Barbie, I and small town morality
I grew up in army cantonments in many small towns of India, imbibing an entire system of morality. I thought fourteen years of subsequent residence and education in avant garde Goa and then Mumbai washed off all those old notions. Not quite. Yesterday I was rearranging my shelves, to allow space for new books. Our childhood toys were kicked upstairs to the topmost shelf. Those old building blocks, board games, cars...I sighed. And then came the problem of my sister's Barbie dolls. She has two Barbies, a Skipper and a Ken.
Putting away the Barbie dolls was not a worry, I just stashed them away. Skipper was comfortably squashed in with them. The trouble came with putting Ken in there. I just stuffed him in there, and began the descent from the ladder. Then something from my old 'values' began to gnaw inside. Haw Haw! Putting a young man alone with a young woman? That too two of them? I ascended, and removed Ken.
I put a table-tennis racquet between him and the Barbies. My conscience was clear I hoped. But one Barbie's head on one side and Ken's head on the other side of the racquet were rather too close for comfort. What might they do behind my back? Toys supposedly come to life at night, and these two are of such an age that...
The ladder was put and I moved them about again. After several attempts (where Ken survived near-capital injuries), I finally put him prostate on his back, dangling precariously over Barbie's toy cupboard. Comfortable resting-place that! The trouble was, now Ken's feet were on the other Barbie's forehead. The city in me got angry. You and your feudal pretensions. You old smalltown folk still think of women as fit for your feet only - charan-ki-dasi-ists!
My feet were on strike now. It was difficult balancing on the ladder. They were protesting throbbingly against my brain's silly notions. Finally, adjusting Ken ever so slightly that his feet did not touch Barbie-ji's hair, I set my mind and legs at ease and got off.