“Oh! Hush…don’t resist….. It’s okay baby.”…..”Oh, yes… let your-ah, yess- touch you this way… it’s okay” …..”Oh yea, it’s alright.. .shh.. don’t be scared”…”just let… ah.. yes” “good girl baby..” “Yes, yes.. good.. Thank you..”.. “You’re my favourite kid”

Trying my best to block his haunting whispers, I concentrate on the rain beating on the ground outside as I sit cuddled to myself on the edge of my bed, trying to blend with the corner of this room. It’s the closest I can come to any physical refuge. On one of the walls, there are hung many family photos from different time zones of our life- with smiles getting wider and eyes getting dimmer. But nevertheless, these are memories on the wall. The wall adjacent to it, the one serving as a support for my right shoulder has a window on it. And as I hear the sound of rain, I come to realize that it ain’t steady. Sometimes it’s too harsh and fast while sometimes the droplets just seem to roll one after the other from the world above and fall casually in my world creating soft sound. Oh! The nature’s mood swing! But then this is the worst of all. There are no thundering or storms. No wild clouds and no angry tree beating around in vain. All the other noises were drained out and what was left to mourn was silence which was only broken by the pattering of rain. I have always feared indifference more than acrimony. Silence more than a few bitter words.

As I keep up with this pattern of rain, the sound of it soon turns into a rhythm- Hard and harsh, then slow and casual then silence, only to be broken by next cycle in just a few minutes. And soon as I discover this beat of the nature my own heartbeats come to my attention, again. It ain’t too fast and loud nor too slow and grave but rather horrendously normal. Somehow at this point, I am fearfully and numbly aware of even the tiniest movement around me. Not that I want to be, for if I can, I would happily be consumed by this thick air around me to be carried away to a land in the midst of nowhere. I can hear my heartbeat so clearly that it is making me breathless. And so I raise up my head , which was buried between my knees, so as to distance my ears from my heart. I can sense my heart’s resignation as I no longer feel it struggle against my chest as it once did. Like the rain outside, which has once again taken up to harshness, my heart too at one time struggled against its confinement. Oh, such parallelism! Only that the beating rain finally find a way to seep into the ground and attain that chastity while my heart will never be free from my ruined body.

Ruined and hollow. Bear from all the beauty and emptied from all that was holy. Somehow I wonder about how the world survived us. Or well maybe, at a second thought, it didn’t. For all, I see around me is a hollow and tainted reminder of something that was once beautiful and untainted. But then like most of the fairy tales this “once” too is not noted in any timeline. What if reality is just a phantom of our dreams? -A haunted, tortured, battered and ugly reminder of something beautiful and lively. Murdered by what is born out of time and fate. With every breath, we forget to live and strive to survive. Every break of dawn is a nescient march towards darkness, driven by innocent curiosity and lead by veiled atrocities. Maybe everything beautiful and lively is just our dream and what is left for the waking hours is nothing but remnants of the whole. Maybe all that there is now is the remnant of a dream that I never cherished while I had the time to. I guess we all keep dreaming till someone comes and wakes us up to face the nightmare.

For me, it was him who came to wake me up in a way that no one can now lull me back into deep and peaceful slumber again. He didn’t just break my dreams but he shattered them in a way that I can never even believe in the existence of what those pieces might have stood for in their wholeness. I truly believe that happiness is directly proportional to innocent and innocence is not determined by age. The devil in him raped the angel in me. Every encounter stripped away a piece of innocence from my native form. Every touch stirred me in my dream sleep. Every word pierced the blissful veil of ignorance. As his deeds start to fill my thoughts I vigorously shake my head left and right to shake him off my head before my body starts to feel his presence again. Now as I untangle myself from my thoughts, consuming silence falls on my ears and unsettles the very soul of me, I realize that the rain has stopped. I wait for a few minutes to see if the silence is broken but to no avail. The beats have ceased, the rhythm is broken and nature has died. And maybe, so have I.

Somehow the heat from my own body disgusts me as it falls in parallelism with the heat of his body and so I unfold myself and leave the corner, I shift a little on my bed to have a clear view of the pale sky visible in midst of the branches through window. I can’t feel the cold while in my suddenly darker room but I can see it. And so I leave the room to see if the coldness can block out the shuddering memories of him. I leave the bed, then my room and as I open the door of my house, cool wind rushes in to replace the warm aura within. I tremble a little and feel the cold creep on my arms and legs but then the cruel stab of coldness was most welcome. Pain is the only distraction I now know.

As I walk out, I am greeted with dryness and coldness. It’s 4 pm and I see no trace of sun. Everything is pale, everything is dull. The sky is monotonously grey with no clouds to show any trace of life in the past or give any scope of future resurrection. With no wind to indicate any movement, the trees stand still and lifeless. Just like me. Everything seems to be closing on everything else around it. Yet nothing is moving. Maybe it’s just the way this lifeless remnant of long forgotten spring makes you feel. Spring. It’s time for spring! Winter is long gone and rainy days even longer. Half of our winter clothes have already been packed away into lofts. We were having the last days of winter and were preparing for a full-blown spring with new buds, new life and maybe, maybe some new memories-But no. Here we are, shivering because of an uncalled and unexpected guest. Or maybe just an ignorant and arrogant intruder! Anyway, as I witness this winter after winter I wonder if spring will ever find its way. Will I ever feel full again? Or will I always be this empty and hollow. A bare reminder of something once filled with life. Just like that house I had seen on that another rainy day of a rainy season.

 As I sat there under the shade, outside that abandoned house, I wondered what tales has those walls would have witnessed. Behind me was what I believed to be the entrance door but I couldn’t say this with certainty. There were far too many doors. And beside me was ash. The remnant of the burned down door that once would have concealed all the ill-acts of the gangster to whom this house once belonged. I could see shutters. Iron shutters to double check his privacy I guess. And I wondered that how enslaved he would have felt. How we become our own slaves I wonder with ache; Slaves of our own thoughts. Our own passions our own dreams our own fears. Yet who is to be blamed but ourselves?

When that dog growled and tried to shoo me away I had little doubts on who owned this place then. I could see the lake in front and it kept pulling me. There is something about the water that always pulls me. I couldn’t really fathom it then. It stirred some deep emotions within me, some conflicting thoughts. It was the resurrection of my feelings. That house stands on a hill that faces the lake beyond which you could see the entire city. It was cool but not cold. It had rained in the morning but by then it was sunny. The land was wet and nature was still breathing. When I had seen that broken structure that stood out in the midst of all those beautiful houses in that lane I had wondered about how it might have looked earlier. Maybe those burned walls of black and brown colour would once have been white, or light blue or perhaps of some multiple combinations. Maybe instead of grey ash, there would have been green grass. Maybe he could have used curtains to make that into a home than shutters to change that into a jail. The location is so beautiful and the land so wide. It would have been a sight to watch. It could have been a home, had not his greed and cruelty changed it into something so dead and hollow. I could have been so much more and whole, had not his actions ruined me this way.

He ruined me. He, period. That’s all the thought I needed to come back to the present and face the mess that my life has become. I look at the ground to my left as I stand outside on the road just in front of my gate, and see that still tree. It still has leaves and even though they are green it somehow seems pale in the setting. I remember seeing it a few months ago in autumn. It was bare and naked. It had finally got rid of its leave, just like I sometimes manage to get rid of his memories but then soon the spring came and just when I thought I could move on, his memories come clashing with me. How for some spring is synonymous with new life but for some, it’s a curse that can’t be broken. I wonder how so many tales unfold simultaneously. They are sometimes contrasting and sometimes parallel; sometimes interlinked and sometimes not. Some too visible to naked eyes while some hidden in the darkest and broken corners of our heart- never meant to be told and shared. I had felt this way once before when I stood on that hill, on the lane in front of that house looking beyond the lake in the eyes of the city. I could see the road running between the city and the lake all along. It was filled with cars that had got me wondering about how many different plays run simultaneously. Some on a happy scene while some on a tragic one. Some going for a war while some to sign for peace.

Even nature has so much going on in it, just like in the life within me. I can feel the helplessness of the tree as I once again surrender to the memories of him. I shiver with the memory of his touch and all of a sudden the air around me doesn’t feel that cold- My fears on the other hand does. As his words echo in my ears, the world around me seems to spin at unfathomable speed with me as its centre. But more than this maddening motion it is the reminder of my weakness in his presence and my submission to his actions that make my knees go weak. More than his attack, my lack of defence shook the ground beneath my feet. He makes me look down upon my innocence. As every deed in all these years come rushing back to me, I let go of my hold on sanity and my soul gives a silent scream juxtaposed with the screams of the leaves as the wind attacks it at some distant place. Every part of me wants to peel off every inch of skin in me that he ever managed to touch and as the soul within me laments the fact that HE made me of nothing but a part of man. Oh! I want to burst and explode into tiny specks of nothingness.

And as these emotions and thoughts were brewing with me I stand here still unvaried, uninterrupted and unmoved like the inert, indifferent and poker-faced nature around me. But then as finally, a strand of my hair moves I feel the first and maybe the only drop of tear roll down my cheek. And which leads me on to realize that maybe nature is not really dead and neither am I. Maybe we are not dead but just lifeless. We are alive. We are the phantoms of who we used to be. Maybe, winter is nothing but the phantom of spring and I am nothing but the phantom of the innocence that he ripped off me. We are hollow but not really empty. And the wind that did move and the tear that did fall are the only signs of life in an otherwise two dead worlds; As if to remind us that we are still alive, or rather to mock us with this knowledge. My eyes are dry once again as if that tear was nothing but an illusion and the wind could hardly move more than a few leaves. We are alive; still alive but then barely breathing.

My lips curl up from one side as a hollow half smile finds a place on my face, at the way we are all played with by fate. I know what destruction I lament over but I wonder what nature grieves over? So I lift my hollow eyes to the battered nature and stare for an eternal moment; Maybe- the destruction of its beauty in the hands of my brethren? — I think.

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