Of Dolls and Dolores - And Some Other Memorabilia

Of Dolls and Dolores - And Some Other Memorabilia

A Story by Pratik

He finally found it. Rummaging through the panelled, oak-polished shelves of books, his eyes finally caught the name of the author: Vladimir Nabokov- emblazoned in bold letters along its rim. He frisked it out from the shelf, turning it over.

In a few days’ time he would be leaving this rain-washed, windswept city, a place where he had spent the first twenty three years of his life.  And today he had taken a day off to visit the dimly lit corridors of his favourite bookshop; just some prowling around to be done and may be picking up of books that featured in the “To-be-read” imaginary list in his head- ‘Mrs Dalloway’, ‘Shantram”, Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’- yep already bagged! But “Lolita” was in a different league altogether. He flipped open the first page.

 “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta... She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

Ah! Those lines! The book that had epitomized passion and erotica for generations and suffusing into pages of which would presumably transform him from a wannabe novice for a young reader - who had just chucked the plethora of hackneyed, ‘fast-paced and racy’ novels  and switched to literary fiction, to a seasoned, matured reader.

He was already on his way to the counter when he caught sight of the cover photograph as he was turning the book over. Just beneath the name of the book, there was the picture of a girl-protagonist. Her face didn’t appear.  It just captured the lower half of her body-beneath the hips. Two long, dangly legs in a black tunic and hovering a few inches above the ground. The twelve year old girl was supposedly sitting. Her feet girdled in white socks and black ballerina shoes.

The boy realized he had been staring at the picture for a few seconds. The picture, unlike the first lines of the book, weren’t effusive and neither evoked the lust the book is renowned for but rather harmlessly came across a portrait of innocence. May be the dichotomy in its content and the cover photograph signified one of the many ironies the book stood for. But surprisingly the picture struck him as oddly familiar. He had seen her before.

And then some long-lost memories came flushing down. It was that rag-doll, wasn’t it? - The one which grandmother had woven for him. Well it was a less of a doll and more of a jamboree of coarse wiping towels, nets and laces torn off from his cousins’ long-discarded frocks " everything stuffed and moulded to give a near human shape in a razzmatazz of gaudy green, yellow and reds. It wasn’t pretty either. But he had a strange fondness for it- perhaps because of the camaraderie of colours that it exhibited. There was no feeling of possession but he felt a strange inclination for it. His siblings used to call him sissy for playing about with dolls but he had never cared! The stuffed wools and cotton had started coming out from the many time-drilled holes and pores in its body and the doll had started looking less of a toy and more of a banshee " but sill he would never get rid of it until one day the newly appointed maid of the mansion had mistakenly thrown it off. As the boy was coming down from school in a hand pulled rickshaw he saw his stuffed, weather beaten and much scorned at doll lying sprawled amongst the pebbles in the creek near his house- bathed in its murky waters flowing around it. He had given it one last mournful, yearning look but soon enough the cajoling and new replacements awaiting at home made him forget about it. But with that the last of the memorabilia of his grandmother was lost- a Burmese woman of a patrician family who was married off at the age of eleven to a Dhaka University professor of English Literature and from whom the boy would unknowingly inherit a flair for writing in his much later years. And with the coming days, much like her woven doll, everything about grandmother would be forgotten about.

As the now grow up boy stood in the bookstore staring at the photograph of Lolita, the time worn memories of his grandmother conjured up in front of him. He paid the bill at the counter and set off with his new purchase- now a precious possession for more than one reasons.

That evening when he would reach home, he would walk across the sprawling courtyard of his house and stand quietly at the edge of the creek-turned-marsh overgrown with mosses and ferns. There was no one around - the chirping of the birds dying down in the evening air. Far away a child was wailing.

There were tufts of yellow dandelion that were hovering in the air over the marshland.  In a sudden surge of childish fervour he made a swing to catch of a couple of them. But he was out of time- they had flown away.

© 2014 Pratik

Author's Note

Wrote after a really long time. A personal story close to my heart. Any advice, criticism and appreciation is always welcome. Hope you guys like it

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You write after a long gap keep writing

Posted 4 Years Ago

You've written something really enticing here, it hooked me and your way with words maintained that desire to read on. You've avoided an intrusive narrative voice and exposition in a piece without dialogue, which is a skill scarcely seen on these amateur websites. I think your passion comes through, too, as I wasn't surprised to read it is a piece close to your heart.

I did spot a couple of mistakes that could be proof-read out, like separating 'maybe' in to 'may be', but generally I don't have much honest criticism. It's really nice to read good writing like this on these websites in all their rarity, and for this I thank you.

Posted 6 Years Ago

Great work really enjoyed it. You are one of those writers that enable us book worms to drift off into the story.

Posted 6 Years Ago

This is absolutely wonderful. As always, your word choice is beautiful and enchanting. Well done!

Posted 6 Years Ago

Fine job...Lolita is a novel often understood, it is written from the perspective of a asylum, It is a work of great beauty often mis-read..like this.

Posted 6 Years Ago

Your descriptive wording so masterfully creating the artistry of a talented writer whose mind reaches into the depth of wonderments. Love to read your work.

Posted 6 Years Ago

hi Aaran ... how are you doing? Its nice to hear from you again.

Its a nice exploratory piece that examines a curiosity we may have all experienced as a child. The rag doll is indeed a memento of many things ... like how young boys hate girls ... and only find at a later stage ... ' something ugly turn into an object of beauty.'

Its great story telling ... and the effect of the timelessness at the end ... creates the experience of the ... perpetual nature ... of these in life. Nice going ...

Posted 6 Years Ago

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7 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on July 20, 2014
Last Updated on July 20, 2014
Tags: dolls, Lolita, memories, grandmother, reminiscence



Raleigh, NC

Hello! I am Pratik Mukherjee from Calcutta, India - the city of Mother Teresa and the famous poet Tagore. My pen name is Aaran, a variant of the word 'Aran' and derived from the Aran Islands, a gro.. more..