Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wind, Fire and Salt

Six o'clock.
The wind, cold and strong, lashed at her body tearing her apart as he had done, ripping her into a thousand pieces. Yet her soul was burning, burning with shame and hatred. The shame that she had borne, and would continue to bear forever. Hatred towards the man she had loved and loved still, hatred towards the woman she had become for his sake.

But it was not the shame, not the hatred that consumed her and made her want to run, far, far away where she could live, and breathe, and exist. She could bear that. It was the pain that she couldn't bear, the pain that attacked her, like a knife being driven, slowly, mercilessly, through her gut and beyond piercing her heart and the blood filled her lungs and she couldn't breathe or scream or cry and all she was conscious of was pain pain pain and her life ebbed away even as the sun died in a pool of bleeding sky.

She gazed at the horizon until it seemed that the fire in her eyes and in her heart could only be quenched by the memories it brought.

There had been a time when it all meant just...him. Her love for him was not the fairytale romance of high school stories. It was passion, wildly tumultuous and deeply tender, fulfilling and destructive. She was overwhelmed by how everything else ceased to exist when she was with him, how he made her laugh and cry and love and hate.

She was alive.

And now she was dead. Or as good as dead, except that the pain kept reminding her she was alive. She remembered the day he came to her apartment, tired, and when she tried to comfort him he had pushed her away, roughly at first, and then pulled her towards him and sobbed.

She loved him more when he was angry. Because that was when he needed her the most. He was almost always angry. Angry at life- or rather, the futility of it. He would curse her, curse himself and the world in general, and she would watch silently, knowing that it helped him release his frustration in a society that didn't understand him or his work.

Doctors must be saints, he kept saying. Doctors must be patient and comforting. Doctors must play God. Didn't they realize it was the doctor who needed comforting the most, the doctor who spent his lifetime looking at death and destruction and the meaninglessness of it all; where pain and suffering was a way of life? How could he be patient, knowing that every second could mean the difference between life and death; how could he play God when sometimes all they could do was watch, praying for death to take away the pain they were helpless to ease?

He was a great doctor, they said. He was invited to speak at all the important functions, and his research articles were published every month without fail in the most prestigious journals. The entire country applauded him for his selflessness, his consideration for his patients, his tireless contributions to the field of medical science. They didn't see him as he saw himself- exhausted, imperfect, vulnerable, struggling with questions to which he was unable to find the answers.

The salt stung her eyes and she endured it, willing herself to cry. She wanted to cry until the pain subsided, until the fire within her was extinguished by the force of her tears. She didn't know what else to do. She had lost everything- her happiness, her dignity, her life.
And now him...

Don't trust him, they had said, he is just using you...he is a married man and you will end up hurt. She knew all that; what they didn't know was that she couldn't turn back, even if she wanted to- she was trapped, trapped by his magnetism and his sensitivity and his power, and her love. Trapped like the fly that is lured into the deadly pitcher plant, and then refuses to crawl out although it knows it is going to die.

She was different, she knew, because she gave him what no one else could, and he loved her for it, in his own strange way. Loved her for understanding his ideals and dreams, his passion for his work, his weaknesses and inadequacies, his bitterness and cynicism.

Then why didn't he divorce his wife? How could she tell them that he couldn't? Because he loved his wife, wanted to protect and provide for her as long as he lived. She was the ideal wife, subservient, willing to be dominated; and he liked to dominate. Her attitude pampered his ego; she looked up to him, like everybody else. He was a great doctor, therefore a great husband- how could a man so deeply caring for his patients not care for his own family twice as much?

He was an impulsive man, at times violent in his outbursts. Especially when he had had a hard day at the hospital. For instance the days when, despite their best efforts to win a losing battle, a particularly gallant patient would finally succumb. Occasions like these left him drained, both emotionally and physically; and just one word or gesture of comfort was enough to provoke him. Rather than confront his wife with his rage, he came to her. Somehow, she was always able to charm him out of the blackest moods- with her sharp wit and intelligence, which matched, and sometimes even surpassed his own. 

There was never the question of divorce, however, and she didn't expect it from him. He could easily have got one if he wanted to. Infertility was an accepted cause, and his wife had been childless for the past ten years, ever since marriage. But he was a man who took his responsibilities seriously. Although he often criticized his wife in front of her, she knew he would never allow her to do so; she knew that in his list of priorities she came third, or thereabouts- work, wife and mistress.


She was not a marriage wrecker, yet society painted her such. Man-eater, they called her. They didn't realize that she was like every other woman... Lost, looking for the safety of a man's protection in an uncaring world.

She watched a piece of wood bob up and down on the waves. She had been like that before he entered her life, like many others before her. It was strange, his power to transform people from being content to drift along aimlessly, to individuals with an insatiable thirst to challenge life, and win, sometimes in the face of unthinkable odds.

She was one such person. He had transformed her, given her life meaning she never knew it had...and suddenly her senses were consciously alive; the flowers smelled sweet, the grass was green and the rain felt cool as it gently caressed her body. The vibrant gold and magenta sunsets never ceased to amaze her- they were beautiful, like an abstract that captured the essence of her life.

And then one day, just as suddenly, he left.

It was one of the more difficult days, except that he didn't lash out at her like he usually did. He merely sat in his chair all night, eyes closed, brow furrowed, hands clenched together. He didn't speak or move, but as she gazed at him she observed a tiny muscle in his left cheek that never stopped twitching. She was used to his mood swings and had endured them before, except that this time it was different. He was not depressed; he was in intense concentration. Even before he spoke she sensed the distance, the barrier between them she was unable to penetrate.

When he spoke it was as though she already knew what he would say...she wanted to run, to close her ears and scream, she wanted to strangle him, but all she did was sit down beside him and place her hand on his shoulder.

Shalini is pregnant -

And then he was gone. Gone, without even looking at her. She knew she was powerless to stop him, and she knew he would never come back.

Suddenly, she was crying. The tears stung more viciously than the salt had ever done, like caustic fire-drops that increased, not deadened, the pain. This was reality.

This was life. And death. They said that life and death were opposites, like black and white, good and bad, happiness and sorrow. But it was all the same- life and death merged in a grey mist of pain that embraced her lovingly in its unforgiving arms.

She screamed again and again, yet despite the eerie stillness, nobody heard. The sky glowed in one last moment of glory, red and orange and gold and the seas turned red, redder than the sky, as red as the blood in her veins and then the sun disappeared, swallowed by the blackness of the night.

Inspired by "The Scream" by Edvard Munch






  1. Love your writing style.. enjoyed this one just like the rest of your work.. waiting for more..

    1. Thank you! This is not one of my personal favourites hehe..but glad you liked it :)