Nikki, my boss at the time, had bought the rabbit from a shop in Windsor as a present for Jake. We noticed that from an early age, Jake would automatically reach for the rabbit and hug him before he fell asleep. We called the rabbit "Nikki" after his acquirer which Jake, when he learnt to speak, morphed into Nini.
We went on trips with Nini all over the place and Jake and Nini were rarely separated.Prior to returning to South Africa, we organised an around the world trip. The idea was to visit friends along the way, do Ironman Western Australia (it happened to be at just the same time we were visiting Busselton!), and ensure that the travel bug would be truly squished.
Somehow Nini made it around the world unscathed. This is quite impressive since we took about 15 flights and visited about 11 cities (excluding the places we visited on New Zealand's South Island in a campervan). At each stage Nini was in Jake's firm clutches.
Arriving back home we went to Sabie (several hours drive awayfrom our place) for a weekend away and Jake inadvertently left Nini at our B&B . Nats and Jake were in tears. I was put on the case and three days later a parcel arrived from Sabie with Nini squashed into a cardboard box. We had a dinner that night celebrating Nini's return.
And then Ben arrived. On the 15th February 2009, Jake became an older brother. And Jake slowly introduced Nini to Ben. Below is one of the first encounters.
Jake is a good brother, far more chilled than Ben, who can be highly strung at times. It's tough when your older brother can speak and get by in the world, when you can only mumble a few words and no-one ever listens to you. Ben is a man of action.
Ben became aware of Nini's presence in the family from a young age. Nini even made an appearance into the family album. More as a family member than a prop. Ben has never minded Nini's position in the home.
It's important to note that the boys get along just perfectly and look out for each other. Below is a picture of them with their flying pig. "If pigs can fly", I tell them, "anything and everything is possible". Nats says I am too competitive. Note Nini tucked safely under Jake's arm.
And then one day, a few weeks ago, after Emilia's arrival into the world (where Ben became an older brother), we saw "The Battle of The Rabbit". I was taking pictures of Emmy in the kitchen and noticed in the background that Ben was sitting on Nini. He was loving life and killing himself laughing with his latest coup. Jake saw this and lost the plot. I'll let the pictures below explain the rest....
One should not laugh at Ben's lung exercises, but Nats and I, who both know the ties that bind Nini to her master, could not stop laughing.
The story does end well thankfully. Ben who is sprouting the odd word or three, has taken a liking to his favourite TV show, Barney and friends. It was therefore with much gusto that he tore open his Christmas present to find that Barney was the newest member of the family.
Everybody needs somebody to love,