Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?
Blonde, straight, silky hair. Bewitching, turquoise blue eyes. Slender frame and fitted red gown with a small cap attached to the hair. Nancy – that was the name I gave to my first and only Barbie. I must have been eight years old when I received this dazzling, immaculately packed doll, looking straight at me across the cellophane as if saying – Hello, I am your new friend. One of her hands was stretched out more than the other and it seemed as if it was placed such to touch me; to find me. Fascinated beyond words, I instantly fell in love with her poise and warmth. Holding it with both hands, I felt I was the luckiest girl in the world. In the days to come, I carefully studied every feature, every ingredient that created her. One part always stood apart – the proportion of her legs to to her torso – it was strangely exquisite but unrealistic and I remained enamored with this concept of graceful figure for the longest period of time – feeling frustrated with my ratio – concluding that it was bulky and messed up.
This was the time when dolls were home made – sewn with old clothes, stuffed with cotton and stitched with irregular features. Barbie was not a common household doll, at least not in India and so when my uncle who returned from USA, got one for me – I kept Nancy close, its plastic box slowly rubbing against my chest – scratching its presence mixed with the comfort of owning it. Once the transparent cover was carefully removed and the doll was tenderly pulled out without causing a single crease in her dress – my mind exploded looking at her flawless skin, exuding glow and the magic of spellbinding beauty. I assumed her to be a fairer and better version of me; sent by Gods to communicate as how I was supposed to look and to be perceived. I spent every minute with her – slept, ate, played and even dreamt of her. I got giddy with pleasure and satisfaction, in the middle of the night checking up on her – making sure that I was not overstepping my boundaries. I consumed my lunch and dinner with my head tilted, using the peripheral vision not to lose sight of her presence. I constantly dressed her up as the princess and labeling myself as the attendant – taking her to tea parties, fashion shows and social events.
Slowly, I grew and Nancy waned – her lack luster dress in spite of my careful washing and ironing, and faded pale yellow skin pushed her deeper into the closet. Her eyes still glowed with the memories of my childhood’s fascination but it was not the same – perhaps I’d stolen the twinkle and placed it in mine. By that time, the box was long gone taking away some of my innocence with it. Finally, while I was studying in another town, my mother pulled it out and gave it to a seven-year old who came with her parents, visiting mine. She left with Nancy by her side, tending to her the same way, I once did. When I came back for my semester break, my mother casually mentioned Nancy and her new owner. I paused. I was way past the age of playing with dolls and I haven’t touched her in years but it felt like a part of me was removed from the house. My reaction to her departure and my slowness in the coming days was a mystery to everyone and me yet I understood and swallowed it to let it go. I smiled every time someone mentioned a doll, a Barbie or the name Nancy.
Over time, the memories of my younger age have remained close to my heart but blurry. However, Nancy – the blonde girl with longest legs is clear as a crystal.