It’s funny how emotions control us. Every feeling is branded in our memories like cracks on a CD plate. Even for us, people like me, the so called logical ones, emotions, when we get them, are as mind numbing as any narcotic. I sat by the window, staring at the rain, puzzling on nonsense and sipping my coffee. Not happy, no never that but maybe content, definitely afraid, both of the choices before me and afraid I will make the wrong one. From early on in life I made the decision to be logical. I as a rule do not make decisions and break them lightly. So when I decided to not let my emotions rule me, it was to me a sacred oath. The fact that I was maybe six didn’t detract from the decision, if anything it seemed to strengthened it.
I remember quite clearly, the memory is still quite vivid. One of those things that just doesn’t fade with time. I had just entered primary school, sometimes when I can, I close my eyes and hear the echoes of the memories to remind me. The way they said my name “Marreeeya,” the girls would yell On that day, a friend of mine was yelling it with excitement, ‘Marreeya, come see what Vincent is doing with his “rubber band.” She didn’t let me decide if I wanted to come see or not. I don’t actually remember her name but she was pushy that way. Grudgingly I stood up and made my way slowly to the other side of the classroom. I remember leaning against a desk with the studied disinterest that I had been perfecting all term as a result of incessant teasing. ‘I am not one pf you’ my pose clearly stated, because I was not one of them. My body frame strung tight in a parody of relaxation as I watched Vincent hit target after target, to the crowing worship of my classmates. Stubbornly I remained unmoved and unimpressed.
At some point I got bored for real and turned to go back to my seat. Then I heard my name, the same keening sound that they managed to turn it into. I turned and faced down a sweaty Vincent. ‘You don’t like my skills?’ somehow he managed to make that sound like an accusation. ‘It’s fine,’ I replied with a shrug and turned around again. Then I heard it, the anger in his voice, the belief that he thought I was better than him. ‘Dare me to hit you,’ I just stared at him, not defiantly, but with something close to wonder. He hated me and I wasn’t sure why. He must have taken my stare for defiance because he notched another paper “bullet” into the band wrapped around his thumb and pointer and shot at me. I felt everything, saw everything with the terrified clarity horror brings. The sting of the paper, the sound it made as it connected with my eye, my eye tearing and hurting. Worst of all, I heard the cheers of my classmates, their vindictive pleasure, they were happy in my pain. The thing called fury awoke within me. My fury did not burn hot, it coalesced into this lump of ice in my chest and then it froze everything in me, my morality, my conscience. Humiliated tears rolled down my face as I silently turned around back to my seat. I didn’t explain to my teacher or to my parents. Inside me, the fury burned.
Days turned into weeks, still I did not forget neither did I forgive. Finally I saw my chance, Vincent was running towards the class, the slap slap of his sandals bringing me out of a day dream. I could see him but because of the sharp bend, he couldn’t see me. I stood up and pushed a desk directly into his path. He kept running oblivious to the obstacle, the class was empty, everyone was outside for break playing games and generally having a good time. I wasn’t one for games nor did I belong to a clique so I stayed in. He ran and made the sharp bend, running smack into the desk. I heard his shriek and watched his head hit the flat table of the desk. Then I saw him on the floor, bleeding and in pain. I felt vindicated. Finally, I was free of the fury that had become my life force. The blood rolled down to soak the white of his uniform shirt. It was beautiful. I just stared and stared until someone else saw him and called a nurse. I had had my revenge and it felt good.
Reality didn’t set in until after a few days. I was horrified at what I had done. The conscience that went on vacation suddenly came back and it resumed in full force. I couldn’t bear the thought of what I had done. I was afraid of myself, of my emotions. Of the fact that they controlled my actions with such ease like the strings of a puppet. I couldn’t recognize who I became with them. That evil person could not be me. Slowly I came to the decision to lock everything away. All emotions because I couldn’t keep just the good. Even then I knew it didn’t work that way, the bad far outweighed the good so the good had to go too. Sometimes though it’s not just your personal emotions that have the ability to control you. People when you let them in enough to care can turn you into their own instruments. Making you into a thing you didn’t recognize. My six year old self didn’t know that. She thought if she was in control of her emotions, if she suppressed them hard enough then the world would not shock her. She was wrong, she was wrong for another fifteen years. I was wrong.
I grew from a logical little girl, to a logical woman. My life as it were was great. I did not have the issues plaguing most of my generation. I was confident, self aware and proud. I had just started university after a four years stay at home but while most people bemoaned the lack of admission and blamed the education system, I was quite content to spend the four years growing up and becoming more self aware; I didn’t feel the need to rush. After the four years at home and the ensuing celebration that followed the news of my admission, I finally started school, resuming to new faces and even newer reactions from people. For some reason I was really popular. Not by design on my part because I am really not that social and I have had the same friends since my secondary and primary school days. At first I just assumed it was because I was new but logic soon poked holes in that reasoning. The truth is that I was a new attractive female. That is enough reason to spike popularity in any environment. It boggled my mind because I was not up to that point aware of how potent the attractiveness was. It was just simply my face, my body. The thing that greeted me in the mirror every morning. Nothing to scream about. Men and boys alike came in droves. They pestered and disturbed. I had just broken up with my boyfriend at home because we both agreed that long distance was a waste of time. I was not ready to date again but that did not deter them. Names and faces blurred into each other. I always had free food. The perks of being female, I thought always slightly amused. Amusement quickly turned into annoyance when people around me judged my many admirers to be my many lovers. The rumour mill started working overtime and I heard things about myself that were said with such conviction that even I believed them. I got tired of the calls, I got tired of the sudden silences from my roommates when I walked into my room. I just wanted people to leave me alone. Then I saw him.
Something about him called to me. He didn’t feel like everybody else, he felt like me. Like he would understand me because he was that way too. He didn’t see me, not in the way the others feverishly professed their feelings of love. I approached him, we talked. Things moved slowly. Those feelings of love began to seep in after he told me he loved me. Why not? We made sense. I had never met anyone so like me. I slowly talked myself into being in love with him. He was my shield, he protected me against the waves of the world that battered the shores of my mind. I was in love, not the soul consuming love that people seemed to indulge in with the intensity of titan red hues or the frequency of breathing but my own love, gentle, content and kind. I did not think I was capable of such a love. “My Space,” I called him and the others thought we were crazy. We were in love and that was what mattered. We settled into each others’ rhythms, he began to lean on me and I let him. It was easy, there were violent passions on his part and stupid grudges on mine as we waded through the murky waters of relationships together. Then we slowly lulled ourselves into complacency, I found myself altering parts of me for him. He did not demand this. I just did it on my own because even though he understood me, there were parts of me he didn’t understand. He was jealous, so I kept my male friends away from his sight, avoided them as much as was possible without actually breaking the friendship. Made his friends my friends and tried to be as out going and as lively as he was. Tried not to cringe in embarrassment every time he said something offensive in public and caused people to stare at us. I became an attached identity and in my complacency, I didn’t mind that. My personality was too notorious anyway, I was better off fading into the background, I was better off being owned by somebody. He was a good man, he loved me, he was good for me and he made me as close to happy as I had ever been. As close to happy as I would ever get, my life was good. Not great, but good.
Then Mr. Magic happened. As with big things in my life there was no epiphany the moment I saw him. He had always been there in my periphery. I knew him, the kind of knowing where one knows of the person and very much aware of their existence but beyond that there is no conscious acceptance of the person. We didn’t speak regularly, barely greeted each other which is odd because I was friendly with his friends. Then one day we spoke. That was it. He was magic. We talked for hours about everything. His mind was a marvel to me, a true work of art. If there was ever a time to believe in God, that would have been it because nothing but an intelligent Creator could have made that mind. I suddenly didn’t feel content anymore, I felt happy; complete not attached. I felt fear for the first time in fifteen years. I felt anger, jealousy, joy; stupid emotions that just bubbled forth one after another on top of each confusing my half asleep senses. Emotions that lingered. The world receded when I was with him and nothing else mattered. When he touched me, I understood the meaning of passion. I was alive and it actually hurt but the good kind of pain.
I had to tell him. We had been dating for over a year. I had to tell him. He loved me, I loved him too, I didn’t want to hurt him. I went back and forth making myself sick with guilt for days. I couldn’t go back into complacency. I got courage after days of running and told him. He was angry as I had expected. I had betrayed our trust. There was nothing I could do to make it better so I turned to leave, that was when I felt it. His palm clamping down on my wrist, his finger nails biting into the flesh there. Then I heard it. “Maria”. He didn’t yell it. He didn’t need to. The calm way he said it was scarier than any yelling. “You can’t leave me, we have plans for our future together,” so calmly said like that argument made sense. I told him that it really didn’t make any sense, we made plans, that is what people do but we didn’t say we would spend our lives together. I wanted to leave. I had no apologies for this, no right words to soothe his hurt. We both needed time to heal. As I made to leave, he yanked back my wrist and I finally looked up at his face. His face was something I didn’t recognize. It was an ugly contorted mask of feverish greedy possession. “I own you,” he spat the words at me. I was terrified. So afraid I pulled my wrist from his arm and ran. I did not recognize the stranger in that house. Did I do that? Did I turn my sweet, kind boyfriend into that monster? I got home panting and dissolved into tears. Tomorrow he will calm down, he will understand, I managed to convince myself while trying to fall asleep later that night.
Tomorrow came, there was no calm. He called me and texted me until I wanted to scream. Using every weapon in his arsenal, he fired decapitating shot after shot into my skin. I couldn’t breathe. When I stopped replying him or picking his calls, he moved on to stalking me. But who could blame him, it was my fault. I am not brave, I am not strong. My only protection was my wall and I had allowed that down. Now I am opened up and bleeding. I ran and ran and he chased with feverish delight. I ran until I could not move any more. Then he caught up and picked up the pieces. Dante was wrong, I had discovered a hundred new levels of hell. He owned me. I am not a person, just an attached identity. I was once again ruled by something else. He was, is my puppet master and I his marionette. So I will sit on his couch, sip my coffee, watch the rain drops and seal my mind. It does not exist. It doesn’t have any place in this universe. This is my oblivion.
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