– 9 –

Nosy monk never probed into people’s lives, yet people gave him such undeserving name. Because he was helpless, because he didn’t hurt anybody. That’s probably why local people never wanted him put in some sort of asylum in the first place. Because he was harmless. 

‘Why, why… because you wanted me, wanted me… to… wear like him. Why? why? why? To… to… to talk like him?’ stuttered the monk. ‘Get it? Get it? Bitch…,’ he continued.

He wasn’t a very old man, unlike his lifestyle would suggest. Thirty three at the most, if that. But his beard and long graying hair hid his real age. He appeared fortyish to the superficial observers. And nobody observed him closely. They didn’t need to. They knew him as the old monk from that hut up the top who used too many whys in his speech whenever he spoke, and that was it for them.

***

Jack entered Rose’s home, obviously in a pretty bad mood. He was swearing and constantly hitting left palm with right fist, like was his habit when excited or angry at something. He went straight to Rose’s bedroom. Rose followed him, getting up from the living room window sill.

‘For God’s sake, why are you so angry? And what happened to your h…?’

‘There’s no fuckin’ God. There’s only me. Get it? You better get it, you stupid b… what are these roses doing here?’

‘Oh these? Peter came.’

‘You dumb bitch!’ Jack slapped Rose with his good hand, kicked the roses, and trampled on them. Rose fell on the bed face down. Jack turned her over and started to give her another smack.

‘Please Jack! Don’t hit me. Please… It hurts…,’ pleaded Rose and tried to shield her face from another hit.

‘How many times,’ yelled Jack, ‘do I have to fuckin’ hammer this simple thing through your thick head!’ and again slapped Rose across her face real hard. ‘Keep that wimp away from us or get the fuck …,’ bellowed Jack, twisting Rose’s arm and raising his wounded hand for yet another smack.

‘It’s my birthday today, Jack,’ said Rose and started to cry. Jack could see the look of absolute helplessness in her pleading face; pleading to stop hitting her. This was when Jack could be seen melting. Something in Rose’s beseeching face seemed to appeal to the dormant sensitivity in Jack. It must also have been the fact that it was Rose’s birthday.

He took Rose in his lap, ‘Rose… Rose, my beautiful! I… I didn’t mean to do that. You know that, don’t you? It’s like I can’t help hurting you back when you hurt me. I have to get back.’

Rose started crying like a child now, with tears rolling down her rosy cheeks. They knew no bound… like some dam had been taken off them. This unseen facet of Jack’s personality seemed to have touched her deeply. She managed to speak among spasmodic sobs ‘I… love… love you… Jack. I love you.’

‘Sorry, Rose. I’m sorry beautiful. I just so forgot it was…’ Jack hugged her even tighter, like a child in his lap.

‘I’d…I’d…die…’ Rose couldn’t get the words out.

She was weeping violently now and shaking with heaving spasmodic sobs convulsed out of her. Her nose was running and her face feverish with overcharge of emotions. She wasn’t saying anything because she physically couldn’t get the words out. But she wanted to tell Jack how deeply she loved him. That she would die if he were to leave her now.

***

Jack was gone and Linda entered Rose’s bedroom and sees her lying face down.

‘Hey beautiful, happy b… Rose… Are you crying? What’s the matter?’

She turned her face up and saw the slap mark. Linda went ballistic instantly, ‘It’s your birthday today, for crying out loud. And look what present you got. And these’, She points at the roses on the ground, ‘I can tell the story by just looking at them. Peter gave these to you and that Jack crushed them. Correct me if I am wrong.’

She sat on the bed beside her and yelled with raised, helpless hands, ‘On your birthday!’

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