You think the instinct of sex could be atavistic? I asked him as we lay spent, entwined.
What do you mean? He asked me.
For instance, I ought to have food and water, lest I’d perish. But I ought not have sex. I mean, I could very well be celibate and I’d still survive. You understand? May be, it became a part of our gene pool only after Adam and Eve had the forbidden fruit?
My head rested on his bare arm.
He turned his head towards me and said, Interesting! I never thought of instincts in this way. I never questioned the theory of instincts, you see. Wow! I think you too should study to be a lawyer. You’re smart!
Really? I don’t think that the jurists will be as easily fooled by me as you do m’dear! I smiled.
I had met him during our school’s protest against the chicken shops, in the street adjacent to our school. The authorities felt that it was inhuman to make the kids witness the ripping apart of hens on a daily basis. It would spoil their ideas of fairness and justice, they believed. It wanted that all these shops be closed because, as an institution, it tried to instill compassion for all creatures.
He was the lawyer hired by our school. It would suffice to say that he was impressed by my maturity, “beyond my years,” as he often liked to say. I was sixteen and he was twenty-nine (he’d been married for four years then). However, as much as he liked to talk about his beliefs, and life’s goals, he hardly talked about his wife, as if she existed like an inert gas in his environs.
We would converse on constellations, Thomas Paine, or Aristotle’s poetics. And then, we would have sex, every single time we met over the course of six months.
Some other time, as we made love in the room of a cheap motel, in the night, we heard loud moans of a cow. When we went over to the balcony to see, we noticed a cow gearing up for birth. I saw two legs coming out. He rushed towards the cow and aided her. I couldn’t really stand the sight of blood and flesh, but I didn’t tell him so.
Once we came back to our room, something seemed amiss, as if some frequency, some vibration of sorts had misplaced its path. That night, our relationship ended in a frenzy. I asked him if he would leave his wife for me. He didn’t say anything, instead beat me up, thrashed me, used expletives and stormed out of the dilapidated motel room in which I stood half naked, the smell of tears mixed with my discharge, and his lingering sweat.
May be Hemingway was right when he said that humans who are compassionate towards animals are generally the cruelest ones.
I gathered my clothes and rushed home.
For the first time in six months, I noticed my mother’s frail frame, her spindly arms. I felt jolted, repulsed.
How’s the boutique work? I asked her.
It’s okay, few of our clients have changed loyalties.
Then. Nothing. Here, have your lunch.
I noticed big chunks floating in red curry.
Yuck! I will not eat this!
You will have to.
I cut it in half myself. I won’t be able to do it again.
What? I said, as words couldn’t describe the horror I felt.
She screamed, and said that she sacrificed a goat on the instructions of a tantrik* who said that father would leave that prostitute and come live with us.
I vomited. I rushed towards the bathroom and vomited more.
I looked in the mirror and cried.
Day after day, the web of miseries was reeling upon me.
I felt incoherent, and claustrophobic. I would fantasize about body atrophy and asphyxiation, at times mine and at other times, mother’s.
“Or, it is better if an asteroid hits our house and we are destroyed, our identities extinguished in the flames”, I would think as I noted myriad fatalistic possibilities.
I began ingesting my stress along with umpteen mugs of coffee and nth amount of chocolates.
I abhorred my obesity, my small jaw, my crooked nose and the proliferating acne on my face.
At school, my performance had dropped. Initially, the teachers were concerned, but when they saw indifference on my part, they too gave up.
Once I got forty percent in a Physics test, and I saw my best-friend standing with a bunch of girls, whispering one instant and jeeringly looking at me the other second. I was broken but I tried keeping a brave face. I thought when my mother was with me, I need not be frightened of anyone or anything.
When I reached home one afternoon, I saw mother, disheveled, trembling.
What happened? I said as tears welled up in my eyes.
Your father came, she said as her eyes roved around to scan the house. And, I noticed her curled up fingers.
Then? I was getting irritated.
He asked for money. I said I….didn’t have any! He beat me up Anya! She had started sobbing.
I was angry.
Few months later when I was doing my homework, I heard mother screaming from the bathroom. When I opened the bathroom door, I saw her sitting on the toilet seat, “incapacitated as I’m unable to stand!,” she cried in agony.
Immediately, I called an ambulance and she was admitted in the local government hospital.
Why does she not eat? The doctor asked me.
I just shrugged my shoulders, embarrassed at the same time.
We would admit her for two days, give her glucose drips and after two days, relieve her.
As I witnessed the coming in and going out of the doctors, and a plethora of tests done on her, I was unprepared for the Pandora’s box of problems that would soon open.
The senior most doctor called me outside her ward, and with a seriousness that one saw on the faces of professional people, he said, “She suffers from a personality disorder as a result of a long-form depression. May be, she was never beaten up by her husband. She probably inflicted injuries upon herself.”
I didn’t know what to comprehend of the situation. My long-held narrative was broken, and I could no longer latch on anything, the anchor of my beliefs was shattered.
I wrote a diary-entry then, in the hospital:
I see my face in the mirror, and my image makes me feel deprecated. At one time, I want to touch the reflection, but I feel scared. The only mark of my identity will disappear, and I would not be able to locate it among the fractals. You never know, there is a fractal of my life too, going on the other side of the mirror. Or is it simply a parallel universe, separated in both time and space. What would I be ten years from now? A wrinkled, self deprecating woman? I think its probability is greater than that of a confident female. . But, are these my only choices, of identity, of always trying to become something.
The following day, she was transferred to the psych ward. In her report, the psychiatrist wrote- “catatonic.”
As I saw her electrocution, witnessed her chest thumping and noticed the fungi in her toe nails, I was numb, as I tried to find a rationale behind my kismet of abandonment.
Tantrik* : Occultist
By Taranum (copyright, July 2017).
For the 1st part, here is the hyperlink: