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A few months ago, as I cleaned up Ana’s toy shelf, I set aside some toys to be given away to orphanages if they were in good condition or if there were two of the same kind or thrown away if it were in a very bad state. Ana came in to screen the pile and there lay her old yellow stuffed doll, hand torn and the cotton stuffed inside peeping out, quite old , had been a couple of years since someone had gifted it and so I had decided to discard her as Ana had similar stuffed dolls , of different colors and varieties.
She stared at me and asked “what are you doing with these dolls amma?” I said I was about to give them away or discard them as they are old and torn. She quickly picked up her yellow stuffed doll and said “don’t throw this away amma, she is my baby”. I said “you have a pink one, a blue one and the list was endless”.
“No amma, but this is my baby like how I am your baby” she explained hugging her and I was amazed. A two and half year old could explain what that old stuffed doll meant to her. I was just totally thrilled. I tried making her understand that the cotton(Panju) stuffing inside the doll had come out (“ Panju” in tamil means cotton ) and her hand was broken and it was hard to fix her . “Amma, so lets call her Panju, I want to keep her amma , please .I can take care of her” she softly tried talking me into it. I gave in. And I moved on with my cleaning work , we skimmed through the other toys too to make sure she doesn’t want to keep anything more just in case and I went ahead and gave away a few good ones and threw the rest. Meanwhile, her grandma and Ana managed to find a small old frock of hers that kind of fit “Panju” ,yep we call her that now. They made her wear it to conceal the broken arm and she ran to me and said “Maa, see Panju is alright now , you don’t have to give her away” . And from then on Panju is her twin sis, she roams around carrying the doll in her hand ,plays with her, dresses her up with her chain, bangles, kajal ( Panju’s face is all black now that I can never even attempt to fix her face) and she loves her the way she is. Not a single role play of hers goes without her Panju and many a times Panju plays ana and Ana plays Amma . And once in a while she comes to me asking if I would discard her.”Ofcourse not kanna” I reassure and she grins and runs away.She turned three this June and she never fails to amaze me each and every day.
There are certain things we try imparting our kids and they go a step further and teach us a lot more every day. Ana and Panju taught me that you can love something irrespective of how old they are, how worn out they seem and how unappealing they appear. The kid’s unconditional love towards her doll made me understand how simple small things can make us happy and give us peace and satisfaction and how attached one could become . For some of us it is a flower, for others it’s a long drive, for some it is some music, for some it’s a photograph and for Ana it’s her Panju that gives happiness, peace and joy. Panju is Apple of Ana's eye and so is Ana for me, my Kanmani ( apple of my eye) :)