A LADY FROM THE WILD
When I switched on my laptop, on the desktop was written: This is a fiction. Any resemblance to the real life story of any person—dead or alive—is purely unintentional.
MR. ADAMS carefully double locked his hotel room so that no one would come in. The timekeeper on the wall showed 3 A.M.
Restlessly, he walked around the room and switched on the hotel TV set. The old TV roared. He hit the side of the TV with a hard force (as instructed by the hotel boy the night before) and the TV tuned in to crystal clear pictures and gentle voices. He sat on the sofa with the remote control in hand and listened to the splattering sounds of water in the attached bathroom.
He still wondered: Where did the lady come from? Would he report to the hotel manager? Would he be in danger, keeping her?
His mind was fighting with a thousand and one questions. And then he thought: It would be better to keep her safe in his room. He would ask her everything. Let him help her in all his capacities. Those positive thoughts calmed him down a little.
The bathroom’s door opened slowly. And she came out. Beneath her drenched hairs, she opened the eyes of an emerald, but drenched in fear and tiredness. Her nape and arms were fair, oddly blotted by deep thorn-marks, probably inflicted by jungle bushes. She wrapped around the hotel’s towel and he could see the perfect sleek legs, sculpted none other than by God. She was still shivering in fear and sat on the opposite wooden chair. She did not look at Adams, and with an apologetic act of trying to overcome hysteria, she looked at the walls.
Who will not be sorry to walk into the hotel room of an unknown man at 3 in the morning?
Destiny slaved human. And under its constant push, we cannot choose what we want or don’t. Sometimes destiny makes us weird and funny by putting us on a place where we would endlessly wander “why”? So was she!
Mr. Adams asked, “What is your name, lady?”
She answered with a dry throat, “Rebecca.” She nervously bit her dry lips and cowardly looked at the eyes of Adams. He passed her a water bottle and she drank like a child. Adams slowly rose from his seat, pulled out the spare blanket and gave it to her.
MR. ADAMS was a tall, handsome and a dandy bachelor. He had a smoky brown eyes stamped to perfection by his pointed nose. His friends used to say, “You have got that gene of a model.” He was interested in designer’s dresses, and most of his readings were about fashions. He rented a luxurious apartment in the city, full with brochures and catalogue of newly designed dresses, ready to get launched in the market. Parallel to his looks he was successful, too.
He completed his B. Tech at the age of 25 and had such a demanding credential that he was invited by many reputed companies. After weighing all the available options, he chose a job that would involve lots of traveling, to suit his inborn spirit. By nature, he would become irritated, restless when he confined in the same place for a week or two. He was governed by his undying passion of seeing places, eating different foods, meeting cultures and people of different cities and villages. And that always governed his choices in life.
He always carries a small notebook and would jot down his varied experiences. He believes in the saying, “Writing makes a man perfect.” Every time when he thinks about his future, he would see himself as an old man, sitting on a rusty chair, scribbling down his old adventures. He believed the time for perfection is “old age” and that is the time for writing.
He did not believe in romance and love no more; he said he was badly built for any of them. While he was in class X, he had experienced some sort of feelings that could have been love. He had an untamable feeling for his classmate Lucy. That year coincides with the study of the poem “Lucy” by William Wordsworth in their English syllabus.
“SHE dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love…….
The young Adams memorized the whole poem for Lucy. Whenever he dictated the poem, Lucy would walk in his mind—her dimpled smiles, her slightly curly innocent hairs and her moon eyes. But Lucy was never aware of all this. She had her own likes, dislikes, desires and tastes, and Adams was certainly not in all of those. He was just not in her world. Just before the end of the final exam, he told her that he loves her. And the next second, Lucy slapped him, calling him, “You useless moron! Get lost.” After many years since that incident, what Adams learnt was that Lucy tied a knot with her childhood love, Mr. John.
Now that he was rather a successful bachelor, he got many proposals from the “Charming Gender.” He deactivates his “Facebook” account because he was annoyed after getting many friend requests. It made him engrossed into more adventures.
With the turn of the new Financial Year, his company involved in more investments to expand its profits and started to invest in petroleum exploration. Mr. Adams was importantly involved in studying the rock formations beneath the earth’s crust that could trap oil. Vibrator Trucks and Geo-phones (machines that send sound waves into the earth’s crust and record its echoes) were stationed in many remote villages and periodic gathering of these data was required.
Like any other time, Mr. Adams went on tour to a village more than 150 kilometers from the city to collect these data. He put up in one remote, but splendid hotel, much like a citadel, overlooking lakes and ancient monuments on the southern side and greenish paddy fields on the eastern flanks. He could see low mountains covered with dark green trees when he opened the windows. Days for him involved going to where they stationed Vibrator Trucks, collected data and heading back towards his hotel room. At night he would stay awake, reading or writing.
On that eventful night, he lay awake, reading on the bed as usual. The time was as late as 1:30 in the morning. It was drizzling but steaming hot and he opened his windows overlooking the paddy fields and gentle breeze flew in softly. The sky was dark, but reflections from the horizons made it partially dark gray. The only sound he could hear was the sound of the rainwater that hits the cemented sill and the humming sound of AC.
Suddenly, a folded paper flew into his room from the opened window and rolled on the floor. Adams was terribly awe stricken. But he was not a man that would submit to fear. He got up from the bed and looked through the window, the opened paddy fields. He could see none, not a soul. He picked up the folded paper and could see something written on it. “Please help me. Please….Please…,” with shaky scroll.
It was natural: he knew that someone was in trouble. It was not a joking act. Who will play such a silly joke in that exasperating weather? He looked through his window again trying to capture any human form, and beneath from a thick bush a shadowed figure walked out and approached his window. It was a woman; drenched white by drizzles and mud, shirt and skirts torn by thorns, and her neck was covered with blood stains. She held the sill of the window, hiding from the projected light of the room and silently begging Adams to let her entered the hotel.
It had happened so surprisingly, so quickly. There was not time to love or hate, or to say yes or no, or to have any second thought. Adams ran to the door and sped through the corridor, opened the main door of the lobby of the hotel with the key that was hung by the door during night time. He silently sneaked by the side of the building reached the outside of his window where she was sitting, sobbing and shivering because of her wet dresses. He held her and took her inside.
He switched off the light of his room and peeked through the window again, beneath the curtains. He could hear furious shouting sounds of men echoing from the mountains and paddy fields, though faint enough, as the sound of the rains was more intense. He closed his window, switched on one zero bulb so that the light could not be seen from afar. The lady was in a pitiful condition: she was bloodless white. Her feet were swollen with injuries and her back and skins were covered with bruises and mud. Adams took her to the bathroom and gestured her to take a lukewarm shower.
ADAMS slowly rose from his seat and pulled out the spare blanket of the hotel and gave it to her, to cover herself.
The hotel clock on the wall struck 3:30 AM. And in less than an hour, dawn was going to come. What is he going to do? He had not slept a wink, but sleep was taken away from him. Sleep can be taken as the synonyms of peace and calmness: there can be no sleep under that appalling clutch of the silent, deprived but beautiful women. He opened the fridge, poured out some milk in a glass and asked her to drink. She unhesitatingly pulled out her hand from the blanket and grabbed the glass and sipped down the milk slowly and intensely. Adams asked her to lie on the sofa and he receded back to the bed.
She acted obediently, every instruction was obeyed. Adams enjoyed that even though the whole situation could turn into something deadly. She slowly lay down and emptily gazed at the TV: she was still occupied by her pasts and wondered how she could escape alive. She felt much safer now and tried to be positive that Adams would not do anything stupid to let her back in the open.
The first glare of the morning light penetrated the parting of the curtains, but Adams and Rebecca were still wide awake, listening to the outside sounds and thinking about the strangeness of the situation. They were gripped by a cruel jaw of the expectation of something bad.
After some time, Adams took his first-aid box from his traveling bag (the company always provided the touring staff with this kit) and handed it to her. Rebecca applied the Betadine ointment on her cut wounds and slowly retired back to lie down. Adams thought that those were minor cut wounds and would get healed in no time. He could take her to the nearest clinic during the day and got her treated with the best medicines available. He swore in his heart. He was enthusiastic like a child and was anxiously eager to see her fair skins in the daylight. He would take her to the market and grabbed those clothes and trousers of her choice. His whole thought accumulated around her.
Human beings are generally good, although the world is cursed by the bigotries and atrocities of ideologies and beliefs. We fight wars for the sake of the nation, kinship or peace, but deep down we find ourselves demeaned by brutalities beneath the veneer of the proclaimed “good cause.” In the end, we always sighed saying, “Why can’t we live in peace, like brothers.” Is it the general goodness that creates hatred? Is it the inhuman hatred that circumcised the general goodness in us? But, no matter how the general goodness be trampled, it is always there and echoed eternity. And it easily reached its highest point when one is the only last authority to extend a charity, love and kindness to someone deprived….to someone clad in beauty. And Adams is the last refuge, the last authority on the life or death of that angel, and he automatically bowed to his instinctive goodness.
“Where are you from, Rebecca?”
“Very far… deep in the jungle beyond those trees,” she replied in a sad voice. “I am very scared….don’t let them catch me again”
“I will not let them harm you…I promise,” Adams said.
“Lomas tribe, they kidnapped me, and they sold me to these people. Oh! I miss my town. I want to go back home”
“Now, Rebecca, tell me everything. Don’t keep me in the dark. I need information so that I can help you”
“It is a long story. Three years ago in our town the LOMAS and the RUALS, they are two different tribes in my hometown, were at war, butchering each other with long knives because of petty reasons. After a year into the war, the reason behind the war, all the killings, was more unclear—it turned into a revenge-war, revenge killings. They killed to avenge their dead parents, sons and daughters. They would abduct, kidnap their prey and then disappeared, leaving no trace. I was in my class XII and even schools were suspended most of the times because of the mutiny. The armies intervened, but there was more killing. After three years of tension, peace was partially restored. The leaders of LOMAS and RUALS held peace talks, signed accords and within a month massive killing subsided. But hatred prevailed within individuals, communities and everyone were intrigued to wage revenge in any way possible, in secrets. But as peace was restored in writing, we breathed a sigh of relief, and schools and colleges were opened again. One day on my way back from school in the afternoon, I was dragged into a van by five strong men. The car sped along the road and I was screaming for help. The last thing I remember was a stuffing of smelly chemical on my nostrils. When I regained my consciousness, I saw myself with other girls, of my age, in a small dingy room, all sobbing, eyes red and swollen. All of us were sulking, expecting the worst with every sound and footsteps of the outside. We were kept there like that, fed, loved and cared and made us their play-toys according to their moods. We were trained to be a kind of machine that could induce satisfaction to men. After a month or two, we were sold to rich people in the city. An order would be placed by these rich people to these pimps and then accordingly we were escorted to hotels or remote houses and we were forced to spend time with them. And then, after a day or two we would be escorted to our secret hideout. It was a week earlier that I planned for this escape. And thank God, you are in this hotel at the right time.”
Adams was listening closely, and Rebecca was narrating slowly with teary eyes. The story was so strange to believe it. But true stories are stranger than fictions and Rebecca was there, wounded and crying, bitten by the razor-sharp cruelty of life and men, never to be the same again.
The hotel timekeeper struck 6 AM and the whole outside was in full daylight. Adams peeped through the window curtain, he saw three big men approaching the manager’s room. He warned Rebecca not to make a sound or move.
The main guy (as it appeared) was formidably built with a clear scar on his left cheek. He pulled out his goggles and asked the hotel manager who had just freshen up and switched on the computer, “Hi! Manager Sir, Good morning”. The manager without looking much at them, thinking them to be the usual customers asked, “Same to you, guys. What can I do for you? An early bird catches the worm. Need reservations? You are liable to get the best rooms”. The manager was use of quoting proverbs when he attended customers. The main guy politely bent on the counter desk and said, “We don’t come for reservations exactly. You see…there is a missing lady. Yesterday, in the middle of the night and darkness, she ran away from home and her husband. She is a little bit of a psycho…you know”.
The manager remarked, “Missing lady? Strange enough to happen in this part of the county. I see…it’s a sad tale! Having problems with the husband? Or anything of that sort? Why are you not filing a missing complain at police chowkey?”.
The three men felt the extrovert manager talked too much: the main guy was already dreaming of cutting his throat. But they had to keep their cool: politeness was the qualities required to survive their business. They needed to be smooth on the outside.
The main guy, slightly grinding his fingers and jaw gave a painful smile and continued, “Manager Sir, We come here to inquire if there was anything suspicious happening in the night. You see…people saw her running this way.”
Now, the well-learned manager was struck in the groin. He shouted at them, “People saw running this way? Do you think this reputed hotel is such a damned that a depressed lady would just walk-in in the night? Do you think this is a brothel? Now listen and listen clear. Not a soul came this way last night. Don’t try to spoil the reputation of the hotel, and of course…mine with the story of those gossip dealing villagers. My customers are all eminent and reputed people. You leave before I call the police”
The manager was scared a bit, but methodical in his approach. If rumours spread that a lady from the village walked into the hotel during the night, he was damned. Only words, spreading rumours would be enough to keep his job on the line. Lately newspapers were filled with the plaguing of hotels by call-girls, but his hotel should be an exception. At least not during his tenure. He was expecting a promotion and reputation counts.
“Sorry to bother you. Manager Sir…it is just a search. We don’t want her dead. She is very dear to her husband. If you have any information, please give us a call” The main guy scrolled his mobile number and wrote his name as Pyarelal. The manager thought such a scared face and a lovely name. He almost smiled, but hid it.
He repeated, “I get no information…Mr. Pyar. And that’s it. Satisfied?”
The three men left completely shattered. They looked around as they boarded the car. They could smell something, but they were totally helpless to prove the smell. Pyarelal thumped the car and whispered, “Rebecca…I will kill you. I will cut your throat.” They left.
His hotel phone rang and he picked it up. From the other side of the phone the manager spoke, “Very good morning, Sir. Everything all right? Breakfast is ready? Would you like me to bring to the room or come down yourself in the dinning room?”
“Please send Raju to bring up the breakfast. I am pretty hungry, so double the amount”
“With pleasure, Sir”
After 15 minutes, Raju, the hotel-boy pressed the doorbell. Adams carefully peeped through the door hole and slightly opened the door. The whole room inside was still dark because of the hanging curtains and switched-off lights.
Adams said to Raju, “I got it” and he grabbed the breakfast tray. Raju was surprised. It was his routine to lay the breakfast on the table for customers.
Raju said, “But…Sir…”
“Don’t bother it. Let me serve myself today. And I am not keeping well. Unless I call you or anyone I don’t want any doorbell sounds. Understand?”
Raju bowed, “Yes, sir! Yes Sir! As you wish”. Adams pulled out a 500 rupee note and sealed into his palm. And a prompt “Thank You” followed. Everything went good. In this hotel, the customer is always right as long as you tip them. You always get the best of services. Adams double locked the door again, and set the breakfast items—toasted bread, soup, fried eggs, milk and coffee—on the table and both retired to eating the breakfast. Rebecca was easier now: she knew that the three criminals had left and they would continue to search her in the vicinity. But that did not bother her much. She felt she was safe inside the walls of this hotel room with Adams. All that she needed was to regain her strength. She needed to stay alive, energizes herself and went home. Her misery had taught her things, and she wanted to help victims of that war in all her capacities. What would Adams think of her? A whore, a dirty bitch running into his hotel room and shattering his world? He seemed to be a respectable person, and taking her in would bring contamination to his reputation. But those thoughts were nonsense. She needed to embrace any situation where she could get help. She should not have a mind to think for others except herself. All people in this world are in a situation way better than her’s. She did not have time to show respect, or to plead for forgiveness. She would tell all the truth Adams intended to know, and eat as much to regain her lost strength.
Adams ate a single toasted bread and drank two glasses of coffee, while she kept on munching the fried eggs, soup and tea purposefully.
“So…how do you feel now? Better?”
“Safe! For the first time in my life I feel safe”, she refreshingly smiled.
“How are your wounds now?”
“I think they will be all right in no time. These are minor cuts. And the ointment has really eased them up”, she replied.
The whole conversation was like that between two unknown strangers, abridged by strange coincidence and then attractions.
But then wanting to “help and support” the miserable rather than love come easy under coincidence and attractions. At least for Mr. Adams. All that he knew was that he had to rescue her from those crazy pimps. But at the peak of his mind, he wondered: Was that love shown in different forms? Or, was that love already, altogether?
It was 7:30 AM after they finished breakfast. His mind was full with plans. He called up Raju again and instructed him to check around the neighborhood. After 15 minutes he came back with the information that some differently looking men are standing outside the main gate. The spying work was rewarded with another 1000 note, as before.
Now, the heart beats faster. He must take her to safety. That was the responsibility given to him by circumstances. After dressing up they sneaked silently towards the hotel garage.
After 2 minutes, a car came out of the garage. The hotel manager wondered, “Why is Mr. Adams setting out so early? It’s a strange world!”
The car slowly moved out of the main gate, and as expected stopped by the pitiless men. Adams stopped the car. Pyarelal asked him politely, “Where’re you going friend?”
He said, “For work, as usual!”
He asked, “And who is this lady?” Rebecca was largely unrecognizable. She was wearing a pair of black goggles, with white Kameez and a respectable necktie.
Mr. Adams replied with confidence, “She’s my wife.” Beneath the black goggles, tears rolled out with the word. And then it poured out unstoppable. She then pulled up the goggles to wipe them with a skirt. The whole scene, then suddenly turned action packed.
Pyarelal shouted, “That’s Rebecca!” He called out to his men, “She is in the car. Don’t let them escape.”
Adams suddenly sped. Through the rear mirror, he could see three bikes chasing him with the same speed. The road was still empty as it was early. And speed competition was at its peak. The bikers were closing up and one man pulled out a revolver, aiming to shoot at the rear tire. Mr. Adams kicked the brake suddenly and the bike came crashing against the car and rolled down the slope.
Pyarelal stopped his bike. The other biker stopped too. He furiously looked at the “speeding away” car, with one of his most costly assets within it.
It was 9:30 AM when Adams and Rebecca reached his rented room. But reaching home could not wipe out the thought of the dreadful encounters they met with on the road. A feeling of maximum insecurity was lingering. Even the luxurious rented room looks gloomy and meaningless. The confusing future course of action urgently needed to be taken saddens it all.
They then went to a market. He purchased a pairs of trousers, shirts, shoes and more for her. It was one of the most memorable times for Rebecca. To come across a stranger who was kind enough as much as he was a stranger seemed like a fairy tale. But it was actually happening.
They then went to an air ticket counter and booked a ticket for the town. At last, she thought, after countless days of miseries, she is going home. The thought of her town came up in her mind as she remembered as a teenager: The peaceful airs that blew and then the sudden air of destruction that separated people: the wars and the killings. Everything appeared clear but sad.
She secretly looked at Adams and wondered at why there was such an unexpected kindness in her cruel world. A kind man with a handsome face is what girls want. And he was! It is every girl’s dream to be in safe hands. She wished he could be with her everywhere, till the end of time. She wished that he, too went to the town with her.
But soon she realized that more wishing only made things more far. Adams silently drove the car, and were already heading towards the airport. When they reached the airport, he parked the car and looked across her and said, “Rebecca, so? Are you okay?”
She said, with a kind of sobbing voice, “Y-Yea! I’m f-f-fine!”
He said, “And this is it. You’re going home. In 30 minutes from now, you will be in your hometown. That’s something…no?”
She cleaned up and said, “That is going to be great. And thank you!” And she really meant the words. The words meant for the happiness she would get in her town. They meant for the sadness she would go through without him.
He took out one of his debit cards from the purse and handed it to her. He said, “The pin number is 8XX0. Money is in here. So you withdraw as much amount you want, whenever you need it. Every month my salary will be credited. Don’t you worry a thing with this card.”
The parting with someone who was so close yet so far was aching. She kissed him on his right cheek. Tears were shed mutually, but were hidden. Two different worlds could not mingle together physically, and that fact would often drive one to control emotions.
When Rebecca reached her town, she at once knew that it was much worse than the worst of her expectations. It was completely ransacked by the constant war of the tribes. The building walls were destroyed by fires and bullet holes. Markets which were once crowded in peace looked deserted. Many houses were left vacant as the owners had been chased away or killed. She would come across billboards on which were written, “Peace is the lasting solution” “Stop the war” “Where have all the tribes gone” “Wars is exterminating us” “Land valued us, but we don’t,” etc. and etc.
She went down to her old house. It was half burnt and all the household items were stolen. Her father and mother were no more. She then went to the old market. It was gone too. On its spot was a big refugee camp, guarded by armies with big guns. All his acquaintances were enrolled in the camp. She went inside looking for familiar faces. But all her teenage friends ignored her. They whispered, “You remembered Rebecca? The girl who left the town for prostitution?” They did not want to talk to her, or neared her. Some said, “She is having as dreadful disease. Chase her away before she spreads it.”
She went out of the camp towards the closest church. Inside, she saw a group of acquaintances praying. When they see her, all ran out of the church. They said, “Prostitute! She’s dirtying God’s house.” One man approached her and asked, “Are you that Rebecca!?” She said, “Yes! And I’m back!”
He said, “It’s good to see you back. But don’t you ever walk in here again. You know? Your kind of people should not be walking into a religious place.”
She asked, “Then where should I go? This is my home!”
The man was silent and walked away.
Exactly one month after Rebecca left him, Adams received a message. “Thank you for using your Debit Card 654XX9800 for withdrawing Rs 10000 from ATM MNC5558886542”
He smiled and said to himself, “Thank God! You are still alive. How I miss you!” And then a month passed and there were no more withdrawals of money. And then a year passed. And then another year. All the buzzing sounds of his mobile message were about something else. Not about the lady from the wild. Not about that beautiful face. Not about that lady of mercy. Not about the girl she missed the most. Not about the girl who might love him the most.
Office works kept piling up. He did more touring. But for the first time in his life, he lost interest in his adventures. Instead, he felt that life was meaningless without the buzzing message sounds of Rebecca, and that silence made him knew how much she loves her. Silence had made the horizons empty, and the whole view had changed.
Two months later, he went to a city for his office project. The hectic daily schedule of the project stressed him out. One night, he hired a taxi and roamed around the city. He viewed from the windows of the taxi the theatres, the restaurants, and then the "round the clock" night clubs.
On the roadside of one night club, he could see one tall, beautiful lady, dressed in scanted clothes, inviting the passengers of the taxis with her familiar smiles and face.