Tears of the Ocean
I scurried out of the house, shoulder bag dangling behind, hair plastered on my face by sweat or tears, or both. I unlocked the door of my car, got in, started the engine and drove out of the parking lot. The streets were bare, everybody was sleeping in their beds -lovers next to their loved ones; children next to their stuffed toys; kids with hopeful exhilarating ideas about what to do the day after. As I sped through the highway, the lampposts sliding in front of me, images from the twenty years of my life slid before my eyes. I felt a deep hate for myself; the way I pitied my self; the way I blamed every single miserable incident in my life on others; the way I blamed every shameful defect in my character on them. The first image was of my father's face, handsome and angry, his eyes blaming me for existing. His words were furious swords whipping on my naked skin the same way his soft well-worn belt rose and fell on me. I saw his muscular, hairy arms, strong arms that I always wanted him to wrap around my body. They never did. Then came my mother, young and gorgeous on my bedside table, her auburn hair, hair that I inherited, lustrous in the picture, unlike her frosty sea blue eyes that were fixed on mine. Yet her eyes were not looking at me; they were looking at something deep within me, something that's wrecked and shattered now. I saw her oval face, her serious features, sharp nose, and edged jaw. I could hear her voice in my head, telling me to grow up, to be tough, to stop whining, stop bothering her with my phone calls. 'You make it hard on me to go on. Whenever I take one step forward you force me to take ten steps back. Can't you just get over it?' But how could you, mother? How could you go on without me? How could you leave me stuck between berserk thoughts, without any clue as to where to go, or what to do?
The next image was of my grandmother, lying on her ugly bed, in a room that smelled of rose water and sickness. Her hushed cries late at night escaped to my room next to hers. She spoke to God, asked Him to let her go in peace, to let her sons and daughters know the value of life and not suffer in their death the way she did. She mentioned my name at times, wishing me a better future. For some reason, Granny seems to have predicted my disastrous future. I could see her on her bed, gray-faced, pale-skinned, her eyes closed with wet brooks of tears shining weakly, in the process of drying. Her mouth was opened faintly, forming a helpless 'O'. Then I was running to my room. I hurled myself on the bed and pulled up into a pony-position on all fours. Sobs escaped my throat without my knowing of it, beginning the motion. Slowly at first, and then faster and faster, I was rocking back and forth rhythmically, smashing my head into the headboard, wishing it to be a terrible nightmare that would be over soon. Then there was the graveyard. My father, not daring to raise his eyes and look at my face. The place was packed with people, making it hard for me to see Granny for a decent farewell. Then I was inside. My dearly loved grandmother was positioned on a table, smelling of low-priced soap and some kind of cheap herbal perfume. Her skin was paler, her body was cold now. I felt the presence of death in the room, some gloomy awful feeling. I was standing next to her dead body when an indescribable feeling ran through my spine. But I chance, at least, to see her face. I had a chance to kiss her soft cheeks, which no longer smelled of rose water, before she was buried under the ground. Of course, my father's decency did not allow him to let me attend the actual burial. One moment she was right in front of me, and then the next time I saw her she was a hump of wet soil in a deserted place.
The next image I saw was my uncle, driving me back to dad's house after attending his daughter's 13th birthday. His hands first touched my face, then went around my neck, my hair, my back, and finally my breasts. He took off my blouse, my jeans, and my panties, unclasped my brassiere underwear and explored my body with his greedy hungry hands. He then held my hand and led it to his groin, letting me feel him as he grew hard. The feelings I had shocked me. I was feeling the wrongness of this deep down, but I was pleased by feeling wanted and desired. I was pleased by the attention he gave to me. His hands were groping me, going around my buttocks and my cowrie shell, where he forced himself inside. My blood coming out of my newly cracked shell, the way I shivered under his arms, how it felt like I was fainting, not in control of my own body. Then came the taste of his mouth as he put it on mine, old, sensuous, brute and bitter. After taking away the perfection that I just gained less than a year ago, he promised me that this would never happen again. He said that I was a good girl who deserves to be loved and taken care of, and he bought me bubble gum. A whole box of bubble gum; the ones that have a black cat's picture on them, with small slips of washable tattoos that I used to decorate my notebooks and books. He dropped me home at last, kissing the top of my head. As I showered and washed my body, I remembered every heave of pain that I had, every single detail that took place in the car.
Arriving to the shore, I killed the engine and started a walk on the beach. The sea air was revitalizing, giving me a slight sense of relief. I wiped my tears-soaked face and kicked off my sandals, took off my jacket, welcoming the ocean breeze to put off the flames eating off my soul. I looked at the ugly marks on my arms, disgraceful marks made with sharp object that I have pressed on my skin until the faint redness became darker and darker, blood gushing out, easing the ache of my soul. I liked to believe that God was just trying to test my faith, and that there's a big reward waiting for me as soon as I pass the test. But I must have flunked. Or God must be over-doing it, relishing in my anguish and woe. I stepped into the water, wading through its cold purity. And then the idea struck me: the ocean was as pure as I always wanted my soul to be, and it was cold. As cold as death. I pushed my self into the ocean, surrendering myself to the pure cold waves of death.
N. J. H.
August 29th 2005