Bedtime story: The doll and the hair slide

A fictional story by Hameen Markar

I was fast asleep when I was woken by a loud noise downstairs. It sounded like a huge commotion with furniture being thrown around and the table lamp shattering. I ran down the stairs to see Dad and Mum grappling with two men – one short and burly and the other tall and lanky. They were holding on to my doll and my sister, Lucy’s hair slide. I recognised this is what we had bought in the Egyptian marketplace when we were there on holiday a few months ago.


I screamed and grabbing the phone dialled 999. Within minutes, we could hear the loud siren of the Police cars. Our attackers, on hearing the Police vehicles, grabbed the doll and the slide from my Mum and ran out in to the darkness. It all happened so very quickly that I hardly had any time to comprehend what was going on. The Police officer, a stern looking middle aged man, came in and introduced himself as Peter Cumbernauld and wanted to know what had happened. My Dad was too shocked to speak and started muttering unintelligible noises. Thankfully, Mum came to his rescue and told the policeman that we have been burgled by two men.


“Burgled”, the Policeman said. “Who were they, and what did they take?” he asked. Mum looked rather sheepish and embarrassed when she told him that they just taken my doll and my sister’s hair slide. “All this commotion for a doll and a hair slide” Peter yelled. “I am sorry madam, but we have to charge you for wasting Police time. Who dialled 999?”. “I did Sir”, I said before mum or dad could intervene. “Yes Sir, I did and I don’t think I was wasting your time. This is a serious matter because the charges should include not only theft but also breaking and entering our house”. I felt quite proud that I had learnt a few legal terms from my mother!


“Yes, Officer”, I heard my Dad say, “this is breaking and entering and theft. If you don’t investigate, we will have to take it up with your superior officers.” “Okay, Okay, I will do what I can”, said Peter who did not seem pleased at all. Taking out his notebook, he wanted an exact account of what happened. My mum and Dad told him about the noise they heard and when they went downstairs to investigate, saw these two men with my doll and Lucy’s hair slide. Peter wanted us to describe the men. This was difficult, because in the commotion we hardly noticed what they looked like. Anyway, I remembered that one was tall and thin with black hair. He had a beard and a tattoo of a bird on his left or right arm. I noticed this when he was grappling with Dad. The other man was short and stumpy with curly hair, a podgy nose and protruding teeth. They were both wearing red jumpers and blue trainers. Just at this moment, Lucy woke up and came down the stairs asking for her hair slide. When Mum said that the burglars had stolen it, she screamed and started bawling which did not stop for a good one hour. The Policeman has had enough by this time and left us saying that he would do his best to investigate, but there is little point in looking for a doll and a hair slide. Hearing this, Lucy let out another scream which made Peter jump and run out of the house.


Part 2

Days passed by and we heard nothing from the police. I was back at school and Lucy at the nursery. She had forgotten all about her precious slide. I had other toys to play with, although I missed my doll- it had such beautiful sparkling blue eyes. This contrasted so much with Lucy’s slide that had a lovely red stone in the middle. Anyway, she could not even remember what it looked like. I was getting back to my studies – English, Maths and my Grandpa’s jokes. He never failed to call himself a genius! I now know where my mother’s sense of modesty comes from.


It was a Sunday morning. I had just got out of bed when I heard Dad shouting for us to get ready to go to Church. Washed and dressed, we were both down for breakfast. Mum was reading the papers, and I could not help but notice a picture of a man on the back of the newspaper. The man looked very familiar and then I noticed the tattoo of the bird on his right arm. It all came back to me and I yelled, “that is the man.” Mum looked at me, turned the page over and shouted excitedly at Dad, “Honey, they have found him. Arrested at Heathrow airport for trying to smuggle some diamonds.”


“What are you talking about”, Dad asked leaning over Mum to look at the papers. Soon he was excited too – and with the trip to Church forgotten, he ran to phone the Police. Lucy was all smiles for she suddenly remembered her hair slide. I too could not wait to see my doll. “Are you sure we will get them back mum,” I asked. She just smiled and said, “we have to wait. It is likely that the men threw them away. They were not just petty thieves, and must have been looking for a lot more when they burgled us.”


We were all waiting for news from the Police when Dad came downstairs and said that the Police were coming to see us. “Not again!” I muttered “but then, they may be bringing the slide and doll back”. The wait was agonising. I had so many different thoughts going through my head. The excitement was simply unbearable, when the doorbell rang. This time it was a kind looking, pleasant middle-aged gentleman who introduced himself as John Radcliffe, Senior Superintendent. He had a beaming smile with lovely white teeth. I wondered if these were dentures (like Mr Butler’s, our neighbour) but dared not to ask. Both Lucy and I were just keen to get our toys back.


But alas! The news was not good. Yes, the men had the doll and the slide in their possession but the police have taken it. How could they, when we had bought them at the Egyptian Market and they were ours. Lucy began her shrieking and mum had to step in to keep her quiet. Taking a deep breath, the Policeman said, “I am so sorry. This can all seem very strange to you but the diamonds were in these toys”.


“What!”, my dad exclaimed. “Yes Sir, that is true”, said Mr Radcliffe. The dolls eyes were actually two priceless blue sapphires and the red stone on the hair slide was a very expensive ruby. “How can that be? We just bought it at the Egyptian market for less than £1”. That was mum looking bewildered. Mr Radcliffe went on to say that these precious stones were extremely valuable and had been stolen from the Sultan of Dollyland. The thieves had smuggled it across to Egypt by placing the stones as the doll’s eyes and the ruby on the hair slide, so that these just appeared to be children’s toys. Somewhere along the line, they were lost and ended up in the Egyptian Market, when we had bought it. Mr Radcliffe then said, “actually, you are now the rightful owners, and it is up to you whether you want to return it to the Sultan or not. Lucy smiled and spoke for the first time when she said, “I am keeping it and my sister wants the doll too.” I said nothing, because I saw that look on mum’s face and I knew she will never let us keep it, and I was right.


Both Mum and Dad were adamant that it should be returned to the Sultan immediately. Lucy yelled and ran up the stairs in a flood of tears. I was deeply disappointed too, but could understand their viewpoint. Mr Radcliffe smiled, “You are a great family, and thank you so much for your understanding and honesty”. With that, he left us taking my doll and Lucy’s slide with him.


Part 3


Days passed into weeks and weeks to months. Life was back to normal – the same daily routine. Up in the morning to school, grappling with English, Maths, Grandpa’s usual jokes (which I had heard so many times) and Grandma’s cookery lessons. The usual weekend visits to Papa and Nana and so life went on.


Then one Saturday, we were out playing in the garden when we heard the doorbell and it was our postman. He had a large parcel which was addressed to me and Lucy. Excitement began to build up and we wondered what it could be. Dad went into the kitchen to get a pair of scissors to open the parcel. I just could not wait to see what was inside. There was so much packing and eventually it came to light - 6 beautiful dolls all with great blue eyes and 6 lovely hair slides with huge red stones in the middle. There was also a note addressed to Jane and Lucy. It said, “Dear girls, with compliments and grateful thanks from the Sultan of Dollyland.”


Hameen Markar


Disclaimer

Please note that this story is a work of fiction. The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.

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