It began in the old village of Matera which rests on the bank of the wild, when on her seventh birthday, Msanii begged her mother for a doll house.And her mother couldn’t scrape the money to buy her one. She would’ve asked her husband for the coins, but he was a man drunk on poverty. It’d be a shame too, she thought, to go back to the man she had long forgotten.
“Am I asking for too much, mother? I’ll never ask for anything else. The other girls don’t let me play with theirs.” She would often complain.
“Honey, I just haven’t found something good enough. I want you to have a doll house like no girl has ever had.” Her mother would consistently state the same lie. It killed her, though, whenever she had to helplessly watch Msanii run away in tears.
She wept, and then she begged. And when certain of the fact that she might never have a doll house, she acted out. She left her mother a vague note on her bed, and wandered deep into the woods, for she wasn’t about to give up. And running away might convince her mother, she thought.
She left her mother a vague note on her bed, and wandered deep into the woods, for she wasn’t about to give up. And running away might convince her mother, she thought.
Frightened, her mother followed into the woods, desperate to find her child before a wild beast did. Two girls, the same age as her daughter, had been in the news after losing their way into the woods; they had been missing for weeks and she would rather die than watch her daughter fall to the same fate.
She found Msanii, though, pale with fear and sickness, crying her heart out next to an abandoned cabin in the woods. It scared her mother, the thought of losing her child. She carried her home, tugged her to sleep, hoping she would never take such a step again and that she had learned her lesson. But the children are a revolting people, always. And so, the following day, she came back home only to realise that her daughter had run away, again.
The mother found her at the same place, crying at a corner. She was scared too, maybe, of the woods or maybe of her own actions.
And the mother would rather pawn her engagement ring the next day, to buy a neat little doll-house for her daughter than lose her; she was devoid of choice and broken by the pain.
She was at peace, the next evening, and eager as she strode into her home with a doll house. And her daughter had wandered into the woods, again.
Devoid of choice and hope, she ran back to the woods to look for her daughter, that cold night and never made her way out. The morning that followed, Msanii came back asking the people if they knew where her mother was. The people were ignorant of the fact and the child was much terrified to confess her own guilt. In her home, she sat and wept, staring endlessly at the doll house her mother had bought for her when a sick obsession touched her skin, probably for the first time.
Her crack head father stepped in then and was torn to see his daughter alone and miserable, staring at her dollhouse. Been dead the whole time, he wanted to be alive for his daughter. And so, he quit the drugs, cleaned up his act and took Msanii with him to a haven far, far away from the memories of her mother. For all he knew, the mother had abandoned the child she fought him for. The only memory she couldn’t let go off was the dollhouse and so she took it along with.
But after that unfortunate night, she was never the same, anymore. A sick obsession had bound her entity with the doll-house. She would never play with it but stare at it for hours, and yet had kept it without a stain or a mark; spotless it was. Maybe she wanted to preserve her mother’s scent in a toy or maybe the toy was everything she had hoped for.
Her father would often ask her why she wouldn’t play with the dollhouse.
“Because, it isn’t perfect, father. There are pieces missing and I won’t play until I have them.” she would stick to the answer in the same cold way. Her father believed in her obsession, he just couldn’t comprehend.
As Msanii broke into the prime of her life, her obsession hummed along. Doctors suggested that she had a craving for a closure on her mother leaving her and that she must be taken back to her mother’s home, where it all began. The father, not unlike the mother, had no choice.
He went back to the place he had once called home, and his daughter accompanied. It was time, he thought, to be done with the pain.
It would all go routine with them ‘til the day the father woke up in the middle of the night to find his daughter gone. And he was without a clue about her whereabouts. She came back, though, the following morning before the dawn and never mentioned it to her father. He believed that it was her own path to walk upon ‘til she stumbled her way to closure and that maybe she was better off on her own. But curiosity is a bitch that must never cease to feast upon the weak.
The next night, her father pretended to be asleep to keep a check on her daughter and in the process, his curiosity. She woke up in the middle of the night, walked out of the house and into the woods. And he followed whilst he managed a distance so that she wouldn’t notice him.
To his surprise, she wasn’t a mere wanderer in those dark woods. She had the walk of a woman who knew where she would end up. A mile or two inside the throbbing forest, she walked into an old abandoned cabin while he waited with patience. At the break of dawn, she walked out and towards her mother’s home. He waited for her to leave, for he couldn’t; not unless he knew the secret of the cabin.
The cabin, as he walked inside, was nothing in proportion to what it would appear from the outside. It was without a mark or a stain; spotless. And the only disturbance to the empty walls was three corpses choreographically rooted around a dinner table as if it was dinner time.
“So, how do you like my doll-house?” he couldn’t turn back to see who hit his head with a shovel and threw him unconscious. He regained his consciousness, taped to a chair, seated next to the corpses; and his daughter smiled at him as she brought him to peace.
“Don’t you remember her?” Msanii caressed the rotten head of one of the corpses, whilst she preached her father, about a sick little emotion. “Isn’t she beautiful like always? It’s a shame, though, for both of us. Look at her, father. Look how beautiful mother is, with a braid and a red nose. Don’t you recognise her? The smile is still not lost.” she sat down next to the corpses. She had that strange sense of peace on her face, the kind that would scare the corpses.
Her father had questions on his face but most of them were masked by the fear.
“It was always about the doll-house, father. I begged mother for it; I revolted in an obvious way. And when the protests could no more bear guilt to the mother, I chose to slaughter. I was a kid, father, and I couldn’t figure out the difference between the right and the monstrous. Maybe, I still can’t.”
Her father sat there, taped and bound, staring at the evil in his daughter’s eyes. And her words brought him the pain of no comparison. It was time for him, he thought, to let go of life. But she continued, without a pint of concern for the man who, once, had abandoned his own life to save hers.
“I would often wander in these woods, alone and desperate, when still young. It brought me peace, the thought that I would eventually stumble upon a dollhouse. And when I happened to discover this cabin, it called out for me; it talked to me. But would a dollhouse ever be the same without the dolls?”
She asked her father, hoping for him to comprehend. It was rhetorical, though, much like every question that one must ask the weak.
“It was terrifying, father, when I slit the throats of two of the girls from my school after I lured them in here. I was scared of the blood and the violence in my heart, but then came a strange sense of peace and I chose to embrace peace. But father, a family wouldn’t be perfect without a mother.”
He would’ve screamed or complained, but there sat a woman who could slaughter her own legacy if she wished for it.
“It was almost effortless when it was time to invite mother to my sick creation. I knew she would come for me, she had to; I was her daughter, after all. Strange, that it took me three nights to muster up the courage to slit her throat but I couldn’t shed a tear whilst I dragged her body into this cabin and bathed her, for I only wanted a dollhouse and she would’ve never accepted the monsters that provoked me.”
What scared her father was the fact that she didn’t seem disturbed anymore like she would often behave. Her eyes shone, so much so that her father thought it better to die without any light. It was probably was a plan, spread across years to get him to come back to where it all began.
“Would you still ask me why I never played with my doll-house, father? It was still incomplete and without a father, there was no glory for the family. It isn’t your fault but a fault of my obsession that we sit around a table and yet can never be a family. Destiny was, that after all these years, my dollhouse kept its secret unscathed and beautiful. I guess the people here are still scared of the woods.”
Her father had no more curiosity, though; only regret. He wanted to be proud of her, for he himself never had the courage to obsess.
Obsession, my faithful, isn’t a city for the cowardly.
“Mother has been a part of this for years now and so shall you be. It is time now, father, for me to end my obsession and be done with the sufferings. These kids have been too long without a father and I have suffered much being a part of the wait. It isn’t torture, father, but a request that you let the other dolls know why it happened. Tell them that it wasn’t my fault. Tell the girls that their pain has always been a shadow of mine. Mother won’t ask for much though; she has probably been waiting for you. I shall join you, but not soon. It is time for me to savour the end of my journey.” She said and slit his throat and watched him bleed to death.
She would stay there for weeks, waking up every day to her dolls, bathing them and singing to them, until the day the police patrol found her, savouring a meal on the dinner table with the corpses.
Her lawyer persuaded the court to get her off any legal charges on the accounts of mental instability.
Sent to an asylum, she waited for the day when she got out, for she hadn’t given up. She had with her the doll-house her mother bought, but it was never enough. She waited, while she mocked the existence of science and law in a world where only the mind triumphed. She waited, for the day ‘til she was acquitted of her crimes and she didn’t have to fake insanity anymore. And when such a day came, she left her home forever, to wander and find herself a doll-house again.
Three decades later, the police patrol discovered her corpse, in a cabin in the woods, seated neatly around a dinner table along with three other corpses; the corpses of her husband and her two unfortunate kids. It took her thirty more years, and a fake promise of love to her husband and her unfortunate children to live through her pain. But the woman finally had her own dollhouse.
To the world of sanity, she was a murderer but for once, dare to stare into the minds of the broken and taste the pain they honour and you shall stumble upon the obvious truth; Msanii shall never be the same for you. She was just a woman who just wanted her doll-house.