I am a dark chocolate brown teddy bear, tall, soft, and handsome, with a large soft grey bow. I was given to Dhwani on her first birthday.The family called me Charmain after an ad for a brand of toilet paper in which a teddy bear happily wiggles its presumably clean bottom after having used Charmain. Apparently I resembled that teddy bear.
In Toy School, we are prepared for our lives after we are adopted by a family. I am twelve years old, and in teddy bear years, that is very very old! I have heard of friends who have been disembowelled by love within a year of adoption, whose arms and legs hang by threads. That is the destiny of a teddy bear, we are told in Toy School, a destiny we should embrace.
But Dhwani did not seem to need me very much in those early years. I stayed sadly intact for years, perched up on the shelf and saw many toys come and go, either get broken by use, or misplaced before they could be used. I saw dolls desperately in need of baths and a few that actually got one but still remained damp and smelly. I saw toys with dribble and drool and chocolate stains and several other unmentionables on them. Well, if you name me after a brand of toilet paper, you have to be prepared for some toilet humour!
Anyway, after a few years, along came Dhruv who inherited all those stuffed toys, the clean and dry ones, as well as the wet and smelly ones - and me! He did not bother to rechristen too many of the other toys, but decided to rename me Teddington, a dignified name if ever there was one, after a character in a children's show. But suddenly, Dhwani (who was now eight years old) decided that I was far too precious to part with. So they fought over me. They grabbed me each by an arm, and just as I thought I would finally achieve my destiny and get an arm torn off, their mother always intervened.
The matter was often settled depending on who needed me more at the time. Sometimes, Dhruv would settle for the monkey, the lion, the kangaroo, or one of the many dogs. Those nights, I was Charmain, guardian of pre-teen nightmares, warder off of dreams of teasing love-struck pimply pre-pubescent boys, or thoughts of stern teachers peering from over horn-rimmed glasses. I did not have much to offer - after all I had spent my teen years in various toy cupboards - but all she seemed to need sometimes was someone soft, non-judgemental, quiet, and supportive. I seemed to fit that bill very well indeed.
But when the matter could not be so amicably settled, I became Teddington, defender against dreams of big grabby sisters (the very one who came to me for support the previous night), guardian against bullies on the playground, whispering tips on how to colour within the lines and write cursive 'f's'.
Sometimes, it would start with me going to one bed and then being snuck off with the one who slept last. I would start my night as Charmain and then somewhere in the night turn into Teddington, or the other way round. This is rather a strain on my old body and older mind. In Toy School, we are taught to expect and welcome grievous bodily harm inflicted upon us, but we are not prepared to have our minds cleaved in two, step out from one character into the shoes of another. But maybe, I should have read the fine print better - Expect the unexpected.