My little cousin, Sithmi, spotted her first castle when we visited this summer. I had not seen her since she was born, and now at four years old, she was obsessed with princesses, royalty, and of course, castles. When we first saw the castle, Sithmi exclaimed that Sleeping Beauty, her favorite princess, absolutely had to live in the glorious institution she had just encountered. “This castle is magical, for sure!”
Sithmi grabbed my hand and dragged me towards the beautiful white building. She pointed at its ivory colored pillars and eagerly decided she wanted to explore. “One, two, ten, fifteen steps!” she confirmed, attempting to count the steps she walked up. Even though she was barely two feet tall, somehow she managed to lead me to the elegant doors. As we opened the doors and stepped inside, she slowly looked around. Her head leaned back as far as it would go, parallel to the ground. Her jaw dropped. She gazed at the ceiling, mesmerized by the paintings of men, women, and children living their lavish lives. Curious, she walked to a corner and admired the gold trimmings. Her eyes followed them up and around the ones circling the inside of the domelike ceiling. Suddenly, her eyes lit up with an idea, and she touched a pillar, proudly declaring, “I TOUCHED THE CASTLE!”
After some more exploring, we eventually walked up to a balcony. It overlooked a scene of gleaming marble floors and painted walls. Sithmi cautiously approached its banister, afraid she might fall through. But she was finally brave enough to stick her head between the smooth marble railings. To her amazement, what she saw below wasn’t princesses and knights dressed in satin and velvet robes. She saw people with bulky camera cases, taking pictures of everything in sight. Sithmi whipped around as the crackly voice of a tour guide drifted behinds us, “….and this is the room where our representatives discuss the issues concerning everyday people like you and me, and help make our city a little brighter.”
“What’s that guy in the funny hat talking about?” she whispered.
“He’s explaining what the people that work here do,” I said.
“Work? Where are the knights in shimmering armor?” she asked.
I laughed and said, “You mean ‘shining’ armor? I don’t think they have those here.”
Just then, my aunt called us over. “Come on girls! It’s time to leave the Capitol building!”
“Capitol building?” Sithmi innocently questioned.
“Never mind what your mom said. This is a castle!” I quickly retorted.
I couldn’t possibly ruin Sithmi’s imagination by telling her the truth. But while Sithmi was still in her own world, we had to get back to our tourist activities. We had been walking around a street fair in Madison, Wisconsin, and decided to find a nice air conditioned place to rest. The first place we saw was the towering capitol building. Sithmi insisted we visit it because she wanted to see for herself what a “castle” looked like.
“Would you like to live in this castle?”I asked her while leaving.
She thought for a moment and said, “No, there are too many people here. And the bathrooms are hard to find.”
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