Chappi was the very first friend he had made in life. It was hard to say whether Chappi was just a friend or a little more or less than that. What can one say or understand about friends that are made at the age of three? For young Shaukat, the golden haired, blue eyed little doll Chappi was nothing less than his entire world. Whether it was happy times or sad, play time or serious time, a pensive mood or a naughty one, from the porch to the roof and from the kitchen to the ladies sitting room, Shaukat could be seen parading all over the house with Chappi in hand. It is true that one never forgets the romance of youth or the grief of old age.
Time passed and Chappi continued to remain an important element in Shaukat’s life. However, it wasn’t long before Shaukat started to find Chappi tiresome. If he sat to talk to her like always, his homework was affected. If he stayed up late at night with her, he would become late for school the next day. Once when he was spanked by his teacher for his incomplete homework, Shaukat came home and put the blame entirely on Chappi. What could the poor, lifeless Chappi say? Not content with just verbally blaming her, he pulled out her hair, broke her arms and legs, tore her clothes, and finally threw her in the trash can. Some people in his house took a sigh of relief at finally getting rid of Chappi while others just laughed it off as a kid’s prank. It was only Shaukat’s mother whose eyes moistened at Shaukat sudden turn of rage against Chappi.
After he had gotten rid of his Chappi, it gradually turned into Shaukat habit of getting a new doll, taking care of her, playing with her, and conversing with her for hours, just like Chappi. And every time he was in a foul mood over anything, he would take out his anger on the doll. So like he had done with Chappi. He changed dolls so frequently after Chappi, that he even stopped giving them names.
The real truth behind the actual life of the poor and the real state of the rich is always concealed. Similarly, no one paid attention to the idiosyncrasy of Shaukat’s behavior. Time passed and Shaukat grew from young age into his youth and then from youth into adulthood.
It wasn’t long before his parents got him a real life doll to share his life with. Getting married to Sumbal was like a dream come true for Shaukat. He was crazy about this walking, talking doll. In reality, Sumbal was nothing short of a doll with her fair complexion, gray eyes, ruby lips, pink cheeks, and a laugh that brought to mind gushing streams and fresh waterfalls. She was not just a pretty face but even her manners were pristine enough to have the entire household start singing her praises in a very short period of time. She became the favorite of every member of the family. As for Shaukat, he was nothing short of a God for her whose every wish and command she considered her religious duty. It seemed like keeping Shaukat happy was the only purpose of her life. He was the light of her eyes and in turn, he was as proud as a peacock of his perfect wife.
Time again passed, as usual and as always, just like all his other dolls, Shaukat started to tire of this living, breathing doll as well. It wasn’t long before the sounds of his irritated and meaningless squabbles could be heard through the doors of the bedroom. To make things worse, Shaukat’s business suddenly took a bad hit. As with all the other dolls, Shaukat put the entire blame of the crises upon the shoulders of a bewildered Sumbal. Shaukat’s argument was that it was because Sumbal kept him so tied up with unnecessary problems and affairs of the family and household that he had failed to concentrate on the critical aspect of earning a livelihood.
Things finally got so grim between the two that Shaukat started feeling the pangs of the familiar, irrepressible urge to pull out Sumbal’s hair, break her arms and legs, and throw her into the trash. As he started to take enraged, wrathful steps toward Sumbal, fury evident in his every step, Sumbal backed up against the wall, silent and trembling. It was hard to tell whether it was fear or shock that put a lock on her lips. But before Shaukat could lift a finger on Sumbal, his mother came in front of Sumbal, creating such a strong wall of protection that Shaukat had no other choice but to back down.
Sumbal decided to leave Shaukat’s house for good after that incident because the fact of the matter, whether anyone admits it or not, is that an attempt to hit is as legitimate as actual hitting. What is a physical blow? It may or may not occur and the pain subsides. But the blows made to one’s dignity, honor, and soul can never be darned.
Time passed again and four decades lapsed. Shaukat lay in the hospital, counting the last breaths of his life. His past life played in front of him like a movie on a large screen. He was thinking about Chappi. He wished he hadn’t broken her and discarded her so heartlessly for it was with Chappi that his painful habit of shattering and trashing dolls had begun. If only he had learned to respect Chappi, there would be a live doll at his bedside that day in the form of a loving, caring, grieving life partner.