Mia sat at the edge of the cliff staring down the steep drop, which ended at hard black rocks, with the sea spalshing at them, surf flying high above them.
This was her favorite place. Secluded, lonely, leaving her all by herself. A place which allowed her to think without getting disturbed by someone, who could deprive her of solitude without offering her any company.
She sat there, her face held in her hands, looking at the waves below, as she thought about tomorrow.
Tomorrow….she would be getting married tomorrow. Not that she wanted to get married. Her parents wanted her to, she was actually repelled by the thought of marriage. The thought of yet another stranger touching her in places where even, she forbade her to touch herself.
A man’s touch was not alien to her. Not the doting touch of her Father, but that invasive touch of a stranger which made her shut down all her senses.
She was a mere kid and her cousin brother was around 5 years older than her. He always used to be very close to her. Played with her and got her chocolates. Said all those sweet things to her, touching her all the time. Touching her thighs, her behind, her chest.
Somewhere down the line, as she grew up she felt herself getting queasy about his touch. She knew something was wrong, but she couldnt figure out, exactly what.
It was the day before her 14th birthday when her Cousin came over to her house. Her parents were both out of the house, at their respective jobs. The Cousin beckoned her towards him as he sat lounging on the sofa, watching TV.
“Come closer, Mia, look at these lovely ladies on TV”, he told her, as she looked at the pretty ladies in bikinis shashaying on a ramp in a Fashion show.
“You know, Mia, you are prettier than all of these ladies”, he said, as he pulled her down on on the couch besides him.
His hand started sliding up her thigh towards the hem of her skirt.
“We just need to get you in similar clothes as them to make you look even prettier”, he said as his hand disappeared under her skirt, even as she started at the TV in horror.
His hand continued its travel inside her skirt, to her panties and that was when she froze. Her mind went numb and her mouth opened in a scream. A scream which would have made anyone’s blood curdle.
Her cousin stopped what he was doing, surprised. She had never resisted his advances before. But something had changed this time.
Mia just couldnt stop screaming. Even as her cousin hastily distanced himself from her. She got up from the couch and still screaming like a girl possessed, ran out of the house……
The running had helped and so had the screaming. The cousin never showed his face at their house again, unless there was a family function. And even then he maintained a distance from her.
In another two years from then, Mia shifted off to a bigger city after her 10th. Her parents insisted that her education deserved better facilities than what their little town had to offer.
Mia was awed by the life of the big city. So different than their small town. It was a matter of time before she got drew in towards the lusture of the place. The fast bikes and the smart boys. She had her share of boyfriends, but only to the extent of holding hands in movies.
Until she met Bhai …..
Thats what they all called him. Bhai. Short and simple. He did not study in the same junior college. But he did appear to spend most of his time standing outside the campus with his bike.
There was something about his natural earthy charm that attracted Mia to him.
Almost all her friends had a crush on him and they spent endless nights giggling and gossiping about him. So when he asked her out, she didnt think twice before saying yes.
Before she knew it, she was spending more time hanging out with him than with her other friends.
As the time passed by, Mia and Bhai got closer to each other. They spent their evenings inside empty movie halls or the nearby park cuddling with each other. It wasnt long before they had their first kiss.
The first kiss is always remembered by every girl. And Mia remembered hers too. Bhai had kissed her with such force that her lips had turned to mush. And thats when he bit her. Bit her hard on her lips, drawing blood. She had gone to her hostel room and avoided the stare of her roommate as she spent the night nursing her sore lips. Yes, she remembered her first kiss.
Post that she always avoided kissing Bhai, but he wouldnt take no for an answer. His kisses grew more and more forceful and his hands were rough. There was nothing tender about it, like she had read in all those pink and blue novels she had read.
It was two days before her exams when Bhai came to pick her up from her hostel. He had told her that he had a surprise for her. She was quite excited as he whisked her away on his bike.
Mia sat on the bike with her eyes closed, her head resting on Bhai’s back as they stopped outside a rather rundown looking hotel.
“Chalo Mia, lets go in. Your surprise is inside”, Bhai said, taking her hand as he led her into the shady place. “By the way, cover your face with your scarf”, he warned.
“No Rakesh, lets go back, I have my exams in two days. I need to study”, she had insisted.
But Bhai had never taken “No” for an answer and he wasnt planning on doing so now.
They entered a dimly lit room which had a large bed in the center and a small TV kept on the top of a fridge.
Bhai made her sit on the bed as he got out a bottle from his bag. He poured two glasses full from the bottle, added some cola to it from the fridge and offered one to Mia.
“Drink”, he ordered.
“Rakesh, please, I want to go home”, she said.
“DRINK !! NOW !!”, he pushed the glass in her face making her gulp down the bitter sweet liquid in the glass as she sat on the bed, with him towering over her.
“Can we go home now, please?”, she begged as she looked up at him. She could not recognise the face of the man in the front of her. He was not her Rakesh……he looked the same and yet he looked so different…….Bhai…..
He laughed an almost guttural laugh as he slapped her across the face.
“You bitch !! Do you think I wasted one full year after you so that I can pick you up and drop you back? Tere baap ka naukar hun kya? Take Off Your Clothes !!!” , he shouted.
She was zapped, the alcohol was not letting her think and her body refused to move.
“Your CLOTHES !!! Take Them Off NOW !!”, he screamed again, as his hand lashed out against her cheek leaving a stinging mark in its stead.
Her eyes fixated on his face, her legs trembling with fear, as she started unbuttoning her top.
Bhai got his phone out and pointed it at her.
“This is for memories”, he grinned.
Mia had gotten her top off and was holding it against her front in a feeble attempt to cover herself as Bhai snatched it from her hands and threw it away on the floor besides them. His hands roughly moving inside her bra, grabbing, probing and pinching….hurting her as her eyes brimmed with tears.
“The bra too, you bitch, let me see if you are worth all the money I spent on you”, he said with his phone still pointed at her as she hung her head down in shame while getting rid of her bra.
“Aha ! Money well spent, you look like an expensive whore. Now unzip me”, he sneered, taking her hands and placing them on the top of his jeans.
Her hands trembled as they pulled down his zipper, her eyes still looking at the ground.
She felt his hands reaching into her hair as he snapped her head upwards. For a brief moment their eyes met, just for a few seconds, enough to send a chill down her spine as he pushed her face into his crotch.
The chill helped, it shook her back into her senses. She pushed him back with such a force that he tumbled across the room.
She started screaming as she gathered her clothes from the floor. She hastily put them on without bothering to straighten them out as she yanked open the door and she ran…. out of the hotel, out onto the road….she ran and ran till she reached the room of her hostel, slammed the door behind her and covered herself with a blanket.
Mia never saw Bhai after that day. Somehow and surprisingly Bhai never tried to contact her again. Her exams went peacefully and she left the city immediately after that, never turning back to look at it…..never wanting to return back to it…..never wanting to trust another man…..
She had never managed to speak about this to anyone. The only person whom she had spoken about this was one of her best friend at work, a few years later. And the friend had turned around and said, “You are a slut, you deserved it”, the moment they had their first disagreement about something at work…..
“Mia !!! MIA !!!”, a voice screamed at her from behind.
Mia was snapped out of her revere as she looked back from the cliff towards the road.
Her friend was standing near her car, waving her hands frantically.
“What are you doing here Mia?? You are getting married tomorrow. Aunty and Uncle are so worried about you. I have come to fetch you. Come on. Come with me. Rahul is waiting for you too”, her friend said.
Rahul. The man her parents had selected for her. They had been courting for the past six months but she had never opened up to him. He had tried to hold her hand once and she had slapped it away, almost in rage. She could not bring herself to tolerate another man’s touch.
But he had taken it well. He was kind and gentle with her. He listened to her. She thought, he figured she was reluctant and he wanted to make her feel comfortable.
In the last six months he had defended her too. Defended her choice to work. Never complained about what she wore. Never asked her about every detail of her daily routine like the normal jealous fiances do.
He gave her the space she wanted and respected her for wanting it, but she still couldnt manage to bear his touch.
She was not able to make up her mind. Would he turn out to be just like all the other men she had known in her life? Gentle at first and cruel later on? Or would he actually be different? Was he really as genuine as he appeared to be? Should she take the risk? Would her scars let her take the risk?
She kept toying with those questions, in her mind, even as she sat at the cliff today.
“Mia !! Come on!! Stop wasting time, will you? Come with me, I am here to take you home”, her friend screamed at her again.
Mia looked at the rocks below the cliff, the waves still splashing around it. She turned back and looked at her friend, waving her hands, urging her to come towards her. She looked at the sun, begining to set behind her friend, casting a strange orange glow across the sky.
She looked at her friend again, who was calling her to a begin a new life, to take a new risk, coz what is life without taking risks. And then she turned and looked at the cliff and the rocks beneath, the waves dashing around them lazily, almost invitingly.
She nodded to herself. She had made her decision.
And she ran…..this time without screaming, a grim half smile on her face……perhaps the last run she would ever run in her life…..
Disclaimer: The story and the characters in the story are real. The names have been changed for the obvious reasons. Certain creative liberties have been taken during writing. But, I hope Mia reads this and decides the direction she has to run towards. It is a choice that she has to make………..