Maria was seven years old when her baby brother came into her life. She had been her parents’ only daughter and she had been the center of their lives. Her Mummy read to her, baked delicious cookies and combed her silky, brown hair. Daddy bought her gifts and Granny told her stories and took her to the nearby park to play.
Life as Maria knew it, was perfect, till HE arrived.
It all started one day when Maria came home from school, Mummy was not at the door to welcome her. In fact, she was nowhere in the house. This had never happened before and Maria was sad and a little scared. Then Granny explained that Mummy had to go to the hospital for a few days and she would be back with a little baby.
That evening, Daddy came home looking extremely happy. He hugged Maria and told her that she had a little brother. He told her to wear her best frock as they were all going to meet Mummy and the baby in the hospital.
Maria was scared in the hospital. Her mother lay in a bed. A small, red-faced baby cried at the top of his lungs in a small crib as nurses and doctors came in and went out of the room. Her father and granny looked happy and gushed over the ugly, noisy baby. Maria HATED him there and then. However, her mother hugged her and asked about school.
After awhile, it was time to go. Maria did not want to leave Mummy behind and kicked and screamed as her father tried to take her home. He assured her that Mummy would be home the next day. Only then Maria allowed him to take her to the car.
True to his promise, Daddy brought Mummy home the next day. But he also brought HIM. Maria suddenly found that she was no longer the center of attention. Mummy was always busy with the baby.
He would just lie in his cot and cry at the top of his voice and Mummy would drop whatever she was doing to take care of him. When Daddy came home, he would rush over to lift the baby and kiss him. They both tried to include her but Maria wanted nothing to do with him. She would go to her room and slam her door shut.
Weeks passed and as the baby grew older, Maria’s behavior worsened. She would throw tantrums, disobey her parents and was rude to Granny. Her parents tried to make her understand but Maria would not listen. She spent hours in her room playing with her toys or just lying on her bed.
One hot summer day, Mummy wanted to lie down in the afternoon. She picked up the baby and asked Maria if she wanted to rest for a while. Maria did not answer but turned her back on her mother. Sighing wearily, Mummy headed to her room. After putting the baby in the cot, she fell asleep.
It was very quiet in the house. Suddenly, Maria heard a sound. Very quietly she entered her mother’s room. She saw that her brother was wide awake and making baby sounds. Slowly she came near the crib and looked down at him.
It seemed to Maria that she was looking at her brother for the first time. He was no longer red-faced but pink and fair. His brown eyes were bright and he waved his chubby fists in the air as if asking Maria to pick him up. He had a smile on his face as a trickle of milk dribbled down his chin.
“Goo- boo,” said the baby. “Goo boo,” said Maria, hesitantly trying to imitate the baby sounds.
Her brother gurgled with joy. He waved his arms and feet furiously in the air Maria slowly extended her hand towards him and he grasped her finger tightly..
“Would you like to hold him, dear?” Her mother asked, who had been watching them. Maria nodded silently. Her mother carefully put the baby in her lap and Maria crooned and rocked him slowly.
Her brother yawned broadly and went to sleep. Maria kissed the top of his bald head and cuddled him close to her. “He is the best brother in the world, Mummy,” she said.
Her mother smiled and hugged both of them.