When I heard Rupet’s dolls had finally hit the store, I was so excited that I just had to immediately see my friend to share the excitement. Nidiya lived a few houses down the lane. I turned off the TV, told my Mom that I’d be back in a jiffy, got hold of my umbrella as we were continuously having rains, and hurried onto Nidiya’s home.
Just as I rang the bell, I could hear a lot of voices from within her home. Standing there wondering what all the hassle was about, the door opened and I heard Nidiya bidding her Mom a quick goodbye. It was never a good sign for me if she was excited. Mainly because she starts going off on wild goose chases and I’m usually the one she drags along with her. Although it is absolutely lovely to be with such an enthusiastic girl, I sometimes do feel what the point of all of it is.
“Hasna, what a surprise!”, she cried upon seeing me standing there without a clue.
“Hey Nidu, what’s up with all the hurrying? Moreover, why does my sixth sense tell me that you were on your way to fetch me to accompany you on one of your so called “who-buried-the-treasure-over-here hunt” instead of simply a “treasure hunt”?”
“Ha ha ha”, Nidiya chuckled warmly. Whenever she smiles, I look at her and lose myself in a few moments of thought at how beautiful and adorable she looks. Especially while smiling. It is a good thing for me because when we both walk together, all the boys look at her and usually do not even pay the slightest of attention to yours truly. I admit that it kind of hurts, but I guess it is better that way in the long run. Anyway, I came out of the spell that her beauty had put on me and smiled back.
“Ever the loyal friend”, she continued, “However, the truth is that we don’t have time. Remember that fact about how the latest multi core processors could do processes in parallel? We even had a debate about it two months back.”, she said, winking at me.
“What! That was two months ago and we had left it then and there agreeing to how hardware parallelism was achieved! Don’t tell me you have gone off on one of your irrelevant tangents regarding this too.”
“Ha! Good news for you then because I have!”, she said sarcastically. “I’ve been reading upon it a lot and doing a lot of research on the matter. Downloading simulators, talking to people online, discussing in online communities and what not. However, here is the drill. I’ve finally tracked it down to Mr. Shafik! Can you believe that?”. There was fire in her eyes as she finished saying that. A look that said that she was blind to everything else now that she was so close to the truth. You people might be wondering what that look is but trust me, I know her and I haven’t seen another person in my life with such zeal and enthusiasm for learning. She just wouldn’t rest until she got to the very core of it.
“Shafik, our milkman? Cool!”, I said dumbly.
“Augh! No you silly little girl.”, she blurted out extremely irritated. I loved doing that to her. “Mr. Shafik from our own University! Don’t tell me you don’t know the person. Apparently, he was one of the design consultants in the manufacture of the processor!”, she continued in full excitement. I knew what was going to come and just as I had that thought, she said, “So let’s go! No time to waste.”. Ah, there it was. So much for the excitement that I went there with. My mind was on fire thinking how I could show my excitement at Rupet’s dolls. To mention going and seeing toys over learning about processors was a shameful thing for an Engineering student. Still, I too was not one who gave up that easily.
“Wo, wo, wo, hold on. I came here in my own excitement. We’ll go to the University now, but on one condition. As soon as we get back that you’ll come with me to see the Rupet’s dolls exhibition in town! They are out, can you believe it!?”. Now I was sounding excited.
“Yeah sure”, said Nidiya. “I’m not sure what those are but I’m sure they will be worth seeing if they got your attention. Now let us go!”.
We went to the university and got back in the afternoon. She had her fill when Shafik explained to her the core semantics and details of the implementation. Content and happy with her research efforts, she had that “pleased with one’s self” look on her face. However, I was not done yet.
“Let’s go for the exhibit!”, I said disturbing her train of thoughts. She felt irritated on being pulled away from her world. Since it was me who did it, she kept it to herself and gave me one of her lovely smiles.
“Let’s grab some lunch and we’ll be on our way”, she said.
We had lunch and caught the bus to town. We could see posters and billboards of Rupet’s dolls all along the way. They had given it a pretty wonderful publicity for over month now through TV and newspapers. Everyone was anxious to get their hands on them as much I was. We reached town and went to the central supermarket where the first batch of toys had arrived that day morning.
I was scared that this might bore Nidiya too much and I was beginning to feel bad about dragging her over there. The rush at the market was unbelievable and it took almost half an hour to find our way through the crowd into the market. Just as we entered it, I stood as if I was struck with lightning. Trying hard to digest what I had just witnessed, I slowly turned and looked at Nidu. I felt relieved on seeing her eyes widened and her jaw dropped. Bringing her along was not a disappointment after all.
“I need a closer look”, she said and hurried over to one of the dolls on the show stand. I followed her and what we both beheld put us in a trance. The dolls were so life like that it was almost indistinguishable from a real human! You could even see the nerves on the hands slightly protruding. The palm of the doll’s hands were so masterfully crafted that each and every line was perfectly visible. Even the nails had the slight pink tint to them. Their eyes seemed to have life in them. The light lines on the lips, the eyebrows, and even the hair on the skin was there and that too in a perfectly normal nature that you would not at feel like you were looking at a doll at all. I even began to think these might be real life dwarfs standing there to trick us and tried pinching and slightly piercing one with my pin. They did not stir. They were dolls.
“Hasna, this is absolutely awesome!”, Nidiya cried. I too had not expected to witness such a marvel.
“Let’s check out the others!”, I said and dragged her away to see the other dolls.
Each one was better than the previous one. The price of the dolls were a tad bit too much for ordinary people, and hence we contended ourselves with just looking at them. We had spent more than two hours there savoring the sight when I noticed that it was getting dark out.
“Hey Nidu, we should get going. First you did not want to come, now you don’t want to go?”, I mocked her. She did not reply, but went straight over to one of the representatives and asked him,
“Sir, where do you get these dolls from?”
“From Rupet, Of course!”, the representative replied with a laugh.
“I mean do you know the place where they come from? Do you directly order it from Rupet himself?”
“Well, their agents came and gave us their number. We rang them and placed an order and here we are!”, he again ended with a smile.
I pulled her away from him and we got out of the market. However, she was already drawn towards the dolls. She kept looking back at the market as we hurried to catch the homebound bus.
“Wow, now those were some cool dolls I say!”, I said trying to show my amazement. Nidiya just nodded and let out a slight hum without giving any reply. “Hey, snap out of it Nidu”, I shook her.
She came back from the world she was in and gave me a weird look. I started feeling extremely disturbed because I had seen that look before in her eyes. It meant that she was hooked onto that matter and she would never give up on it unless she understood every aspect of it.
We got down at the stop near our homes. I asked her not to keep any of this in mind and tried to get her mind back onto the matter of processors. On our way home, I was relieved when she suddenly started telling me about what Mr. Shafik had told her about it. The enthusiasm with which she explained the matter really would get the person hearing her interested in it. Suffice to say, I was all about processors.
Days passed and one day, I was surprised to hear from her mom asking me whether Nidu had called upon me or whether I had any idea where she was. It was study leave for us and we had not seen each other for almost a week now. I grew concerned and asked her mom what was going on. She told me that Nidiya had something on her mind and would spend a lot of time walking here and there muttering to herself. I was not alarmed at that because she usually was like that. However when her mother told me that she had been making quite a few trips to the super market lately, I started to feel a bit worried.
I went over to the super market and inquired whether such a girl had come there. What they told me raised my anxiety even further. It seems she had talked them into giving her the distributor’s phone number. “What is she planning on doing? Learn the craft from the masters?”, I thought. That girl never knew when to let go of something. I did not waste much time. I called the distributors and got their address. I hurried over there and saw the managing director.
I asked him whether a girl had come to him inquiring about Rupet’s dolls.
“Ah yes madame. A pretty young girl had come inquiring about it. However, we do not have direct contact with Rupet’s dolls. We get a call from a number consistently every week and we place our orders then. We never used to call back. She made us give her that number and she went away with a chuckle. That is all I know.”
Nidiya went missing from then on. Nothing can express the guilt and grief that I have bore over the years. It has been 18 years since then. I have relocated to another country and have been settled there for the past three years now. To my surprise, today morning it was the grand opening of Rupet’s toys here in central city. There was a huge crowd at the mall. I went over to the mall which brought back all those bitter memories.
I got in and looked at the dolls. One doll caught my eye. It had a special black dress. I looked at it. It’s skin was so fair and smooth. It had the hands of a sweet little girl and the figure of a beautiful young lady. I felt something horrible within me just then. In that sense of fright, I slowly took the doll. My hands shivered. Slowly I turned it around, and beheld one of the most beautiful faces that I have ever seen in my life.
It was Nidiya.
Yet another one of my sister’s weird dreams.