By C.E. Pereira
Chapter 9 – The toy machine gun
LIZA was just like any little kid. Toys filled her day after school and chores. Liza got toys on Christmas and sometimes on her birthday. But that was it, one toy in one year was tops. If she got a toy on her birthday it was the best year for Liza.
Whenever she passed by the neighbourhood toy shop, she would stop and look at the toys in the window display. But the toys were mostly out of reach.
You needed money to buy them. And Liza didn’t get much pocket-money. But this did not deter her from trying to save most of her pocket-money to buy the toys she wanted. Little Liza would rather save her pocket-money then buy tidbits from the school canteen.
Then again, most of the time, Liza and her brothers used everyday things to make their toys.
They visited dumpsters. People threw away the weirdest of things. Recycling of waste was not done during the time when Liza was growing up.
At the dumpsters you could find cardboard boxes, tin cans, baby-prams, nails, screws, etc. Anything and everything.
One of the things she and her brothers built was a go-kart from materials found at various dumpsters.
But toys bought at the toy-shop was treasured. It came from one’s pocket-money to get the toy one wanted. Sometimes after months of saving one got disappointed when the toy was out of stock.
Liza was a determined little girl when it came to what she wanted. And she had patience in waiting. But most of all she took disappointment like a pro.
She’d shrugged her shoulders and say, “I’ll wait for another toy.”
One day her brother Gerry was all excited. “Liza! Liza!”, he called out.
He found Liza in the dining room doing her homework.
“There’s this machine gun I saw at the toy shop. It’s got this gadget that goes rat-a-tat-tat.”
“How much is it?” Liza wanted to know.
“$3.50 only.” “And the shopkeeper said he’ll hold it for you if you wanted it.” An excited Gerry said.
“$3.50!” “That will take like forever to save up”, wailed little Liza.
“Let’s ask Mummy to help.”
So, both siblings rushed into the kitchen to ask their mother.
“Mummy, there’s this toy I want to buy. It is very, very, expensive. $3.50”, Liza said dramatically.
“And?”, asked Mummy, hiding a smile.
“If I can save half of the amount, can you ask Daddy to put the other half.” Liza is all honey and sugar as she looks pleadingly at her Mummy.
“Why don’t you and your two brothers chip-in instead of asking Daddy?” Mummy said.
“Well, I know Andy won’t and Gerry always changes his mind.”
“I do not.” Gerry said with dignity.
“Do to.” Liza insisted.
“That is enough, both of you.” “Liza, you will have to do this on your own. And don’t go bothering your Daddy on this.”
“But Mummy! The shopkeeper may not hold the toy if it is going to take forever to save my pocket-money.”
“I’m sorry little one.”
Liza and Gerry walk away dejectedly.
Then Gerry had an idea. “I’ll lend you the money. Then after you’ve bought the toy, you can pay me back slowly.”
“What is the catch, Gerry?”
“Hmm…. I get to play with the machine gun too.” Gerry was grinning.
“That’s not fair. How come I have to let you play with it if I still have to pay you back?”
“Well, it’s like how the banks charge interest when lending money?” Gerry said seriously.
“I won’t borrow from you. I will do this on my own. And I will not let you play with it. There….you can keep your money.” Liza said angrily.
“Suit yourself. I was only trying to help.” Gerry walked off angrily.
A month had gone by and Liza had saved $2.00. She went to see the shopkeeper to show him the amount. The shopkeeper didn’t have very good news for Liza.
“One more week. No have $3.50, I sell to others.” The shopkeeper said in broken English.
Liza walked home slowly, while thinking. She sighed. Well if it’s not meant to be. She sighed again.
On reaching home, she met her Daddy just coming home from work.
Her father saw the disappointed look on his little girl’s face.
“What’s wrong Liza?”
“Hi Daddy. Nothing’s wrong.”
“And pigs can fly.” her father said.
Laughing, Liza said, “Really Daddy, nothing is wrong.”
“Then why the sad face just now?”
“Sigh. Well, it’s just that the shopkeeper said he’d only keep the machine gun for one more week. I won’t be able to save that much by next week.”
“How much more do you need?”
“Come one. Let’s go see that shopkeeper now.”
“I love you Daddy.” Little Liza gave her Daddy a big hug.
“Don’t go thanking me yet. You still have to pay me back, you know.”
“Yes Daddy, I know. If it is something that I want, I have to pay for it.”
“Good girl. Well, let’s go get your toy before the shopkeeper sells it.”
When Liza and her Daddy got back from the toy shop, Liza was one very happy little girl.
Liza ran into the house yelling for her brothers to come and see her machine gun.
Both Andy and Gerry came flying out of their bedroom.
“Wow!”, both boys said while admiring the wooden machine gun with its metal stands spread wide on the table.
“Rat-a-tat-tat! Rat-a-tat-tat!” Liza turned the knob that made the firing sound.
“Wow!” both boys said again. “Let me try, Liza.” In unison they asked.
“Now, now, boys. It’s your sister’s toy. Let her play with it first.” Daddy said.
“It’s alright Daddy. Here, you can both have a try.” Liza said graciously.
Both boys started pushing and grabbing for the machine gun. Andy got the toy away from Gerry quickly. Then he turned the knob and the sound of the rat-a-tat-tat was heard.
“It’s my turn now, Andy.” Gerry pleaded.
Both boys forgot the toy belonged to their little sister.
Then Daddy used his no-nonsense voice on the boys. “Boys! Give it back to Liza now.”
Without any argument both of them gave the machine gun back to Liza.
“Now then, what were you boys doing before this?” Daddy asked.
“Alright. Back to your books until dinner time.”
Liza took her machine and went in search of her Mummy.
The machine gun became a favourite toy for all three siblings. They played war games among themselves.
Both the boys went to the dumpsters and found some wood. Using their Daddy’s tools they made their own machine guns without the sound effects.
The sound of “rat-a-tat-tat” was heard quite often from Liza’s machine gun during their war games. Even the neighbourhood children wanted to join in their war games. And Liza’s machine gun was the centre of attraction every time.
It took her another month before she could pay her Daddy back. But she had such fun with this toy. There will be more things in the future which will Liza buy out of her pocket-money.
The little one understands the value of working for what you want. The lesson she learned is ‘nothing comes easy’ but if you’re willing to work hard to get it, you will succeed.
Cont. Chapter 10