I was five and he was six
We rode on horses made of sticks
He was black and I was white
He would always win the fight
“Can I possibly change the song?” He asked in a tender voice.
“Which song?” She doesn’t look at him. She does not feel like seeing a bare bodied man with a hairy chest, tiny nipples and a clever face on it, with a fake smile.
He shot me down Bang Bang
I hit the ground Bang Bang
“The one you have been listening to for the last couple of hours, maybe” He smiles.
“I’m not listening to anything, god damn it” –she shouts.
“Okk… you needn’t shout.” He is still polite and smiling.
“I’m not shouting”- She shouts again, but louder this time.
Seasons came and changed the time
When I grew up I called him mine
She stares at the ceiling. The ceiling fan is still, like a propeller of a standing ship, under the dirty green water – a few fish should be swimming around the blades, she thinks.
“Can I get you something? Coffee? Tea?” He asks as though she is sitting in his office room, not lying on his bed naked and exhausted.
“Tea, please, raw”
She looks at the window. A dimming ray of sunshine was peeping through the gap of the window curtains when she entered the room. The sunshine was making a soft shadow of the grills on the opposite wall and part of the floor. She looks at the opposite wall, between the closed bathroom door and the open door that leads to the living room. No shadow is there, no redishorange light or sunshine is cast on the floor. Suddenly she realizes, sunlight changes no matter how much it reaches the inside of a room. However, the lights lit inside remain the same as they cast the same shadow all the time.
Music played and people sang
Just for me the church bell rang
“Here you are.” He hands her a mug. She thinks he deserves thanks, if not for the tea for the T-shirt he put on. She thanks him for both. He holds his mug in one hand and goes to the PC and tries to find a new track. She can’t remember his name, nor how she addressed him, ‘apni’ or ‘tumi’…she can only remember a few minutes ago she was clinging him tight, her hands under his armpit and legs around his waist, wrapping him like an octopus.
Now he’s gone I don’t know why
Till that day sometimes I cry
He didn’t even say goodbye….
“Do you like Scorpions?” He asks as if it all depends on what she likes
“No” She replies bluntly, “I like Octopus”
“Never heard of it, heavy metal?” he asks with genuine curiosity.
“It’s my zodiac”
Here comes the rain again –
Finally he changes the track. Nancy Sinatra’s voice created a melancholy humidity, now the masculine craving makes that cloud turn into a heavy downpour.
“You must be kidding me” – His eyes still on the screen, fixing the volume, taking precaution using the foreknowledge about the scream that will come next.
“Why would I? Are you my dulabhai?”
He turns towards her, moving the revolving chair as if he is settling down for a serious conversation.
“Tell me one thing” He says in a calm voice “Why are you upset?”
“I am NOT upset!” She examines her toes, placing both feet on a huge pillow. One of her older cousins said her toes had bigger gaps than necessary when she was only five or six years old. At that age she was not concerned about the beauty of toes or earlobes. However, she had became sad thinking about the ugliness of her toes, toes he was sucking a few minutes ago. Ah those cousins, they were proud with their pale white skin that reminds anyone of the lady with red lips that accompanied death on a ship.
I wanna dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you?
Talk to me, like lovers do
“You are, darling, since we finished making love.” He gets up from the chair and comes forward, it’s not clear if he wants to comfort her or go another round.
“We were not making love, we were screwing”
She gets up and dresses as though she is in a hurry and must catch a bus. She doesn’t want anything like lovers do.
“Ok, as you please, but tell me why you are angry with me. Didn’t you cum?”
She says nothing and picks up her bag and phone, glasses and punch clip. Then looks for her shoes on the floor where there is no sunshine. Her socks were under the covers – socks to hide the ugliness of her toes and to cover the volcanoes between the gaps of her toes. Yes it turns her on, the tongue of a man in her toe-gaps.
“Are you leaving?” He sounds relaxed, as if it’s a rhetorical question, no attempt to make her stay.
“Yes!” She hurries like a scared cockroach, finding a place to hide after the kitchen light is lit in the middle of the night.
“Can I have your number?”
“No!” She replies loudly, louder than necessary.
She turns her phone on and wonders when it was switched off and why, she finds out the number. It’s ringing… she stops in front of the lift, turns back to see if he is following.
No, he is not… on the other side of the phone, there’s NO ANSWER.
Pick up, pick up, pick up the phone…
Talk to me like lovers do
He gets up from the bed and goes to the bathroom because needs a shower. A shower would make the whole thing so perfect. He feels a sudden astonishment about the weird acts of the girl. She was good, the way she wrapped his waist with her legs made it clear that she had done it so many times before. He liked her spontaneity. But at the end she was lost. He didn’t have a clue, but her hairy legs were sexy and he liked them too.
Although, now he is annoyed with himself for thinking too much about her. He wants to concentrate – it’s important – the fixed date, one week from now. His almost girlfriend, Nisha will be waiting for him at her empty house. Nisha’s legs are waxed and not hairy, she visits beauty parlors every week. She is a more important fish to fry… but he can’t forget the way this one curled her legs around him, all her limbs rolling around his. Not like a fish, but an octopus. And of course, he doesn’t know her zodiac sign, Pisces? Aquarius? Nisha is a Libra, balanced like anything.
He wears his white shirt and blue denim trousers. His attire has been selected after much thought because he doesn’t want to look very well prepared for the date. Neither does he want to look so casual that Nisha might think he is taking the date lightly, or he is the kind of a guy that remains indifferent about looks even before dates. His preparation is done; the most important part is being relaxed. That is how he wants to be before seeing Nisha. And the untamed girl made him relaxed.
What a waste- he thinks to himself… these middle class girls, they would be vabees to pick up kids from school and buy vegetables on their way back home, the damsels who gain so much weight that all their curves are lost in the multi-layered fat that gathers under their skin. They lose their charm as they must keep track on the housemaid’s activities as well as the humble jobs they do, most of the time as a schoolteacher – a job full of grace, but offering a small amount of money. They become middle aged women before reaching the actual middle age.
He puts on the perfume and turns the computer off. A sudden thought enters his mind, perhaps it is the music that made her upset…
He shot me down Bang Bang,
I hit the ground Bang Bang… who knows what the matter was. Right now he is just too excited to think about any mystery. He is ready to give his best performance on Nisha’s bed.
“What’s his name?” A pair of rimless glasses are shining in front of her
She doesn’t answer
“Tell me his name,” he grins.
She doesn’t answer. She feels like asking a question, but she knows it’s not the right time.
She doesn’t know how many moments pass by. Then realizes that she can’t get out of the café if she doesn’t say anything. It’s like a gambling table, either you lose or win, but you can’t quit the game. Now it’s your turn, you must reply. It’s a conversation game. Not something that lovers do.
“I don’t know,” She tells him with clear, not mumbling or louder than necessary or rude voice. The matter-of-factness of her voice comes naturally cause she is telling the truth.
Before she gets out of the surprise of hearing him utter an abuse, she hears a siren inside her left ear. Then realizes that her pair of glasses flew over the next table where a middle aged man is sitting with his daughter. The mighty slap from his right hand blurred her vision and deafened her left ear. She feels no pain. Only the utter surprise enchants her. He only pronounced one of his aunts to be a ‘bloody whore’ in front of her, now it’s khankimaagi, in Bangla, in public, addressing her.
A waiter comes and says something she can’t comprehend. Her boyfriend (well, that’s a better word, she thinks, lover sounds old fashioned) shakes his head, gives him a few notes and gets up, holds her wrist in a strong grip and drags her towards the sliding door of the café. The conversation game is over, she thinks. But she can’t rid his strong grip. She wants her spectacles back but doesn’t say anything as she tries to get them. Then she discovers that her tongue is not functioning, like her ear that was hit. She keeps quiet and inside her mind she can hear Nancy Sinatra as no outside sound is being audible.
He shot me down Bang Bang
I hit the ground Bang Bang
That awful sound Bang Bang
My baby shot me down
In the ground floor of the apartment he stands impatiently. The rain becomes indecent, arrogant and mighty. He doesn’t want to miss the date. Nisha is supposed to be fixing an appointment with her father next week. Her father doesn’t stay in town for more than one week. He is one of the team members that accompany the prime minister on every trip abroad. So it’s important, Nisha must not be kept waiting. She must not be dissatisfied with him, before or after.
He starts the car, it’s better not to get stuck in the heavy traffic that will follow after the rain stops. In the red signal he considers a bunch of red roses but dismisses the thought. It wouldn’t be a good idea to ruin his shoes.
Uff, this rain, it ruined everything – he’s getting late.
She is lying on his bed, her face upwards and eyes shut, not looking at the ceiling fan. Her forehead is bleeding and there are bruises all over her body. He used a leather belt to hit her, rolling it around his fist and using it like a whip. After getting out of the café he kicked and punched her silently for almost an hour. Hit her head against the boundary wall beside the footpath. A few guys passed them by with inquisitive and bewildered look in their eyes, but didn’t ask anything.
“It’s Dhaka city darling, nobody bothers much” – he often says when he kisses her in public, sitting in a rickshaw or auto rickshaw. He was right, nobody bothered when she fell down on the footpath and he dragged her to a black cab. It was raining, everybody was in a rush, rain was falling on their heads like a tragedy. Nobody bothered when he took her to his apartment grabbing her with one hand and slapping with another. When the leather belt started hurting his hand, he used his empty hands again. Tore off her clothes, scratched and squeezed her breasts. Now he is taking rest since he is tired and rage made him stronger than usual. He takes off his shirt and lights a cigarette. She thinks he is appeased and now he’ll start foreplay. She thinks she ought to decide what she is gonna do. She is nearly unconscious but not cold and half dead, so she can be of some use to men.
She decides to submit because she is just too curious to know how it ends. So she doesn’t say ‘no’ when he holds her knees and opens her legs. Watching the slowly moving ceiling fan she gets confused. Is it the same room where she was using her limbs like an octopus? Before finding out the differences she feels countless needles in her vagina and a part of her clitoris.
He reached for her crotch and pressed the butt of the burning cigarette as though it was an ashtray.
She gets up and tries to find her clothes, but doesn’t find them because he tore them all up.
She realizes she can’t escape now and this is not the END.
She falls down with an awful sound.
Once. And faints.
About the Writer
Umme Farhana was born in Mymensingh, a small town by the river Brahmaputra, Bangladesh, on October 6, 1984. She studied English literature in Jahangirnagar University. She has been working as a faculty in Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University since 2011.She lives in her paternal house in Mymensingh, with her husband and two kids, in her leisure she cooks, crochets and writes fiction.
Her only book’s title is Deepaboli, a collection of short stories, published in Amor Ekushey Boimela 2016.
E-mail address: [email protected]