Rita and Hank strolled along the narrow pathway overlooking a valley with a canopy of dense ombrophilous trees. The evening was bright and sun drenched them with orangish glow. It was as perfect setting as Rita had imagined. The relapse had been bad and the scars on her hands constantly reminded Hank of the nightmare-in-a-shell that walked with him.
He loved her, at least that was what he thought as his heart began to race every time he thought of her. The angel that wore white dress at the party-this would always be Hank’s mental picture of Rita.
Rita started to cry silently, like a gazillion times she had cried before. She understood life as being a constant war against the existing universe one had to endure every minute alive. Her heart did not accept it. and instead injected the need for what she cannot have. This gave rise to an eternal sadness. Every time she began to drink she felt the need to go back to her senior year, to be around with her eight friends who did not know what prejudice, gossip or kiss-ass meant. It had been a perfect year. She had lived every moment for itself, so much that even during the night of graduation it did not sink in that the fun-years had come to an end. The next morning when the hangover began to cede, she rolled up her legs, hugged them and cried.
“Come on, not again. You wanted to have this moment, and it can’t be more perfect than this, so why cry?” Hank asked releasing their hold.
“I don’t wanna die, I want to marry you and have a huge family, but when I think of other girls having babies, it disgusts me how lame they are. Pimping their own narcissistic photos to get lame likes, discussing how their next profile picture should be every freaking time they’re alive. I just want to kill those bitches”, her only acquaintance with the outside world didn’t get along well with her emotions.
“So why do you login to Facebook? Why do you even care?”
“Cos the lame bitches should never be popular”, the anger in her eyes shone red.
“You sound fascist you know?”
Hank had a long history of speaking his mind out. The night when her daddy died, she sat on her front yard when Hank arrived. After trying to console her, assuring her that he would rest in peace with other angels that was not so well received by the religion-hating girlfriend, he had said that she could view the one bright side — no one can ground her if she comes home after midnight. It started a six month hiatus that even the most beautiful bouquets of roses and white lilies could not end.
“So I am a bi-polar, a recurring sadist … and now fascist. What else am I Hank?”
“Rita I am not going to continue that conversation. You need to calm down and relax. We are going to enjoy this moment and then head out to Bob’s, you know I have reserved the pool side table, just like you love it”
“Shut up and answer me”, she began to yell.
“No! You are not a fascist, I said you sounded fascist, it’s just a rhetorical observation”.
A long pause followed while Rita continued her stare at a ‘sincerely ignoring eye contact’ Hank.
“I said you are not a fascist. There is no one to care about the world like you. Even Gandhi would be belittled if you had the communicative power to spread your thoughts about politics. I love the way you love nature, I love your lust for peace, I love how you never gave a damn when your bff called you an addict whore. You are strong inside, know that. Its just you are the most sensitive person I have ever come across. You need to let out your feeling…”
“and write a book? Yeah right, that’s for geniuses like King or loser moms who can write poetically about cooking a cake. Not for me,” the hungry tiger inside her jumped out.
“You don’t even have to get it published. Write about how America should change. Write about how you envision your country India in another ten years. Write about why you hate your mum, or even sometimes me”.
Another long pause followed by a coy smile in her eyes.
“I do hate you most of the time, but you are the only one who speaks my language, so I can’t live without you, you know? The first moment I find another guy who understands me even a little much more, you are fired my boy”.
Her smile was contagious and Hank caught it.
Hank noticed Rita’s face carried the smile on for a while before discovering her gaze at something behind him. A wild set of colorful flowers grew at the end of the slope. She started walking towards it, he followed.
“Look at these, orange pheasant’s eye and bright bluebottle. Just the two of them, together. Like us.”
Although Hank grew tired of repeatedly having to see Rita’s hands bleeding and visits to the emergency rooms, it was moments like these that made him feel alive and gave strength to continue producing music after failing continuously.
“You know I killed Laila yesterday”.
“What? What do you mean?”
“I mean that I killed Laila yesterday. That feline was constantly disturbing my cooking, I hit her head with the pan and she died there. I buried her in the backyard and planted red rose over it”.
“You are sometimes very disturbing, Rita. She was a cat for Christ’s sake. Just don’t open your mouth about this to anyone else, or risk being sued by that animal welfare organization.”
He still couldn’t digest the news.
“What on Earth did she do wrong? She was just a cat that did what other cats do. You loved her. Now that she is gone, don’t you miss her?”
“Apart from the every polluting hair and the smell I did not miss anything today,” her voice contained utmost apathy.
“You used to sleep cuddling her. What happened to the ‘pet keeps me sane’ theology of yours?” Hank’s voice rose.
“Wow, are you the blue cross guy!! I liked playing and cuddling it, but never liked taking care of it. Would have been great if my neighbor was a baby sitter, or in this case a cat sitter,” her laugh did not meet with positive reciprocation.
“I don’t know what to say. You are evil or you are plain mad Rita, you know that? Grow up, you are not in school anymore. Responsibility and family values are part of being an adult. You act like a bullying child often”.
A long pause followed while her eyes got drenched with warm tears.
“I cant love you without thinking what’s gonna blow up next Rita. I can’t live happily with you. Your baggage is too heavy for me. You need to consult a shrink or someone. You are stupid, and your brain clock is stuck at being sixteen. That night when you bullied Ester and seeing her cry while other girls laughed and cheered at what you did made you this. God, I even feel the romantic quotes you say about your love for me are just to keep me tied to you. You fake them don’t you? You evil bitch!”.
Unable to hold on to herself Rita ran towards Hank, hugging him she started crying aloud.
“Sorry Hank, I now understand what I’ve done. How miserable am I? I don’t know why I did that. Help me Hank, I’ll do whatever you ask me to, but never say that I fake our love. You need me to see a shrink? I’ll do it, I’ll stop coke. I won’t even smoke cigarettes. Please tell me you forgive me and take back what you just said. Or I’ll kill myself.”
“Shut up, don’t say that. You are everything to me”, each time Hank’s head fought with his heart, the victor was always the latter.
“I’ll look up online for a good doctor for you. I’ll stay with you and get a job in the suburbs, just assure me you’ll write everyday about whatever you feel.”
She closed his mouth with her right hand and said “I’ll do them and more. Come and live with me. We will be happy together. I know it. Having you will calm me.”
She let go of his mouth and caught his left hand and started walking towards their original course. The horizon had almost eaten the entire sun as it shone a big beautiful orange balloon.
Rita started, “Mighty orange emperor always running, searching for dark chocolate that treads right behind him, the blackest night”.
“Wow, that’s brilliant. You see you should start writing a book especially poetry, you can start about the Sun.”
“The Sun? Like I said, it always keeps searching for the darkness of the night, not knowing that the night gets killed by its own presence. How stupid is that?”.
Hank felt Rita’s life was the same, she was bomb that killed her own joys. He knew that it was no use talking to her. Any assuring thought Hank gave would be met with aloof and disconnected loathe.
“What whatever? You don’t feel the Sun is stupid?”, it was Rita’s trademark argumentative voice.
“No, it’s an all powerful God that keeps the drama on Earth alive.”
“You and your God theory. You can’t live your life without sucking up to something above you, can you? You love feeling weak and unable to feel responsible for what happ..”, Hank closed her mouth with his right hand.
“Shut up Rita. Again, I need this evening to be good.”
“You shut up. What sort of a person are you? Not believing in yourself but blaming something else for what you do? Why do you even eat? Ask that God of yours for food throughout your life. Let me see if he gives you keys to a huge fucking store bin full of money.”
Hank released her grip and started to walk away.
“Why aren’t you saying something?”, Rita’s companion from the dark side started taking over her.
“Why? Because you are screwed up.”, Hank couldn’t hold in the words. A moment passed and he continued, “I am going to my place now and I don’t want to see you anymore. You need to go get locked inside a prison and throw away the key. You are worse than the worst genocidal maniac.”
“Oh yeah? And I am no good for you? Haha you leave me and you won’t find anyone as ‘cool’ as you want her. Your bald head and fried-chicken filled belly will make any girl run away”, she stood yelling at the ignoring soon-to-be-ex boyfriend of hers.
“Nothing is better than nonsense”, Hank said with a volume just enough that she could hear but which denoted he wanted to keep it to himself.
“What did you say?”
She ran to him.
It all happened immediately.
The next moment she sat by the edge of the slope, holding her legs and crying at what she had done.
Everything was a blur, she pulling Hank by his hands, he slapping her. It was blank after that. The body of the only soul that could communicate to the tortured soul of hers lay some fifty feet down.
It came back in bits and pieces –the moment she pulled him hard and his leg hit a small rock.
What happened after that?