Wide eyed she gawked at him, trying to decipher, which action of hers instigated the assault. He grasped her chin in a menacing grip. The intense pinch was cutting into her. She would have to explain the marks at home.
“What just happened?” she whimpered. He only glared to her chagrin. “Don’t ever say you hate my favorite beer,” he scowled.
She blinked at the beer can in his hand; stunned. She had first noticed him, walking down the hallway, at the French Cultural Center. He made the first move, brashly ordering the baffled tutor to excuse her from the class, leaving her awestruck. That should have alerted her, but she was enamored by the wolfish,“Nizam” as he was known by all. Their passion for journalism bound them. He wrote weekly columns, in various magazines. Impressed she was and he promised to mentor her, it was enough for a gullible, thoroughly smitten, seventeen years old to trust him. Thus started the summer rendezvous’ of mentoring, readings, and thought-provoking sociopolitical discussions over frothy cappuccinos. Soon, the reading materials dissipated, but the summer tryst continued.
That day, she just found out that, “Nizam” was also, the President of Student Union at “The University”. Recent newspaper articles about the violence on students by the authorities and leaders of the university, surfaced on her mind. Looking at the empty cinema hall, she had mixed feelings. Just then, he pulled her towards himself, and declared passionately, ‘I Love You’. “Yes,” she sighed, in spite of shaky nerves. Promptly, she focused on the fluttering butterflies inside of her and fervently ignored the alarm bells. The first kiss and everything after was a dreamy blur. “Aggressively Romantic Boyfriend,” she dimpled, looking at her glazed reflection, later that night. But why wear only salwar-kameez, now onwards? She pouted.
Instinctually, she brushed aside that ever looming anxiety. But today she was acutely apprehensive – of him. These talks about marriage by next year, had her baffled. Barely out of High School, heck, she won’t even be nineteen, next year!
Another shudder ran through her, as his hand massaged her inner thighs. Blaring alarm bells, could not be ignored anymore. She had thought of him as the wind beneath her wings, not as snip for her dreams. She had shared her deepest thoughts, instead he manipulated her emotions. She wasn’t ready to let her dreams wither away over wile stratagems. More importantly, she couldn’t compromise her “amour-propre”. She touched her bruised face. Her next step crystal clear, she proceeded to call her father, to inform him that, the perfect SAT scores had secured her, a place in one of the best colleges in America.
As she strode from her college dorm towards the Department, the alluring images of her aspirations, welcomed her. Wellesley College, Massachusetts; Ashima’s haven of boundless hope and her heart’s true desire. The promise that, no one was allowed to trample her self-respect.
This story was shortlisted as an entry to FFWC#2.