You are too old to go in a plane-by Capt Elmo Jayawardena

I have this dear little friend, two feet two inches tall and 30 months old and very closely connected to me, being my daughter’s daughter.
The little vagabond was all excited as the foursome of her brother and parents were travelling on holiday.
“I’m going to the Australia,” she proudly announces to me.
“How are you going? Are you walking?” that is a typical Seeya question, simply to annoy the brat.
“I am going by plane.”
“What are you going to do there?”
“I go to beach.”
All that she had gathered from the elder talk, she certainly had no clue as to who or what “the Australia” is.
“Can I come with you?”

“You can’t, you are too old to go in a plane.”
Doesn’t that say it all? Forty plus years of punching holes in the sky and this little Rumplestiltskin shoots me down and grins at me as if she alone knows the truth about how old this gray bearded pelican is.
Yes, that is life, as beautiful as can be when one has the blessing and the privilege of associating grandchildren and spending quality time with them.

You have to catch them young, in the midget mode before their legs grow longer and their infant wisdom gets corrupted by day to day delusions plus computer and TV megalomagic that eats away the innocence. In no time they too join the rest of the “know all’ brigade who refuse to suffer ‘seemingly’ old fools. This is the inheritance of the “old club” and I am fast travelling on the road for full membership and want to make the best with this little ragamuffin whenever I can.

I bought her a watch from a “one dollar” shop which she proudly wears and tells

The little Ragamuffin

“The little Ragamuffin”

everyone it is a gift from her Seeya. I made a pact with her and signed an agreement. It was for something I was reading, “The history of the Arab People” by Hourani. We both agreed that the book will be for her when I am
gone and I wrote “this is for Lisara, her inheritance” and signed and placed the date as 10th October 2010 and she countersigned by scrawling all over the page with her signature.
Contract made, Hourani’s masterpiece kept on the shelf to be collected when she is old enough to read.
I like to think that one day when she is in the Revlon gloss and eye shadow stage, perhaps mini skirt or long dress, whatever the fancy of the era be, she might take this book and remember a dear old friend
“The little Ragamuffin”
who is no more and perhaps browse the pages and think of the times we shared. It is a nice thought for me to carry, as I don’t think I would be there to see her in lipstick and mascara. Of course there are many other things I share with her, inexpensive and quality, available often if I find the time. Rowing in a canoe down a slow dancing river where she sits on my lap and we both feel we own the entire world. It is simply us and the river and we know the blue sky is ours, the clouds sailing overhead are ours, the birds belong to us and even the little waves that slap on the boat become our friends as they come to say hello. That’s what you can tell a kid, and she believes. It is the marshmallow time of her life that I am blessed to share. “The wind Seeya, where is he coming from?” Hard call, too bad they didn’t teach me that in aviation schools. “It’s from the mountains darling, that is where he lives, he comes to loaf and touch your face and ruffle your hair and go back home in the night.” She nods, point taken.
We go to a basketball court and we dribble, a kid chasing an old man to the rhythm of a bouncing ball. She loves to press buttons in a lift, as high as she can reach. I tried to make her climb a tree but she got scared and clung to me, wasn’t very happy on Tarzan talk. Of course I taught her to sing, lullabies and then “somewhere over the rainbow.”
She held the tune and sang her version where the skies were boo. The best is when she brings me paper and says “Seeya, make me an aeroplane.” I fold and shape and the makeshift rockets fly and glide.The little diamond eyes sparkle and we become aviators together, the one washed up and the other a possible “maybe.” Yes, that is life, I call her every day from where I teach and she always asks “Seeya are you in school teaching fools?” Innocent and warm and we both laugh. Some nights I peep into her room and watch her sleep, silent and serene, like a little angel, perhaps dreaming of eating Smarties or cupcakes that I buy for her. Life is like a book, the chapters are so many, long ones and short ones, some are happy and some are sad. Some we remember and recall touching nostalgic chords and some we try our best to erase and fail.

The blacks and the whites are all there, a few pastel shades too, that’s what life is all about. Grandfather granddaughter chapters rate among the best, honey coloured and laced with tangerine, less words but more
for the memory.

“Lisara at 8 and her friend the Old Man”

Maybe she will remember the time we spent together. I certainly would as I do not have long to go and what
happens in life now is mainly ambitionless residual. But I am glad I have her, to tell me things like I am teaching fools and I am too old to go in a plane. That’s great, it makes me aware that I must count each day and make
the best, and be grateful that I have Smarties and cupcakes to buy and make paper planes and row boats and own the sky.
“Lisara at 8 and her friend the Old Man”
My role as grandfather is great. My little friend sure is a handful of love and mischief, but she is constantly colouring with crayons what little rainbows I am blessed to see.
I hope I’m colouring her’s too.


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