The School teacher and the stranger in the Christmas garden party at the Chee’s
December 25, 2012
All my life, I have struggled with the awareness of an irreconcilable contradiction in the very nature of my existence. You could even say, ever since I could string a stream of thoughts. I had tried in vain to resolve this dilemma, there is and will always be two different persons within this person called, ‘me’. Like all contradictions – light and darkness, the sun and moon, black and white – if my world changed, I would cease to be the person that I am, and if I changed, my world would cease to be what it is. That as incomplete as it stands is the extent of what I considered ‘resolution.’
Now I that I found myself sitting on the dining table with the school teacher bandaging the wound on my arm – this awareness that I have always struggled with began to swell slowly within me – only just a while ago, when I stood before the knot of ladies in the garden party, when they were all admiring the school teachers new engagement ring. I could feel that other dark side of me slithering across my consciousness. I had sensed him trying to lance through the bubble of my mixed emotions all week. And when the school teacher feigned horror by exclaiming, “Oh dear you’ve hurt yourself!” – I felt him uncoiling like a spring in my belly just then.
When Mrs Chee brought out the first aid clumsily and the school teacher led me away from the party with her trailing words to the other ladies, “He has been without a woman for so long, he doesn’t know it will get infected if it’s not attended too. It’s so sad ladies.” They laughed. That was when I felt him tearing like a blade across the very essence of my flesh – I knew then, there was no way to stop him from coming out that day.
As I sat beside the school teacher on the table in the secluded dining room – who seemed only too preoccupied with putting on a seamless charade even when no one was around – I sensed him again, this time he had began to make his way out in the way a man surfaces after a long dive – the room suddenly began to darken almost imperceptibly. The furniture began to grow smaller. A shift had occurred.
Somewhere in this dangerous world where even the air itself was filled with bristling needles and even the gentle breeze that blew felt like razors against naked flesh – the sound of the grandfather clock grew louder till it acquired a singularity that seemed almost to obliterate all else – I remembered a sepia photo with happy bygone faces who all looked on placidly standing out in relief from the crème color walls. I wondered to myself, ‘do they know what is about to happen?’ – like something that was once tensioned breaking loose from its moorings deep down in mysterious waters. Now it was making its way inexorably to the surface - bubbling upwards with a force that could no longer hold it down.
Suddenly, I found myself looking at the school teacher attending to the wounded hand of a stranger.
The man before me looked exactly like the man that I have always known in the mirror – only this man was different. So very different as I watched on transfixed as a terrible ugliness began to unfurl like a cobra raising its head and casting a menacing shadow across the soft twilight that suffused the whole room with a vapor of danger.
When the man raised his head slowly and looked at the school teacher, she suddenly resembled the creature that I had once met in the pavilion by the lake on that starry night – gone completely with hardly a shadow of trace was her deliberate and confident demeanor. Now an expression of fear and fascination traced across her features as she began to be drawn into the world of this man who sat beside her - the same velvety mood that once played out against the placid lake began to unfurl in the dinning room – a languid mood set against the backdrop of the moon and the stars, the shimmering clouds of the night, the mysterious mountains which bordered the lake with the magnificent silhouette of the pointed cupola of the pavilion – all set like sparkling jewels amid a velvety canvass of darkness – the school teacher’s lips began to tremble ever so slightly revealing her white teeth as she continued looking at this man who she must have recognized…Yes.. realized had travelled through an ocean of time and space from another world to be with her that day – the man’s eyes radiated a pure expression that said without having to say,
“Yes, I understand. I understand absolutely and completely.”
He reached slowly and took away the tweezers from the half frozen-in mid-air hand of the school teacher – placed it down ever so gently with a clink – lighted a cigarette and leaned back into the chair – all the while staring at her with an expression that radiated complete and absolute understanding of and for a thing that he knew he had to deal with – it was the completeness of the scene – the economy of his movements - the way he had so easily breeched the high wall of her womanhood. The way she had even given in to him with an almost hypnotic awe struck submission that suggested she must have known what this man would do next - that compelled her to suddenly rush to the kitchen so abruptly that the tray that held all the first aid contents tumbled to the floor with a loud crash. No one could hear her in this dimension. It was after all Christmas. They were all partying outside the garden.
There was no one in the kitchen. It was an elegant narrow space with a window at the end. The school teacher looked right and left then downwards fleetingly glancing upwards at the man who now stood by the door way.
He had broad shoulders and an atheletic frame. She brought her trembling hands to her throat as he walked towards her. His knee high boots resonating against the polished tiles like a drum roll – she darted left, then sharply to the right to try to slip past him –he did the same to close the way, all the while moving closer towards her with the determination of an unstoppable steel prow that churned and left a scaring wake across that ocean, that sliver of time and space, that dangerous world that they had both suddenly slipped into.
The school teacher trembled. Tears began to stream down her face. Her body began to shake like a leaf. She swallowed hard and gasped for air like a fish out of her element – she had one hand across her breast and another wrapped tightly against her abdomen. Her body was turned away from his. Her cheeks and neck which were white like spring snow just a while ago were now stained with a reddish hue as their bodies collided and fused – his crotch pinning her hips firmly like an iron vice against the kitchen counter – while his hands began to lift up the helm of her dress as he reached between her legs. She struggled, but it was no use. All the while the man fixed his gaze on her face – as her expression waxed and waned, relenting yet resisting to some unexplicable force that she feared, yet enthralled her that she had begun to even undo his pants - mystery was furiously and secretly at work – when the man pulled her hips into his violently, she gasped, a muffled cry of boundless ectasy radiated through her writhing body as her eyes began to roll over till only the whites filled them - this went on and on and on - as if he was trying to draw something deep out from her womanly essence – suddenly, her head snapped back violently, as she coiled her arms around him tightly as she wrapped her legs around his hips to bring him deeper – at that moment something deep within her had been stirred releasing a storm of pent up memories, joys, passion and humiliations that cried out to be unleashed… released…like a fiery meteorite tracing across the night sky giving everything it once kept so jealously to itself in the icy cool eternity of space was now in a single moment giving it all back again in this one fiery descent to earth - and in that instance when this great conflagration exploded and vaporised everything in it’s path…only stillness remained and she fell limp.
Even after this, the man continued to look on at the school teacher with distant aloofness bordering on cruelty as her body hung like some lifeless string puppet in his arms – it was the way he carried himself, his demeanor that suggested that only he and he alone, knew how to deal with this thing – and now the job was done – this thing that not so very long ago had a huge sign board called ‘hubris’ – ‘unknown quantity’ – ‘incomprehensible’ – ‘area 51′ - pasted all over it was now like a cracked bank vault that had all it’s cogs, wheels and complications strewn like coins on the pavement.
When the man withdrew, the school teacher collapsed into a nervous heap on the kitchen floor sobbing uncontrollably – it was then that he crouched down and slipped the Rolex off her wrist and peered intently at the reverse side only to mutter slowly to himself, HAPPINESS which ended with a sardonic cluck of the tongue. As if this word belonged to some bygone age that was so distant like some faraway star that it might not have even existed at all.
It was then that the commanding man turned his gaze towards me. A contemptous look now clouded over his hard granite features as he repeated the words, ‘happiness’ mockingly.
I looked down at my feet to avert his cruel eyes that seemed to burn my flesh like fiery laser beams. It was then that I noticed there was a hole in my left sock.