The Broken Bear



Shalini hopped off the bright yellow school bus when it stopped at the corner of their street. She was dressed impeccably in her school uniform… a white blouse, white camisole beneath, a dark blue skirt that came to just above her knees, almost knee-length socks and sports shoes. Her hair was tied back in a single ponytail. Though she was tired, her eyes had a twinkle and she had a smile. She was tall for her age, but she never felt so. No one who knew her thought that she was a tenth standard student.

Entering her home, she went straight up to her room and flopped down on her bed, which her mom had covered with a yellow flowery sheet. She looked around for him.

“Where could he have gone? He’s usually right here on the bed when I get home,” she wondered.

“Maybe he has fallen below the bed,” she thought and knelt beside her bed. She knew her mother wouldn’t approve of her kneeling on the floor in her uniform skirt but that didn’t stop her. Not bothered about the puff of dust that rose toward her white blouse, she raised the sheet and looked under the bed. No. He wasn’t there either.

“The sheet was changed. Maybe mummy put him away in the cupboard,” she concluded. Gently lifting herself up, she walked to her cupboard and opened it. She looked between her neatly folded clothes, and found nothing. She began to worry. What if he was lost in the cupboard? She began removing the clothes, first trying to keep the folded clothes as they were, and then looking only for him, she began to toss them out onto her bed. It was to no avail. He wasn’t there either.

“Mummyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” her panicked voice drifted down the stairs and into the kitchen where her mother was making her a snack. Her shaking body soon followed the voice as she rushed into the kitchen.

“Mummy! Where is Mr. Tums?” she asked, trying hard not to scream at her mother.

“What? That broken old teddy bear? He had half an arm missing from when you tried to play doctor and amputated it. He had more buttons sewn on his coat by me than when we got him for you. He even had an eye missing. You are fifteen years old, Shalu. Time to grow up now. I gave him to our watchman’s daughter.”

“But mummy…” began Shalini.

“No buts. Go upstairs and wash up now before you come for snacks.”

Shalini stood in her bedroom balcony and looked down. There were tears in her eyes still, even though she had washed her face like her mother had told. Below, she saw the watchman’s daughter play with her Mr. Tums. She remembered the first time she had held him in her hands. She had been five years old. She had had a hard fall, and fractured her wrist. Her father had got Mr. Tums with him when he returned home from work.

“Rub his tummy, and smile for him. He’ll always smile for you,” her father had told her.

And he had. He had made her smile through the pain. He had saved her from monsters under the bed. He had stayed up all night with her when she was studying for exams. He had listened to her sobs when she had had no diary.

Today, seeing little Lavanya, the watchman’s daughter hold Mr. Tums, she felt incomplete. She thought of what to do, what would be right. And she realized, there was a way. Diving under her bed again, she pulled it out.

Few hours later, her mother saw Shalini lying on her bed. The broken old bear was next to her.

“Shalu! How could you? Did you know how happy she was when I gave that bear to her? And you go act like a baby and snatch it back? I expected better of you.”

She heard laughter from below. Going to the balcony, she looked down to see Lavanya holding a new teddy bear, cuddling it with a smile as bright as the moon above.

She turned around to see Shalu cuddling the broken bear, smiling at her.

“He may be broken, but he’s mine. He’s the best. I didn’t want her to lose a magical bear, Mummy. I just wanted my Mr. Tums, and his memories always with me.”

On the bedside table was a large empty bottle. Seeing it, her mother smiled.

In that bottle had been all the money Shalu had saved since a year.

(7th July 2014)

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Poetry & writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

18 thoughts on “The Broken Bear”

  1. I had a bedsheet. My grand mother had stitched it for baby me with her sarees. It was torn and tattered and I kept using it. One fine day it was gone….just gone. I wonder who did what with it.

    • There are some memories that’ll stay past the object, Jb 🙂 I think your bedsheet is one such, because of your granny.

  2. I know that feeling. I cling on to old and seemingly useless things because they have so many memories attached to them… I just cannot seem to get on with life and forget those special ones who were such a big part of my growing up years.
    Sweet post Leo! 🙂

  3. Oh that was a sweet story! well, I can understand, there are some toys that we are always attached to.. nothing can take their place.. 🙂

  4. heart warming and kind! 🙂
    such a sweet little girl. I can understand her sentiments.. I don’t remember if I had anything like that as a child – I do vaguely remember a doll.. lemme ask my mom! 😀

    • Yeah 😀 I had a couple of stuffed doggies who I wouldn’t let go 🙂 Ask your mum. Am sure something would be there, Pixie 😉

  5. Every time I sit down to clean up my cupboard, I end up dusting my old stuffs and keeping them back. Can’t seems to let them go. They hols so much of memories and good moments.

    Very heartwarming post. Left me with a smile. 🙂

    • Yeah, Sheethal 🙂 I too end up doing that. Some things I give away, but others hold more meaning to me. Glad you left with a smile. Thanks!

  6. There are plenty of memories associated with our childhood toys, right? For me, it was something really odd – It was a stuffed porcupine. Of course the thorns were just cloth, but I think I still have it around somewhere. Nice post, Leo

    • Never had a porcupine 🙂 Mine was black & white doggy, a share-toy between my sister and me. But yes, lots of memories associated with toys, trading cards etc. Glad you liked the post, Sid.

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