When you don't step out of your house

    By Michelle D’costa

    You step out of the house with anxious joy in your heart because you’re going to have sex for the first time. You can’t stop smiling while making eye contact with everyone because finally you are going to find out what they have known all along. You want to tell them, ‘I won’t be an outsider anymore’. Your eye has been twitching since you woke up. You asked your Mom whether it meant good luck or bad. She tells you it’s bad luck and that you should watch your step in the next few days. The second hand ticking on your wristwatch matches your heartbeat. You have been waiting for this day since forever.

    You have been thinking about his room. He texted you that his parents have left for the weekend and that this is the right time to do it and that if you both wait any longer it might get unlucky for your relationship, this is the auspicious time. You took that as a cue that he would break up with you. You missed your chance last time because of a text message. The day his parents had gone to a party. You’ve been to his room several times, whenever his parents were around. You remember one evening especially. Maybe because that was the day he showed you his tattoo. A dragon. He said it made him feel masculine and that he fantasised of having his whole body tattoed one day. Even his genitals. That’s when you slipped your hand inside his trousers. His door was unlocked as usual. That added to the thrill, the fear of being caught red handed anytime.

    His parents don’t care about your presence much, they seem casual about his bringing girls over. You envy him because he’s male. You told him had you been male maybe your parents would have let you bring girls home too. He had laughed. You really want to be male? You are perfect as a female. He had said and then kissed you. That day the kiss lasted long. And you really got worried about being caught. He told you he’ll definitely call you home when his parents are not around as you seem conscious. You told him that would be great though that isn’t something that excited you. You knew it meant going all the way.

    Now, you are mentally prepared to go all the way. You are excited. You notice a broken glass bottle on the road. You are reminded of the story you encountered on the net recently. About a Japanese girl in the 1980s, who was kidnapped when she was walking home from school. Apparently, she was a simple girl. Like you. No drinks, no drugs, no boys. The school bully had asked her out and she had said ‘No’. What she endured for the next 40 days, is every girl’s worst nightmare. The graphic details made you throw up. You had had an omelette that day for dinner and it all came out. The girl couldn’t retain any food within her system after sometime and threw up whatever she ate. What detail stayed with you the most was that the girl had been kept captive in a house where the boy’s parents were very much present and no one had said or done anything to stop the girl from being tortured.

    You had avoided your boyfriend for 2 days after that, pretending to be busy. You had even considered breaking up but then you thanked your stars for finding such a good guy. You love his carefree attitude, he is everything you will never be. You always ask him, ‘What do you like about me? Am I not boring?’ He has always told you that he had been waiting for someone like you and that he had had enough of girls with so much of history with men that he just felt like a statistic in their life. This pacified you. You bought an expensive perfume just for today. Usually, you make do with deodorant. You took extra care to make sure your body had not even a single strand of hair except for where they should be. You know girls from work who have sex with random men after they are drunk. They spend most time throwing up from drinking too much. Their breath must reek of puke you think. This reminds you of the Japanese girl. You shake your head to get rid of the memory.

    You have now reached the bus stop. A man spits paan right in front of you. His mouth is red. You will apply your red lipstick the moment you near his place. You have taken extra care to maintain oral hygiene. You have flossed. Your mother offered you mango last night but you refused. You know that whenever you eat mango, its hairs get stuck between your teeth. Your mother stared at you wondering if she had done something wrong and that you were taking revenge by not eating your favourite fruit. You wanted to tell her that sacrificing the mango would be worth it but then you realise it’s only worth it for you. Not for your parents. Your parents are conservative. They cannot even bear the thought of you dating. They told you it will be all worth it when you find the right man to settle with. They have told you of incidents of heartbreak. They tell you men are out to get you. That all men want is sex and then they’re gone. Poof. Just like that. You chuckled thinking of this but then you got scared.

    What if they’re right? What if he leaves you after he’s tired of you? Then you grabbed the mango from the plate and ate it. Later, in the middle of the night, you flossed again, realizing it had only been cold feet. The last time you almost had sex with him, he had kissed your face, slowly. Stamps of validation on your face that you thought didn’t even deserve a second look. Your skin had been oily. You were conscious but the way he kissed your face made you feel like you had the best skin in the world. A text message had ruined everything.

    He had slid his hands between your thighs when his phone vibrated. He had received a message about his ex. She was getting married. He flung the phone at the wall. He didn’t want to touch you anymore. You thought the call should have made him want you more. How did it matter that his ex was getting married? He is with you now. He should have been happy. She was amazing man. You won’t understand. You’ve never been with someone no. You won’t know how it feels. She was amazing. Like mind-blowing. I shouldn’t have let her go

    He retrieved his phone and showed you her photos as if to prove his point about how amazing she was. The photos that he took of her when they were together. In the photo, that you both were looking at, his ex was wearing a lace bra only. Her nipples were visible because of the camera flash. He had asked you to leave him alone and that he needed sometime to come to terms with the fact that she’s getting married. After that, he didn’t respond to your messages like before. You felt terrible. His ex was terribly attractive. She had big breasts and you are almost flat in comparison.

    You know he has been thinking of his ex since the message. You want to ask him about the break-up. How long has it been since the break-up? Why was he still hanging onto it? Maybe he loved deeply the way he loves you and that makes you feel sorry for him and decide to let it go. You knew he liked you when you found him stalking you everywhere. Not just physical spaces, even online. You had never attracted such attention from a guy before. What about him intrigued you? He pursued you. He said he wouldn’t take no for an answer. You had no choice. You accepted him the way heroines accept persistent men in movies.

    The first time both of you went out on a date, you wore a blue top that showed a hint of your cleavage. He was distracted throughout the meal. He said he really liked you and wanted you all to himself. He asked you to never wear that top again. He didn’t add ‘Or I will break up with you’. You just knew it. Secretly, you were happy. That was the exact response you wanted to illicit from him. You wanted to know if he cared enough to treat you as his own. He clearly did. The first time you saw a movie together, in the theatre, he picked a dark corner seat. You felt important. You let him slip his hand into your top and fondle your breasts. He said he felt special to be the first one to touch you there and that made you feel special. He had whispered, ‘Wish you had bigger ones but it’s fine, I love you the way you are.’ That made you blush.

    The bus has arrived. You are approaching a seat in the bus. You notice a couple sitting at the back. The girl has her head on the guy’s shoulder. You wonder if they have slept together already. The guy pushes her hair behind her ear. They look like they are madly in love. You want him to still stay in love with you once you’ve done it. You unlock your screen and browse Facebook. You see your close friend’s status: Break ups are very difficult. 8 years. But if I can get over it, so can you. Stay strong. You wonder how long both of you will last. Will he want to marry you even after you’ve slept with him? You think about this a little more and then you get off the bus.

    Live in the moment, you tell yourself. You’ve been thinking about the future way too much. Live in the present. You will be having sex in sometime. You know you want it. You know you love him. You know he loves you too. You know you want to erase his ex’s memory from his head and replace it with your own. You are only a little away from his building now. You remember that his parents are not at home. And suddenly your heart is filled with fear. What if he made you do things you didn’t want to? Who could you call out to? You remember the Japanese girl and how she had entered hell and stayed there for 40 days until she finally died and was relieved from the torture. There is a bad taste in your mouth. You want to throw up.

    You reach his doorstep. You had intended to apply the lipstick here. He messages you. ‘Where are you? I’m waiting for you baby.’

    All of a sudden you are scared. You are not excited anymore. You turn away and run and catch an autorickshaw instead of waiting for the bus. The autorickshaw driver stares at you. ‘Sab theek hai madam?’ he asks. You don’t reply. You just sit inside and tell him the address to your house. You wonder how your boyfriend will take this. He cannot take ‘No’ for an answer. You’ve ignored all the red flags in the excitement that a guy is giving you so much attention. All the movies you’ve seen. They told you that a guy who persists is really in love with you. You thought stalking meant that he was really interested in you. He must be still seething from his ex’s marriage. What will he do to you? You’ve kept him waiting so long and now you’re running away. You remember your parents’ warning. They’ve told you to stay within your limits when dealing with men. Don’t retaliate if you’re feeling uncomfortable. What if they come after you? Lurk in corners and then rape you?

    You ignore his messages. You ignore his calls. He says he is worried about you. Have you been kidnapped? He can see you’re online. This makes you feel bad. Maybe he is a good guy after all. He tells you he is very depressed. He says his ex has messaged him on the night of her honeymoon, that no one can be like him in bed. You don’t believe him. He says he is depressed because you are ignoring him. He is making you feel guilty. Then you message him. You tell him you need space. He reminds you of the photo that he quickly clicked of you one day when you had come over.

    You had worn a round neck top. He had pulled your collar with one finger and with the other hand he had clicked away. He forwards the photo to you. He tells you that before him no one had wanted you as much and that you’ve admitted this many times. He tells you that you’re lucky to be with him. And that you’re only his. You belong to him. You had found this attractive before. Whenever he said, ‘You’re mine.’ Now, you see it differently.

    In your nightmares, his face and the Japanese bully’s face merge. This man with the brute strength of two men is angry that you have refused him. He strips. Even his genitals are tattooed. He locks you in a room and invites his friends over. All of them have tattoos. They rape you again and again. You want this to end. You beg them to kill you instead. They try to shove something in your anus and you wake up screaming. Your parents are worried about you. They notice you’ve not been eating or sleeping well. You don’t step out of the house for a long time. When you do, you wonder if he’s coming for you with acid.

    Michelle D’costa works for Bound, a literary company in Bombay. Her prose and poetry have been published in journals like Out Of Print Magazine, Eclectica, Litro UK among others. https://michellewendydcosta.wordpress.com/

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