I don’t know, what it was about the big black being, because I suddenly felt an obsessive need to see my Mother – even if it meant for me to be seeing the scorn on her face that she held for me – the scorn that I have always wanted to refute, and get away from – the scorn that I never understood, and will never be able to make peace with.
The co-existence of caring and scorn in a human-being – is like the moss that thrives on the surface of a rock in the forest. It just means the rock and the forest have spent a long time in the company of one another – and the forest will never let the rock be justified as part of its individual existence; a part of the forest has to grow upon it – in the form of that sprightly green bryophyte.
The big black being began to sniff me, and I felt its snout on the nape of my neck – and unable to contain myself any longer, I let out a scream.
I began blabbering, and its growls ceased, at once.
It was either assessing me, or was amused by my nervous chattering.
“One day, I was returning from school, and a group of boys, who always sat on the last bench of my class, stood gawking at me. I looked only at the ground, and pretended not to have noticed their presence.
One of them shouted my name, and my knees froze. As always, I did not turn around. Another boy came toward me, and amidst his harrowing laughs, he grabbed my bag and tried to force it off my shoulders – I was holding it very tight, and so it did not come off me.
I saw a stone near my left foot, and I don’t know why I picked it.
I picked it and turned around.
I was filled with an animosity I did not understand, and I made an aim for his nose.
I wanted very much to make him bleed – I wanted him to suffer.
The other boys came onward to attack me, but before they came, I had already made my aim, and the stone hit the boy’s head.
He fell down on the ground, bleeding profusely, and I ran away.
I ran for my life.
One of them boys chased me, but I was too fast, and when I reached the gateway of my home, panting heavily, I watched my Mother, as she stood in the garden, in conversation with her mother-in-law, and when she saw me, and when I saw her, I was so terrified, I fainted.
I woke up three days later, with a fever and a terrible ache in my gut, because I had done something that I felt bad about – and it left a kind of hatred that I have since harbored for men. I don’t know what it is about this putrefying hatred, and why I am saying it now – and I know perfectly well, that this is your territory, and that your habitat is being destroyed, by those very men. They deem themselves fit to be encroaching into the space of others, with no apparent consideration for their feelings. But if you must take me, do take me, and if you do, leave no trace of me for this forest to act on, and for those men to find. And at the Admiral’s wine tasting, let the sahib from Bombay be petrified, of the whore’s mysterious gone-missing.”
I began to sob, and it was the first time, I had ever sobbed in front of another creature.
The big black being began to lick the nape of neck, in a strangely audible slurping motion, and I was overcome by the horror of its affection – the kind I had not expected an animal to have…
I have no memory of what had conceived after that, because when I returned to my senses, I was lying on a couch, inside the bake-house, with Maticery, the baker, blowing a hand-made fan on my face.
“Are you alright, Miss Beacon?”
“How did I get here?” I asked groggily.
“You were found on the road to cemetery. Whatever the hell were you doing there, Miss?”
“I was taking a walk. Where is that black being? Did you see it?”
“Black being? What are you talking of? The milkman boy, along with his friend, found you, while he was returning home, and they brought you here.”
I heaved a tired sigh.
Maticery, continued, in her usual bossy way.
“And you should not be taking lone walks, there. That place is heavily infested!”
I closed my eyes, and for a while, nothing was heard, apart from the cooker hissing in Maticery’s kitchen.
“Maticery, do you mind if I stay at your place tonight? And if anyone calls me, tell nobody of me.”
Maticery looked at me, confused and dazed.
“As long as the police do not come looking for you, I will be quiet. But, only on one condition.”
“You will bake with me and put those long artsy fingers to good use.”
We burst laughing, Maticery and I.
The Admiral won’t know of me, and neither will the sahib, as well as the lodging’s owner – the black gown will be picked away from my room, along with the pricey perfume.
I will bake, and the scent of vanilla will linger outside, on the wind, caught in time.
The glowing yellow from Maticery’s kitchen will be stared at, by the big black being.
This night is about a different kind of freedom.