The cool wind from the unseen periphery of the sea that plunged through my skin woke me up. I found myself at ease, seated comfortably on the chair, holding a glass that was devoid of any wine now and my legs resting on the adjacent table, watching the beautiful Spanish girl lying on my bed in a cherubic trance. I could but heave a sigh at the inevitability of it.
Her eye lashes parted elegantly, revealing a pair of faint-hued, blue pupils. For a moment, her almond-eyes struggled to adjust to the dim milieu, blinking with unintended charisma. I waited calmly. I had all the time in the world.
“Is it not a part of Spanish rationale that you shouldn`t accept drinks from strangers?” I said, yawning unabashedly.
She looked at me in utter disbelief.
“You tranquillised me?” she shouted in her accented English. If not as good as a shout, it was at least an emphatic interrogation.
“Never has a handsome man offered a drink to a girl purely out of formal etiquette, if you know what I mean.”
Shock and frustration concomitantly enveloped her face. “And yes, there`s no use screaming for help,” I said. “Pain and death can always follow impulsiveness.” I eyed the knife on the table. “I do believe your English is good enough for you to understand what I mean. Or I can speak Spanish if you wish.”
She tried to get up, only to realize that her limbs had been tied to the legs of the bed. She looked at me helplessly. I got up from my chair to go and sit beside her on the bed.
“Who are you?!”
“Do you happen to know that this is the one question I’ve had to face the most in my life, ever?”
I shook my head menacingly as the expected terror met me.
“What is it with you people and names? Trust me, a name is the only property poor parents can leave their children with.” I pursed my lips, “How can something so abstract define someone’s identity?” I winked artfully. “But if you are too insistent, have it that quite a few judicial files have certified me as a well qualified criminal. I rape girls.”
Evident revulsion crept up her frame as a confining desperation enveloped her.
The calm winds from the heart of the sprawling sea ambled in and fondled her hair. She looked at me accusingly.
“I know you are regretting and cursing yourself for having allowed a stranger offer you a drink from a beach side cafe. It`s natural. Life is an endless pursuit to not lie in your coffin with regret, isn’t it? ”
The sound of the waves echoed at a distance as they hit against the rocks meaninglessly.
m sorry, but this is the way I talk. This mannerism has taken a long while to form. I dont think people actually grasp what I mean. But trust me, a man can wilfully do something wrong only once he learns what the right things are. If I`m a criminal today, then I justify my existence with honor,” I said, picturing an audience in front of me.
Silence pervaded the room for some time as a breeze sauntered by resignedly.
“Wa…” her voice cracked, but she found herself continuing. “…water…” she said, her face appallingly sweaty and voice weak and fragile.
I stared at her for some time blankly until my lips curved into a genuine, lopsided smile. I went up to the table, poured over a glass of water from the jug and slowly lowered it to her mouth. Water gushed into her dry mouth like a cloudburst drenching the sand dunes of a desert.
“Is it true that beauty and intellect make a rare combination?” I said, looking at her with my eyebrows lifted. She gazed back at me with concealed horror. I sighed. “How sure are you that the water was not poisoned?”
For a moment, her face went pale.
I laughed heartily. “Of course it
s not. I just pointed out a possibility.” I kept the jug back on the table. “Statistically speaking, sixteen of the sixteen girls Ive raped have been beautiful as well as foolish, you included. But yes, fear of death will make you act foolish anyway.”
Sheer terror seized her face.
t worry, I dont kill people for that matter,” I said. “It`s just about a small prick.” I motioned to a syringe at the far end of the table. “That makes them sterile and puts them in a coma for the rest of their lives.”
She shuddered. I winked artfully. “At least that has given me a reason to keep moving from one country to another.”
“Don`t you feel guilty, you scoundrel?!” her voice was broken.
“You do speak good English for a young Spanish woman,” I said approvingly. I looked at her for some time, once again feeling the old burning sensation, a far cry echoing from a deep chasm within. I got up.
“You know what,” I picked up an expensive fountain pen from the table and uncapped it. “You can either use this pen for your calligraphy or…” Before she knew, I stabbed it hard on the palm of her right hand.
She screamed in pain as blood trickled out of the wound.
“…use it to craftily stab someone!” I smirked, intoxicated. That scream of suffering drowned me in some strange stimulation.
She kept wincing as tears trickled out of her eyes.
“My point is,” I said, “that I prefer to be content with being genuinely bad than artificially good. If the gates of hell await me, then why not cause as much destruction as I can here and then enter them?”
I retrieved the pen from the deep incision it had created in her hand. She howled.
“Till the blood clots, let me entertain you with a very interesting story,” I said, stretching my back. “I grew up in this slum in the outskirts of the city with my sister and father. My father…he was a blatant alcoholic. One day, he came home, drenched in sweat and completely drunk. He locked me up in a room and then…”
She looked bewildered amidst the pain in her hand.
“And then… he raped my sister.
“I could hear her screams through the door, but I could just shut my ears with my hands and escape that scream…”
Horrendous emotions crowded her pale face. For a moment, there was nothing congenial and amorous about it.
“I landed up in this juvenile home, being accused of having raped my sister. I don`t know how. She died of course and I refused to go to her funeral. That day, my life was sealed as a cold-blooded rapist for a rape I never committed.”
The stillness seemed hard and heavy but inevitable. She looked at me, the horror in her eyes pushing out the tears from the pain in her hand.
“I was just fifteen then.” I whistled some strange song with incensed reminiscence. “But jail schools are not as bad as you think they are, by the way!”
I picked up the wine bottle and looked at it admiringly. “Wine is a bottled wormhole to your most dreadful pasts.” I paused for a moment. “I do remember one occasion when I got so drunk that I broke the bottle in half and pierced the sharp edges into the girl`s vagina.”
I went and sat beside her. “Are you afraid?” I whispered, abbreviating the fiendishness in what I had said with the lowered pitch. “Well, just think what`s waiting. People will spit at you. Your parents will abandon you. The man you thought would be with you forever will puke at your bare sight and run away from you. You will live every day of the rest of your life in regret for having not being killed. Even a roadside beggar will look at you with third-class pity. Every single person will look at you like you were garbage.”
She refused to stir an inch, her face as impassive as a deadpan. The trace of the tears that had trailed along the length of her rose cheeks dried up.
“Too frozen to speak there, are you?” I said, the viciousness of my undertone reverberating dissonantly in the room.
Her face seemed as though emotions had gone vagrant and left it as a desolate valley. I couldn
t make out whether she was too frozen to move or too hesitant to act. I looked at her fatigued frame, struggling to breathe, pitiful and surrendering. It reminded me of the pale and weary faces of all the women I had raped. Those innocent, petrified faces, begging to let them go. Some, falling at my feet and wailing that they wouldnt tell another man about me if I left them free. Some others, calling out for help to a god I never thought existed. And worse still, some others offering me all their capital holdings in return of their life. I saw my father before me, tearing off the clothes of my sister. I saw my sister, too weak for any resistance at all. I saw the boys at the juvenile home surrounding and asking me how my sister looked when she was naked. I saw the warden, taking off his belt to slash me, shouting out all the obscenities that existed in the world. And inevitably, I saw this angelic, blond-haired girl who accepted a tranquilized drink from me at a beach side cafe in Hawaii. It brought that lopsided grin onto my face again. Genuine smiles are never camera-friendly, I mused.
“I have seen many women in my life,” I said, “but none as beautiful as you. And I have never let lust turn into something deeper. But for the first time in my life, I have felt that strange, pricking sensation in me.” I paused for a second. “Is it love?”
She gasped. It seemed as though I had stabbed her wounded hand again.
“Right from the first moment of the first day on this beach I saw you, I have felt that sensation. Why do I feel so incomplete? I have been following you all through your holiday here on Hawaii. It
s not lust. Its not the external you. But something inside you…”
I gently held her right palm and wiped the blood around the wound with a tissue paper. She winced.
“I know it
s all wrong, not possible, to say the least. But I cant happen to care! This insanity called love, it
s like greedily counting currency notes, isnt it? You never want to stop counting!” I laughed heartily at my own attempt at untimely humor. “Poor joke, I`m afraid.”
My eyes held her gaze as I picked up a roll of cotton cloth and wound it around her hand. “This wound will be the motif of my love.” I untied the rope around her hands and legs to let her free.
Her face was still a confused assortment of emotion. I tried to move closer but she moved back reflexively.
“Uh, uh, that
s not happening,” I said, sounding like a magician setting the audience up. “Dont tell me that I was expecting you to agree dutifully. I know the last person you want to fall for is me. But yes, that counts only when I`m open to rejection.” I picked up a knife from the table and pointed it at her childishly. There was an upsetting air of uneasiness hanging in the air. I gestured to a small, old fashioned camcorder at the far end of the table facing the bed.
“You don`t want to see how you were raped while on sedation, do you?”
Blood rushed to her eyes as her veins and arteries tightened with aggravation. I cleared my throat. “Losing your chastity need not be a matter of concern if you are losing it to a man of honor. So I give you two choices. You can either, of course, leave this place and face what`s coming. Or…”
“Give in?” she interrupted.
Impressed, I gave her an appraising nod. “I guess that makes you come to terms with me. Your beauty and my intellect will make our child an innovation seen never before. ” I feigned a sigh. “I
m basically not a romantic person, but youll have to get used to it now.”
I was met with a haunting gaze as I kept the knife back on the table. The eerie silence seemed to envelope us in a coverlet of apprehension. She gave a weak smile. “All this, just for love?”
I nodded with a rancorous pride in reply.
She looked at her right hand, bandaged with care, deep inside which, the blood was probably refusing to clot. There were no more tears now.
“I was afraid that you were going to kill me. And so, thank you for leaving me with a choice,” she said as she got up, steadying herself from the dizzying effect of having lied down for a long time. Walking to the table, she slapped herself on the head a few times for the tranquilizer to wear off completely. “I can
t stay of course, and never ever love you for that matter, for love is not something I can fancy. But yes, you do have my heartfelt sympathy for your past… and your future.” I looked at her dubiously, doubting whether she was going to take the camcorder. I set myself up to pounce on her in case she did, but she didnt. From the messed up array of objects, she picked up the wine bottle that I had left unfinished. I could but stare uncomprehendingly as she emptied it down her throat in an effort of quenching the thirst the long night had left her with.
“You did leave me with a choice, but I
m sorry that I cant return the favor. I leave you with virtually no choice.” She picked up my purse.
I gazed at her with corrugated eye brows, evidently formed from her sudden change in demeanor.
She walked towards the door, my purse still in her hand. And I did know that it had quite a few fresh Hawaiian dollars in it.
Before closing the door, she turned back. “I do believe you know enough Spanish to understand what SADI means.” For one hellish moment, I gasped. I had been in Spain long enough to know what that meant. It translated as AIDS.
The first rays of the sun caressed the curtains and made their way into the dimly lit room with the naissance of early dawn. The beautiful Spanish girl whom I had violated without any protection stopped at the door and turned back. She gazed deep into my eyes em pathetically.
As though signing off, she said:
m sorry, but Im a prostitute.”