<%-- Page Title--%> Slice of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 135 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

December 26, 2003

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The Doll's House

Richa Jha

It happens when you start getting old. You want to attend dance parties-you know the ones where your limb movements are not in sync with the music, you want to dress up more than you usually do, you want to hang around with a younger crowd, you want to go on a trek, or build sand castles, or read Eric Segal all over again, worse still, start making loud claims before your teenage son that you know more about Britney Spears’ private life than he does. Mine is an even more peculiar retrogressive wishful desire. I want to play with a doll-house.

As a child, I was hardly the doll playing type. I was not the car dashing, basket-ball playing type either. Actually, I was not the playing type at all. My biggest nightmares used to be the games classes; but I loved my PE classes and yoga lessons, and the aerobic teacher and so on. I was, what you may call, a classic example of a good girl. But I had an enviable collection of dolls. Real fancy ones. Ones that sang lullabys and petted their infants in arms, ones with nimble body parts that waved, nodded, squatted, stretched, ones that danced, ones that crawled, ones that came with changeable wigs, or ones that came with bidets, and the likes (there were no Barbies yet in my home town; infact I hadn't even heard of them then). But, as I said, I didn't play with them much. My memory fails me here, but all I can remember of those dolls is being neatly arranged in my <>almirah<>, and me talking to them every time I opened my cupboard for clothes.

A big proper doll-house I never had. I had a small blue two-storeyed wooden one with doors on hinges and a green driveway and small green bushes around it, big enough for a Thumblina to fit in, but not large enough for my dolls. Then again, it had no rooms demarcated inside, and no attic (mine was a <>desi<> one built like the houses you and I are used to in the Subcontinent, so no attic), and no chimney, and it didn't look like any of the doll-houses in my story books. Mine looked like Lily aunty's house next door, only, hers were a shade darker and more horrendous than the blue on my toy. Once a pen friend from Brussels sent me her photograph with her doll-house. I ran high temperature for the next three days. After which I never played with mine.

But last week, I felt a strange stirring when on a recent round to a toyshop with my little one, I came across a doll-house. It was perfect. With louvered windows, see through doors, separate rooms, tiny furniture (even a glamorous wash basin), it was irresistible. I just had to pick it up without much ado. But of course, I couldn't have done it, could I? It felt rather juvenile even thinking about that. But nothing stopped me from buying it for my child, so there was always that pretext. I asked my little one, going ballistic as he was at the sight of all the vehicles with wings and doors and seat and seats with drivers and bonnets and wipers and wheels and sirens, pointing out the doll house to him.

“Hey, look at this beautiful house here”. He looked at it with keen eyes. Looked like he was about to start throwing a tantrum for it to be bought.

“Look mamma, I see a dwarf car in there…there, do you see?”, he said excitedly.

I bent (now I know why all toys are placed at our knee level) and squinted to see what he was pointing at. “Oh no darling, that's not a car. It's a small blue sofa, only looks like a car. Do you like this house?”

“No”, came a firm disinterested reply.
I thought I'd heard it wrong, so I pressed again. The reply this time was an even more determined no. Could this be true? Which sane child would say no to a toy, any toy, especially to this marvel of a doll's house? I spent the next few minutes trying to convince him that there were several fun things he could do with it; things like slide a car down the roof and see it crash below, or he could make a tunnel through the width of the house and pass his cars through it, or he could park his cars outside and go in to sleep and bathe and eat and what not.

“Or jump off the roof myself”, he suggested.
“No, no, I don't think you could do that. This house will break”
“Okay, I want to buy it and break it.”
“I'm afraid son you can't do that, but you can play with it, and switch off the lights before you go to bed”.
“No, I don't want it. I want that blue police car.”
I gave up. I could see that this persuasion was not going anywhere.
But then, I gave it another shot. A different approach this time.
“Santa may give you a doll's house this time, you never know”, I said a few days ago when we sat up decorating our little tree.
“Oh no, he'll give me a white police car, a doctor set, and a big car with big wheels and a steering wheel. I will drive it on the road”.
“Still, he just may get you a doll-house too, who knows. Won't that be fun? Where will you keep it?”
“I will not keep it. I will give it back to Santa”. I gave up, once and for all this time. But it broke my heart. Oh, I wanted to have it so much in my house. I wished to arrange the furniture, and place the tiny figurines in the rooms, and peep inside the house, I wanted to…PLAY with it. So much.

When my son was away at school yesterday, I finally went and bought it. I cleared a small space for it in my bedroom, gift wrapped it neatly, and gave it to the much-amused Hubby. “Please put it away, and please ask Santa to leave it behind for me on Christmas eve. PLEASE?”

You're never too old to receive gifts from Father Christmas, are you?





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