Maybe that’s why…

Maybe that’s why…

She was so pretty. Brenda, I think, was her name. Small breasts, large blue eyes and brunette hair.
So young. So cute. So attractive.

Maybe that’s why he liked her. Maybe that’s why he sought her. Maybe that’s why he fucked her.

 

She was at the park, playing with the kids that afternoon. I watched her, while sitting in my car, from afar. She got them candies, and ran with their puppies.
So ostentatious. So fake. So showy.

Maybe that’s why he liked her. Maybe that’s why he sought her. Maybe that’s why he fucked her.

 

She then sat there on the bench, in the dim evening light, reading her tablet. As if she was engrossed in something extremely important. With a smile pasted on her face.
So shallow. So self-important. So self-engrossed.

Maybe that’s why ….

 

I had to speak to her. Find out what it was about her. What is it she had? What is it she did? What is it she lived? Find out what made him like her. Find out what made him seek her. What made him…
I walked up to her. “Hi, Can you help me with this address?” I asked, and handed her a piece of paper. She smiled her perfect smile and extended her long fingers to take the paper.
So pretentious. So irksome. So irritating.

Maybe that’s why …

 

She turned around to point in the direction opposite me, and began talking like there was nothing wrong or dangerous in this world.
So stupid. So naïve. So gullible.

Maybe that’s why …

 

I couldn’t bear to wait and ask her my questions. I made my move. I took the blade that I cut him with, and stabbed her throat too. She did not scream. Only stared at the trees above her, as she fell her gracious fall.
So serene. So quiet. So… beautiful. Beautiful? Was I beginning to get smitten by her too?

Maybe that’s why he liked her. Maybe that’s why he sought her. Maybe that’s why he fucked her.

 

Every night I go back to the park.

Every night I see her on that bench.

Every night I want to kill her, so she doesn’t remember, so she doesn’t hate herself, so she doesn’t grow up to be ME.

Every night I want to speak to her. Ask her why I was so pretty, so gullible, so ostentatious and so beautiful…

Because maybe that’s why he liked me. Maybe that’s why he sought me. Maybe that’s why he raped ME.

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Bawali

Bawali

The fire danced in the desert wind. Loo, the locals called it. The warm air was pleasant, but not for her, not with the amount of jewelry she was wearing. Her lehenga, her choli, her ghoonghat, her nathani, her jhumka and her mehendi were telling the guests a  beautiful story of happiness but her sweat and tears were her own to feel. Her wedding was an hour away, and she was kept at the center of the Sabha like a show piece. 16 year old Hetal was all set to marry the rich business man from the neighboring town.

Scores of villagers were walking past her, giving her money and small gifts that befit their stature. She had never seen so many coins for her in her life. And yet, her mind did not want to count the money in front of her. Her heart yearned to see the one boy she had ever dared to look in the eye, had ever dared to hold hands with. She knew Chandan would be coming to the opening in her backyard anytime now, and she would be ready when he did.

Bikramjeet and his wife Peenal were beaming with joy, looking at their daughter sitting coyly, waiting for the wedding. Glory, they called it. A good name to the family, water to their parched bajra fields and money to send their young Dilawar to school.  Peenal walked to her daughter, wiped the sweat off her forehead with her hands, and planted a kiss on it. Hetal tried to pull away. ‘Eh Bawali! Peenal murmured as she quietly pulled Hetal’s ghoonghat over to cover her face, lest anyone see the bruises. It hurt her that her child had to be beaten up so harsh, but her husband was right. Daughters have no business studying or falling in love. She wondered what happened to the 18 year old boy and just hoped he hadn’t got killed. Her husband was known for tempers.

There was commotion outside the Sabha, and Bikram straightened up. ‘Baraat aa gayo, Laado ko andar le ja’ he boomed with energy as told his wife. Peenal and the other maidens helped Hetal in her heavy lehenga and walked her into the house, into the bride’s room, and came back to welcome the party.

The candle flickered in the desert wind. Dragon’s breath, Chandan called it. Hetal hoped he came sooner. She removed the gold and rubies she wore. She wanted no part of it. Her father’s hard earned money is something her father should use, not her. She had never stepped out of the house without telling her mother, but she was convinced that this was her becoming a woman. She quickly removed the small bundle of some money, clothes and bangles she had packed that morning. She picked up the silver statue of Krishna her grandmother gifted her when she was 8 and headed for the door. Ensuring nobody was at the main house amidst the commotion, she left for the backyard.

Chandan said he would wait there with his friend’s bike. There was no bike. There was no him. Where had he gone? She would be doomed if she were to walk back into the house now! She would be doomed if she were to walk away from her house without him! She felt all alone. Was her father right? Was he a beherupiya?

Little did she know that the boy she loved, the boy she wanted to grow up for was lying in the bottom of the unused well of her village, the same well they would meet by when the sun began to set. He was beaten and crushed to the point of no recognition. Little did she know that his last moments were spent crying, not because of the pain he bore but for her fate and what may lie ahead for her. He wanted to wait for her in the peechewali gali and whisk her away to the world he would build for her. And even at this hour, when his life was merely hanging on to him, he wanted to do it. To not live longer, but make his life matter, for her. He breathed out one last time, thinking of her beautiful hair and her deep watery eyes.

Hetal cried. Cried more bitterly than when she did as her father hit her with his stick. She never thought that as disrespect, she just took that as her fate. But this betrayal? She cried because she felt disrespected, because she had allowed it and it was not fate. With a deep breath, she made her decision. If she could make a boy make her feel so grown up and strong, she would make the woman in her make her unstoppable. She took the heaviest step forward, dismissing her fate and allowing her action to take charge. She walked, she jogged and then she finally ran towards the muddy road that lead to the town. Feeling the wind around her, she ran into the desert night with the ghosts of her past.

Conscious

Conscious

The pain shot through his head as if someone was stabbing it with white hot rods. His eyes fought through the pain and opened.

Strange faces were staring at him. A doctor was looking down at him… Concerned. A nurse was checking his IV bottle… Observant. The memory of a car pushing him to the curb almost brought the pain back, which made him scream, made him breathe and made him speak.

‘Who are you? Tell me your name’ probed the doctor.

‘Tyler Dickens. I’m from Chicago’, he managed.

‘Tyler, you met with an accident yesterday. It hurt your head pretty bad, but you seem much better now. We need to observe you longer. Do you have family we can speak to?’

‘Yes, My wife, Lynda’. He gave them the details.

All this while the nurse was staring at him. Like she was looking for something on his face. It scared him. So much, that he did not want to blame it on his pain and shock. He knew he had to get out of there.

As soon as the doctor and the nurse left the room, his military training kicked in, and he managed to pull the tubes off, pick up his tattered clothes and leave. Why hadn’t Lynda come yet? She was on the phone with him just before the freak accident. It didn’t fit.

He tried to call her from his calling card. Dead. He tried to access his bank on the teller machine. Denied. Strange. With a few spare bills in his jacket, he got himself a cab and headed to the one place he needed right now. Home.

When he reached the place he’s lived with his beautiful wife, and eight year old daughter, Wendy, he felt calmer. He found the front door open and barged in, expecting to be greeted by his little one.

‘Lynda! Wendy!’

His shouts were answered by a familiar voice. A familiar but unsure voice.

‘Hey. Who are you? What do you want? How dare you enter my house? I could call the cops!!’

It was Lynda. She looked beautiful. Too beautiful. Younger perhaps. And her blonde hair… It was shorter… way shorter. ‘What are you doing here? I will have you arrested. Get OUT!’

What just happened? What was his wife talking about? What happened to Wendy? What was he missing? It struck him to look around the house. His house. The furniture. The walls. Everything was the same, just as they planned it 6 years ago.  When he took a step closer to Lynda, what he saw behind her shocked him. It was a picture of their vacation to India last year. Himalayas… Lynda… Her new salwar. But where was he? Panic gripped him. This must be a nightmare. He couldn’t digest it, and blindly ran out of the house. Throat dry, he could feel the chagrin in his mouth.

Everything looked clear, as he recalled it. But the whole world seemed to have forgotten him. And just when he crossed over the lawn to get to the street, a blinding light hit him in the face and he groaned his way into the black.

The pain shot through his head as if someone was stabbing it with white hot rods. His eyes fought through the pain and opened.

‘Who are you? Tell me your name’ the same doctor, probed him again.

‘I… err’

He looked at the woman with long blonde hair, standing behind the doctor.

‘This is your wife, Lynda’, the doctor said.

She added, ‘Honey, I’m here to take you home’

The doctor looked concerned and turned to him. ‘Can you recall where you are from?’

‘I… I don’t remember…. Anything…’ he blinked. His mind was blank.

At the foot of the bed, the nurse observing him closely, smiled. ‘Amnesia’, she scribbled into his charts. She heard what she wanted to and walked away.