Little Anna played with her toys all day long. Besides being fond of them, she liked to proudly show off her possessions and at this tender age of five, her two full crates did represent her amour propre. While some of them had arrived by way of gifts or birthday presents, her parents from their end, had ensured that her toy crates stayed overflowing and up to date and that she never lacked in anything. In fact, mom Liza herself loved the dolls so much that many of them existed in the house much before Anna was even born.
There was Mickey the mouse, then the huge pink Barney, way bigger than Anna’s size, when it arrived upon her insistence as a two year old, when they had once visited a mall, followed by a later addition of a baby barney. Then there was Julia, a standing doll, who did an adorable dance while on her feet, when her belly button was pressed, ‘Goldilocks’ who had beautiful golden hair and wore a pink satin frock, ‘Lovely’ who was a tiny pretty doll with neat, long plaits, wearing a black dress, ‘Calvin’ who was a bald baby that cried when his bottle was taken off those pouty lips, ‘Chucky’ the biggest baby of the lot, who wore a light green jumper. If someone saw him in a seated posture from behind, he was always easily mistaken for a real baby. Likewise, there were others like ‘Angel’ the fairy who flew around the room when her batteries worked, ‘Ava’ another cute doll who had lovely pigtails and wore shorts below a pretty blouse that exposed her navel, ‘Rhino’ the huge black and white doggie who sat with his mouth wide open all the time and his tongue hanging out such that anyone could mistake him for a real dog, a dolphin, seal, walrus, monkey, lady birds, four to five teddy bears of all shapes, sizes and colours, besides the Legos, puzzles, cars, trains, buses, a Mumbai rickshaw, astronaut, gardening tool set, a complete kitchen set, laptop, electronic number and alphabet toys etc. and what not!!
Little Anna loved her collection and was always excited about her parents who saw to it that these things kept pouring in all the time. But more than that she often enjoyed indulging in messy play with all these. Though Anna was a mini-mom to all her babies, especially ‘Calvin’ and ‘Chucky’, she often hurled them around and loved to see them spread out and filling up the entire room. Resultantly the toys easily broke and often, as soon as they arrived. But Anna was unconcerned. Rather she found it all funny.
Liza noted this and often felt that Anna ought to be more caring, so what if those toys were lifeless? Though she was a loving child, the attitude of treasuring things was something that she lacked and needed to be built-in. Besides, she had begun wondering, now that Anna had turned five, wasn’t it time to dispose most of them, especially those that were broken, besides the ones that she’d outgrown. But she was also aware that this was one big step that cannot be achieved without the consent of Anna, for which child would part with his/her toy? Besides, snatching toys from a child or doing this deed by use of force would not only be unfair but also make no sense. She didn’t want to break the child’s heart. As for Anna, so far, she never liked or even allowed anyone to touch her toys, even where it meant tidying up the room, except when it came to share with her neighbourhood friends, which she happily did i.e. if that made them stay longer at her house for more play. One day Liza decided to broach the topic gently and went on explain to her as to why they should clean her toy-crates and throw away the non-working / broken toys. She also made her understand that Anna is now growing up and many of the toys she had were really meant for babies. Liza’s way of explaining made Anna discern the message and she immediately agreed to help her away with the job.
Both Mom and daughter emptied the crates and began segregating the broken one’s from the good. Liza went on taking Anna’s permission over each and every toy, before putting anything in the garbage bag. Anna not only co-operated but also diligently helped her in picking out the toys to be trashed, not sparing even the most favourite ones that Liza would never have expected Anna to do so. She couldn’t help feel the pride of seeing her daughter growing up. Three hours spent and having accomplished, the cleaner took away the sacks while Liza and Anna proceeded to display the remaining soft toys around the room.
Anna had earlier never given a thought about display of toys in such a manner and now that she saw the outcome, it excited her. Every time her gaze fell around the room, she couldn’t help exclaiming to Liza ‘Mamma this is so nice’. Finally, when dada came, the first thing Anna did was to run up to him and tell ‘Dada we cleaned the room today. Look…see around’. Dada’s heart swelled with pride over the little one’s words.
It was two am in the night. Anna stirred in sleep when she was disturbed by some noises. Her eyes flared awake and she suddenly sat up. Probably some voices came from the living room. Curiosity assailed her and warily, she tip-toed in the direction of those voices, wading through the dimly lit room. She hid behind a pillar and was aghast at what she saw. Lovely, Goldilocks, Calvin and Chucky were conversing with each other.
Lovely: Hi guys, great we could survive today (she was smiling). Congrats to all of us here.
Goldilocks: Yes Lovely, but dunno for how long!!! (rolling her eyes upwards)
Chucky: You are right. That impudent girl tosses us around whenever she wishes, and these people will trash us out once we are broken. (he spoke sadly)
Calvin: I hate it when she pulls out my teat but love the way she cuddles and comforts me after I cry.
Julia: I agree Calvin. She is very affectionate and loves all of us. She’s after all a child and doesn’t know what she’s doing. We whould rather be happy that we are here because of her. (Julia was a smiling doll who reflected a positivity and happiness and enjoyed it when Anna, very often lovingly pressed her belly button and laughed loudly, as she danced)
The giraffe, cow, camel and most animals nodded seriously in agreement over the conversation whereas the teddy bears stood proud holding up theirs ‘heart’ that said ‘My heart belongs to you’, ‘I love you’, ‘Thank you for being my friend’, ‘This is for you’ etc. Staunchly loyal to their little friend, they declined any comments. The dolphins, fishes, seal and walrus were unconcerned and rather, as if in concurrence, did a nose-dive from their respective places and went on to do more plummeting across the room and play with each other, as if forgetting the fact that they were on land and not in the water.
Influenced by this, the huge barney picked up the baby barney and joining in the mood, began singing loudly and dancing with thumping steps. Angel was excited too and began flying across the room flapping her wings while Rhino, animatedly watched all this, with his tongue hanging out and wagging his tail happily.
‘Hey friends, why don’t we join in for a dance? suggested Julia. ’Who knows what’s in store for us tomorrow? So why don’t we just enjoy and celebrate these little moments of togetherness?’ Lovely, Goldilocks, Calvin and Chucky, who were wearing sad pouts until now, suddenly brightened up at the idea and smiled in unison saying ‘Yes’.
Chucky, picking up the guitar from the crate, began strumming it and Calvin picked up the mike and for once, pulling off his teat himself, instead of crying, began singing loudly. Ava, Lovely, Goldilocks and Julia all joined in to dance in the middle of the room.
Anna was shell-shocked, her mouth agape at all that she heard while she watched the entire scene secretly. Overcome with disbelief, she felt unsettled and dizzy and suddenly sank senseless.
‘Annnaaaa…’ screamed Liza loudly, as her dream broke and she woke up with a fright. Flushed, she looked around, only to a find pin-drop silence shrouding the house and the lithe frame still sleeping beside her exhausted. Both mother and daughter had slept wearily after all the hard work and it was not evening yet. Dada was yet to arrive. She could vividly recollect all the voices she had heard. Probably these were the voices from her own head. Her own mind was trying to tell her something. Anna had been taking things for granted, she realised. She needs to change. Left like that, this could get more difficult in the future. She needs to learn to value, preserve and safe-guard her things. Time for ‘Project Anna to be turned understanding’, she resolved, else she would be failing in her duty as a mother.
Epistle: Mom’s, inevitably many a times end up overworking their minds in the best interests of their children but yet thats sometimes a must.