Story Time: The broken doll

Published November 28, 2020

The day was not over yet, but Abdullah was already exhausted. He was also dreading going back home because he didn’t want to face his seven-year-old daughter Mariam.

About a week or two ago, Mariam went shopping with her mother for groceries. In the market she saw another girl, just about her age, holding a beautiful doll. From that day onwards, she had been asking her parents to buy a doll for her too.

Mariam was in fifth grade at a government school, which was located in an impoverished area. Her parents were not financially stable, but Mariam was too young to understand such problems. Abdullah was employed as a sweeper at a local company and thus this did not earn much. His pocket would be empty before he could even think of buying any other thing apart from necessary groceries or other household things. This was the mere reason why he was not able to buy the doll for his daughter.

One day when Abdullah returned home, he tiredly dropped himself on the old worn-out couch and took off his jacket. As usual, Mariam hopped to her father and looked expectantly at him. When Abdullah didn’t respond, she untied his shoe laces, took off his shoes and socks and helped him sit in a more comfortable position.

Abdullah looked at her little obedient girl and tears started pouring from his eyes.

“I … I was unable to bring the doll today … I am very sorry sweetheart!” he choked between tears.

Mariam looked soberly at her father and wiped his tears with her tiny fingers. “It’s okay, dad! I am sure that you will be able to get the doll tomorrow. Don’t worry.”

Abdullah and his wife were very self-conscious of their daughter. This was because she was a rather plain looking child, with tiny-button eyes, a slight crooked nose and a chin which was almost invisible. Her complexion was also dark.

The parents adored their daughter wholeheartedly and she was their only child, but they were fearful of the harshness of the world. For example, in their community bullying, racial discrimination and hateful remarks were really common because most people residing in that area were illiterate. Therefore, Mariam was not allowed to play outside too much with the neighbours’ children and this was also one of the reasons to that she wanted to have the doll to overcome her loneliness.

A few days later, Abdullah found a new job as an office assistant at a call-centre. This job was much better than the previous one because it guaranteed job security and good working hours. To top this off, the salary was double the amount he earned previously. Abdullah and his wife were extremely delighted, and Mariam became excited as her father was now able to buy her the doll now.

After a month, Abdullah received his first salary from the company. He was really excited that day. Before going home, he directly went to the market. There he bought some groceries and few household items. Finally, he went to a toy shop that was situated on the corner of the street. He asked the shopkeeper behind the counter of the dolls to show him some. The shopkeeper nodded and put a bundle of dolls in front of him. Abdullah rummaged through them until he found what he was exactly looking for. It was a beautiful large-sized doll, just half the size of Mariam. Luckily, it was on sale so it didn’t cost Abdullah too much. He paid for it and came out of the shop.

Abdullah walked by himself towards home. It wasn’t a long journey but still Abdullah felt tired as his hands were loaded with the shopping bags too. However, things were not in favour of Abdullah that day. As soon as he turned the corner of the street, a motorcycle wheezed past him. There was a mud puddle where Abdullah was walking. Because of the high speed, the motorcycle lost its balance in the mud puddle and slipped. Abdullah was close by so he desperately tried to run further away from that slipping motorcycle and in the process, his hands lost the grip of the shopping bags that he was holding.

The shopping bags flew in all directions. Abdullah stared in horror as suddenly another motorcycle coming from the opposite direction speeded through, crushing the shopping bags that held the doll. Abdullah didn’t have the courage to open the bag and see the damage inside. So devastatingly, he collected his fallen items from the ground and continued his walk towards home.

As expected Mariam was patiently waiting for him. She leaped up from the chair as soon as she saw her father enter the house. She brightened up at the sight of shoppers in his hand. Abdullah’s wife also came out of the kitchen.

“Did you bring it?” Mariam eagerly asked her father.

Abdullah looked at his wife expressionlessly then nodded to his daughter, not daring to meet her eyes. He quietly handed the shopper, containing the doll to her. His wife instantly understood that something was wrong. Mariam gleefully opened the shopper and took out the doll.

As presumed, the doll was in an awful state. Its cheeks sunk inside its face. There were some scratches on her forehead and the nose pointed downwards. The damage was also because of the cheap plastic quality. But the next sight made Abdullah and his wife astonished; their daughter was smiling.

“Hooray! I finally got my doll! And I can’t believe it looks exactly like me!” Mariam happily hugged the doll.

Both her parents looked at each other speechlessly and tears came into their eyes. So all that time when both were trying their level best to hide the reality from their daughter, she was already well aware of it. It is usually difficult to judge our own selves, so typically we accept others’ perception about us. But in the case of Mariam, the scenario was quite different.

She didn’t care how she looked and that’s the most important lesson of self-love. Inner beauty is what that attracts more at the end. So have gratitude for the way Allah has created you because there are so many people out there who are physically or mentally impaired, yet they are satisfied. Last, but not the least, admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own.

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 28th, 2020

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