Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Doll


In 2 days, he will be in his home. The women in his family will be planning the cooking already – for though they have limited means, it’s only once in 2 years they can indulge the breadwinner of the family. It’s only once in 2 years that he can sleep and wake at leisure, not following a clock determined by construction timelines and investor stakes. It’s only once in 2 years that his employers give him a return ticket on the cheapest airline to go home for a month.

Right now, he is standing in a shiny mall. His ill-fitting, rarely used, casual clothes hang awkwardly on the lean frame. They were bought for a healthier body, when he was packing to come away to this land of opportunity. He had thought that in return for his farmland he would be a rich man. But he only creates houses for the rich, remaining on the outside. Even in this mall, he is the outsider. He smells a little – of perspiration, cement and sparingly used soap. People don’t stand too close to him. He doesn’t notice. He is looking at a doll.

She has black hair, bright eyes, and chubby limbs. Her frock is usually stained and ends too high above her knees. Her mother makes her wear an ugly pair of thick, too-loose pantyhose to cover the limbs that will offend the radical Islamic group that is in control of his village. She has asked her father, 2 years ago, to bring him a doll next time. She whispered it in his ear when he hugged her one last time as his wife looked on.

She has blonde hair, blue eyes, and skinny limbs. A plastic purse dangles from her shoulder. Her plastic pink heels arch her foot at an unnatural angle. She has a pet plastic dog. And 2 changes of wardrobe. The whole package is pleasing pink. He knows she will love the doll.

But the price. He could eat a week's meals for this cost. Should he? Perhaps she’s too grown up to like the doll anymore. He could pretend he’s forgotten and put it off till next time. 2 years later. By then she would certainly be too grown up to ask for a doll, if not to want one.

He walks out. Glad that he did not spend those dirhams. As he walks towards the exit, a young family enters. And again, he is looking at a doll.

She has black hair, bright eyes, and chubby limbs. She clings to her father’s hand, knee-high as he slows his step to match hers. She is laughing – a pure, happy sound - and her father is ruffling her hair with his free hand.

He turns around and goes back to the shop. The doll is waiting for him.

19 comments:

dipali said...

Lovely! Very moving in its simplicity.

Jira said...

So poignant...So beautiful...
Loved this :)

Anamika said...

Beautiful.

Kodi's Mom said...

beautiful & touching.

Tagore Town said...

Such a tender loving picture you have been able to draw in writing...lovely !!

wordjunkie said...

Hi, am finally delurking to say I loved this little story. Had me close to tears.

SBora said...

very nice ana....

Aunty G said...

A father's heart
Will rend apart
At the happy/sad sight
Of a dauther's plight
No matter, if he has to, afresh, start!

eve's lungs said...

You've captured this so well . I think you have more than a fair share of negative capability .

Thinking Cramps said...

Hi everyone - thank you. It choked me up a bit even as I was writing it!

Eve's Lungs: "negative capability" - wow. First Keats, then me. Thankfully I have lived past the age of 26 :) Kidding - and I still owe you a tag. It's so much work :( But I will do it, next week!

A Muser said...

Brought me close to tears too. Wonderful, Ana.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful...brought tears to my eyes
beachesandhills

D said...

Very well-written.

OrangeJammies said...

Right. Make me cry. So all my marathon-reserved energy ebbs away and I'm the cry baby who couldn't make it because TC writes like magic.

Thinking Cramps said...

Word Junkie: Forgot to say - thanks for delurking and welcome to my blog!

A Muser / Anon/Beaches and Hills / D: Thanks.

OJ: Awwww, that is one of the best compliments possible, especially given who it's coming from.

Diligent Candy said...

Really poignant.
There is a poem by a Hindi poet called Nagarjun called Chudiyaan. About a bus driver who has his baby girl's chudis dangling from above his dashboard. This one took me back to that one - very touching.

Transient... said...

Ki holo....aajkal you are not writing so much ! Do keep writing in !

choxbox said...

lovely!

brought me very close to tears.

Tharini said...

Ana! Something for you...
http://winkiesways.blogspot.com/2009/03/sisterhood.html