Little baby doll

There was something really dry about her. The wavy strands of her uncombed hair tucked carelessly in her scarf looked like dry twigs reaching hungrily for the sky. Her face like a parched mud wall looked somewhat forlorn as her eyes began to scan the floor of the massive food court where she sat all by herself like a forsaken island.

It wasn’t as if she was alone. She definitely had company or so it would seem to anyone casting a curious glance towards her. She was certainly surrounded by people all around her. There was laughter, there was cheering, there was movement of hands waving, and also, the delightful sight of children boisterously running around in between tables and chairs.

She watched all this activity with the indifference of one merely tolerated. She sat aloof from the rest of the group not because she wanted to but because she felt it was the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s best not to impose oneself, she thought to herself, even though words people use may give the impression that one is longed for and wanted every moment of the day.

She had learned long ago not to get fooled by impressions. People may joke with you and laugh with you or even hug and kiss you but that does not necessarily imply intimacy of any kind. It could just be a formality to mask the inability to say anything substantial or to hide that sense of not wanting to get too close and simply satisfying oneself with mere appearances.

She wished she had known all this when she had first come to the house to live and work nearly two or three years ago. It would have certainly saved her from many disappointments in those first few months. She smiled at the memory of those days when she was so naive that she would believe anything anyone would say. And they did. It was like a joke for everyone but she learned her lesson well and soon withdrew into herself. It wasn’t as if the teasing stopped but only that she became harder within and stopped caring what people said.

Her mistress got up and gave her a packet of French fries because – as she told everyone at the table – the fries were way too fattening and she didn’t want to run the risk of losing her figure. After all, some sacrifices had to be made to keep husband dear on the leash. All the women at the table laughed wholeheartedly at this joke while the men simply sniggered and tried to change the subject.

She took the packet and thanked her mistress as she always did and was expected to do. She took a small bite and couldn’t help wondering why something fattening was bad for her mistress but was supposed to be OK for her. Whoever gave them this ridiculous idea that girls in her position were not keen on looking good and had serious reservations about eating anything available?

It was not just politeness and fear of losing her job that made her not refuse the fries but it was hunger. She was watching them eat all sorts of delicious food and it was making her hungry. Everyone seemed so absorbed in their conversations and enjoying each others company that it didn't seem to matter to them that, perhaps, here was someone sitting in a corner who might actually appreciate good food.

But then, again, it would be hard to blame them since her presence there was merely accidental. Her job was to keep the children in check and ensure that the baby in the pram didn't cry. The children were somewhat out of control since they were in the mall but the baby was her primary responsibility. And these days, the baby was so unpredictable and would wake up and cry at anytime. This was one of the reasons why her mistress wanted her to come along since it would enable her to give attention to her friends and not get distracted by the baby.

It wasn't as if she didn't like her job. She was always fond of babies and little children ever since she was young. Being the oldest sister of three mischievious brothers gave her considerable head start. She smiled when she remembered the old days: getting hugs and kisses from her dad and uncle, the surprise sweets from her aunts, the bike rides with her older cousins, and the great difficulty with which they taught her how to ride a bike reminded her of a time when she was treated like a youngster that she always was.

"No matter what happens and no matter how big you become in life," her oldest cousin once told her during a family gathering, "you will always be our little baby doll."

A single tear drop fell on a single potato stick and she hurriedly wiped her eyes with her arms. She was glad no one noticed but even if anyone did she was sure no one would have bothered. She was just a hired helper and not someone special that her family was absolutely sure she was.

Her mistress' husband once told her that she was special and it made her smile. He told her that it made her look good and for a moment she felt a sense of belonging to this new household. She thanked him as clumsily as she could and hoped he would notice how grateful she was for this compliment.

But then he touched her in a way only a man should but mustn't. He had crept in her room late at night and said he wanted to see her smile. She knew something was wrong and it wasn't just because of the strong smell but in the way he looked at her. She tried to smile but couldn't and began to cry. He pushed her against the wall and forced himself on her while his hands grabbed every piece of her flesh. She wanted to scream but no voice came out of her mouth just silent gasps while her body shivered with fright.

After he had finished, he warned her not to tell anyone about this and that if she ever opened her mouth he would kill her. She believed him. She felt helpless and unclean, and wondered if somehow she was responsible for making him do this with her. It had to be me and no one else, she thought to herself, after all, why would a man like him want to touch someone like her?

Tears began to flow from her eyes again as she looked at everyone else in the table enjoying themselves. She took another bite of her french fries and thought of her family far away. She knew what they'd be doing that evening and it made her want to cry even more. They would be celebrating her 15th birthday and wishing she was there with them.

The baby in the pram made some noise and when she turned to look, the baby began to giggle excitedly upon seeing her face. It made her smile and she wanted to give the baby a big kiss. However, just as she tried to pick the baby up she felt a strong urge to throw up and wanted to run to the nearest restroom.

She turned her face away but it was too late.

The floor was a mess and as she looked around and saw what she did, she lost all her balance, collapsed to the ground, and began to sob uncontrollably.


Jyotsna said…
So well written..simple words describing the girl and her life which made tears well up in my eyes
It made me feel like reaching out to help her in some way
razor blades said…
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