Everybody had something to say about a thirty two year old woman who lived alone but was not lonely. They speculated and they discussed, and then they assumed something had to be wrong with her. What reason did a grown woman have, to want to live by herself, they asked and answered. Maybe she was divorced, or disgraced, and some said those were in fact the same things.
This was Sathya, the thirty two year old woman about whom Many Things were said. She showed up to work in her low maintenance salwar kameez everyday, the ones you didn’t have to iron. She typed away on word documents and she maintained that was what every job came down to if you looked closely enough. She took two tea breaks (late morning and early evening), ate her lunch from a stainless steel box that sometimes leaked. She was ordinary, or not, depending on which group you belonged to. She received few phone calls, presumably from family members in far-off places. It was better that no one knew exactly who she was talking to, they made it their thought exercise on days they didn’t feel like working.
Every night, before she went to bed, Sathya made a little more progress on the doll she was sewing. It (he?) was her fourth, and the project was coming along rather well, after three lacklustre attempts. She gave him glossy, curly hair, bright eyes, and long eyelashes. She gave him a look that she felt was intelligent. She was getting some satisfaction from this new hobby, and she was quite pleased when her friend said she could even sell these dolls eventually. She didn’t work for longer than an hour at a time, her eyes grew tired and she started to nod off. She put away the doll in her wardrobe, in a shoe box that she repurposed.
Sathya didn’t know this, but the doll was slowly growing. Just a tiny bit, a centimetre a day, so she wouldn’t notice. The doll was watching her, from its place in the shoe box. Soon the doll didn’t fit into the box, and she didn’t think much of it. She placed it on a shelf in her wardrobe, upright. She gave it fingers and toes, a torso and limbs. She imagined for it behaviours and quirks like what her child would have, should such an event come to pass, though she doubted it.
Sathya persisted, working hard, now sewing clothes until sleep caught up with her. Trousers, a checked shirt with a chest pocket. The doll was life-like at this point, with eyes that never missed anything, but she continued to think it looked the way it always had. It noted when her breaths slowed, it knew when she slept with her mouth open and made her pillow damp, it observed her as she fought away unpleasant dreams and talked to characters her mind conjured.
One night, Sathya set the doll down, next to her on the bed, because she was too exhausted to walk three steps to the wardrobe. It arose when her eyelids ceased to move, and strangled her till she lay still, and took its place on the shelf.
After three working days, her colleagues had suspicions, and salacious predictions. Calls were made, people were informed, the apartment was broken into. There were rumours of asphyxia, and gossip about what kind of men Sathya possibly let into her apartment. No commitments, no responsibilities, they pronounced. She lived by herself, didn’t she? All alone, and not even vaguely disappointed about that, carrying on as though a woman like her was perfectly normal, leaving behind nothing of note, except some dolls in a wardrobe.
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