Hanuman puppet at the Khan Market
Squatting by the doorstep of a dress shop in the Khan Market one evening, a little girl had her wares spread out: elephants in various sizes, and puppets. I was being taken shopping by Alison, who teaches at the German school, was volunteering at Bookaroo, and had just kindly added shepherding authors around the bazaar as part of her duties. “I really want to buy a puppet,” I told her. The child, and her mother or grandmother squatting watchfully on another doorstep, were probably recent immigrants from Rajistan, and Alison thought the price was fair – we didn’t bargain. (I’m not sure why people greet this statement with such horror. I didn’t bargain, and the world didn’t end.)
Later, showing my purchase to author buddies Lian Tanner and Robert Sabuda in our dinner time Show and Tell, we all started thinking about this child’s future, and wished we could jump into a taxi and go and buy more; do something to help her. It was too late; she wasn’t there the next day when Lian visited – and we wouldn’t have solved her problems by buying up all her stock in one day. Perhaps the most useful thing we can do is support one of the charities that work towards education for poor children, especially girls. There was something so strong and vibrant about this little girl that I can’t help believing a little bit of education could take her far.
So a bittersweet memory for this beautiful puppet, and a wish for its maker and vendor.
Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio