Kamini loved her dolls. She had three of them. Two of them were Indian and she had named them Rukmani and Ranjani, so that they rhymed with her name. Her uncle had gifted her another doll that he had brought from London, who she had named Jenny. Kamini’s dolls were her babies. She brushed their teeth in the morning, washed them and dressed them up. When she had her breakfast she would have them sitting by her side. At night before going to sleep, she would put them to sleep. Her brother Vivek would indulge her by allowing the dolls to take rides in his various cars.

Kamini’s best friend was Niyati. Niyati was more like a boy. Not at all interested in dolls, Niyati would spend most part of the day fighting with her brother Keshav.

Niyati and Keshav were neighbours to Kamini and Vivek. Their fathers had been business associates. For a long time they had been like one big family. However in the recent past, differences had cropped up. The differences grew larger till one day the fathers decided to snap the relationship. It was very painful breaking up. The mothers also stopped talking to each other.

The Lame Groom and his English Bride [Illustrations by Amarjeet Malik]
The Lame Groom and his English Bride [Illustrations by Amarjeet Malik]

The children found it difficult to visit each other. They had to meet in the park.

“I don’t like this at all. I wish we could go to your house”, said a cross Kamini to Niyati.

“And they say that children fight!” said Niyati feeling angry with her parents.

“What can be done?” asked Keshav.

“Can we not do something that makes them forget their fight?” wondered Vivek.

“Hey, I just remembered what I read in a magazine. When Saurav Ganguly married Donna, the families that had broken off, came together again,” said Niyati.

“Oh that is a common Hindi movie story. Families become enemies. Then boy and girl want to get married. Families declare war. But boy and girl get married and families become friends again,” Keshav said.

“Now, Just a minute. Are we suggesting that we should get married to each other?” asked a curious Vivek.

“Aren’t we too young?” asked an innocent Kamini.

“I hate girls. I will not get married at all,” proclaimed Keshav.

“And I want to marry Varun,” sobbed Kamini.

“Who is this Varun now?” asked Niyati.

“He is a boy in my class. He is the one who vomited in the bus yesterday,” Kamini explained seriously.

“Yuck. Sounds disgusting,” said Vivek.

“No. He is not,” protested Kamini hotly.

“Hey guys, stop that. Aren’t we are forgetting what we started to do. We were thinking of ideas to unite our families,” said Keshav.

“It think we must forget the marriage business, because it doesn’t seem as though it will work,” said a disappointed Vivek.

After that depressing statement, there was a short spell of gloomy silence. It was broken by an excited Niyati’s idea, “Why don’t we get our dolls married?”

“That seems a good idea,” said Keshav.

“It is certainly less risky than the first idea,” agreed Vivek.

“Right!” said Keshav grinning wickedly.

“No it is not a good idea,” said Kamini.

“Now what!” said Niyati.

“I am not giving my dolls in marriage to yours,” she protested.

“And why not, may I ask,” said Niyati, peeved.

“You have only one doll and you don’t take care of him. He is scraggly and dirty and doesn’t have one leg,” Kamini was suprisingly firm.

“Yes I know,” said Niyati angrily, “But I would have sacrificed for the sake of my family.”

“But I love my dolls and I cannot do this to them,” said Kamini in tears.

Vivek put an arm round Kamini, “I know you are upset, but why don’t we see Niyati’s doll first.”

“Uh oh! I’ll have to search for him,” said Niyati, looking guilty.

“Doesn’t sound very encouraging, said Keshav.

“Let us try for some time before giving up,” said Vivek.

Keshav and Niyati found an old male rag doll in the garage. Feeling hot and dusty after having searched for 3 hours, they sat in their lawn, completely exhausted.

“I can’t believe you gave up your precious afternoon sleep to spend time hunting for this fellow who you had discarded a long time back,” said their puzzled mother. She was even more puzzled at their silence after that. “What are you two upto now,” she said suspiciously. She obviously didn’t fall for their innocent smiles.

The doll was in a very sorry state. “Let us start by getting him into shape.” They scrubbed and scrubbed and felt very satisfied to see the dark river of dirt flowing away. Finally, the fellow looked clean.

“I would still say this is a terrible proposal for Kamini’s dolls,” said Keshav.

“No wonder she is upset. They deserve better than this,” agreed Niyati.

“Let us make him better. We’ll get him some new clothes,” suggested Keshav, “Let us start by giving him a name at least.”

“How is ‘Sachin’?” asked Niyati.

“That was quick. And that sound like a decent name, very unlike a doll’s name,” said Keshav.

Niyati then asked her mother to stitch some new clothes for Sachin. Niyati’s mother was pleased with Niyati’s request. She said, “I am glad that you are finally behaving like a girl.”

She made a leg for Sachin and he looked very elegant indeed in his new clothes. Keshav and Niyati did not feel so bad about approaching Vivek and Kamini now.

Kamini was however very disappointed, to see an artificial leg, some fingers missing and the half-missing ear hidden under the turban.

“What’s there in external appearances Kamini, look at his heart. See if Sachin will keep your daughter happy,” consoled Keshav.

Everyone giggled. “I am ready to sacrifice, so that our families can be united,” said Kamini bravely.

“That’s the spirit,” encouraged Vivek.

“Now how do we go about this whole thing?” asked Keshav.

“First the boy and the girl must meet and agree to marry, " said Kamini.

Kamini and Vivek told their mothers that Niyati and Keshav were visiting them in the evening for a small party and they would like nice things to eat. Mrs. Sharma couldn’t refuse a reasonable request.

In the evening, the children dazzled in traditional Indian clothes. The events looked so promising that Kamini forgot her sorrows.

Mrs. Sharma and Mrs. Kohli, puzzled with what was going on, were observing things closely.

“Hello, Mr. Keshav and Ms.Niyati and hello young boy,” said Vivek when the three of them entered.

Kamini giggled. They carried on a very formal conversation full of giggles. “Isn’t the weather nice outside,” said Niyati. They had rehearsed this a hundred times. “Yes, wouldn’t it be nice to go for a walk.

Giggle, Giggle.”

“So (giggle), come let us go.”

Snigger, Snigger.

So Jenny and Sachin were left alone in the room while the 4 adults went for a stroll. As they were in the garden, they heard some suffocated laughter from across the road. There were Mrs. Sharma and Mrs.Kohli, holding their sides and trying not to laugh too loud.

“Wow it has worked”, said Vivek.

“And so quickly at that,” said an overjoyed Niyati.

But it was true. Mrs. Kohli and Mrs. Sharma were talking like old friends, with no trace of bitterness.

“This is funny. Who would have thought that the kids would think of this,” laughed Mrs. Sharma.

“It almost feels as though they are doing it to get the families together again,” joked Mrs. Kohli.

“Maybe they are.”

“Yes, you are right.”

The two mothers paused for a moment. The children through this gesture of theirs had made the adults realise how petty they had been. They felt very warm towards the children, when they thought of the effort they had put in to get this going.

“Well children, we are going to support you in your mission to establish peace,” announced the mothers, grandly.

“Yippee!” chorused the children.

Jenny and Sachin apparently liked each other and agreed to get married. A date was fixed for the wedding and all decided that since it was for a noble cause, it must be the grandest wedding possible.

The children made invitation cards. New clothes were bought for the children and the dolls. Excitement started building progressively before the ceremonies.

As expected, how could the fathers be left behind? Vivek’s father managed to get a priest who was willing to conduct a doll’s wedding with all the seriousness of a regular wedding.

There was hectic activity in both families.

The auspicious day arrived and the bride dazzled in her wedding finery and henna. Keshav’s father led a baraat with a live band across the road. If Vivek’s father could get a priest, he could get a band. Niyati gingerly carried a brightly clothed and turbaned Sachin.

Amidst loud chanting, the bride and the groom exchanged garlands. Mr. Sharma, offered the hand of Rukmani to Sachin by pouring water over their joined hands, holding a Tulasi leaf over them.

The bride and the groom hopped seven steps around the fire.

“May you live together in joy and sorrow and produce many children,” blessed the priest officiously.

The two fathers looked at each other and instinctively proceeded to give each other a long, warm hug, amidst hooting and cheering by the kids and their mothers.

The bride wore kumkum and a mangalsutra. Mrs. Kohli did an aarti for her before she stepped into their house.

Kamini could not bear the thought of going back home without Jenny, so she stayed on in Niyati’s house overnight. The next morning too she was reluctant to go back home, unable to trust a glowing, very pretty Jenny with a careless Niyati.

“Maybe Sachin and Jenny could stay with Kamini,” suggested Keshav afraid that Kamini may camp in their house forever. Considering practicalities, everybody agreed.

So the bride and the groom moved over to the bride’s house and everybody lived happily ever after.

1668 words | 18 minutes
Readability: Grade 5 (10-11 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: stories
Tags: #families, #dolls, #wedding

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