Varsha, seven, was very excited. Today, she was going with her mother to her place of work. Varsha usually stayed home with her grandmom, when her mother went to work. Today, her grandmom had to attend a wedding, and hence this sudden treat of going to a new place, and being with her mother the whole day.
Her mother worked as a housekeeper-of- sorts, and cook in the house of Mrs & Mr.Pal. They owned a garment factory, and were very rich.
Their palatial house had many rooms and huge, well-maintained grounds. There was a huge staff to polish and clean the house.
Varsha’s mom, Malar, usually left at 6 am and came home at 8 pm. Varsha wore her best frock. Her mother suggested that she take her toys (she had only two) with her, so she could play and not cause any trouble at the big house.
The said toys were Varsha’s treasures. Without siblings, and a shortage of money, these toys were her life.
One was a doll that could blink its eyes and the other was a Tin Cat of the drag-along variety that her father had fashioned out of an old tin can. It had a string that could be used to drag the cat. Varsha had added eyes, whiskers and a tail.
Once they reached the Big House (as her mother called it), Varsha was asked to play in the backyard. Her eyes grew big when she saw the size of the yard. Ten times bigger than their small home.
She chased butterflies, admired the coconut trees, watched the gardener at work, and periodically held conversations with her doll. She sat her doll on Tin Cat and dragged her along. The tin made a rattling noise on the concrete.
Hearing this noise, Mr.Pal’s daughter came running to investigate. When she saw Varsha, she asked her if she could play with her toys. Varsha was only too happy to oblige. Ana was the girl’s name. Time passed, as the girls role-played.
Ana then took Varsha to her room. Varsha could not believe that one person could have so many toys. She was fascinated by the colours, the sounds and the variety. They played with a doll house and a kitchen set; and then with modelling clay. Varsha was in bliss.
The day flew by and soon her mother called out to her, saying that it was time to go home.
As Varsha said bye, Ana took the Tin Cat and asked if she could keep it.
Varsha said no. But Ana threw a tantrum, she sobbed and cried for the Tin Cat. All that crying brought Mrs.Pal, her mother to the room. The mother couldn’t bear to see her daughter cry.
She requested Malar for the Tin Cat for her daughter.
As Varsha stood looking shocked, her mother gave away the toy. Ana’s crying stopped immediately. She brought one of her old dolls and gave it to Varsha.
Varsha’s heart broke as she left the house, crying silently to herself.
Her mother consoled her and said, “Don’t worry, Dad will make a new one for you dear.”
“But she has hundreds of toys Amma, why did she want mine? You know I love Tin Cat so much”, said Varsha.
The household was quiet that evening. The mother very disturbed and the daughter shedding tears for her lost Tin Cat.
Upon knowing what happened, Varsha’s Dad promised to make a new Tin Cat for her very soon.
A few days went by thus, and Varsha slowly came to terms with her loss.
One evening, when her mother came home from work, she called out to Varsha.
“Varsha, come here. I’ve got something for you”, said her mother.
Her mother was holding Tin Cat in her hand. Varsha couldn’t believe her luck. She yelled and jumped and ran to hug Tin Cat, smothering it with kisses.
“How did you get it back, Amma?” she asked.
“Ana told me she has finished playing with it”, said her mother.
Varsha gave Ana’s doll to her mother and asked her to return it.
That night, as Varsha’s parents sat talking, her mother told her father, “I found Tin Cat in the dustbin this morning, when I was clearing up Ana’s room. I quietly hid it and brought it back home.”