The Broken Doll – Part 3
And then suddenly Anjali realized it was all a dream. She saw that the Aaya was holding her shoulders and trying to wake her. “Finally it’s my birthday party,” she thought. “I have to get ready. Maybe my mother is here, and probably she has organized the birthday party with all the kids. She had kept her promise, and this was finally going to be a great day,” she thought.
All the kids got down from the bunk beds and started rushing towards the dining hall. Such birthday parties were a great occasion for these kids. They could have some nice snacks, cake and dinner. Someone would click photos. Also, it was an excellent opportunity to exhibit their talents. Nobody wanted to miss it.
Anjali didn’t feel like taking her old doll to the birthday party. She knew she was going to get a new one. She wanted to look nice in the photos. She didn’t remember when was the last time she had combed her hair, but surely this was the time she wanted to look like a princess. She wanted to change her dress, but sadly she didn’t have any new ones. So she just tried to wipe off the dirt and dust of her clothes and brushed her hair with a dirty old looking toothless comb.
All the kids were excited and were moving towards the dining hall. It felt as if the entire building was on fire. She left the letter and the doll on the bed and started running. There was a lot of pushing and pulling, but she didn’t mind. She knew she was going to be the Princess once she reached the hall.
Maybe her mother was down there with the Warden waiting with the presents. With the big cake on the table with candles lighted. She cocked her head to have a glimpse of her mother when she ran through the corridor with the other kids; she was nowhere to be seen.
As she reached the railing of the staircase, she peeped down towards the dining hall to rob a sight of her mother but no luck with that either.
Her Mom was nowhere to be seen; instead, there were a lot of people. A group of people had gathered around the edge of the table along with the Warden. A woman was carrying a baby in her hands, and an elderly couple was seated next to them on the wooden chairs. A young man, probably the father of the child, was talking to the Warden, and both were exchanging smiles.
The kids were curious to have a look at the baby clad in a pure white dress with ducks printed all over it. And a sweat cap around its smooth hairless head.
There was still no sign of her mother. Still no news about her. Where is she what has happened to her?
There were presents and gifts on the table, and there was a big cake. But no signs of her mother anywhere. What is this all about? What’s going on?
The kids were all excited and running and screaming at the top of their voices. For them, this was simply exciting, amazing and glorious. Some kids started talking to the elderly couple and started running around their chairs.
As all the kids gathered around the table, the Warden addressed the gathering.
“Ah children come on now, gather on the right side of the table. Everyone now I want pin drop silence. Come on, form a line”.
The kids fell quiet and gathered around the table as instructed.
Anjali was in front of the group, almost near the huge cake on the table. And then for the first time, she realized that this was not about her birthday. She was not the Princess of this party. There was, in fact, no Princess of this party; there was only the Prince, and his name was clearly written on the cake. “Happy birthday Aditya”.
The smile drained down her face. She suddenly felt a strange heaviness in her heart which was threatening to take her down.
“Let’s gather around the table and start singing the Birthday Song for Aditya. Neeta you take the lead,” the Warden said.
Anjali joined the others as they began singing and wishing Aditya a very happy birthday. Only deep down in her heart, she wished herself.
Soon the snacks and refreshments were served, followed by dinner. After dinner, it was time for Aditya to give away the presents. There were a variety of gifts and presents given to the kids. There were stationery items, books, toys and dolls. When it was Anjali’s turn, she received a doll.
“Mrs Sathyam, this is Anjali. It’s her birthday today too.”
“Oh, really? Happy birthday Anjali. Here is a special gift for you from Aditya” she made Aditya give her the prettiest doll from the lot. Anjali took the doll and ran away without saying a word; trying to stop her tears.
“Such a sweet girl”.
“Yeah, she is”.
Anjali ran to her bed and started crying uncontrollably. She could not stop the flood of tears flowing out of her eyes. She threw the new doll as far as she could in despair and held the old broken doll near to her heart and cried as long as she could.
She lay down with the old doll clutched close to her chest and read her mother’s letter repeatedly as long as she could, waiting for sleep to take over her sorrows. That was the longest ever she had to wait.
The next morning was a gloomy one for Anjali. There was nothing exciting about it. She still had the doll held closed as she woke up. Her mother’s letter was lying to the ground. She picked it up from the floor, and she felt a sudden urge to rip the letter into thousand pieces but the thought that it might be the last thing associated with her mother stopped her from doing so.
After breakfast, she decided to go to the Warden to enquire about her mother’s whereabouts. But the thought of getting a disappointing reply stopped her from doing so. She went to her room, got dressed, packed her bags and was ready to go to school.
As she was waiting on the main porch for Neeta when Aaya came and informed that the Warden wanted to see her.
What was this now? Did I do something wrong? Was this for throwing away the new doll? Thoughts were dancing over her mind as she followed the Aaya to the Warden’s office.
As she opened the door, there was a familiar fragrance in the air. The Warden was not alone; there was a lady seated across the table talking to her. She looked familiar, the fragrance smelt familiar too.
“Ah, there she is finally”, the Warden said.
Anjali realized that it was her mother and she felt it was her time to say “ah there she is finally”. Just one day before Anjali was prepared for this moment. She was prepared to hug her mother in a tight embrace. But at this moment, at this very moment, her legs felt rooted to the ground. She had become a statue of ice; rigid but melting slowly.
“Aren’t you going to give me a hug child?” her mother said with a bright smile on her face.
That was enough to set Anjali in motion. She ran and hugged her mother in a tight embrace. “Oh mom, oh mom, I missed you so much. Oh is this really you? Is this really you? Oh, this is not a dream. Oh mom, I missed you”.
“No, Anju this is not a dream, I am really here”.
“Oh mom I missed you so much”, she said, pulling her face away and looking into her eyes. Her hands were still holding on to her.
“I missed you too. I am sorry I could not come yesterday”, she said apologetically.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I was waiting for you. I was waiting for you for the whole day. But you didn’t come. I cried the whole day, you know,” she complained.
“Sorry baby Mamma was held up with the court case thing. I reached yesterday morning as I had promised, but soon I got a call from the lawyer saying that your uncle was ready to agree on the settlement amount and wanted to close the case. I thought I could finish the case and would be able to meet you in the evening, but your uncle was late as usual, and the discussion went for the whole day. Finally when it was over it was very late, and I called up the Warden to tell her that I’ll be coming today.”
“Oh but the warden didn’t inform me” she enquired looking towards the Warden.
Till now the Warden who was a spectator of this sweet mother-daughter reunion suddenly was caught off guard.
“Oh yeah, what… Oh yeah right I forgot to inform Anjali. You know there was this birthday party in the evening, and I forgot as I was busy. I am sorry.” she apologized.
Anjali felt the urge to lash out at the Warden, but surprisingly, she was calm. The presence of her mother eased the moment for her. She just flashed a bright smile at the Warden.
“So you two, please carry on.” The Warden excused herself.
Both mother and daughter were now out under a tree in the playground.
“You know Anju, now that your uncle has settled the case I have a lot of money. We have enough money to buy a house in this city and start a small business.”
“Does that mean…” she knew what was coming. But she liked to hear it from her mother.
“Yes, that means we will be staying together. That means that you will no longer have to stay at this orphanage. You will have better clothes, better food, better care and you will be going to a better school.”
“Really?” she wanted to be double sure.
“Yes dear, I promise, and this time I’ll do as I promise” she assured.
“Oh, that would be so great” she hugged her again.
“And we will soon have that day outing planned out as I had promised”.
“Oh, you are so sweet”.
“OK but now I have to go as I have to wrap up things and start a new life. I need some time to find a place for us and set up a business. I might need a month’s time, and then I promise we’ll be together”.
“OK, I guess I can wait for a month,” she said cheerfully.
“Good. OK now let’s see where it is” she started searching in her bag. “Ah, there it is” she pulled out a pretty cute little doll.
“Is it for me? Oh my God, that’s the doll I wanted, oh it’s so cute” she gave the doll a warm embrace.
“Happy Birthday Anjali”, she said happily without stopping the tears rolling down her cheeks.
About The Author
Sydney Billford Monteiro
Sydney Billford Monteiro was born and brought up in Mangalore, Karnataka. An HR by profession, he has a Masters in Social Work and is working for the Hospitality Industry in Bangalore. He is an avid reader of Crime Thrillers, Mystery novels, and Science books. Creative writing and poetry is his passion.
He loves exploring the world of stories. His favourite pastime is experimenting with real-life events, creating characters, and turning them into engaging storylines.
Apart from reading and writing the author loves football; his favourite game and watching movies that depict unusual concepts and real-life events.
He also loves to have a healthy debate over a scientific idea.