By Eliana Maxim, on Ecclesio.com
Shortly after arriving in this country, someone – probably my parents – gave me my first doll. She was Chatty Cathy, a large size hard plastic doll with a pull string in the back of her neck, blond wavy hair, unreal blue eyes and a fixed smile.
My greatest joy was that Cathy spoke to me personally. In my language.
When I pulled her string, I became convinced that among her many utterances, she stated in a clear loud voice, “Que rico Colombia!” (loosely translated to “How wonderful is Colombia!) I look back now and realize the complete nonsense of my belief. There was no way Mattel was going to personalize Chatty Cathys for homesick immigrant girls.
I know I ran around pulling that string like crazy, demonstrating to anyone who would listen the brilliance of my doll; she was able to know where I came from and how wonderful it had been there.
My parents humored me and nodded with what I assumed was our shared melancholy for home but now that I think about it, it was probably sadness for a little girl who could not let go.
There were well meaning folks, our new American neighbors, whose greatest desire was to educate me and were quick to point out that Chatty Cathy was American and therefore only spoke English, that she could only repeat 11 English phrases, that I needed to listen carefully and this would help me learn English.
And so I did.