The revenge of the rose

Posted by in best, short story

It was the year 2012, and I woke with a craving for junk food. My eyes opened to a sparsely furnished dull room. The bright pile of clothes lying on the corner of the bed contrasted starkly with the dirty faded white of the overlooking wall. Dust had filled up the empty space on the floor, where it lived along with the wrappers and other knick-knacks I had abandoned. The slightly pungent smell of untouched worn clothes irritated my nose. Stretching myself, I shuffled out of the now empty bed and traced a path through the maze on the floor. I splashed some water on my face, and stared at the man looking back at me in the mirror. My eyes were the red of mud. My cheeks were getting shallower, and the pouches under my eyes seemed to grow larger by the day. Oil coated the entirety of the available surface, and accumulated along my wrinkles. I seemed like a monster right out of a cheap Hindi film, but with lanky limbs and a melancholy posture. Sighing, I brushed my teeth and got ready for another day at the office.

I was almost ready, and was combing my hair, when the overbearing sound of the horn shredded my eardrums. “Aa raha hun”, I shouted and ran down the stairs. It was no relief, for the horn stopped only when the driver spotted me. I had grown tired of asking him to let off the horn, but like in most things, it seemed that people simply ignored me. I sat quietly at the back of the cab, looking out of the window. I neither had the energy nor the urge to talk to anyone. Five minutes later, she climbed in. I didn’t know her name, for I had never had the courage to talk with her. Her face was somehow familiar, and her body was a work of art. She seemed too good to be true. I shook my head back to reality, and sighed in wistfulness. I did not have the courage to talk to a woman, much less one whom I desired.

My mind shut off as I settled into my desk. It was going to be another long day. At least the weekend followed this, and we would have our routine inebriation tonight. “Hi sir, how may I help you?” I put on my British accent, letting go of my Delhi roots. The rest of the day passed by in a hazy blur, which I could not have remembered on my life. After what seemed like an eternity, my colleagues and I boarded the cab to our bar. There were a couple of new faces, and my eyes opened wide on seeing her with us. Maybe all hope was not lost yet. I could not help a smile from creeping across my face as the possibilities loomed before me.

It was one of those typical dark, overly expensive nightclubs which was only know for its clientele. I had downed a couple of drinks, and it was enough to get my speech slurring. The rest of my party was dancing in reckless abandon in the small circle in the center of the club. It looked like a colony of worms, with all of them struggling to stay on the floor and fumbling within their own rhythms in the space they could squeeze out. A feminine silhouette detached itself from the jumble and moved towards my table. She had just gotten off the dance floor, and as I was the only one at our table, she came and sat beside me.
    “Don’t usually dance?” She asked.
    “Too many people too close” I replied.
    “Oh, Mr. Anti-social thinks he’s better than us?”
    “The opposite, in fact” This would throw her off, I thought.
    “And why is that?”
    “Those stories don’t help with my first impression”
    “Okay, be dark and broody. But give me a chance get a second impression.” She seemed drunk. And unusually interested in me.
    “Your wish.” This would be interesting, I thought.
    “I’m Rooh. How do you do?” I began …
I did not realize when it was closing time. We were the only ones left from our group still at the table. I paid for our drinks, and was about to offer her a drop when I saw her face and my body froze.

It was Chhaya. My mind reeled in its hazy state, and I couldn’t speak. My sight blurred, everything had grown quiet around me, and I had to put my head down on the table. Nausea filled my throat and I could feel it getting stronger with every pulse of blood hammering inside of me. It couldn’t be her. I took a few deep breaths, and looked up at her. It wasn’t Chhaya. She peered back at me with a concerned expression, and I grinned back at her. “That was a power nap, in case you didn’t notice” She grinned back at me, pulled me up, and we left the bar. My head had lightened, and I could now manage to think. It was just a trick of the light, wasn’t it? That, and I’m exceedingly drunk today, I figured. We hailed a cab and ambled into the back seat. I closed my eyes for a second and a tattered Chhaya stood in front of me. Her eyes were voids, trying to engulf me, but I fought back. On the edge of my consciousness, I heard a voice calling “Rooh, ROOH!”, and I managed to open my eyes. She was sitting beside me in the cab. Her eyes were half asleep, her hair spread all over her face. With a streetlight peeping in from the window, it seemed like a halo floated around her head. I smiled at her, “I’m all yours, promise”. There was hesitation in her eyes. “Are you sure you’re all right?” I nodded in agreement and wrapped my hand around her, pulling her into a bear hug. She snuggled in between and we whispered sweet nothings till we reached her place. I led the way to her apartment, and as soon as she closed her door, she pounced on me. The next thing I knew, I was staring at her in the darkness as she turned on a dim light and turned towards me. Seductively biting her lip, she undid her buttons one by one.

I closed my eyes for a second and the vortex of memories dragged me in. A dark road faded into sight. A yellow light filtered in from somewhere far away and I could see people standing around a fallen figure. Voices filled the air.
    “Bhaiya please mujhe jane do. Maine kya kiya hai”
    “CHUP SALI KUTIYA. Itne chote kapde pehenke aati hai, aur fir na bolti hai”
    “Yahi chahti thi na tu, daaru peeti hai kya koi sharif ladki”
    “Abe tu haath pakad mai chalu karta hun, fir tu aana”
    “Han chal, isme jyada dum bhi baaki nahi hai”
Suddenly she shrieked and shouted “BACHAO, KOI PLEASE BACHAO MUJHE”, which was answered with a hard slap to her face. It still did not stop her from continuing to shout, to which the man balled his fist and pummeled her. The cries turned into quiet sobs as one of them held her hands from above her head. The other bent over her and tore open her white shirt and undergarments. He mauled her chest and she squalled in pain. I moved closer to the spectacle, unable to speak. She started weeping as he dug his long nails into her soft flesh. A ravenous expression covered his face as he forced himself into her. Each defiling thrust was met by loud whimpers of repulsion. It didn’t seem to affect him, as he continued his onslaught. His claws found new places to immolate on her body, and each transgression seemed to bring her closer to acquiescence. With a loud groan, he finished, and her body spoke of relief. and looked at me.

“Chal ab tu aja”, he invited. I went closer and looked at her. She cheeks were red from where she was slapped, and her entire face was filled with bruises and swellings. The rags could barely cover any part of her, and blood was oozing out from her torso. Her entire posture screamed defeat, but what terrified me was her eyes. They shone with an abhorrence and she looked directly into mine. It did nothing but anger me as I thwacked her and said “Dekhti kya hai be, aankh niche kar”. Spreading her legs, I reveled in the power which I possessed as I entered her. She was nothing but a toy which I could use as I wished. Peering at her disdain, I groped her breasts to elicit a reaction. Her grimace of pain was satisfying. As this power blanketed my head, I began disfiguring her as much as I could. Furrows lined her bosom. There were red nail marks from her collarbone to her waist, where I had gouged her. She had finally accepted defeat, and lay quiet. A smirk of revulsion filled my face as I came.

My eyes opened, and an involuntary gasp escaped me. Tears were brimming at their edges, and She came into focus in front of me with her hands on her hips. “I need air, let’s go to the terrace”, I managed to force out and stumbled outside her flat and up the stairs. As I opened the gate to her terrace, and fell to a corner, it suddenly dawned on me that this was my building, not hers. “Bola tha na, akele nahi chodungi” she hissed softly, suddenly sitting beside me; and my eyes snapped open. There was only one other time that I had heard those words.

That fateful night came back to me. I saw the disfigured, torn body of our victim, struggling to stay conscious. She had put up a fight early on, but there was nothing but acceptance now. It seemed that she was drained of whatever it was that her kept her going. As if each desecrating pump had sucked out her life force; and with the final thrust, she had been completely drained. “Khokli ho gayi hai”, I had whispered as one of my partners brought forth a metal pipe. But she wasn’t finished yet. She had flown into a rage on seeing the pipe and declared in a ghastly voice “Chhaya hai mera naam. Yaad rakhna, tum mai se kisi ko akela nahi chodungi. Sabko lene aaungi mai”. The pipe had made a squishy sound as it connected with the top of her neck. “Ab chilla na sali, kya hua?” he shouted. “Tujhe uska mazaa nahi dungi”, she had rasped out her final spark. He had raised it again, and brought it down with overwhelming force upon her head. Repeating once more for good measure, he had started laughing maniacally, “Mujhe dhamkayegi sali, samajhti kya hai apne aap ko”. As the blood which dripped from the red hole in her neck coagulated into a pool, I had felt the finality of our action. No trace would be left of her. She was ours to use, and ours to dispose.

I came back to the present as I felt her hands combing through my hair. Her face covered the moon, and I couldn’t make out if it was Her or Chhaya. “Does it matter?” she asked. When I looked at her, She was Chhaya; and I realized what she meant. I began to wail. As the sobs racked my entire body, I felt powerless and devoid of energy. This seemed impossible. I couldn’t make out whether this was a cruel trick being played on me or if it was real. “Lene aayi hun mai tujhe” she mouthed, with an innocent smile on her face. I could see nothing but her now. My thoughts were moving too fast for me to grasp; I was not my own master.

She held my hand and we stood up on the ledge, looking out over it. It was a beautiful sight. The darkness was complete but for the little pockets of light peeking out from solitary windows. It looked like a collage of black and white, and was mirrored in the sky above. The wind howled by me, but there was a deep silence which permeated every iota of my being. Trees danced noiselessly in tune with the wind, participating in a tribal ritual which I could not comprehend. Somewhere, a cricket chirped, and the sound passed harmlessly through me. Shadows shifted behind corners, as if hiding just out of sight. A joyful hum emanated from Chhaya as she walked forward. The sound suffused through me, and brought a smile to my face.

The last thing I remembered was the air pulling me faster through it as I hurtled towards the inviting ground. Chhaya glowed with triumph, and I smiled as I touched upon a long forgotten feeling. It felt right.


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