

    1. Whoaaa!!! Thaaaankssss!! such generous words do wonders for my morale..really!! Thank you!


At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person..deep gratitude for those who have lighted the flame within me!! your comments will be appreciated..

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