She was thrilled!
Her father had yielded to her demand pretty soon. Unlike him, she thought. She rushed to the store. She knew what she wanted. A teddy! She went to a rack where average- to normal-sized ones were displayed. She would be reasonable and wouldn’t pick anything that might be exorbitant. She didn’t want her father to reconsider his decision.
She scanned the soft toys. Her eyes stopped at one section. There they were. An array of white teddies with t-shirts that said ‘I love NY’, ‘I love London’ and so on. She picked ‘the one’. It (obviously) said ‘I love Dubai’. Now that her sister also wanted (had to have?) a similar one, the colour of the t-shirts had to be settled. Green for her (it was after all her ‘House’ colour in school) and blue for her sister (yes, her ‘House’ colour too). Now that that was decided, it was hers. Forever.
She hugged that thing as she went along. That was her first teddy. She had some dolls, guns (which she actually preferred to the dolls), “doctor sets” and other odd toys. Never a teddy. And this one was extra special.
As she waited with her family for the plane in the lounge of the Dubai International Airport, she didn’t realize just how upset she was. She didn’t remember when the tears had started flowing. She’d already dug her face deep into the teddy, letting it soak and remove any signs that she was crying. She was sobbing, sniffing – silently.
She looked up once, just to see if she was the only one crying. To her surprise, so were her parents and sister. She was relieved (to an extent). After all, they were leaving for India. And their father wasn’t coming along. (And not in a long while hence). It was painful, sad and way too overwhelming.
She never let go of that teddy till she reached her destination. It was her solace, her companion during that travel. The one thing that reassured her when she woke up in fits during the flight in the wee hours of the morning.
She was all of nine years then, and she outgrew that teddy soon. It gathered dust in some corner of the house in the years that passed by. But she refused to give it away. Her mother asked her to pass it on to her cousins - why did she need it now? NO. That question, in itself, sounded ridiculous to her.
She’d washed it a couple of times, at the most - when it had changed to a light shade of brown. But she would never let go of it. There were too many memories. It didn’t just stand for the four odd hours of flight from Dubai to Kerala, during which it was her comfort factor. It was her childhood. It was ‘her’ Dubai. And all the associated memories.
The year was 1995 and that girl was me. And that is my most vivid memory of me crying.
P.S. Kind of a series. Therefore - To be continued…