Knowing the colours of the rainbow and spelling the names of the planets in our solar system in order is one of the easiest tasks for Atharv Nadkarni who pronounces the 45-letter, longest word in Oxford dictionary, tells the functions of the brain, multiplies complex numbers and sets his own tunes to songs - all at four
Fair and bright faced, this innocent kid, at first glance seems like any other simple but smart kid of his age. Show him a chocolate and he runs to grab it. Throw open your arms and call him. He willingly comes near you to sit on your lap. It’s gradually that one gets shockers. Fond of pens, pencils and books, he loves to munch dry fruits while colouring his scrap book. When you tell him your name, it takes him seconds to spell it correctly and scribble it accurately on a piece of paper. But as you interact further and trying to act smart to test his IQ and write 2 + 2 = 4, it’s here that grabbing the same pen he changes the ‘plus’ sign into a ‘multiplication’ one and announces, 2 x 2 is also 4. He helps you to find the exact word from his favourite book - an Oxford dictionary. Ask him to spell and pronounce the longest word that represents the most difficult medical terminology from this dictionary, and this little master is too quick to oblige. Without fumbling or taking a pause to think he utters in one breath the word ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’ making you almost faint. It is an invented long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust.
Meet Atharv Nadkarni who just celebrated his fourth birthday on April 29. Son of Mayur and Shruti Nadkarni - Atharv is, probably, the youngest whiz kid in Goa. Studying in Little Flowers Kidzee at Aquem in Margao Atharv spells any word given to him, even if he has never heard it before. He sings and types our National Anthem with punctuation. He tells the time. He knows the names of political parties, names of political leaders and their portfolios. Nevertheless, one is awed by his flawless speech. He not only converses in English, Hindi, Marathi and Konkani but also reads complex words in these languages - at four.
At two, little Atharv could sing nursery rhymes - English and Marathi, read words and count numbers up to 300 when he was barely two. He could tell capitals of Indian states, union territories and identify spelled words or logos of cars and channels. He could spell colours of the rainbow, names of planets with their order in the solar system - all at two.
A faculty at Kare College of Law in Margao, Shruti was zapped when little Atharv insisted to sing and play as well at the musical concert of ‘Taught to Teach Music School’ in Margao on May 13. Being the youngest of performers on stage, he won applauds from teachers as well as audience for playing the correct notes without even looking at the key board while concentrating on his singing. Seeing his son’s flair for music, Mayur, a self-taught guitarist, arranged for music teacher Christine for Atharv’s home tutoring.
“My mother Anuradha Nadkarni, a vocal artist and a stage singer released her album in 2011. But Atharv showed his musical inclination when he was hardly two. He tried to join me by singing songs like ‘Kabira’, ‘Pehla Nasha’ and ‘Muskurane Ki Wajah Tum Ho’ whenever I played guitar. Musical notes are at the tip of his fingers. He plays keyboard and picks up any tune that is taught to him. He also figures out the tunes on his own and plays them,” shares Mayur, an engineer turned creative artist and graphic designer.
Shruti adds, “Atharv began to utter words when he was less than a year old. His first interaction with the computer and internet began when he was one-and-a-half year old toddler. We used to play for him YouTube videos for toddlers, rhymes like twinkle, twinkle little star so that he gets some amusement but to our surprise he not only picked up whatever he heard but was able to sing those rhymes.” Not stopping at this, Atharv started identifying alphabets, capital letters and small case, and started reading small words. The first word he read all by himself was ‘Suraj’ with S capital and the rest in small alphabets.
“Atharv was barely two when he happened to lock my mobile,” states Shruti who unable to open the lock asked him the next day if he remembered what he did to her phone. At this instance, little Atharv snatched the phone from her hand and unlocked it for her. He remembered the four digit security lock he put the previous day. “After this I was convinced about the extraordinary memory power my little son has,” smiles Shruti, herself daughter of educationist Ramesh Sapre. As protective parents the Nadkarnis are taking care that their son is groomed well and wish that he makes India proud when he grows up.