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Remembering ‘Helen’ My Treasured Childhood Friend

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This is a picture of my friend’s daughter carrying her doll while watching TV. My friend’s name is Emily.

When I saw this picture, it brought so many memories of me as a little girl. Just like Emily, my mom also used to wrap my doll around my back ‘kuku‘ style.

Those days, our dolls were fancy. By fancy I mean they were dolls made of plastic -plastic like bucket (ndoo) plastic. That was as fancy as it got.

My doll was red in color, and her name was Helen. I carried Helen everywhere I went as she nested securely on my back. I watched TV with her. I went to visit my friends with her. We ate together. WE played together. We had good times together. Helen was like my beloved child. Even though she never responded, I always had very engaging conversations with her.

Whenever I went out to play in the sun with my dear Helen, I was sure to cover her completely because I didn’t want her melting. I also didn’t want her to emit that ka-smell that plastics emit when they have been in the sun too long. I took good care of Helen because she was such a treasure.

For some reason though, I always chewed at Helen’s feet. The taste of plastic was somehow very sweet and I don’t know why I decided to eat part of Helen yet she was such a good friend of mine.  As she grew older, she turned from red to pink. But I loved her in all her shades. Helen. Such fond memories of her.

I don’t know where Helen went -my mom probably stashed her together with our old toys and gave them out. I sure do hope that she wasn’t thrown out together with our old plastic basins and  buckets :( . That would surely break my heart. I wish I could find Helen again.

So that’s why when I saw Emily’s daughter with a doll on her back, I remembered Helen. I don’t know if kids still carry dolls on their back, but I haven’t seen any child do so -until I saw Emily’s daughter.

Do those plastic dolls still exist? I wouldn’t mind buying one, just as a memento. So that I can show my boys the kinds of dolls that I used to love. Nowadays all I see are Barbies and just the other day when buying to cars for my boys I saw Dora dolls. Wow!!!!!! Imagine I was so enticed by a Dora doll and yet I’m an all growned up woman. Now what of a little girl?

But neither Barbie nor Dora got anything on my Helen. Helen was the ‘it’ of dolls. I wish I could see her again.

So moms with little girls, do you tie your daughter’s doll’s on their back? Did you as a little girl do the same? What memories do you have?

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  1. My four year old ties her doll and stuffed rhino on her back. She started doing it because I used to strap her brother on my back when he was a baby. She has only one doll. I bought her one of those cloth African dolls they sell at Maasai market. I vaguely remember having dolls as a child but they kind of disappeared and I still don’t know who was taking them. I used to like dressing them up more than anything. And yes, they were made of plastic with blinking blue eyes and long blonde nylon hair. I don’t know whether I strapped them on my back. I wasn’t really keen on dolls then and now. I buy her clothes, accessories and cute shoes. What I really wanted as a child was clothes, accessories and cute shoes! Ha!

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