Yes. That was the name. Kayu. Kaa…yoo, as she called him. Even before he came home, she was familiar with him. He was there on tube every morning at eight on the dot. Crawling on his knees and palms, with a bewitching smile. Nickelodeon. That was the name of the channel on the tube on which he came. Nickelodeon! Funny name! Seems like a sarcastic jumble of the old Nick and eon! The devil! Does it suit a channel for kids? Hardly, I always thought. She was enamored by this little devil of a boy doll speaking English and performing pranks. I always felt that these imps who have not yet learned to stand upright always looked like circus clowns performing tightrope walks. Never could I stand the sight of that. But she liked him. And wanted him. Or one like him. And she insisted, wailing and making me miserable beyond limits. Where can I get this devil of a Kayu? It is only a life-like animated character on the show. I thought it as a frivolous fancy. These little girls (even boys) have unnatural taste. Also, impractical demands. Like asking to get the toothpaste back into its tube. Maybe, I am wrong. Maybe, it was the maternal instinct in her that wanted that animated crawling imp. She never missed him even for a day. She was there before he was there on the channel every morning. At eight. On the dot. To meet her one and only Kayu.
Maybe, you’re wondering what I’m talking about. It’s about this Kayu, silly, the boy doll I brought home for my little daughter one day when I came back from a not-so-pleasant-trip, don’t you remember? Don’t want to talk about it. I mean the trip. It was by sheer chance that I saw him in a gift shop. Idly walking in the aisle of the shop, looking for a gift for my daughter, wondering how dear the dolls on the decorated shelves are, checking my wallet to see if there’s enough money, and cursing the way inflation was eating into my pocket, I chanced upon him. A boy doll, sitting on all fours, resembling a baby crawling on its knees and knuckles.
It was exactly like Kayoo on the tube. Identical! Same bald head! Same wax like limbs! Same blue eyes! And in the same attire! Must be the twin of the one that pops up on the tube every morning at eight on the dot, I thought. Does the owllike shopkeeper know that this is the replica of the famous beloved Kayoo of the ever-demanding irascible little daughter of mine? If he knew, he would charge me high, for sure. Even otherwise, these merciless shopkeepers know that when you are buying something for your kids, you won’t mind burning a searing hole in your ever-shrinking pocket. They know love overcomes prudence about money. That was what eventually happened. It cost me the earth to buy that little imp of a doll. Not that I didn’t bargain. But he wouldn’t budge even a fraction of an inch. I had to budge. Curse these usurious sellers of baby dolls!
When I gave her the doll, she was, well, thrilled. She never parted with the doll even for a second. The boy doll was with her wherever she went, whatever she did and whenever she was awake. He went with her to her playschool. He went with her in her evening walks. He was there with her when Kayoo came on the telly on the dot at eight in the morning. Kayoo on the channel as well as on the discolored sofa from where she watched the show. I wanted to change the cloth on the sofa, but, as usual with me, money mattered. Money matters little in the world of little girls and dolls! But I knew when grown up, they will appreciate the matter. Do dolls also grow, sometimes I wonder! Not physically, of course. Maybe, spiritually, if they do have some sort of soul.
So, she got her Kayoo. I got some peace of mind as her preposterous demand met its end. Those days I thought she’d never get tired of the doll. She talked to him, scolded him, got angry with him, beat him, consoled him, cajoled him, sang to him, and whispered god-knows-what into his ears. Sometimes she even bit into his arms. Eeek… the unhygienic little devil of my daughter! Once she yanked its head out of its neck. You should have seen the horror, grief, and guilt in the eyes of the criminal! She was inconsolable till I put the head back into the neck. He’s a scar even today round his neck. A memento of the crime.
Then one day, after many a summer and spring, I noticed a strange thing. My little pipsqueak of a daughter was without her ever-present friend. Curious, I asked her after her friend. The reply, to my utter surprise, was an indifferent ‘Aaa!’ I looked at her again disbelievingly. And, in an instant, I realized that she’s no more a little girl. The little girl’s gone. She’s grown up!
And Kayu? He’s still there. Neither grown up nor dead. Lying face down in our attic, with that indelible scar around his neck. He looks immortal in his repose.