About a Panda
There is a panda in the world that has been to more places around the globe these last ten years than many people will travel to in a lifetime. He has been to Lanzarote, Malaga, Tenerife, Grenada, Barbados, Miami, Menorca, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxemburg, and last (but in no way least) Wales. This panda is named Chi-Chi, though admittedly inappropriately. ‘Chi-chi’ literally translates from Chinese as ‘mischievous little girl’, and was the name of London Zoo’s star attraction, one of the first ever Giant Pandas to be situated there. Originating from Sichuan, China, Chi Chi, too, travelled the world. From China, to Moscow, to Berlin, to Frankfurt, to Copenhagen, to London where she remained for the rest of her days. So, though named after a famous female panda, this panda has still lived a life akin to that of his ancestor, and has a rather different reason for being an attraction: he is stuffed.
Picture this: a rocking chair, upholstered in rough, dark brown fabric, yellow and pale green vines hand-stitched into the fibres; an elderly face, beaming down, eyes full of secrets – secrets that hid in the box in her hands; and a girl of 10, sitting down in that favourite rocking chair, mouth agape in anticipation as she is handed the box her grandmother holds. She opens it, reaches in, and what she pulls out is a brand new, startlingly pristine, panda bear. That girl was me, and as I sit here and think back to that Christmas, he sits on my pillow and stares with scuffed, glass eyes in interest, almost knowing this piece is for him. From the very first day we set eyes on each other and I had rescued him from the embarrassment of being named Bryma by my grandparents, we were destined to be friends. And more than this, Chi-Chi has been my rock when times have been tough.
The first time I had a panic attack. The room was black. I thought I heard something and I couldn’t say what it was. That unnerved me. I started hearing other things, my hearing now very sensitive. Then I heard things that weren’t there. I started seeing things that weren’t real. I had a phobia of the dark, you see. Even putting the light on didn’t help at this point: all I knew was that the shadows would get me if I didn’t block my door against them. I felt in that moment like I was going to die. Then I found my panda bear, clutched him to me, and he was the solid ground that got me through to a point where I could breathe again. Such a small thing, fabric and stuffing, but those little beady eyes that locked on mine, and those squashy arms that curled around me were enough to keep me sane for just that little bit longer.
Some may say I love my teddy too much. But for me he’s like a best friend: I can tell him secrets and he won’t tell anyone else; he won’t judge me; I can hug him whenever I want; he never holds a grudge. To some it doesn’t make sense, no. But I can thank my grandparents for giving him to me on Christmas in 2004 as they gave me the one, material, constant that stayed with me through childhood, pain, adventure, loneliness. From the age of 10, right up until University. From the day I folded myself into that rocking chair, to the day I sat down at my computer and wrote about it. Chi-Chi is more than an object. He is family.
Those post comes to you courtesy of today’s Daily Prompt.
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