When golu dolls spake

It all started with de-stuffing of the golu dolls for Dusshera from their gargantuan wooden box, a family heirloom. Making sure the dolls do not lose a limb or a head, they were carefully taken out and placed on the floor. Many of them seemed to blink at the onslaught of sudden light after a year of hibernation.

Brightly-painted dolls are a feast for the eyes. Their poses frozen at a moment the doll maker thought fit, they have always bewitched me. But before long, things began to happen that startled me and made me jump out of my skin.

It was the doll of Harischandra that spoke first. “Please, please, sir. Do not keep me near Narada. Agreed, he may be a sage and the devotee of Sriman Narayana. But don’t you know he tells packs of lies? No doubt, a disclaimer is added by his chroniclers that his shenanigans ultimately do good for the parties affected. But I do not buy that. Period.”

My eyes almost popped out of my sockets. Shell-shocked, I placed Harischandra away from Narada. The next doll I picked was Pattinaththar, the mystic poet posing with a sugarcane stalk in his hand. “Me too,” he said. “Please, do not place me near that divine flautist, Lord Krishna, the husband of Bhama and Rukmini, the lover of Radha and sixteen thousand wives. I am afraid his effect may rub off on me, who renounced my only wife.”

The Chettiar doll set with a plethora of provisions before him for sale hurried to voice his concern. “Me too, sir. Don’t keep me anywhere near the Annalakshmi or Kamadhenu statues. Being a writer, you would have guessed the reason. If either of them granted anything the people would clamour for free, will the people come to my shop to buy, rice, pulses, tamarind, salt and such for cooking food? No way.”

This was getting curiouser. I wondered what else would be in store for me. The pair of elephants that flanked the dolls in a row came up next. Both trumpeted in unison. “Me too, Sir. Rather, to be grammatically sound, we too, sir. Please do not place us near the poet Bharathi. One of our pachyderms outside the Triplicane temple had reportedly pushed Bharathi when he offered a banana. True or false, this makes us all hang our heads in shame, though we should have always raised them to trumpet the great poet’s wizardry.”

As if bound by their status of confirmed bachelorhood, the dolls of Vigneshwara and Anjaneya came together. The usually cheerful and smiling Vigneshwara looked serious, while Anjaneya spoke on behalf of them both without parting his perennially joined hands. “We too, sir. There is one fancy set. That of a wedding, with bride, bridegroom, priest, nadaswaram etc. May we request you to keep us as far away as possible from it, since Vigneshwara here is forever in search of a bride like his mother Goddess Parvati, whom he will never get. And myself, having no other duty except to chant the mystical name Ram...Ram...Ram...”

Needless to say, I woke up then.

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