The Present - a story
Yona was standing at the corner watching intently her dearest ones coming and going and was curious to know what the fuss was about. Everyone was in a hurry and no one was acknowledging her presence. She was hardly 4 years old therefore could not comprehend the excitement brewing in the household. She could only understand that her mother had gone to hospital the previous day along with her papa promising her a present on her return. Yona was expectantly looking forward to get her cherished dream fulfilled. She saw dadi (paternal grandmother) and caught the pallu of her sari. Dadi gave her a stern look and asked her to sit. Yona’s eyes wetted. She felt that all those who had adored her, loved her till yesterday were behaving indifferently now especially dadi who loved her so much besides her mother. Yona rubbing her eyes and whipping her nose darted into her room closing the door behind her with a bang.
She woke up soon on hearing the commotion outside. She came out of the room and saw her mummy and papa coming out of the taxi to the clapping of everyone present. Curiosity took her over and she brought a small stool to stand on it to get a clear view. She was delighted and clapped as she saw a doll like package in the lap of her mother. “Mumma has brought the present for me, a Barbie.” She thought. After a while, her mother was made to rest on the bed made for her in her room by the side of a cradle. Her two little curious eyes were taking stock of the situation and wondering why her mother placed the present in the cradle instead of giving it to her as promised.
“This is my present. My Barbie. I love you mumma. You are the best.” Her girlish imagination ran riot. From bathing to combing and dressing Barbie. Soon her mood changed when she found that her father was lifting her doll from the cradle and passing goody goody comments which she could not understand but knew by intuition that he was talking about her doll Barbie. She could not however reconcile with the fact that everyone was talking about the doll, her present, instead of giving it to her. Then she saw her dadi, bua (father’s sister)mami (maternal aunt), chichi (paternal aunt) taking turns to sprinkle sanitizer before taking her doll in their lap and kissing it while men folks were seen congratulating her father. Yona got angry and stomping hard, she started crying. Immediately her mother called her. She knew that she had got the attention of her most lovable mother. She rushed and tried to sit on her tummy when everybody present prevented her to do so including her mother and she was almost dragged from the bed. This forcible eviction surprised her. She never expected it from her mother at least with whom she had a strong bond till previous days. Tears welled out of her eyes. Her mother noticed her shocked faced and gestured her to come to the left side of hers. She showed her the new born in the cradle. She was taken by surprise seeing a live Barbie like doll, but it was not Barbie. She asked her mother , “mumma, where is my present?”
“Which present, Yona? You have another seven months to celebrate your fifth birthday,” her dadi said.
“ No dadi, mumma promised me to bring me a present and I want that present now.” She insisted and started walking off.
“Don’t you see your present there ?.” her father fondly took her in his lap and pointed to the direction of the newborn. She did not respond but getting down disappointedly from the lap of her father, Yona lunged forward towards the cradle again and started playing with the new born rather reluctantly. Her mother was watching her every move with great interest. After playing for sometime she suddenly received a splash of water on hand. Yona was startled and started making faces. “ Eeech,” She said, “this cannot be my present. She is not Barbie. Mumma you promised me a Barbie.” Everyone in the room laughed and went outside to do their own chores leaving mother and daughter to settle the matter.
“Yona darling, this is your present. Your sister Sia. Didn’t you want a playmate. You play with her. She is your doll.” Mother tried to explain and make her understand. Yona simply listened bewildered how a small baby can become a Barbie for her.
It was getting dark. Yona was still with the new born, touching her small fingers, small feet, the face and sometimes cupping her own face resting on the cradle and observing the new born intensely who was sleeping. Her mother could not help but make Yona more comfortable to develop a sibling relationship between the two. She was about to ask her to sleep when Yona slipped inside her bed, raised her chin, kissed her cheeks and asked, “ mumma where is my present?”
All rights reserved/Tribhawan Kaul