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The scarlet of her lips, her lavish walk, the velvety flair of her skirt and the impressionable coat flinging on her shoulder. This is what I remember of her but all that seductive and somewhat arousing (assaultive) description that some part of my brain has managed to store (even when I tell it to retrace unimportant or divertive fragments of an image) is useless. Now my brain also seems to recall her silk shirt that pressed enjoyably against her chest and abdomen exemplifying a divine curvature and the most perfect pair of breasts.
Like I said all this shouldn’t have been mentioned as it befogs both our minds. But with this slur comes a desire to explain. The truth about this woman, this biological masterpiece, like all perfections of nature and other pretty women is that she was evil.
The sugar laced sweetness of her voice, escaping an inflamed throat as rough, all the more luring (provocative may be the right word) with that scraped edginess to it was deceiving. Same was the case with her persuasive eyes, and their burning notion; her sinewy fingers; the beauty of her dotted earlobe. Oh, how the perfect architecture, the asymmetrical figure and its asymmetrical freckles played the abused author! Such hypocrisy, such concealed objectives allied with this perfection. How vilely she lured me into her plan.
From my manner of speaking you must have justified me as a madman, but divert your mind elsewhere: the woman in the limelight, and her demoniac agenda.
Let us raise a betrayed curtain, and let its dust fall off and mingle with the white light. Let the fog roll in and embrace her feet. Let us focus on the woman in question.
The subject is without doubt, without need of a frolicsome phrase bathed in a dreamy prose, without giving room to a flimsical verse, beautiful. The audience is captivated— women, in particular, are intimidated. Insecure, they manage their chests, raising their bras. The men are enchanted, their wives, courtesans and so on can’t make them look away.
But yes, in a strange way, everyone is unsure. Everyone is trying to comprehend. The jury is spellbound; paralyzed. They feel drums beating in the back of their heads but cannot move a limb. Their muscles are too rigid to help them blink. Such is the quality that the subject possessed.
Let me present forth my predicament as to earn your empathy, and sympathy too—my horrific tragedy, I explain in the following words with trembling lips, and a very unwilling state of mind.
In as few words as possible, (my palette is full and if you please, I could fondle more with words but I should halt my eerie projections; I tend not to bore.) the author wishes to state that irony allied with parasitic ideas— a degree in Literature, an unsuccessful attempt to open a dairy farm, amateur pornography and so forth— left poor M. with nothing but a job that the turning of history provided. Terrorism had to be halted, and such a foolish plan could only be devised by a foolish government to employ fools like me. I became one of the eternally unconcerned, handicapped incapables: a security-check-person. On a lonesome road, stood the bored author, with no companion but his flashlight, which he shot at the agitated drivers who seldom passed by.
My work-space, a new setting. The lonely author with his flashlight leaned on a ‘stop’ sign. A car halted near him. This is what I noticed: her honey speckled, polka dotted skin. Ignited blonde hair, entangled, under the gloomy golden light. Definitely not a poet’s perfect mistress, only mine. A wave, a spasm. Despair and a throb. Such a visual ecstasy. What a strange perspective I had, so unholy, strategically unwise— my perverse eyes and their perverse smile. (I describe rhythmically to match the beat of my palpitating heart, not to irritate the reader, who I suppose, is.)
Oh the vain creature, how mismatched we were. How my gesture seemed unpalatable to her. But how could I have looked away. No, it is not a question but a statement. What a devastating encounter!
Third setting, the Library— where my spiteful love with an acidic red on her lips entered, her stilettos banging gracefully against the floor. Oh the beauty of fate, a spontaneous rendezvous yet again! I had, tactfully, intervened Alizay (I tried to conceal her name, but I gathered that the reader is deserving of having a taste of this most tasteful concoction—bitter where the buds sense bitter and murderously sweet, the sort that can kill a diabetic, where the tongue tastes sweet) following closely after her schedule: I had traded shifts as to track her daily crossings.
“You!” her voice tore through the silence of the audience, the people in the library, and the hum made by the electric generator. She screamed like all insecure women do upon confrontation, yet with eloquence not as fake as the typical socialite and a deliberation not as deliberate as my mother’s. She was in the middle, the dressing and the vegetables, all in the right proportion of this salad that was she. Yes, my sweet was dramatic, but that was just a cherry on top of the cream.
The rest of her accusations were muffled. My phonetic abilities, both input and output-wise, were overridden but my eyes were perfectly attuned as they recorded in the sharpest resolution, in the highest contrast, adrenaline assisting my dear pupils to widen: the inertial movement of her bosom caused by her exaggerative gestures. Her hawk-winged eyebrows, and the fretted expression upon her forehead, without the ugly crease, thank God. The exotic twist of her tongue wetting her lower-lip—I longed so solemnly to taste those acidic lips which chapped mine later on one heavenly night.
Pure pleasure it was to see the bitter resentment she tried to hold back when she came to find out that I happened to be a member of the library. She was held aback by the prejudice that failed her at that time. Her natural tan, considered to be from the pallor palette according to the Pakistani scale of complexion, took on a voyage of transcending in such a way that I could spend pages telling the reader about, but let us skip that. This, another, state of frustration on the woman was savored by me till the point of saturation. How unnaturally had this animal cell built around it a cell wall so that he may not burst and reveal to her everything that contained in his everything, and his everything was she! (I figure, the reader has already understood the writer’s expressive nature which can be such an untoward passive sometimes.)
There I took a heavy breath of the dry November air, and introduced myself to her.
“M. Benjamin,” I gestured my hand to her. She responded in that wry way most self-flattered, Islamabadish women do which is not a con, I should point out. But yet, with all the wry, and all the iniquity that secretly she nursed, that d***ed incubus, she could not hold back her shame—another shade of her red that suited her beautifully.
The details in the fabric, which I want to skip, but can’t, were just like Peshawari woolen sweaters and Chitrali caps. The happening of events was weaved in the same traditional and clichéd way: she asked what it would take (after a minute’s worth of consideration) to make it up to me, and I asked to court her to dinner somewhere, to which the poor thing hesitantly accepted. The time and date were set and we went on to do our respective things.
The angels were surely jealous of this mortal beauty with her heavenly charm, and would be further inclined to weep in regret that I fondled and groped my princess, with a caress on the cheek and here and there, everywhere. The blue sky, that had been gray that day turned pitch black for me, ‘Zay had been diagnosed to have pneumonia. But how could have my babe, with her manicures and pedicures, frequent baths, expensive water and private doctor had acquired the disease? As I said, surely it was a curse.
The news re-crumpled my paper heart, which had already been crunched, kicked, drowned, dried and crunched so many times. But mark my words, lovers and a law offenders (and optimistic women, dumb as rock in reality with golden locks and so on…) find opportunity when faced with defeat.
M thus went dutifully to sick A’s house, which he found to be a den as opposed to his dear nest. Either his diaphragm ruptured and his heart sank through it or his diastole mixed with his systole, he did not know but poor M pressed on the bell button after long consideration. A Pathan courted, the driver most likely, tensed M to the living room.
M placed in a modernistic vase a modest floral buffet: a rose snipped off a neighbor’s bush and three other flowers from this and that amenity project by the government. And as he turned around— the horror!— there was the mother, with that elevated bob, the taut jaw but lose skin, the false tone of white, and that unnoticeable smell of an expensive perfume. But guess what, (Wretched Mother of irony!) this typical aristocratic—looking woman was the maid. Useless it is to explain what went through M’s mind as it is well imaginable. Lowed M folded a white piece of paper and brainstormed as to what he should ink down. Goodbye? Farewell? Allah-hafiz? No. He just wished her well and left, the poor thing.
The unpredictable nature of a creature that is the woman could never be underestimated. After all she did get better and scheduled another meeting. Ladies and Gentlemen, the generous maiden called me back— Remember I use the word ‘generous’ in retrospect of this act of hers and not her character in general—and Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the venom of lowliness spreading through my vessels, I accepted the offer.
The author aimed to impress by painting a picture to the subject of his life’s misfortune to humor her. Comic comedy worked its magic and there we were, her checkered dress and my faded shirt with roses in a center of the table and coffee’s insinuating sting—the art of persuasion personified by the atmosphere and my planned words— and that, dear jury, caused her to plan a date. After all, to be with the maiden required the man to be charming as well.
I wore on respective ‘dates’ the assorted collection of polka-dotted bowties that my father had left me and some borrowed shirts from this and that ex- friend. Same pants, however. I had to experiment with dyes. But my mismatched attire formed a rather old fashioned collage that could be mistaken as a partridge—passable. Not expensive, but passable.
We ventured not off to atrocious restaurants with a gloomy decorum and waiters wearing better coats than the writer but to places of the public—no, not parks and on Victorian picnics as per cliché but places as are told here-forth to mark certain milestones. The poorest of lovers know that to sweep away the rug and unlike magicians, sweep away the woman with it can only be achieved by the way that is ineffable in a word, but explained in the course of events as follows. Dear Jury, please, I plead, hang with me a little bit more.
A waning reminiscent, fondled by poisoned water, teenage arrogance and on the verge of deterioration—the massive Rohtas fort was where we went for our first date. There in the patterned shadow and sunlight from the eleven o’clock sun, one pupil dilated and other not, auburn hair ablaze, preoccupied stood my maiden. In the dungeons the author took full advantage of the dark and his love’s arachnophobia and teased her and in many innocent ways groped her. The rest, I acted as a professional guide and amused her more with my knowledge and at 3 p.m. we left, my arm over her shoulders.
Oh, we were quite the match, she and I. All of other factors behind, to find someone akin to my race and religion, to share the same feeling of invisible suppression amongst this sea of wretched Muslims, the probability and the criss-cross matchworks of whoever everyone believes in, was itself amazing.
Date number two—Rock climbing in Potohar; shrubs, sun, dust, rocks and sweat; a picnic atop a lonely and erect hard rock overlooking a cave to compensate the energy lost; a scorpion and a spider (luck, luck, luck!); the orange sky; honking cars and soon to be lovers (us!)—we talked and talked and then ascended back to Islamabad in her (irreverently emasculating) car.
Was there a third ‘date’? Mangoes, in my culture, are eaten more happily unripe. Unripe was the fruit of this love and M did not want the fruit to ripen and turn into a horrifically domestic affair with the ‘Honey, I am home!’ and ‘what did you cook for dinner, hun?’ and ‘Lets plan babies’ dialogues they show in soap operas. No, no, no, never! But his mistress did not want the sourly pleasure (the lust, to put it into simpler words in case I have confused you) and wanted to marry. Aloof, naïve and desperate, I treaded blindly into this mess they officially call it a ‘matrimonial alliance’.
Once, my father, a taut atheist who tried to bequeath my faith with every word he spoke, while treating on fried onions and sausages (while my mother stared at his foot, which, due the ancestral misfortune embedded in my genes, missed a toe) said, “The thing about faith, my child is that it blinds you in as many ways as it opens your eyes. You can be oblivious, impenetrable, stubborn or maybe just right. But once, if without open consideration, you accept something, it becomes a part of you in such a way that your cognition is wrecked. Done for.” But what a great turnoff his onion-laden breath was! I held on to my crucifix and that old, tired Bible struggling to stay put by its broken binding, of which I understood nothing off, until I took reason as absolute. But not to worry, in all appearances, I am still a Christian.
Forgive this poor victim of straying off topic, like the Bible, I just can’t stay put. I looked in my father’s eyes, and his thin lips from which he morphed a perverse smile whenever acting too smart, and told him that, ‘No, that is love.’
And he replied with that same excruciating smile, ‘And sex.’
Reader must be baffled by all the out-of-context ruminations, but I figure, I owe it to you to explain why I married her. You see, I wanted her, needed her, and had the opportunity to have her. Who in their right or wrong minds could have ever put down such an offer, even despite the horrific negotiation? I became the dumbbell of the dumb cow. Domesticated. Doomed. Misery, mishap and sadness followed.
I was trapped in her mansion, with kids, half mine, half hers, those shrieking, attention seeking, annoying, money sponging, time consuming products of a few seconds of delight. (How can the soil be prepared, sowed, and not bear fruit?) Long gone are those days I could write about ecstatically. In her castle, this expansive prison cellar, I lived. I was trapped in a castle the like of Stoker’s gifted imagination. Words of his, I do not possess, and thus I leave with a simple endnote: Never marry a woman. All women are evil.
And a side note: Yes, it is I that killed her.
M. Benjamin Roy.