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29 Oct 2014

Star Gazer

Nothing about my life is clichéd so I never thought that my future would start in as clichéd a moment as when our eyes met across the tables. He had smiling eyes – you know the kind... the ones that are permanently crinkled on the sides, seemingly under the influence of some private moment of suppressed hilarity. I had come to trust myself to read men’s eyes well, experience had taught me that he who has intentions, none of which were good, always came with sweet talk but smiles that never quite reached the eyes – which is precisely why I liked this one, brown-eyed and long-lashed and laughter-filled.

He had just looked up from the book he was reading – I was and am a subscriber of the Darwinian theory and the fact that the book was Kafka on the Shore was what clinched the deal for my subconscious. Impeccably shabby, his pale blue shirt was far from pristine but very becoming of him and the denims were worn well enough to warrant the “favorite pair” tag. Add to that a day’s worth of scruff, he hardly made the cut to qualify as the 'regular gentleman', but those eyes. Those laughing eyes.

I don’t know what he saw though.

***

He looked at me with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. The first time we met, he took my hands in his clammy ones, bent down to my eye level and told my daddy that he had a very pretty daughter. Looking back, that was the moment that my life changed forever. And looking forward, that was the moment I will keep willing away into oblivion.

***

The next time we met, we sat at the same table. Life had taught me to reach out for what I wanted to make myself happy and I had asked him out within five minutes of small talk and his laughing eyes twinkled with mischief as he accepted. What started as assertions on Murakami’s excellence ended up being a conversation that trailed through everything from shoe laces to the Universe to fishes in the local pond - I was very surprised that he knew where it was, further solidifying my very favorable first impression. I blushed when he said the brilliance of star dust would have trouble competing with me.

But I never blush.

***

On my 12th birthday, my parents had deemed me old enough to stay home by myself and I was very proud to have been given the responsibility, not realizing that, for them, it was just a matter of having their freedom back, being able to live like before, before the time the unplanned, unwanted child had arrived. He came knocking one day when they were out shopping – I wonder why I opened, I never usually opened the door for strangers. But then again, he wasn’t a stranger. A clichéd tale in the making, perhaps?

Looking back, I realize that I never stood a chance – his depravity never left me with one. He had picked his prey well for he had read me like an open book and understood that whatever happened, whatever he subjected me to, I wouldn’t break, my pride wouldn’t let me. Nor would I tattle, my courage wouldn’t let me.  

Once that was established, slowly, he proceeded to shred my soul.

*** 

It wasn’t a wonder that we, he and me, ended up under my fluffy duvet covers, desperate for breath and each other. Clothes had become an irritation as I gave my virginity up, at age twenty two, to someone who valued the bubbling feeling that virginity really is, the hope and the trust, that comes with spread legs. At least I hoped he valued it. My heart appreciated the fact that my insides were turning to mush, not from fear and pain like it has always been, but from those gooey feelings that I’d always hoped to feel. My head exploded, not from the inability to contain everything from the seventh circle of hell and shame, but from love, love exploding from the deep recesses of a heart that knew not the meaning of such words. 

***

He always slept over – he made sure he came only when no one was around. I had always lain away from his side, the putrid smell of dank sweat mingled with the metallic aftertaste of pain filling my senses while he snored precious minutes of my life away. I couldn’t leave the bed, he was a light sleeper and he would be even more brutal if I did or said anything that he did not like. So I lay by his side, suffocating any and all emotions, strangling sobs before they arose and battling demons who had stolen away my sleep.

***

Spent, he slept through my epiphanies and my hallelujahs. The crook of his arm held my buzzing head to his chest while the other hand held my warm body close to him, pinning it there. Strong that he was, fear was far from my mind for it was busy drowning in the feeling of finally belonging to someone who wanted me for me. His fingers that were splayed at the side of my face channeled my tears of ecstasy on to the duvet – the pillow that had been, till then, witness to nightmares and keening sobs, full of doubt, self-pity and lack of will to live, was finally spared.

***

He was extremely displeased when I left for college. He tried his best to get me to stay, to enroll in a college near home but there was nothing, not hell or highwater, he could do to make me stay, not even in the same country as him. As the landing gears of my plane retracted into the huge body, a shudder of relief went through my soul, though the lady in the aisle seat was too posh to notice and I had thanked my stars for that – I’d learnt to fight my own battles. He had made me stronger than I ever could have been.   

I haven’t seen my parents in a decade. They never came to see me either.

***

I woke up to an empty bed but the crackle of sizzling bacon in my pan quelled the tiny bubble of panic (some things never really fade from the mind, do they). I smiled as I allowed myself one more cliché – I pulled on his shirt, oversized as it was, and tiptoed into the kitchen. He smiled that scruffy smile at me, swung me up on to the kitchen counter and handed me a plate full of scrumptious food and the conversation continued from star dust to his long lashes to Orhan Pamuk and his ways.

Once, he brought up Lolita but the look on my face stopped him from going further; but him being him, he dispelled the minuscule black cloud with a wave and moved on to Pavlov Stellar, surprising me once again with his impeccable tastes - after all, all of these, and him, were my choice. My own.
And it had taken me five years of agony to get there. I deserve it.   

***

I am a woman, I look past my past to embrace my present. The battering I took, mind and body, is for no fault of mine and I refuse to blame myself for it. I choose to ignore the swampy mess and the unpleasant creatures floating in it which are waiting to drag me down. Instead, I look to the stars and see gleaming hope for a life yet to be lived in them.

I am a star gazer. 

PC

- Inspiration derived from the very, very, very inspirational Dominique Christina.