Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll (7 page)

K
elsey was sick for nearly two weeks. She hated taking the medicine. It made her head feel like it was splitting. Once the medicine was finished she felt better but she was so weak she wouldn't be able to swim even one lap of a swimming pool. Now it was Thursday and Mum was in the kitchen sewing.

She smiled at Kelsey. ‘Are you feeling a bit better today?'

Kelsey nodded.

‘I've got something to cheer you up. A parcel has come from Australia.' She put it in front of Kelsey.

‘Wow.' Kelsey read the sender information. ‘It's from Mrs Penner.' She ripped it open. ‘It's the pencils and exercise books!'

Kelsey looked at her mum. ‘Mum?'

She lifted her eyebrows at Kelsey. ‘Would you like me to take you to the tent school?'

‘Yes, please.'

‘Then get ready. I hope you're well enough.'

Kelsey ran to get dressed and was ready to leave the house in under twenty minutes.

At the water's edge Mum found a young man to taxi them across the river in his boat. He used a long pole to push the boat along. It went faster than Kelsey thought it would.

It was fun taking her mum to the school. She introduced her to Miss Parveen and then Kelsey told Shakila and the girls about her class in Australia and how they had raised money for pencils and exercise books. She put them on Miss Parveen's desk. ‘And also medicine,' Kelsey said, hoping enough money for medicine would come soon. ‘But you need to get that from my mum at the clinic.'

The girls were quiet at first and then Miss Parveen said, ‘Thank you very much, Kelsey.' Suddenly the girls clapped and Shakila and Fozia gave Kelsey a hug.

Later in the afternoon, there was a loud call from outside. Kelsey could hear her dad at the door. ‘
Salaam ji
, Waheed, Shakila. Come in.'

‘
Salaam ji,
' Mr Waheed said.

Kelsey smiled at Shakila as she walked into the lounge.

Mr Waheed didn't say why they had come so Kelsey's mum put the kettle on to make
chai
. Kelsey arranged biscuits on a plate. She knew Shakila liked savoury snacks with
chai
too, so she put some salted peanuts in a bowl. She carried the food to the coffee table while Mum brought the teapot on a tray with cups and saucers.

Mr Waheed and her dad were talking about building the houses.

‘It's good to have strong foundations and cement rooms,' her dad said.

‘
Ji
, and later they can build on when they are able.'

Kelsey's dad nodded.

Mr Waheed stopped talking business and asked Kelsey if she enjoyed living in Pakistan. Kelsey was glad he didn't ask her this when she first came.

‘I do,' Kelsey said. ‘I especially like being friends with Shakila and your family.' Then she couldn't stop herself from asking, ‘Is Raza better?'

Mr Waheed glanced at Shakila. ‘Actually this is why we have come.'

Kelsey felt a prickling sensation curling up her spine. He sounded very serious.

‘Raza is much better,' Mr Waheed said, ‘and we want to thank you for giving him back to us.'

‘Oh.' Kelsey was so relieved Raza was okay that she didn't know what to say at first. ‘I only did what anyone would do.'

‘We do not agree this is what anyone would do,' Mr Waheed said. ‘We think you are a very courageous person and we need to thank you in a proper way.'

‘
Shukriya
,' Kelsey said, thinking that was the end of it.

Shakila stood up, gave Kelsey a hug and kissed both sides of her face. Then she gave Kelsey a gift. It was wrapped in brown paper with string. ‘I know you will like this,' she said.

Kelsey hugged her back and said thank you. She put the gift on the coffee table and tried not to look at it. It was a hard thing to do.

In Australia if Chantelle gave her a present Chantelle would say, ‘Open it, open it now, Kels!' But Kelsey knew Shakila wasn't waiting for her to open the gift. Her dad had told her if she received presents in Pakistan not to unwrap them until the people had left.

There was more talk about the building and who would carry on her father's work when they went back to Australia.

Kelsey told Shakila she was well enough to visit again tomorrow and Shakila squeezed her hand and grinned. ‘I've missed you,' she said.

After they left Kelsey picked up the present. It wasn't heavy. She shook it. It didn't sound like lollies.

Her parents sat on the lounge and watched her.

‘What do you think it is, Kels?' her dad asked.

‘I don't know.' She wondered if it would be biscuits. Shakila and Raza were fond of anything sweet. ‘I can't wait to find out!'

She pulled off the string and ripped the paper. ‘Oh,' she gasped.

‘What is it?' Her mum leaned forward.

Kelsey couldn't believe what she was seeing. It just wasn't possible.

‘I
t's a doll,' Kelsey whispered. She picked it up. ‘A porcelain doll.'

‘I didn't think they were made here,' Dad said.

‘She's got golden hair. And a burgundy silk
shalwar qameez
—' Kelsey paused, then said in a rush, ‘She looks just like Amy Jo. How can that be?'

Mum looked at her sharply. ‘You mean, Amy Jo from the story Nanna's been telling?'

‘Yes, Nanna's story about the doll with golden hair who is sent to Pakistan but gets lost and has adventures on her quest to find someone to love.'

She touched Amy Jo's face. ‘See, she's been scratched, just like in the story. There's a tooth mark on her forehead.' She turned Amy Jo over and lifted her
qameez
.

‘Look!' she squealed. ‘There are stitches on her body as if she'd had rips. Nanna said in the story a dog bit her.'

‘How odd,' Mum said. ‘Let me see. What a beautiful doll she must have been.'

‘She still is,' Kelsey said. ‘And look, one boot is different from the other. In the story an old man makes this
shalwar qameez
and a new boot. And see, the other has embroidery thread for a lace. Zebi crocheted that.'

She traced her finger over Amy Jo's hair. ‘And here is Rubi's clip!'

Kelsey looked up to find her parents staring at her strangely.

She opened a little paper bag that was lying under Amy Jo. ‘Mum, it's her original dress.' She took it out. ‘The one Nanna Rose said she wore in the shop. It's got pink-and-white stripes and lace. And it's watermarked and ripped.'

Kelsey stood up, close to tears. ‘I have to talk to Nanna Rose.'

Mum looked at her watch. ‘She'll be cooking dinner, she mightn't hear the call.'

‘Can we try, please?'

All three of them sat in front of the laptop to wait for Nanna Rose. It was taking ages.

‘Maybe we should try later,' Mum said.

Kelsey shook her head. ‘Please can we keep calling?'

Finally Nanna Rose was there saying hello and asking how Kelsey was.

‘I'm much better, thank you, Nanna, but look!' Kelsey held up Amy Jo.

Nanna Rose gave a huge smile. ‘Ah, so the doll has arrived at last. I was despairing that the postal service wasn't working because of the flood and she was lost. Did they deliver her to your house?'

‘Nanna, what are you talking about?'

‘She's your birthday present of course. That's why I told you the story, so you'd know her when she arrived. I chose her because she looks like you.' Nanna Rose sighed happily. ‘I'm so glad she came in time for your birthday.'

Nanna Rose squinted at Amy Jo. ‘I see you've made a new outfit for her already. That's clever.'

‘But she can't be my birthday present.' Kelsey could think of only one question. ‘Nanna, how did the story come true?'

Nanna Rose was startled. Her eyes grew wide and she said, ‘Whatever do you mean, Kels?'

Kelsey showed her the marks on Amy Jo's forehead, the stitches on her body, the boot, the lace, the clip. ‘And I didn't make this
shalwar qameez
, Nanna. She came like this.'

‘Wait a minute, Kels. I'm confused. Tell me how you got her, again.' Nanna Rose's voice sounded quiet and tense.

‘Nanna, the story came true. A man and a girl gave her to me. It was Shakila, my friend. They must have been the ones who bought her in the bazaar. Nanna, how did you know?'

‘I – I didn't. I don't understand—'

‘Was it because we used Shakila's name?'

‘I just told you a story, that's all, with help from you, Kels.'

Amy Jo's eyes were blinking and suddenly Kelsey didn't want to ask any more questions.

‘Amy Jo can hear us, Nanna, and I don't want to upset her. Thank you for telling the story or she might not have arrived at all.'

Nanna Rose's face grew very pale.

‘Are you okay, Mum?' Kelsey's dad asked.

‘I think so, it's just so strange.' Then she smiled again. ‘But it's also amazing.'

When Dad shut down the laptop Kelsey took Amy Jo to her room.

‘You are incredible, Amy Jo. More special than anyone in the story knew.'

Amy Jo blinked her eyes as Kelsey hugged her tightly.

‘We will have so much fun. Especially since I know you have feelings. Wait till I tell Shakila.'

Kelsey undid Amy Jo's plait and brushed her golden hair. Then she put Rubi's clip back in.

‘You can sleep with me every night,' Kelsey said. ‘You're home now.'

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