The Little Girl by Katherine Mansfield
Kezia was a little girl who lived with her mother, her father and her grandmother. She was afraid of her father and used to avoid him. She used to feel relieved on seeing her father go to his office. Kezia was so afraid of her father that she stuttered in front of him. He appeared to her as a harsh, rude and critical human being. Her Grandmother wanted her to understand her parents better, and would ask her to go to the drawing room to chat with her parents. But she found them indifferent towards her.
One day Grandmother suggested that she should prepare a pin cushion for her father’s birthday. Kezia stitched the three sides of the pin cushion casing. Now she wanted to stuff it with some thing. In her mother’s room on the bed table, she found many sheets of fine paper. She tore them off into small pieces, filled the pin cushion and stitched the fourth side. By mistake she had used the very papers, which contained her father’s very important speech for the Port Authority. Though she accepted her mistake and tried to explain the reasons behind it, her father was too angry to listen to anything and punished her with a bashing of ruler on her palms. She failed to understand the punishment meted out to her when she had already accepted her mistake. Bitterly she said, ‘What did God make fathers for ?’
One evening, she saw Mr. McDonald playing with his five children, laughing and enjoying with them. This convinced Kezia that all fathers are not alike. Some are loving and caring like Mr. McDonald and some are cruel like her father.
But soon, her attitude towards her father also changed. One day, her mother had to be taken to the hospital and her grandmother accompanied her. Kezia was left alone in the house with the cook. The day was fine. But the night was a different issue. She woke up in the middle of the night screaming as she had a horrible nightmare. She was weeping out of fear. When she opened her eyes, she saw her father beside her bed. He carried her to his bedroom, and made her warm and comfortable on his bed. Father told her to rub her feet with his legs and set them warm. She felt very safe and comfortable with him.
It was then she realized that her father was not a giant after all. She could also sense that he loved and cared for her in his own way. She realised that he had to work the whole day to provide for his family and was too tired by the evening to play with her.