Dear Avanee,

On the eve of your fourth birthday last month, I sat up late at night and looked at you in bed—tired from the day’s activity, you were fast asleep, curled up on your side, your mouth slightly open. The moment I pulled the covers on you thinking the air-conditioning is too strong, you kicked it off in disgust and went back to your fetal sleeping position, a strand of your beautiful curls across your face, small beads of perspiration on your nose. I tucked your hair behind your ear and thought back to your birth—a saga of discovery, difficulty, and delight.

Today, Baba and I see you evolve into a graceful, sensitive, and intelligent young woman with a mind of your own. A girl who doesn’t think in boxes, a painter whose strokes draw toilet brushes and fetuses with equal ease. A preschooler who comes up with her own associations and is way too mature for her age and yet, is just a kid excited about going down extra fast on the slide in the park. Your quack-like laughter when you hear something funny rings in my ears all the time and is the greatest cure for everything. Your eager pencil hold and beak-like mouth as you draw numbers and letters makes me think I never want you to grow. And the very next minute, you sit down and adjust your dress just so and I realise I can’t stop you.

But what makes me and Baba really proud of you is how caring and sensitive you are. The way you hold your dolls and speak with them, mock-assuring them of your presence and everything being alright, patting them to sleep and making sure they have the covers on, feeding them; the way you rush to bring me tissues when I sneeze or offer to give me a massage when I have a headache, just the way you caress a cheek when someone is unwell or low make you special. More people need to enjoy your love.

Things are about to change in a big way for all of us—in proportions we never imagined or expected. I know you’re excited for now and I know you’ll be happy and helpful, always. It’s going to be a long and tough journey, my darling, and Baba and I are going to try our best not to let it be too harsh on you. I know you will understand. Until then, let me just hold you and watch you grow and bask in your love.

We are so privileged and so proud that you are part of this new discovery, Avnu Tai. It’s going to be a fun ride, so hold on tight!