He first saw it when he was at the impressionable age of ten.
There it was, in the torn page of the smudgy magazine, the picture of the Korean doll under the heading Nijaye Collectibles.
He was so fascinated by it, the doll decked in the colourful Korean hanbok costume.
Not to mention the curly tresses, small squinty eyes and pouty lips of the doll.
For that day onwards, he decided he will go and find the Korean doll.
Unfortunately, collecting money to buy the expensive doll proved to be a difficult task. Little by little he saved and scrimped. It was not until he was 21 before he got enough money to buy one.
And then there was the problem of finding out how to get the doll. It was virtually impossible to find a doll of any kind in the backwater county he came from, and so off he go to the big city.
In the first city he looked, he found a Nijaye doll in a downtrodden hobby shop. It was lucky he found the shop at all, tucked in an obscure back alley it was. The Chinese Nijaye doll is still in mint condition, its white cheongsam with red cherry blossom print still spotless. The straight fringe, the round eyes, the ruby red cheeks – it was breathtaking.
He was tempted, but remembering the Korean doll is the ultimate quest, he decided to let the beautiful Chinese doll go.
In the second city he looked, he found a Japanese Nijaye doll dressed in a blue silk kimono. Sweet dimples, cat like eyes and dark eyelashes. This time it was in the house of an old couple who were desperate to sell it for some cash.
Even though sympathetic he was to the plight of the couple, he had his sight firmly set on a Korean doll, and with a heavy heart, he turned them down.
He continued to hop from city to city, from a shop to another, a house to another. He found a Malaysian doll in a Baju Kebaya, an Indonesian doll in Sarong, an Australian doll in a Lifesaver costume. There were all beautiful and perfect, and every time, he was tempted to buy.
But every time without fail, the alluring picture of the Korean doll he saw in the magazine more than ten years ago will surface in his mind, and off he went to another city, another shop, another house.
After two years of painful searching, he at last found the Korean doll at a rundown, ready to be auctioned off shop. But unfortunately it was not perfect. The pink hanbok was torn in two places, the tresses full of dirt. The nose was chipped off in a corner, the left arm scratched. He was disappointed, but then it was a true Nijaye Collectible Korean doll, he reasoned. And he wanted it for so long. And he had searched for it for so long.
So he decided to pay the owner the money. Even though deep down he knew that he can use the same amount of money to buy a perfect Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian or Australian Nijaye Collectible doll.
But at least he got his Korean doll.