Luis Nieves Malavé

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My mother only has a few pictures of my grandparents. She had an album that she lost when she moved from her house. It was a painful loss because the album not only contained pictures of her parents (my grandparents), but it also pictures of her when she was a baby and when she was young.

That’s why it was such a shock when one day, she was looking in a box full of old books. She had accidently dropped one  and two photographs slid out from between the pages. I saw the photos fall and her bend down to pick them up. When she held them in her hands, tears ran down her cheeks. Her eyes turned red and her lips trembled. I know she wasn’t sad at all. I know because when she took a deep breath it was if she was feeling relief from pain.

I didn’t see the pictures at that moment, but I did see the framed reproductions she made. Of the two pictures, one was of my grandfather, Fidel, who sat in a hand-made chair of wood. The other was of my grandmother, Julia, brushing the hair of a big white doll in a dress.

I was curious about why my grandma was playing with a doll. My mother almost hit me because of my sarcastic comment, but then she explained that the doll didn’t belong to Grandma Julia. I ask her who was the owner of the famous doll. She answered me by telling me the whole doll’s story:

“That doll was a Christmas present for my sister, your Aunt Gloria. I was six when it happened. It was one of the most popular dolls at the time. I remembered that every girl wanted one. At least that was what my mother thought, or I should say, what ‘Santa Claus’ thought. Anyway, it was not the case for your Aunt Gloria. She hated the doll. She was afraid of it. She said that that doll looked like a little girl with evil eyes. She threw the doll in the trashcan. When your grandma saw what your aunt did, ‘le metió una pela,’ which meant that your aunt wasn’t thankful for the things she had. So, our mother grabbed the doll and cleaned it. She sat the doll on the uncomfortable brown couch in the living room. Ever since that moment, the doll became your grandma’s toy. She used to brush its hair every day and give it a bath weekly.”

Obviously, after my grandmother took over care of the doll, Aunt Gloria was jealous and wanted it back. But my grandma was very sure when she told my aunt that she would never get the doll back. The doll was in my grandparents’ house until my grandmother’s death. What happened to that doll? My mom doesn’t remember, but she did say that the only memory that remains of it was captured in this picture. My grandfather took it one day with his brand new camera, my grandmother brushing the hair of the “unwanted doll.”


  1. It’s anice how you got so many feeling in a short story. Like people say nowadays “pictures mean more than one-thousand words” and I can imagine the happiness it must’ve been for your mother to find that she hadn’t lost all of her captured memories from her parents. And your grandmother taught your aunt the great lesson of “you never know what you have until you’ve lost it”, so besides being a personal story it can also be a lecture for all.

  2. This is a narrative full of memories. I actually know the feeling of finding something unexpectedly like your mom found the pictures. When I saw the picture at top, I thought the same thing that you did when you saw it. It reminded me of my mother’s aunt who also likes to play with dolls. You have here a well developed story.

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