In the autumn when I was six, my family moved from the community of half-dilapidated apartments to a brand new house in the suburb, and I was transferred to a new kindergarten for the remaining 5 months of the school year. Unlike my old kindergarten, the new one was not within the walking distance from our house. So, every morning, my mother drove me there.
Though I was quite a resilient child, willing to adopt to any new environment that I was put into, I did not really enjoy my time at the new kindergarten. There was nothing wrong with the kindergarten, but I missed my old home, my familiar friends and teachers. It was also shortly after my little brother’s passing, and I was missing his presence, too. Every morning, as I climbed into the backseat of my mother’s car, I felt somewhat gloomy, and when it was time for me to leave the car, I felt I didn’t want to. It was such a difference from the time when I used to walk to my kindergarten with my friends, laughing and smiling.
Next to our new house lived a lady who was quite older than my mother. She was kind and old-fashioned, and loved little children. She was delighted when my family moved in to her next door, and she often visited us in the evening with a delicious dish that she had cooked for dinner.
Once, during one of her visits, the lady asked me if I liked plush dolls. When I replied yes, she said to me,
“My daughter has recently brought back home this plush doll, but nobody really wants it at my house. Do you want to take it?”
It was a plush doll of the girl character from the then famous game Puyo Puyo. I wasn’t particularly fond of a human plush doll, but I liked the new and smooth surface of the doll, so I adopted it.
From the next day, I brought this plush doll with me in the car on my way to kindergarten. By the rule, I wasn’t allowed to bring any toy to the kindergarten, but at least I could have it with me in the car. As I anxiously sat in the backseat of the car, I would hold the doll in my hands, and when the car turned left at the last traffic light, I would leave it on the seat while I got ready to get off the car.
“Have a nice day!”
With my mother’s voice, I would hop off the car. And just before closing the door, I would once again glance at the plush doll before turning my back to the car and walking up to the gate of the kindergarten.