I still couldn’t help noticing the lusciousness of her full lips as she spoke the words.
I noticed still, how smoothly her lips moved when she spoke; as though English were her mother tongue. I was taking in the perfect symmetry of the lines of her face when the words sunk in; they did. I’d been expecting this for exactly two weeks. Dreading it, and yet praying for it. Better if it were her who did it than if I did. This way, we just might be able to hide the true “why” from my friends.
“I know. I know it’s over. We’ve been over for more than a month now.”
I forced myself to look at her eyes while I spoke. Her lids hung low, luxuriant lashes veiling her eyes. She was still trying desperately not to look directly at me.
“Susan, I need you to tell me one thing; and to be truthful about it.”
She still didn’t look at me, despite my drawing out the pause.
“Are you leaving me for him?”
The way her eyes were suddenly flung very wide open would have startled me if I hadn’t been expecting it. When shocked or surprised, her eyes always were a thing of beauty – clear whites surrounding a dark amber brown, with those long black lashes for frame; always a thing of beauty. For the pleasure of that sight I had regaled her with every conceivable surprise a lover could contrapt. But the shock I now saw in her eyes was the diametric twin of the beauty I’d so often adored because of the fear it held.
And she had good reason to fear.
What, what are you talking about?”
Now her eyes were everywhere. I could pick out the nuances in body movements which accompanied her framing a lie. Again, she couldn’t look me in the eyes while she spoke.
“Quit kidding yourself. I’m not leaving you for anyone. I’m breaking up with you because our relationship isn’t working anymore.”
She was calmer now.
She’d calmed down quickly because she was telling the truth. This hurt me more deeply than I could have imagined.
How else would you describe a whole month without lovemaking? Not that there had been a want of trying. We couldn’t even get our making out to go beyond a matter of a few minutes. For two hot-blooded teens, such a relationship sure wasn’t working. And I believed she wasn’t going to date the bastard, and that was the truth that hurt. It meant she’d had no feelings for him. She’d simply given her body to him; as what? For what? Anger leaped in my veins.
“It’s easy for you to tell me not to kid myself. I’m sure this is just some kind of game to you, isn’t it? How difficult is it for you to get it into your head that this could very easily start a war? That your stupidity could actually get people killed.”
“Don’t shout at me!”
It was she who had shouted. The ensuing silence helped me calm down a bit. We were in one of the love gardens on campus. This one was a very short walk from her hostel. As was usual, it was near deserted this early in the evening. She it was who had picked this spot – some middle ground. Apparently, she wanted to be close to her girls somewhat. Just in case things got out of hand, I guess. Even if we shouted, they wouldn’t be to make out what we were saying. But from her room three floors up, they could see us clearly. I hadn’t looked in that direction. I hated the fact that I was putting on a show for them, but I couldn’t help it. This show just might save a delicate situation.
I remained silent a little longer, and then she stole a look at me. Her eyes were beginning to get all teary.
Her dam burst with those words.
She moved to sit on a concrete bench just behind her; perching on the edge and cradling her face in both her hands to hide the tears. I wanted to reach for her, to hold her close and still those tears; just like i’d done innumerable times before. But I stilled myself. The sin which had brought forth these tears, it is I whom it had injured.
It couldn’t have been long, but she soon pulled herself to her feet, fists clenched by her side, her tear streaked face bared for me to see. There was a defiance to her beauty; something about her which I had always loved and still did.
“Let me go.
Let me go and let’s put this whole thing behind us.”
Her reddened eyes were bold, but I didn’t miss the imploring note in her voice. Still, the coldness which had gripped me wouldn’t permit even a little mercy.
“You really should have thought it through before you allowed him touch you.”
The exasperation which accompanied her response was almost cartoon-like. Both arms flailed high only to bring both fists hammering into the side of her thighs, her voice almost a scream, accompanied by fresh tears pouring forth.
“I said there’s nobody else.”
She was crying now, sobbing and shaking visibly, her body like a reed in the wind. I couldn’t hold back this time. I closed the space between us in two giant strides and wrapped up her lithe frame in mine. She rested her head against my chest, and within seconds I could feel the wetness of her tears against my skin despite two layers of cotton.
My right hand went first to her cheek, seeking to wipe away the tears. But it just kept flowing. So I stroked her hair gently, even as the sobs still racked her frame. The tingly feel of her natural curls stirred up memories of nights when running my fingers through her hair had preceded explosive passion.
I spoke to still my thoughts, hopefully to keep them from racing to those pictures which would cause the pain to stab again and again.
“You shouldn’t have listened to those girls. I can’t call them your friends. After they pushed you to go find out what it would be like with someone else, weren’t they the same ones who told you that it was sugar which was ruining our lovemaking? Of all the theories they could have postulated, it didn’t occur to them that there are ways by which a guy could tell that his girl has been with another guy, especially when he gets to be with her on the same day. It didn’t occur to them that such knowledge could make him go soft when he should be hard for her?”
She tried to push out of my embrace with a suddenness that would have felled us both had I not steeled my arms and kept her locked within my arms. Knowing her stubbornness, I let her go. She stared at me like I was mad. The tear marks on her face making the look all the more acute.
And then she slapped me.
At first, I didn’t feel it. Then the sting of it registered, and my left hand rushed to my cheek as if to douse the pain. I think I glared at her, more out of sheer shock than anger.
She swallowed two huge breaths like she were hyperventilating and then she flung her words at me with violence to equal the slap to my face.
“You egocentric bastard!
Is that what this has been all about? That night? Just that night!
Is that why you stopped making out with me all of a sudden? Cos you discovered my panties were wet? That was it, wasn’t it? And then you just concluded that I had played the whore.”
She stepped towards me and I almost gave in to the impulse to step back. I forced my hand away from my cheek to give myself a sense of calm I wasn’t feeling. Her hands rose to my chest, and then moved towards my neck where she grabbed my shirt at the open ends close to the collar and pulled my face towards hers with a strength she normally didn’t have. Her voice was a whisper, made soft from an almost palpable sorrow.
“It was you I was missing. You were supposed to have traveled. It’s your touch I was desiring. That’s why I touched myself, almost like you would have. And when they told me they’d seen you in front of my hostel, I was still so hungry for you I didn’t think. I just dashed out to convince myself it was a prank, only to find you there; and to give myself to you out there in the outdoors. And you, you dared to think me a whore.”
I saw the second slap coming, but made no move to avert it. I was overjoyed
Even as she sauntered away in anger, I found myself smiling.
NB: This lil piece is based on an actual occurrence from the very first years of this young century. But this is not how it played out; this is how I wish it had