He was seated in a warm upholstered chair; the man with eyes having a dark brown shade, face boasting a milky white complexion and chin bearing a dusty black stubble that as the light rays spread their web on it, reflected a little light brownish tinge. He seemed quite comfortable in his posture– his forearm rested on the table, playing with his smart-phone; his chin (with of course that dusty black stubble reflecting a light brownish tinge) enjoyed a brief nap in the cup of his palm and his dark brown eyes, every now and then, looked at the entrance to the café, perhaps waiting for someone.
But. Whether he’s comfortable or unluckily uncomfortable, he seemed to possess a suave personality. And once again, fortunately or unfortunately all his aforementioned traits played no significant role in it. As his clothing already had taken all the shares. An ash-gray ascot hat on his head. A cream colored cashmere scarf tied into an ascot knot around his neck. And a black woolen overcoat on– well it’s around most of his body, if not whole, and it’d be an exaggeration to limit it around his shoulders and back just.
“A cup of coffee and two mini apple pies,” he ordered the waiter who instantly, without even moving his eyes, wrote into the small pad what the man with dark brown eyes said.
The man then typed something in his smart-phone and started reading the menu.
“Irish nut crème. Small 510. Regular 580.”
He remembered the last time he visited the place, the prices barely hit the digit 5. And that time, the waiter was some bulky lady whose hips as she moved became more accentuated. Now much was changed. However. Anyhow. He didn’t care. People like him don’t mull over prices and waiters. They have a class, which defines their posh identity.
The night was slowly moving towards its darkest hours and with it followed unknown people on unknown paths.
Well, that’s the beauty of night. You always fall victim to the depth of its unusually usual gravity.
Consider, for instance, the twenty-two year old boy sitting outside absorbed in his subjective introspection, enjoying the frosty night in the parking lot and looking at that dandy man without any particularly significant intentions. Actually observing people enabled him to gossip about them, with his mind and with his heart.
He’s really a gossip-aficionado. He gossiped about everyone and everything. And he enjoyed it. Enjoyed it more than he enjoyed anything else.
A couple of weeks ago, he relished gossiping about a girl in white tights and lavender tops. She’s studying in a well-known university which covered give or take one quarter of New Lahore– well that’s just a guess, because the apparent vastness of the area is due to the real difficulty to tread it on foot. Our gossip-boy saw that girl in white tights and lavender tops one day when he’d on a secret mission, standing with his friends outside the university gate. The goal of the mission wasn’t much clear, save the fact that it’s 3 o’clock and it’s departing time for morning classes and arrival time for evening ones.
That was his first encounter with that girl.
And with that started a litany of gossips.
Every afternoon around 3, he would stand there, near the traffic signal across the underpass, just opposite the university gate, and would modify her painting he’d painted in his mind. He hadn’t put goggles on her eyes at first. So the second time he saw her, he painted goggles. There’s no mole on her left cheek in the virtual image generated by his mind. So the moment he observed her precisely (but secretly), he tactfully put a small black dot on her cheek. But, as he expected, the more he observed her, the more intimate the painting became.
Initially, he’s confined to her wide twinkling eyes and thinly arched eyebrows. Her thin nose and kissable pinkish lips. Her white skin and gossamer chin. Then, he moved ahead. Down her swan-like neck. Through her prominent collar-bones. To her small conical breasts with light brown incipient nipples. Then, even more further. To her slightly hollow midriff. Through her pitted button-shaped navel. To light brown strip of skin, like that of her nipple, running down her belly button in the median plane. And. Actually he couldn’t go further. He tried but nothing. He was always done here. Done and wet.
So the twenty-two year old boy was sitting outside, enjoying the frosty night and relishing the gossips being sprouting from the core of his mind. Now he remembered nothing. Not the girl nor her small conical breasts with light brown incipient nipples. Not even the light brown strip of skin going down her belly button. In fact, he didn’t even know where he was sitting and why. Well, ignorance is bliss sometimes. And sometimes, it’s blissful comeuppance. Sporadically, whenever he ran his fingers through his long rough beard and with his nose sniffed his body, an epiphany crossed his mind that these weren’t the things he had once. He used to be dapper to form a profound impression on pretty girls.
But who knows whether it was right or was it just another attack of madness.
Inside, the waiter brought the man with brown eyes and white complexion what he’d ordered and in return, took a selfie with him– not that the waiter wouldn’t charge for the coffee. It was just a bonus. And he’s used to it. In fact, he enjoyed it. To be around mass of people, taking selfies and getting autographs from him. Maybe it’s one of the reasons he joined journalism in the first place. Well, who knows.
Hardly had that man taken three sips of the coffee when someone entered the café and he rose from his comfort zone to greet them, with a beaming smile on his face.
There’s a girl– actually two girls; one flaunting her angular arms and bare smooth neck, donned in blue jeans and black T-shirt with two big yellow minions. One of the minions stared at the other while the other peeked at whoever tried to peek at him. Behind her followed a girl in hijab. She’s wearing a black loose abaya that reached her big toe and a dotted scarf around her neck and head, leaving only enough of her visible just to be recognizable.
In short, the new arrival seemed to be in a perfect contrast and the man in ascot hat on his head and ascot knot around his neck was a little amazed to see it.
“You didn’t tell me we’re receiving some guest,” he asked the girl in jeans while observing the girl in hijab from head downwards. Actually he’s feeling awkward in her company.
“Well, uh, she’s the girl I talked about yesterday. Sorry for bringing her on such a short notice.”
She reached his hands and caressed them with warm feelings in her heart but undoubtedly feline intentions in her mind.
He nodded his head in assent.
“So what’s your story?” he asked the girl in hijab.
She didn’t seem to respond.
Her girl escort, perhaps her friend, directed her attention towards her and grasped her hand gently, as if acting as an intermediate to transfer his warmth to her to give her a sense of his loyal companionship.
“It might be a story for others. But for me it’s an agony tormenting my soul.” The words were couched with the delicacy of a desperate but delicate woman who seems ready to do anything to restore what she has lost.
She lowered her face and started looking at her feet. A tear rolled down her face– but it’s inconspicuous and not much observable. Maybe it’s on the face of her soul as it’s more tormented than her body.
A short pause filled the space around and between them.
No one spoke. And no one listened.
Only the bearded man sitting outside– now observing three people instead of one– observed, gossiped and painted, too.
He’d modify that painting some other time, if he ever modified it.
So the girl in hijab…
… she’s raped, tortured and spat at. And all of this happened in just a couple of minutes, on one of such frosty dark nights when a robust youth came behind her and put a handkerchief on her face. She saw that handkerchief coming. It’s maroon. She tried to turn around and respond. But, her reflexes were not so quick as to allow her to respond.
She didn’t remember what happened between her losing her senses and gaining consciousness. The only thing she remembered was the dream in which she’s entrapped in prickly bushes and she couldn’t get out of them. She tried but pricked herself. She cried for help but no one responded. Perhaps their reflexes were weak too. But no. Actually there’s a confused activity. They’re screaming and wailing. It seemed as though they’re helpless too. And everyone who heard them, instead of helping them, started doing the same.
She fell silent after seeing that hectic activity, and tried to figure what they’re saying.
“Daughter of Eve has lost! Daughter of Eve has lost” they all shouted in a harmony.
No one knew who the daughter of Eve was. When she has been lost. And how and why.
When she gained back her nerves and opened her eyes, she found herself lying on the ground, in profound darkness. Her jeans was ripped open. And. An unknown man was thrusting on top of her.
“I thought it’s a horrible nightmare. I pinched myself as it’s what I’d seen in a movie– pinching to differentiate reality from nightmare. But nothing happened. Only my breathing became more fast and his thrusting, more rapid and uncontrollable. Then he moaned and everything slowed down, as if trying to become normal.”
But once something is done, is done. It can’t be lost, can’t be restored.
She let out a painful shriek and struck his chest with the best of her strength with the same delicacy of desperate but delicate woman. He, in return, folded her arms around the back of her head and slapped her right on her face. She could feel how powerful it was, the slap. It gave her a fine understanding of the difference between manhood and womanhood.
After having been done with the slapping, he firmly closed her mouth with one hand and with the other reached for her breasts– the same small conical breasts. He didn’t slap them, nor even stroke them. Instead he rested his hand and head on them and felt their fluffiness and warmth.
She, in a desperate effort as a last resort, stabbed her finger-nails into his neck.
He slapped her once again, spat at her and ran away.
“I never saw that man again, except for in my nightmares.”
Maybe that’s how the daughter of Eve was lost. That’s why they all were crying. But nothing happened. And no one responded.
Sitting in that warm and upholstered chair, she sighed and wept. The girl in blue jeans and black T-shirt rested her head on her shoulder and tried to calm her down. “Everyone is seeing, dear. Calm down.” As if for mourning she’d to choose a suitable place after a vigilant circumspection like the unknown man did.
She wiped her tears and did as was suggested.
And once again as she opened her eyes, she couldn’t seem to distinguish reality from nightmare.
There across the glass wall in the parking lot sat a bearded man, seeing whom the movie of thrusting, moaning and slapping started playing like the film on a loop.
That’s the unknown man. The gossip-aficionado.
He caught sight of her too. But he didn’t remember her. And instead of seeing thrusting, moaning and slapping, he saw something other else. Outside a burnt house, on the ground surrounded by a mass of people lay two bodies, burnt and naked. And he, the clean-shaven dapper, sat beside them mourning and weeping.
They’re his mother and sister.
It happened two days later he raped the daughter of Eve.
Muhammad Faizan Fuzail, is a student of medicine, pursuing his degree from Allama Iqbal Medical College Lahore, Pakistan. He has previously been published in Muse India literary journal. He is currently working on his debut novel.