The Ugly Doll
Author: Nihit Kaul
Her doll was charming. Disarming, with her Bambi eyes and golden hair. With not a care. Hurled into this world of madness. Sadness, dripping from her silent, questioning eyes. Byes, trapped in tears that were held inside. A doll, that was all she was.
Alex took the doll with her on walks and road trips. Rolling down hills and while doing backflips. She took her everywhere, and maybe that was her mistake. Cause if she hadn't taken her on that sweltering summer day, it wouldn't have happened. She wouldn't have rushed out to get to the beach, and the doll wouldn't have slipped out of her backpack. The doll wouldn't have had to sit through 5 hours of being in the trunk of the car - an oven that melted and deformed her face. Heat so intense that it dried up her tears and warped her mind forever. The sun had thrown acid on her face and burnt through the plastic to char the very soul of that innocent doll.
Everyone made fun of her doll from then on. Called her ugly. Gross. Gruesome. A gargoyle doll. They ridiculed the doll and ridiculed her for holding on to the doll. But every insult only seemed to strengthen their love. Alex protected the doll like it was her child, and like a parent she couldn't care less what the doll looked like. She saw through the burnt superficiality to the heart blazing inside. She admired her resilience and how bravely the doll would let all those insults roll off her back. She loved how the doll was never ashamed of who she was and never blinked an eye when folks stared at her. She returned their disgust with pitiful indifference. The doll was a role model for her - a Superwoman that emerged from the burnt chrysalis of a Barbie doll.
Maybe that is why it didn't surprise her when he tripped on the doll. He had been making her squirm the whole evening as he repaired the ceiling fan in her one-bedroom apartment where she was staying. Alex was doing her internship at a local accounting firm, and though she was now 22 years old, she dragged the doll with her - wherever life took her. The doll sat silently on the side table - observing, watching. He had thrown a tired old remark about how she looked like a ghost to him - went right through her ears. The doll watched as the man used his eyes initially to do what his hands eventually decided to try and do. The physical assault on Alex that followed was chaotic, and it was in this chaos that the doll fell to the floor. Alex pushed him away with all her strength, and as he stumbled back, he tripped on the ghostly doll rolling on the floor. The rest was quick - his body weight coming down on his neck as it hit the table's edge was enough to kill him instantly.
The doll seemed to have a hint of a smile on its face. Alex picked it up and kissed it gently on its burnt cheek - applying a soothing balm on those scabs. Her hands were shaking - an earthquake building up inside her as she felt herself breaking out of her cocoon and transforming into a Superwoman herself. She felt one with the doll. She had become her.
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