The Doll and the Monkey – A Short Story

Her son’s one dialogue, “You  need protection” shattered her fairy tale. Oh! my little one, You have grown up today and taking the legacy of this society forward.

A hot sunny day and huge crowded market was what Leena witnessed as she stepped out of her car to buy some fruits.

I will also come” a little voice demanded.

It was her ten year old son.

She brushed off his request and urged him to sit in the car.

“It’s too crowded and if you tag along, I would have an extra stress to ensure you are safe”, she explained.  

Oh! Exactly that’s why I want to come”, insisted the little voice again. “You are a woman hence I will come to protect you as women need to be protected” argued the egoistical tiny male species representative.

Leena looked back at her son in shock and disbelief at what she just heard. Maybe other people would have adored the little chap for the concern he had for his mother but not Leena. She was taken aback. Hadn’t she heard this dialogue throughout her life whenever she was made to feel weak, powerless and un-empowered by not the only the male species but by most of her acquaintances of both genders in the society.

In a flash, she went back to her childhood memories of happily sitting in her toy room and adoring her array of dolls gleaming in her mother’s makeup with the choicest clothes she had herself made for them. Her dolls presented her an idealistic picture of a future life. Sometimes she recalls she and her friends used to plan for wedding of her doll with her friends doll. Since most of her friends were girls, none of them had a male doll hence a common monkey which also served as a piggy bank substituted   for the male counterpart.  Almost all dolls were married off to him in those little ceremonies.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Monkey indeed, a sarcastic smile spread over Leena’s face as she realized the irony of it.  Intelligent, graceful, perfect and empowered dolls who could move mountains with their capabilities and who were bestowed with remarkable energies and competencies were marrying monkeys.  So many times life’s reality unfolds in most simplistic ways.

A little Leena would always be heartbroken when after marriage she had to part with her dolls who had to now go with the monkey groom and belong to the girl who owned the monkey. The angst of separation, the pain and reluctance to let go of her dear dolls made her run always next day to that girl’s house.  On some lame pretext of her doll not being kept properly or the donkey being unsuitable, Leena used to break the marriage and bring her doll back. How she wished life had been this simple and her parents had the same guts to bring their doll back.

The monkey (read undeserving ones so that monkey does not get offended) since the beginning of life on earth have been strangely given some irrational status of being first in the line always.

The power to dominate, the right to do wrong and the might to rule over the pretty doll, the monkey has it all. Who has given him this status, why, how, when are questions that remain unanswerable and in dark like the million galaxies we know nothing about.

The doll quietly bore/ bears it all in a pseudo belief that she is carrying forth the legacy of culture. While her kith and kin, the monkey and the society will never understand it, she lives in the hope that one day her child would see her real self. Her own blood, her part whom she nurtured, her own reflection her shadow will never fail to recognize her real worth. Her years of submission and bearing it all would be gleefully wiped in a second.

Yet her son’s one dialogue, “You  need protection” shattered her fairy tale. Oh! my little one, You have grown up today and taking the legacy of this society forward. I genuinely wished you would be different. My desire to see you as the prince every doll would have wanted lies shattered.  You became the monkey like the rest of them.

Leena on a self introspection trail realized perhaps it’s not the society and misgivings of the cultural ethos which influenced him. Rather it was she who had to be blamed first. He has seen her silence over the years. The I will bear it all attitude, the failed protests, the weak stances she adopted all haunted her now. Her insubstantial voice, those meek submissions, the self doubts and the mere acceptance of fate rather than fighting it was what he always saw. Her child had never seen her love herself and be proud of who she was. She made herself an object of protection for him too.

It’s never too late still. I owe it to the billions and billions of dolls there’. Thinking this Leena retorted back to her son. I walked on these roads always alone despite somebody always holding my hand. You may hold my hand or put your arm around my shoulder. These external gestures mean nothing to me. My inner flame is raging freedom. My silk dresses maybe soft but they have a tough jute lining hidden from the world. It’s time I wear the dresses inside out. Please don’t think you are protecting me as it’s always that I am protecting you from my wrath. The day it explodes the magma of it will spare no one.

His mother’s philosophical speech was beyond comprehension for the little one who still tagged along Leena. For Leena now it did not matter. Let the world attempt to hold her and rejoice in the belief of having captured protected and curtailed her. Yet she had broken the shackles of all bondage today. Her heart felt freedom and reflected in those confident strides she made towards the market, the crown of her new discovered self worth firmly in place.

A doll always remains a doll and well speaking about the monkey hmmm…..Well.. leave it as dolls have no time for monkeys indeed.

Dolls now know that -“what is the greatest lesson a woman should learn that since day one she’s already had everything she needs within herself it’s the world that convinced her she did not”

Image via Pixabay


About the Author

Dr Pooja Birwatkar

I am a post doctorate in social sciences, specializing in education and a professor at Somaiya Vidyavihar University. My areas of expertise are Research , Life skills and Management of Education. I am a voracious reader read more...

16 Posts | 14,451 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories