If we go along with the whole being trapped in a doll-house thing, then KJ turns out to be a major bully in the nursery. There are other bullies in the nursery as well, and given a chance maybe I desire to do some of the bullying myself, but for now I will present my miserable state through KJ.
Anyway, as I was saying, KJ is that bully kid who gets to play with all the dolls and doesn’t want to share. He only shares hand-me-downs. Maybe once in a while throws one at you to make you run out of the room in tears. Or breaks one of your favourite dolls, by jumping on it till its poor head is crushed and is left there unrecognisable. You see, I think dolls are fragile creatures (no matter if Leo-Mattel says they are made of hardy child-proof plastic), things you dress up and display. They don’t take to rough handling too well. And the more expensive they are, the more specific they become – you know Barbie is not just Barbie anymore – but is Barbie the Nurse-gone-bad, Barbie the AIDS-Charity-bash-Hostess, Barbie the Marathon Runner…there is one Barbie for one role. Lose that Barbie, and you lose the nurse. Unless of course Dad-dee buys you a replacement.
Besides, their walkie-talkie records get scratched and they begin to screech incomprehensibly. The joints in their limbs wear down and instead of marching smartly, or waddling in that cute little way of theirs, they start spinning around like a tap. Their tiny plastic tear sacs get damaged so that they don’t hold water and cry for us to go “awwww”. Playing dolls with KJ, you end up with plastic forms devoid of the fake emotions they once engaged us with, the programmed spontaneity they once entertained us with. And suddenly the nursery feels like The Land of the Dead.
Which in itself can be a whole lot of fun, if you forget the air-conditioned nursery. It is true it can be a bhatti (oven) and that the sand between your fingers and toes can get itchy, but all in all at least there aren’t any bullies (apparently they don’t like the heat very much). Only puppets…at first, I don’t really know what to do, because here I thought all they were good for were as ethnic curios one got from Gurjari. Besides they are all just hanging there, staring blankly back at me. (Which is actually kind of freaky). Used to dolls getting damaged and hence worthless, I am hesitant to do anything. Then I realize that in fact, these puppets have limp arms, and no legs to begin with, so how bad can it get? With no fancy joints, but just a couple of strings that made a mockery of movement, I could mock movement. And as long as I hold up the strings, the puppet stands, kneels, sits, sleeps, faints, bows, dances…this is fun! I can poke pins in it, and I can choose if it yelps or gets tickled. And if I get tired, it gets tired. The point is, in this land of the dead, staring-back-in your-face-limp-ungadgeted toy everything is waiting to be alive again. Nothing gets worn out, except your fingers. Nothing gets scratched except your throat. And nothing gets replaced besides ideas.
When Mum calls me in for dinner, I tell Amol Palekar of what a grand old time I had in his sun scorched playground. Of course I don’t take to heat very well (who does?), and thank goodness for air conditioners, but for now, that cool comfort has just lost its appeal ever so slightly.
(ps: by the way, if you are in search for other fun times, sans bullies, Jiri Trnka, the Brothers Quay, Kihachiro Kawamoto and Garri Bardin are a whole lot of fun. Dad-dee may have to buy the plane tickets to the Czech Republic, England, Japan or Russia, but the trip is definitely worth it).