I'm back!!!

After a brief hiatus, I realize my mind races if I don't write my thoughts down. Its called my "Mind Dump". And you all know that if you don't empty out time to time, things can get really backed up. So I promise a weekly excerpt, even if it doesn't make sense. But does anything in life make sense when push comes to shove?

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I missed Donny. We never did say goodbye. When I went into Grade 2 in Mrs. Wolfe's class, Donny ended up with another teacher. He ceased to exist the year I moved and I don't remember him thereafter. But now I missed him in my new school. The boys were mean and the girls were influenced by the majority. I stuck out like a sore thumb--and the more I tried to fit in, the more ridicule and backlash I brought unto myself.

I remember recess time the most. That was when the bullying was at its worst. Back in the early 80s and 90s, 'bullying' did not exist. No one acknowledged it to be a problem or a social issue. But I was aware of it and no one tried to remedy it. Not the teachers, the parents or the children I went to school with. I was incessantly teased because I was an easy target. My clothes were not designer, let alone even matching. I implored my mother to go out and at least buy me one acceptable outfit but she always smiled in return and insisted my friends had to accept me as I was. When I pleaded with my father, he was not impressed with my 'material attitude.'

"Why are you always trying to be like the other children? Be yourself and people will accept you," he insisted."You are smarter and more intelligent than all the children put together in your class!"

I sat on the front porch with my father listening to now what became a routine lecture after I would come home teased and dejected. "The best thing is to ignore them. If you let them get to you, they have won. If you ignore, they will get tired of teasing you," he said while moving out of his lawn chair to pick up some garbage off the front lawn. "You are too emotional and trying hard to be accepted. Take your time. We just moved here. Just IGNORE them." He shook his head and walked inside the house. I remained outside, alone, hugging my legs and burying my chin in my knees. He just didn't understand. He grew up in a place where everyone was the majority in Pakistan. They all wore the same clothes, ate the same food, spoke the same language and had the same skin colour.

Here I was, the only brown girl in the school, with funny clothes, static hair, and an ever-growing moustache. I lay awake that night thinking about what my father advised me to do. IGNORE them. Use my intelligence. Don't try so hard.

Tomorrow would be a new day.

When the school bell rang at 10:15 the next morning, my heart was thumping loud in my ears. I needed to set my plan in motion. The small, freckled boy jumped from his seat, grabbed his coat from the hook and beckoned to his friends. He never liked sitting next to me, especially when I covered my answers with my arm every time there was a test. I knew it was a bone of contention for him but if he was going to tease me, there was no way in hell I was going to let him cheat and get a better of me!

They were waiting outside the portable when I came out. A group of boys: some from my class and others in Grade 3. I looked for my only friend Tara who waved me over to where they were playing double dutch. We started to play but one of the boys grabbed the rope and interrupted our game. He came over and shoved my shoulder.

"You're it! You now have the KOOTIES!" he screamed and everyone ran in different directions, away from me. I stood alone and looked around. Tara stood with three other girls and shrugged her shoulders. I never forgot this gesture--the shrugging of her shoulders. I took it personally and felt she was shrugging me off to fend for myself since she did not possess the power to help or support me. Part of it was that we were outnumbered. The other part was solely selfishness. Even though she remained my friend for many years, well into Grade six, I never felt so alone until that day. And a result, my reaction was rash. That was one of my problems. Instead of weighing my options, ruled entirely by emotions, reasoning always came in second. I had an audience and I was going to take advantage of it.

"You don't have to push me to give me the KOOTIES! It seems I had the KOOTIES when I moved here--which is really unfair! I have said and done nothing to you to deserve this!" I yelled, pointing to my freckled enemy."If that is how you feel, then I will infect all of you with these stupid, invisible KOOTIES!" I turned to the entire crowd who had grown still while I went off in my tirade on the playground. "That's right! How can I have them if you cannot see them? Does he even know what he is talking about?! You listen to him as if he rules the playground! I don't know why you are friends with someone who is SO MEAN! Today I may have the KOOTIES, but tomorrow it will be one of you and then you will understand how I feel!"

I stopped to see everyone's reactions. Tara looked down at her feet, the rest of the girls looked sheepishly at each other and the boys did not know where to look. The freckled boy gave me a menacing look. I had just challenged the ringleader and embaressed him in front of his pack. He did not like this. We had a staring standoff and I did not move. He then took one step back and yelled, "She has the KOOTIES! RUN!"

Fight fire with fire. The blood rose in me and I took my hands out of my pocket and surged forward.

"I WILL GET ALL OF YOU WITH MY KOOTIES!!" I screamed pumping my fist in the air. I ran and caught up with each and every boy and hugged them until they could not breathe. I saw fear in their eyes as I announced that my KOOTIES had been transferred to them. In the back of my mind, I heard my father's voice telling me to ignore them, use my words not my actions, but I soon realized that my speech to the entire recess population had the opposite effect on them all. They would not listen to intelligence or reason. Flight or fight. And each time, I chose fight.

Until my teacher came out of the portable to see what all the fuss was about. He blew his whistle as I was on top of the freckled boy, hugging him so tight that he relented and cried out for help. Mr. Waller came over just in time as I jumped off, smoothed out my clothes and smiled at my teacher who eyed me suspiciously.

"What is going on here dear?" He was always very polite with me and I reckoned it was because I was the new girl.

"Well Mr. Waller, it seems everyday I have the KOOTIES and I will always have them unless I give them to someone else. I tried to explain to the class that if I have this disease you would be able to see it but no one can show me that I have them. They don't understand what I am telling them so I thought I would give it to all the boys. Clearly, everyone looks the same as before," I stated, pointing to all the boys who were panting, grabbing their knees and catching their breath.

Mr. Waller stroked his chin. He was sizing me up. I stood up straight and waited for his judgement. I knew I would be vindicated. There was no arguing with my logic.

"We do not run and physically assault others during recess." he concluded. "But I do see where you are coming from. However, all of you deserve some punishment for this behaviour," he said looking at me and the boys in my class. The freckled boy began to protest but Mr. Waller put up his hand. "No futher discussion. The entire class has detention after school." The bell rang and the class headed back to the portable, exchanging exasperated looks but I lagged behind to walk next to Mr. Waller.

"Kooties do not exist. I don't have them but they think I have them. Its not fair! I remarked.

Mr. Waller put his hand on my shoulder and gave me the dumbest advice I have ever heard a teacher give their pupil. "Kooties exist if you believe they exist. You are the only one who doesn't believe it. Maybe you should, so that you are like the rest of the class." And with that, he walked off.

I stood still on the field, trying to comprehend what he had just said. The realization was deafening.

They say, by age seven, your personality has formed. You are who you are and you are an unique individual.

I sighed deeply. It was then I knew, alone on that field, as if a lightening bolt had struck me, no matter what, I would never try to fit in.

And I would prove to them all, that kooties were what we made of it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What do you mean I am not white?

In the spring of 1978, my father accepted a job in another city thus requiring us to leave the city I knew and grew up in at the tender age of 7. When he announced this to the family, I was mortified. How could this be happening? To leave all my friends, the neighborhood and even Mrs. Sirunis?!

My Grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Wolfe, had become one of my closest allies. She just got me. She nurtured me and nursed my wounds when I proclaimed defeat in any battle that overwhelmed me. When I told her that I was moving, she made the entire class sign a goodbye card. Everyone wrote well wishes and even pasted some pictures of me in action at school or with my friends. Life would never be the same :(

My memory alludes me when comes to our family leaving and moving. I try to recall the events leading to ending up in the new city but I cannot grasp them. I do however, remember saying goodbye to my best friend Melissa, and her parents Godfrey and Rose.

I walked up to their house with my father to say goodbye. At age seven, it is hard to express one's sincerest emotions without getting embaressed by them. I remember shying standing BEHIND my father as he shook Godfrey's hand while Rose wiped hers with a dishtowel. She beckoned me to hug her, which I did but I could not do the same with Melissa. After weeks of hugging everyone under the sun and displaying my emotions to the world, I could not bring myself to even hug my best friend. I mimicked my father and shook Melissa's hand. She too looked embaressed and smiled back a toothless grin. She had just lost her front teeth. We had some small talk and then my father told us it was time to go. I walked down her driveway and paused to look back at her and smile. That was the last time I saw Melissa.

Melissa was replaced by Becky within a day. When we arrived to the new home, I was struck by how different the neighborhood was. First of all, we were the only 'brown' people on our street. Yes, it was a mainly Caucasian city. And I was about to switch from the majority to the minority...

Becky was playing in her front yard the next day after we arrived. She was playing catch with her older sister. Each time the ball went over the bushes into our side yard, my brother, sister and I would retrieve it, liked starved puppies and shoot it back over. It became a game that we all played for well over an hour. Becky finally came over and we became fast friends over the next ten years.

Becky never commented about my skin colour but she did ask about my background. She listened to my soliloquy of how my parents immigrated to Canada (this story was told a million times by my father who made it clear that I benefitted greatly due this one important decision he made over eight years ago). She shrugged her shoulders and asked what sport equipment we had. I pulled out a deflated soccer ball from our garage. That was the extent of my interrogation from her. Not one ounce of judgment or analysis. We were friends and that was all there was to it.

But when I started school mid year in Grade 2, I was quickly reminded about being the new girl. And a lot seemed to relate to what colour I was.

"What do you mean I am not white?" I retorted to the small, freckled boy who sat next to me on the first day of school.

"Well I am not sure why Mr. Waller put you next to me. You should sit somewhere else because the rest of us are white!" I looked at him confused as I slowly put my new notebook in the desk. He tried hard to sit away from me, in an angle, preventing his elbow from touching mine.

I was confused and perturbed as I walked home alone. My father had only showed me once how to get to school and clearly I was lost. I walked in a complete circle until one girl who lived on the same street noticed my confused state as I stood on the corner staring at the street sign.

"You are the new girl in Grade 2 right?" she asked. She was pretty and innocent looking, with long blond hair, rosy cheeks and a white starched dress. The antithesis of me. I looked down at my lime green pants, brown dress shirt with green leaves, and my hair in a matted mess, tucked behind my floppy ears.

"I am lost. I need to get home for lunch," I panted, already emotionally and physically tired from the morning I endured. She took my hand and walked through a short cut until I saw the trees that looked familiar near my home. We were on a main street that led directly into a forest at the top of the street where my house was one of the corner houses on an intersection. Before she left me, I turned to her to ask the million dollar question.

"Tara, am I not allowed to live here because I am not white?"

She looked at me oddly, tilting her head to one side.

"I did not notice your colour," she said and skipped to her home seven houses down.

Somehow, I was not convinced.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

You have more than you know

I did not have much growing up. According to me, I did not have fancy clothes, amazing toys or a well-decorated home. After hanging out with my friends in the entire neighbourhood, I concluded that I was the most unfortunate child that ever existed. Ok, so I was a tad bit melodramatic, but at age six, one's perception of the world is biased and only based on tunnel vision.

I NEVER heard my mother complain. Ever. Even when she was suffering from chest pains that led to her death from a massive heart attack at age 46, she would never outright tell anyone about what was bothering her. And when I was young and complained to her about everything I did not have, she would only smile and reply,

"You have more than you know"

This answer perplexed and frustrated me. I would ask her to explain what she meant, but that is all she ever said to me when I was in a middle of a fit or arguing about what my father did not provide for me. Her way of discipline was subtle and passive. My father, on the other hand, was brash, blunt and to the point. No emotion, no sympathy, no empathy or support. It was his way or the highway.

And that was the crux of it. I blamed him for my lack of material goods because growing up, he had control over all the money. And what he gave to my mother was the issue--it was never enough.

I remember going to the store one day with my mother, who towed my sister with one hand and pushed my brother in the stroller. The main plaza was a twenty minute walk from our house. It was a cold, fall day because I remember my mother having to stop to adjust our hats and scarves. When we reached the store, I ran wild through the aisles, looking for the latest craze, which had been aired on every commerical on TV. It was a talking doll. Who knew dolls could talk? All you had to do was pull the cord and she would say various sentences. I dreamt about her nightly and knew that I must have her.

I picked up the box and ran to my mother. She was collecting diapers, formula and baby food for my brother.

"Mama! I found her! Can you buy her for me?" I was panting, out of breath from running all over the store.

"Sorry darling. I only have enough money to buy food and diapers for the baby."

She pulled out her wallet and started counting her cash. I stood quietly, and held the box to my chest. I need this doll. Every girl at school has the same doll. I had grown tired of Marie, who at this point was completely bald and had a gaping hole at the side of her body that exposed an old sock that belonged to my father.

"MAMA! Get more money from Papa then. Does he really need diapers?" I insisted pointing at my brother who was sucking his thumb and smiling at me.

My mother tried to grab the box from me but I ran off. She sighed heavily and got into line. I stood from afar and watched her count her change, pay the cashier and tie the bags to the stroller. She turned to look for me.

"Put the doll back and let's go home. I cannot afford to buy your doll. I am sorry."

I shook my head and stomped my foot. Deep down, I knew she was not the right person to have this public battle with. But I could not leave the store without the doll. I looked at my brother with contempt. He was three years old and should have been potty trained. My mother turned the stroller towards the doors and started to leave. I frantically walked over to the cashier.

"My father will come back and pay for her. I promise!" The cashier looked at me dumbfounded but was interrupted by mother who had intervened.

"Put the doll down. You cannot take it without paying. Talk to your Papa when he gets home," as she grabbed the box, gave it to the cashier and pulled me by my hood.

Needless to say, I refused to hold my sister's hand and moaned all the way home. My mother told me later that at one point, I lay on the sidewalk and asked her to run over me with my brother's stroller to end my misery. Yes, I was the ultimate drama queen--but she told me to take it up with the master of the house...my father. And that I did.

Right after he placed the last morsel of food in his mouth (since I was instructed never to speak or interrupt my father during dinner) I interrogated him with a barrage of questions.

"How much money do you make?"
"After you pay the bills, can the money leftover pay for my doll?"
"Can I not eat for one week in order for you to pay for my doll?
"Can you let Mama pay for all the bills and things we need?"
"Can I get a job and pay for my doll myself?
"Can I return all the bottles and use that money for my doll?"

My mother looked over at me emphatically and cleared the table in silence. My father sat back in his chair and picked his teeth with a toothpick--his 'after-dinner routine'. I scrunched my nose and awaited is reply. I tried to sit up straight and even placed my hands in my lap to impress him. What could go wrong? I gave him many answers on how to pay for my doll. It was a sure win for me.

"Why do you need this doll?" he implored.

"Because everyone at school has her."

"If everyone jumped off a bridge to their death, would you do the same?" I always hated this response and back then, never understood where he was going with this statement. JAB.

"Yes I would if there was a talking doll at the bottom of the bridge." My father roared with laughter and then abruptly left the table. I followed him into the family room.

"Daddy, I need this doll! She talks. You just pull the cord and she talks. Isn't that amazing?"

"I don't need to pull a cord and you talk non-stop. That is what I call amazing," he said picking up his newspaper to hide behind. JAB. I could feel the tears forming. I hated it when he would flip the argument into some kind of a comedy routine.

"I know you have the money but you won't spend it on me because you buy what YOU like. That is not fair! When I have my own children, I will buy them whatever they want because...well....because..." My father lowered the paper slowly and waited for me to finish my sentence. The drama queen was rising inside of me.

"Because why?" he said raising his eyebrow, still smiling.

"Because I will love them more!" I shouted. My father stopped smiling and called for my mother. She came around the corner, wiping her hands with a dish towel.

"Did you hear what she said? She doesn't think I love her because I do not buy her things. Tell her that money does not buy love! Tell her!" he exclaimed.

"She is right here. And you are already talking to her. You tell her," my mother said softly and left the room. I looked back at my father who was agitated. I know today that my father meant well, but back then he had trouble conveying his message, without getting his feathers ruffled.

My father ran his hands through his hair and regarded me with suspicion. His glare was always intimidating to me but I kept my feet firmly planted and glared back.

"Daddy, I promise, I will never ask for another thing as long as you buy me this doll," I pleaded. I knew I was lying but I had to make a case.

"I hear this ALL the time. Tomorrow it will be a new toy that comes on TV. You do not need this doll. Be a leader, not a follower!" JAB. He waved me off and picked up his newspaper. To make things worse, when he folded his section over, the advertisement for the doll was facing me! JAB.

"Daddy! Look, she is in the newspaper! This is the doll I want!" I grabbed the paper and pointed to her picture.

Lesson #1: NEVER grab a newspaper out of your father's hands!

My father stood up and towered over me. He snatched the paper from out of my hands.

"GO TO YOUR ROOM! You will never understand until you have your own children!" he yelled.

My mother came running into the family room and took me by the shoulders. I showed him my fist on the way out. Fight fire with fire. Yes, I did not know any better.

My mother took me to my room and closed the door.

"When will you learn?" she asked. I changed into my pajamas and angrily got under the covers while she watched. I could see she was trying to calm me down. Funny enough, it was never through words. It was through her actions. She would smile and wait. Her patience was unbelievable. She put up with my father and her strong-willed daughter and became the referee in our fights. It was her calmness that kept me sane.

She stroked my hair and waited for my huffing and puffing to stop. "You will get everything you want... but in time. Be patient. Appreciate what you have today,' she said soothingly. She put her hand on my chest. "Do you hear that? Its your heart beating. Air goes in and comes out. You are breathing. That is what is keeping you alive now. Some children have died because they have problems with their heart. Some children are very sick and they live in the hospital. They cannot run and play like you do everyday. God gave you a healthy body. You make Him sad when you don't thank him for it."

I lay in stunned silence. I never thought about it in that way. I searched her kind face for more answers.

"Maybe if I am sick, I will get all the presents I want in the hospital. Then Papa would buy me the doll!" I exclaimed with renewed energy. My mother shook her head in disappointment.

"That is a horrible thing to say! You want to be sick? How can you enjoy your toys if you are lying  in a hospital while your parents are upset with worry? Shame on you!"

She was right. And I hated to admit it. But she made sense and somehow the doll was no longer important.

Lesson #2: Hindsight is 20/20

Lesson #3: Be a leader, not a follower

Three lessons I learned from my father.

But my mother's phrase has been the only one I catch myself saying to my own three drama queens today....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mainstream Marie

My best friend from Kindergarten was Melissa. Her parents were German and I remember them fondly--Godfrey and Rose. I credit Godfrey for helping learn how to ride a bike. Rose was like a second mother to me and I spent many afternoons at Melissa's house playing in her pink room with her dolls.

"What colour is your room?" Melissa asked me one day. She had never been to my house. I was too embaressed to show her where my room was situated in comparison to the rest of the family. Melissa was an only child and she slept next to her parents room.

"White. Just plain white," I replied and avoided eye contact. I did not have any posters, wallpaper or design on my walls. It was devoid of colour and therefore devoid of any emotion. I always felt happy in Melissa's pink and sunny room compared to my dreary grey and white dungeon.

We would play with her dollhouse everyday. She had a doll collection from all over the world that lined the shelves on her walls and an immense Barbie collection. Pretty much the only toy I had was my bike (which was more of a transportation vehicle than a toy) and a doll that mother had sewn for me. I did everything with that doll. I had named her Marie. My mother stuffed it with shreds of old clothes, with two buttons for eyes and red thread for its tight-lipped smile. The yellow yarn was slowly falling out--Marie was almost bald. She also had a Pakistani look, fitted with red and gold outfit. And she was the only toy I had--and I was extremely embaressed to admit that to Melissa.

"Can I see your room?"

"I am sorry. You cannot," I said sadly.

"But why not?" she insisted. I knew I was going to have to ramp up my imagination to get out of this predicament. What will she think of it when she sees the barren walls, the 'old people linens' and the adult furniture that used to be my parents bedroom suite? Melissa had a Donny and Marie bedset, a carousel lamp, and a large, wooden pony in the corner and all sorts of neat stuff.

"My room...its...well its haunted!" I exclaimed. Melissa's eyes grew wide and she leaned forward.

"And you sleep in there??" She had dropped her Barbie and the furniture flew out of the dollhouse and scared both of us.

"Yes, I do. But I have tamed the ghost. You see, he actually lives in my dining room but sometimes he comes downstairs into my room to be with me." I remember my nightly trips upstairs to my parent's bedroom, yelling at the chandelier on the way.

Melissa was intrigued. But my story did not get the desired effect I expected.

"Now I really want to come and see your room. Maybe the ghost and I can be friends!" My jaw dropped. What the hell was she talking about?

"You want to be friends with the ghost? Well I am not sure if he would like that....I mean he is used to seeing only me. You might scare him, you know." I was trying quickly to dissuade her from coming over.

"Are you scared? I mean its your bedroom. How do you sleep at night if he comes into your room? You must be friends. So he is a friendly ghost!" She jumped up excited and ran to her closet. I sat motionless trying to understand what had just happened.

"What are you doing?"

"I am looking for the right dress to wear when I go and see your bedroom! I will be over in two hours, after my lunch!"

I smacked my forehead. Good God. She was serious about coming over....and I was in trouble. My worry was less about the ghost living in my house; but more about the state of my room.

"I have to go," I abruptly stood up to take my leave. I wobbled out of her house and ran home. Something needed to be done and fast. But there was not enough time. I flew in the front door and ran past my father who was reading the newspaper, towards my mother at the stove.

"Mama, you need to paint, wallpaper and design my room so it looks like a girl lives there!" I yelled. I flew upstairs to my parents room and looked for anything to dress it up. I looked around and realized their room was just as desolate as mine. I ran to the bathroom and looked around wildly. I grabbed the purple hairy mat near the tub and turned around. My father stood at the doo,r shaking his head.

"What on Earth is going on?" he demanded. My brain was still in motion as I eyed the green doyley on the kleenex box.

"Papa! We need to decorate my room fast. Melissa wants to come over and see it. Hurry, there is no time. Please go to the store and by me some dolls, stuffed animals and a Donny and Marie bedspread!"

I could see the vein in his head twitch. He blocked me as I tried to brush past him at the bathroom door. "I am not buying any of this useless things. You want to show her something? Show her all the exercise books your Uncle brings home to you. Impress her with your mind!"

I curled my lip under my nose (a habit I still do today when I am not impressed).

"My mind?!? When I go to her house, we don't talk about HER mind! Ugh, she is going to be SO BORED, Papa! My room is so boring! There is nothing to play with!" At this point I was hyperventilating. She will never be my friend again after she sees my room, I thought. I ran wildly through the house, trying to find things of colour. I even pulled out one of my mother's sequined saris and placed it over my bed. The shaggy purple bath mat was placed carefully in front of the door and the doyley was unceremoniously strung over my lamp as an impromptu cover. My mother came down to investigate.

"Oh Mama! I have no toys!"

"Show her the doll I made you. Show her Marie," she smiled. She knew I walked all over the house with that thing under my arm.

"NO! I can't. Its SO ugly," I responded, bewildered. My mother stopped smiling and fell silent. She did not speak another word and went back upstairs.

I stepped back to examine my room. Red sari, purple mat and a green doyley. It looked like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz. Not the most romantic, girly girl looking room. I picked up the globe and try to shove it into the closet but it lurked out as if it was spying on me. I turned around and saw Marie smiling at me from my bed. I hid her under one pillow. In my opinion at the time, that was the real ghost in my room. A homemade, bald doll. And ironically it was her that kept me sane at night, all by myself, two floors down from the rest of the family.

The doorbell rang. It was Melissa. And she looked beautiful. She wore a peach, ruffled dress with a white cardigan, frilly peach socks and white shoes. I still remember the outfit today because it was juxtaposed with the Pakistani outfit my mother made me wear to honour her arrival! Mine was shocking pink with gold fringes and bottoms which were too big, forcing me to hike them to my chest under the tunic!

When my mother heard that Melissa was 'invited' she insisted for all of us to wear traditional clothes. She was so excited that she hand-made samosas and quickly cooked biryani. I feared for my life. The house stunk to high heaven of oil and spice. Melissa would never eat OUR food. She was German! She loved sausages and sauerkraut! But my mother put Melissa at the table and fed her like a mother would feed her favorite child--with love and patience.

Melissa gobbled down three samosas but the biryani was too spicy and she politely declined when my mother insisted she try more. My heart was beating in my head with trepidation --maybe I could make her forget about my room.

We watched a bit of TV when she could no longer wait. "Where is your room?" She got up off the sofa and began to search. I stopped her. She was standing just outside my door.

"It's not what you expect," I sighed.

"Did the ghost mess it up?"

"There is no ghost. I lied. I just don't think you will like it." I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I looked down and then slowly pushed open the door. Melissa walked in and smiled. She touched the sari on the bed,sat down and looked around in amazement. I continued to look at my feet. This was it. I would not be able to go out in public after this. She was the first and only friend to see my room.

Melissa saw something and walked towards my closet. Damn, that stupid globe! My Uncle had bought it from the University of Toronto bookstore where he was studying. She pulled it out and placed it in the middle of the room. "Oh I love this! Its the world. Here, lets find Germany and Pakistan!" I relented and walked over to watch. She spun it around and found both countries.

"This is so cool!" She then walked over towards my bed and stopped. She bent her head to look more closely. Damn, ....Marie!! I ran over to stop her but she had already seen it. My doll's foot was protruding out beneath the pillow. Melissa pulled her out, in all her glory. I was flabbergasted and embaressed. She examined it closely and turned it over. She was completely fascinated.

"Did someone make this?"

"Um, yeah," I sighed. "My mother made her. Her name is Marie and she is the only doll I have," I said in a quiet voice. I could not even look at Marie. She looked old and warn in Melissa's hand.

"She is beautiful. I cannot believe your Mom made this for you. My mom has never made me anything in my entire life. You are so lucky! Marie should be on top of your bed, not hiding under a pillow!" And with that, Melissa nestled her between two pillows and looked at her admiringly. I was shocked.

"You have a great room! And downstairs away from your parents, all to yourself. Lucky duck you are!" I followed her out of my room, still not comprehending her words.

"I have to go now! Thanks for having me over and showing me your cool room!" Melissa bounded up the stairs towards my mother in the kitchen.

"Thank you for the lovely snacks. And I LOVE Marie. Can you make me one too?" My mother patted her head and promised to make her a doll. I stood with my mouth open. After Melissa had gone, I sat at the kitchen table, watching my mom cook in silence.

"Are you going to make Melissa a doll?"

"Yes, she asked me to," my mom said not looking at me.

"Could I ask you one thing, Mama? Please don't make her as pretty as Marie, ok?"