The ominous yellow light carrying the sounds off loudspeakers from the street forced itself inside the bathroom of a strange hotel, casting itself heavily on the naked form of a dark woman sitting under a cold shower.
She could hear the maddeningly loud blaring laughter of a man, cheap dramatic music in the background. The speakers on the Ram Lila grounds ensured that the benefit of this annual theater reaches this woman; and penetrates the subconscious of the rest of its unsuspecting audience in perverse ways that no one cares to think about.
She sat listening with rapt attention as the cold water fell on her newly tattooed back, freezing the skin to not feeling anything. The cigarette smoke from her mouth made dark shadows on the clean white floor, expanding then dissolving into nothing. Little cold streams traveled from the edges of her stiff shoulder down to her neck, circling around her breasts before falling to the floor.
Her teeth pressed together harder, making her jaw protrude a little on the sides; her body stiffened in rage; the laughter will never stop, will it. She thought and took a long hungry drag.
Other male voices joined the ominous laughter of the first one, as if in an answer.
The alcohol in her blood rose threateningly to her breast in a fit of nausea.
Why the fuck does he laugh so much?
The cheap lewd display of male power continued as she let herself drown quietly; switching from the ugly laughter of the Asuras to the glorified songs for Ram and all the other men on the stage; vulgar each time in its loud praise of might and manhood.
She let the remains of the cigarette fall into the water flowing into a distant outlet and lit another one, bending out of the way of the running water. She held her hand out, away from her body and let the cold water fall once again on her head, covering her face, coursing on the surface of her body, making her skin raw; hoping desperately to feel cleaner; but the unseen dirt persisted much like the audacious laughter emanating from the microphones.
8 men, 3 with camera phones; she took another long drag and waited for the nausea to subside again.
And a preyed animal, her skin crawled with a mix of loathing and scorching anger at the image of herself 45 minutes ago. Helplessness clutched at her chest, crushing her heart in a tightening fist.
Their faces merged into each other, they looked the same. She recalled, feeling powerless again.
Too drunk? She asked herself.
Each one had his eyes set in complete concentration on parts of her body; mouths slightly ajar, bodies bent forward; hands on their laps, some, no, three with a phone turned upright; in an insincere mockery of innocence. They didn't speak to each other, those 8 men in the lobby of the hotel that materialized out of nowhere as she sat heavily to wait. They just appeared around her; and ogled.
She had straightened herself and looked back at them. They didn't really notice, it seemed. Their postures remained, determined. Panic rose in her, she couldn't think clearly, the glass cage closed in on her nakedness, dooming her to be a dirty display. She looked up at them, they continued to stare and film; she looked down at herself, retreating physically into the corner of the sofa and mentally to the still, quiet place she had made for her self years ago.
8 men, mouths ajar, eyes unblinking reflecting a nakedness she didn't know existed in her.
Their faces merged into each other, they looked the same.
The universal face of a savage. Why blame alcohol?
Fuck. She muttered as the cigarette fell from her fingers. Darkening quickly as it drank water. And booming through the microphones, echoing in that small strange bathroom was that sick laughter again.
We can be done with the 10 day theater in 2 if you take away the scenes with these men laughing like that. And if you erase the metaphorical laughter also, well, I can finish watching this piece of crap over a beer. She smiled menacingly as she lit another cigarette.
She let her neck fall backward, her body straighten and then curve, so that the water from the shower slapped her face, eyes closed; mind travelling back to the lobby 45 minutes ago.
They began to disperse as she stood up unsure on her feet and exclaimed she was being recorded. Oh, not animals of prey anymore, it seems. She turned around, facing her friend behind her. She thought she will turn around now, and sternly tell them to stay put. But then her eyes happened to fall on the man behind the counter.
'A drunk woman in a short dress late at night with other men is a whore in the city; and you know what we think and do about whores.' He secretly whispered in her ear as he undressed her with his eyes. A police man appeared in the back of her head, laughing loudly, watching keenly, and suggesting action where these men imagined.
Often, the touch of the glare, rears its ugly head, and solidifies into material reality. Suddenly, she wanted to get away, not be so naked. Her breasts wanted to not be, her skin wanted to crawl away and hide; she didn't want to exist.
Her friend was asking who and getting angrier. She didn't care.
She rushed to the room, locked herself in the bathroom and let the sound of the cold water hitting her skin drown the sound of the whisper and the laughter, and then she let the burning cigarettes kill its remaining memory.
But the light and the sound continued to pour in through the window. Laughing, laughing again, loudly.
8 satisfied men, 3 camera phones with exciting new pictures. And the shrieking laughter of the blind city celebrating yet again, the might of men and power; their tongues clicking over the pitiable state of the 'honorable' woman trapped in a beautiful garden.
And amidst all the twisted merriment, sitting in a strange bathroom; underneath a naked brown form, breasts and a vagina; someone quaked in silent revolt.