The Red Paper Doll

Aishwarya Potdar

Podar International School (Mumbai, India)  

Stories are for cowards who don’t accept

So, let me let you a story of a girl who wept

Her life crumbling into red dust

Her soul losing hope and trust

Nine is when she was supposed to play Musical Chairs

Not worry about her clothes that were mauled with tears


She was promised every luxury in her life

But not him, not a man with a knife

He kept saying “You’re pretty. You’re pretty”

Only to pin her down to a tree­­­­— and—


Three hours. Two bodies. One night.

Her body now paralysed in fright.

She screamed with his hand over her lips

And the other, ramming her frail ribs

Creaking away from his course breath

She questioned if this was her death


She danced in fiery pits of steaming anguish

But for this dance to end, her only wish

Her heart bleeding crimson and slit with nails

Her voice whimpering, with silent wails


“Stop!” she bawled in a broken voice

Making the mistake of believing that she had a choice

His brutal fingers kept going further down

Mangling her dignity, her pride, her crown

Scarlet pain, anguish, disgust she felt

And realised that from that night, her future would be misspelt


His hands under her linen skirt

Her bare back shoved onto the mahogany dirt

And it was then she realised-

Circumstances don’t kill you.

People do.


Six years later, her white sheets still drenched

With dried blood, forgotten memories of a little girl clenched

But she didn’t forget, oh, she never did

Since that night, under porcelain masks she hid

“I’m okay, I’m okay” she told the world

But, sobbing every night, in a ball she curled

Petrified of acute societal labels like ‘rape’ and ‘assault’

She remained tight-lipped, convinced it was her fault



But what else was she supposed to do?

To the man who loved and trusted her, she’d bid adieu?

“Father”, she called him, “Father no!” when he committed the crime

“Father” she said that night, and still would for a lifetime

Father was all she had known

Her father, who was her own

But, that ebony night, he left her alone

And struck this paper doll with a serrated bloodstone


Now this daisy love has turned into hate

This white paper doll splattered with rouge paint

If I could talk to her, what would I say?

Darling, I know it’s not okay

Your hands are warm

You breathe a midnight storm

But, there’s something about the way you scrub the blood off the floor

And the way your life has become a downpour

That makes my guilt arise

Because I know I could’ve stopped your carmine cries


I didn’t speak

When he stained me red

I didn’t speak

When to me he was wed

So, he went to ruin

Another perfect life

Besides his wife

A child who was nine

Whose story was a lot like mine.

Aishwarya Potdar is a sixteen-year-old aspiring writer, musician and artiste, who either has a guitar or a novel in her hands and that one philosophical quote on her mind. She relishes anything ranging from revitalising adventure, photography, testing out martial arts on her brother, dancing oh-so-gracefully, manoeuvring her vocal cords, and writing to her heart’s content.