Writer’s Note: This is the second part of the story ‘Stained Love’. This is an entirely fictional piece. This post is not meant to hurt or offend anybody. All comments and feedback is welcome.
I woke up on my wedding day, surprised and aghast to see a bouquet of black roses lying next to my bed. I sat up straight and read out the card, “To the woman who intrigues me so much, that now I have surrendered my heart and my mind to her, hoping that she would at least look at my soul once. I will see you at the altar, then at the mandap*, and then at the nikaah*. Until death do us apart. Rab Rakha.*”
Zen was one of the kindest souls I had ever met. And I had met a lot of souls. I chuckled to myself thinking back to the amount of what I have endured and all what I have seen. It seemed to me that I was everyone’s trophy. Whoever came, liked to please me or be pleased by me. With red hair falling in short curls and waves, dark brown eyes, a slightly round and healthy frame, I had dazzled so many that I lost count. They were horrible men with tobacco breath, but it was my drug to know them. An over exasperating need to know what made them so stained and vile. We had surreal nights. I gasped for air most of the nights. Sometimes, it was due to their art of knowing their way around the physical composures and curves of a woman’s body, or sometimes it was to their intoxicated ways of knowing too much about a woman’s body and her areas of pain and longing. I was addicted to their scent. And, that’s exactly when I needed some lemon juice to get rid of the vodka I so unintentionally and irresistibly gurgled down each night. Zen was that spirit. He diluted my weaknesses with his strength and never ever let me taste poison ever again.
When Aunt Helen was being escorted by Joe, after she walked through pained nostalgia from seeing me, she was already hitching a plan in mind. She knew that she had to win Joe’s confidence somehow. Finding herself privately with Joe, she asked her earnestly what she knew about me. Joe couldn’t trust Aunt Helen. Yet, she answered. I learned a lesson when I came to know of their ‘bargain’ later. When trust is at stake, sometimes money can sweep through and pave a path. Joe charged by the question. She said how she found me at a club, with his tattooed man who rode a Harley-Davidson. I never spoke and hearing was a problem; except music. I was talented she said. Whatever she meant by ‘talent’ now. She said how she was intrigued by my aura, because as compared to other kids, I had a very scared, fragile face, yet stormy and determined eyes. Though I was young, at the age of 9, I was the best mixer and bar tender she had seen. Let me now explain why all of this shocked Aunt Helen out of her wits. Aunt Helen used to be a nun.
She left the Church when she realized that she was politically institutionalized and needed some spiritual endeavors. She had tried it all since then and that’s when she met Zen, in Bali. She knew nothing of him then, but just that he was a Buddhist, volunteering in Bali to open the mind of the one’s who wished to be healed. Zen was a healer. He didn’t have a religion. He did it all. At that time, he was a Buddhist. He suited Aunt Helen’s travel intrigues too. He had Asian genes, but was born in Kashmir, India. His parents were the typical middle-class people who owned a well settled business in Kashmir. His ancestors belonged to Afghanistan, and some even from Persia- Iran, in today’s world. Zen, was the most freelance guy I had ever met and he was someone who had tried it all. From stitching shoes in Peru, to working in labor mines in Mexico, he had traveled across the Transylvanian railway and upon reaching Vladivostok, Russia; he was so cold, that he passed out. He woke up two days later in an old, Russian woman’s home where he spent his time learning odd menial jobs from her. She taught him embroidery and knitting. Zen, thus, always joked of how he would make the clothes for our kids, while I could go out with an axe and chop down some wood. The idea appealed to me. I remember painting this image out to him once. He took a look at it and laughed out loud, “Red hair gone wild, an axe in your hand, you look like a huntress.” He grew thoughtful for a moment then, looked deep into my eyes and said earnestly, “Don’t murder my peace huntress.” He smiled affectionately then, “It’s a lair anyways. There’s no coming back now.”
Zen was a free soul. He always kept saying of how the Russian had taught him communist politics, made him understand how vodka was supple water and how to get over those same blighting hangovers. Since Zen always spent the money he earned, he was always broke. We gelled along well because of our monetary situation. Money never made me happy and Zen was satisfied without any. Aunt Helen told me how my father ran away due to his lust for power and money, making me hate money all the more. Zen always laughed at my father’s foolishness. Zen believed in the energies of nature and that power rested in the desire to attain something. He never understood the crippling need to attain political power. He could never use the word ‘lust’ either. He found it filthy for some reason. Quite contrasting to me. I had spent years of my life lusting for happiness, and with him around, I found it so simply. Just like that.
After snowy Russia, he retreated to China, traveled, almost got killed for his Russian communist views and thus learned that there was always an alternative view, and he could not win a fight against stubbornness. Aunt Helen found him in Bali. His travel tales intrigued Aunt Helen so much, that she paid for all of his expenses and asked him to come with her to India immediately. His ability to converse in Russian kept her sane too.
So, today, I owe my marriage to Aunt Helen.
mandap- The temple porch
nikaah- A Muslim Marriage
Rab Rakha- May God be with you.