BACK TO THE DARKNESS
BACK TO THE DARKNESS14 mins 291 14 mins 291
It was 12 o'clock and the road was still tightly busy. They stopped outside a seven-story four-star hotel, creamy, and was gleaming as front road-lights and passing vehicle's headlights reflected in its square window glasses. Ravi liked all the tall buildings in this city and he liked it more. With the pride he lately acquired in belonging to the city, he saw himself in the huge entry door of the hotel, before turning to the left, following his uncle down the ramp.
They went underground in the building. Down there, in the dark narrowness, was a collapsible gate, over which a board was hanging and tiny glittering green lights were attached to it to form a name 'RANJAN-PALACE'. The words and the way it was poorly written, was manifesting that this hidden place was surely not owned by the hotel's owner but by a much less affluent one. The old watchman with a stiff face and khaki shirt slid the iron bars open, gave a reluctant bow to his uncle, spat in the corner, and looked at Ravi fixedly from under his thick white brows until they passed the slope and entered into a darker side, inclining their heads.
The blinding blue light from the hanging tiny bulbs came suddenly and hard on Ravi's eyes as he walked in, afraid to surpass the shadow of his uncle. His uncle, who was 39 and recently divorced and not much taller than him, winked at a waiter, coolly. The waiter with a tray in his hand, smiled back at him, showing his teeth in blue. His hairs were blue too. Until, he went away to the people in blue calling him, swinging the tray over his shoulder, balancing on mere three small fingers of his right hand, Ravi couldn't move his eyes from the clanking glasses placed on it, all filled with something bloody.
They walked up to the corner which was familiar to his uncle and Ravi discern it from his carefree walk in the particular direction while the tiny blue bulbs illuminating the entire hall, turned into red, so slowly that his eyes could not spot the change until it was done. Now, the shirts of waiters racing across the vague hall with trays in hands were red. Walls were red and the carpet under their shoes was red too. His uncle's broad face looked terrifyingly reddish. Ravi checked the skin of his right fist, red!
"The most peaceful place in the world," his uncle guffawed before sitting down on a leathered sofa under the spinning chandelier, that was throwing many golden and silver coins, from the roof to the red carpet. Ravi watched them swinging, circling there while uncle's laughter reverberated in the empty corner before there was a complete silence again. His uncle smoothed his hands on his pants and sat down on the sofa which was made for three but it didn't make a big difference because his stout uncle left no space for anyone else to sit there. And, no-one was coming to this corner. Ravi's knees were touching each other and his elbows were on them.
"No one's gonna see you here, boy," his uncle said, placing a hand on his shoulder, firmly. "Don't worry!" He winked.
Ravi gulped and leaned a little back. A waiter came there, placed the water on the table. "He is eighteen." His uncle laughed. "He looks younger, though, doesn't he?" he said,looking at his unripe rounded face.
"Yes," the waiter replied, not bothered to look at Ravi. "What will you take today, sir?"
"Do you ask the same dull, boring question to everyone who wants a little time of in-disturbance?"
"No sir, Sorry. But, you ought to tell me the brand name, sir. We have all sorts."
"That's the way you drill your customer's ears with your piercing voice? Now go to hell and send that here. That small one."
"Okay, sir, I am sorry."
As the waiter had gone away, Uncle said, "don't be that person ever."
"Yes, he behaved strangely." Ravi guessed.
"No, he behaved exactly what a waiter should behave and what they teach them to..but don't be that person ever."
"What do you mean, uncle?"
"Be strong! When someone says 'Go to hell' then punch in his face no matter how hard your fingers hurt afterwards. Ha-ha." He stopped laughing. "Punch right on their nose!"
As the red light turned into pink, the other waiter came and leaned on the table, smiling, sheepishly. "A light-one for the beginner and I'll take the same one, but Harder." He made a queer growl, grinding his teeth while pronouncing 'Harder'. The waiter went away without saying anything. Although, He seemed disturbed by Ravi's presence, but Ravi was more disturbed than anyone else in the entire hall. Ravi saw the waiter walking away almost like a girl.
"So, how old are you really?" Uncle asked.
"You like this city, now?"
"Yes," Ravi said as he noticed his uncle's eyes looking at his shy skinny hands.
"What do you like about this city? Surely not the traffic." He cackled. "It's less easy to find a parking place here than buying a car."
"Yes," Ravi said. "But, I like the buildings, they are very tall and.. people also, they are so fast."
"Yeah, people are too fast here and the girls are faster. You like girls?"
Ravi, timid, looked down on the floor.
"Don't be afraid. I am not going to tell anybody that happens here and I believe you are not.."
"Then, look at me."
Ravi looked up and down again.
"Tell me, d'you like some cute chick from your school?"
"How does she look? Taller or puffy?"
He didn't answer.
"Is she hot?"
Ravi, promptly, looked up into his uncle's eyes. Then, he felt something peculiar about looking into his eyes. He lowered his head, again.
After a minute of bizarre silence, the waiter came back with a tray and put down all the glassy stuff on the table. Ravi looked at it with his eyes bulging out. He paused, shoved himself backwards, and caught the waiter raising a brow at his uncle. Uncle shook his head. "Later, come later," he said, waving his hand, not looking at him. Ravi thought the waiter was asking for a tip.
"It's hot here, no?"
"Yes," Ravi replied.
"You can put aside your jacket." Uncle slid out the sleeves of his jacket and hanged it on the back of the sofa, adjusted his paint, spread out legs. All the while his eyes were checking Ravi out, noticing each nervous moment of his body. Slowly, Ravi unchained his jacket and then sat there hugging himself.
"Take it." Uncle offered. "You will feel warm."
"But it's cold." He removed his fingers.
"Every cold thing makes you feel warm afterwards and every hot thing cools you down." Uncle laughed and he touched Ravi's neck, a sudden vibration crossed his body. "You are already hot, boy." He winked.
Ravi shifted his eyes on the table to take hold of the glass, his hands shivering. He picked it up, looked into its floating redness. He had always wanted this day to come once in his life, but not like this. Not with his uncle whom he had considered his father after his own father's death. In agitation, he looked at his uncle who gulped down the glass-full and waited for Ravi to do so.
Ravi closed his eyes, leaned a bit forward, lowering his head, tasted it. Then, he shook his head hard trying to forget about what the damn thing had stuck on his tongue. His uncle swallowed another as if the bloody thing was made of honey. "You don't wanna try this now. But after a few shots, it will become sweeter than the sweetest thing you remember," his uncle said and drank another glass-full. His eyes were pink now under the pale blue light on his forehead.
"You are too slow, boy. You need to learn new things here and you need to learn them faster."
Resentfully, Ravi took another sip. It tasted gingery and a bit better than before.
"So, tell me about that girl. You like her?"
"You like her body?"
Ravi said nothing.
"In love with her?"
"That is a good thing. A man should never love."
"Love is not for a man. Man is made for different kinds of drinks. And there are many thousands in this world." He raised the glass, not laughing this time, but with only a smirk wide across his face.
"Don't you miss aunty, uncle?"
"Why should I? She ditched me for another man. Yeah, I am telling the truth, now. This damn thing makes you spat all the truth. Yes, she was a real bitch." He put the glass down on the table, hard. "I am happy that I am divorced. I am free now. Look! I can do anything and there are a lot of things to do in this city." He winked at Ravi. "Now we are both alike, boy and there are a lot of new things, we could try."
Ravi, not answering, looked at the watch again. It was quarter past 1 o' clock. He hoped it to be a bit faster when Uncle placed his hand on his tight, smoothly.
"So, what were you saying about your fucking girlfriend?" Ravi looked up, shocked. Uncle's eyes were red. His hairs hanging ahead oh his forehead. He put the glass down.
"I... I don't have any, uncle."
"You are lying, don't you? Young girls would die for such cute face of yours." He touched his left cheek, rubbed it. "They would want to rub their cheeks on here, ha-ha."
Ravi moved backwards, eyes on the table. Uncle came closer, without removing his hand from his thigh.
"When a girl does so, you must know what to do next. Do you know where should you touch a girl?" He felt his uncle's hand on his thigh, inching slowly upward. "You know what they hide in here?" Ravi shivered as his uncle's sturdy hand touched it. His uncle pulled his hand back, raising his brows. "You have grown up, child, don't you?"
Ravi, bewildered about what should he do, took hold of another glass and emptied it as fast as he could. "You are becoming a man now," his uncle announced and refilled the glass. "Drink it!" Ravi looked down on his big hand, caressing his thigh, again.
"It's time to try my taste. Drink this one, boy." His voice rose up.
Ravi took it and finished it. He felt his throat was melting down with it. His Uncle stared at him for a while.
"Yeah! Now, It's time to try another thing. A brand new thing."
He called out the same waiter after he finished the bottle. The waiter came with another bottle and looked at Ravi with his tiny envious eyes. Before leaving, the waiter swayed to Ravi's right side and tiptoed to touch something on the roof. Not until he slid the navy blue curtain wide open, Ravi could notice it.
Now, it looked like a dark rounded room around them, which was getting hotter and hotter with his breath. Ravi felt wet in armpits too. He was also shivering though, but only in the lower part of his body. He sensed his uncle leaning over him. Now, he wanted to get rid of his shadow. He backed off.
"So, you never touched a girl?" his uncle repeated looking at wrinkles on his forehead. Ravi, feeling faint, wiped the sweat drops from it.
"Answer me, boy."
"No," he said.
"You know how to touch a girl?"
"Open your shirt."
"It's too hot? No? Come-on, open it."
Uncle opened his shirt and then removed his belt. Even though Ravi felt something blocking his eyesight, Ravi should see his hairy belly in pink, inflating. "Now it feels like home." Uncle declared as he picked up the bottle to guzzle it down. While pouring it into his mouth, he put his other sweaty arm around Ravi's shoulder, pulled him closer. Ravi stared at his big arm until he put down the bottle with a thud.
"Open your shirt, man. You are sweating like hell."
Ravi touched his shirt, lowering his eyes. His pink hands, initially, failed to find buttons though he could measure their distance with his eyes. With great struggle and a humming sound in the back of his head, he opened all the buttons, one by one. He felt like sleeping. Then, he felt his sweat freezing. Suddenly, he shuddered.
"Now drink it."
"No." Ravi said, "I must not."
His Uncle pulled him closer. He could feel his warm breath on his shoulder and chest.
"I don.. wan...uncle, please." He said looking down at his shoes.
"Of course boy, you want it. Don't be shy, now. I am your friend, now. Let me teach you everything about girls and their bodies. Don't be shy. Be the one who can survive in this city like me." his uncle said biting his lower lip. Ravi felt his fingers fondling his shoulder, then his nails scratching his chest and then, there, his uncle pinched something hard. Ravi hurled away. Trying to wake himself up. "No, uncle, please."
But, Uncle grabbed the glass in one hand and held Ravi's head in another to make him drink the whole of it. "You must become a man, today." His voice echoed in his ears. Half the wine was gushing out from his mouth and down on his bare chest and then he heard it dripping on leather. He tried to push his uncle's hairy hands back, but he couldn't. He choked and finally jerked his big hand away, throwing the bottle down on the floor.
His uncle growled and threw him lay down on the sofa. Ravi, light-headed, felt flying downward in a swirl. He saw his uncle's big square face floating in the air and coming down closer to his belly. He felt cold in there. He felt cold in the knees. He felt cold in the whole of his body. His skinny legs trembled, then, he writhed hard under the great pressure, though, he felt very small against him. Tightly, closing his eyes, clenching his teeth, he managed to fold up his right knee and then they both wrestled. His skinny hands could not repel him away. He, squeezing his body in, slipped and rolled down from the sofa and fell on the carpeted floor in the red and had his head hit hard to a table leg. Sitting there, he shook it hard. Now, He felt like waking up again.
His uncle tried to stand up straight, and limped towards him, but stumbled upon the table. The half-filled bottle rolled down, outpouring the wine. He stood up again, heavily, strode to him. Ravi heaved himself upright at the moment. As his uncle came closer, Ravi drove him back with both the hands, though it only threw Ravi backwards. His uncle, balancing his legs, shook the head harder, trying to walk steadily, he roared, "Go to hell!"
As the red light turned into blue, his uncle came closer, Ravi punched right in the center of his heavy face hanging on his unstable neck. He saw something darker running down from his nose. Ravi stepped ahead to pick up the bottle but his uncle walked backwards and toppled over the table, laying his body on the table and head on the sofa. His eyes looking at nothing.
Gasping for air, Ravi glared down at the stained fist of him. Putting on his shirt and jacket, he peeped out, removing the curtain. No-one was there except the small waiter playing something on his phone. The waiter looked up. For a moment, he seemed to stare at Ravi but he uttered nothing, instead, lowered his eyes and went inside.
Ravi noticed that there was no light now as came back and sat on the sofa in the dark beside his uncle and waited for more than two hours, meanwhile, he took a nap and woke up again.
When his uncle woke up, baffled as he found his body in an unexpected position with his nephew's stern eyes gazing at him. Gathering himself, he stood up, touched his nose with the tip of his fingers. Looked at Ravi again and then down at his shoes. He started crying. He kept weeping and sobbing during he put on his shirt and jacket and clasp the belt. Wiping his cheeks, he found Ravi still watching him, he lowered his eyes again and sat down on the sofa and there, he cried even harder. "I miss her, Ravi. I miss her. I utterly miss her every single day." He choked.
Ravi grabbed his shoulder in his hands and raised him. "I hate myself now." He said, sobbing. "Without her, I would kill myself."
Ravi, not answering, walked him to the door and then out. The watchman stood there, not sleepy, glared at them both coming, with his anxious hateful dark eyes under white brows. As his uncle passed him, brushing his khaki shirt, he looked at the bloodstains on his upper lip and nose. He spat and smiled at Ravi. Ravi smiled back and kept smiling until he was out.
It was still dark out there and the road was cool and empty. Now, he could take his uncle back to his home easily. Not turning back to look at the tall dazzling building, he liked the most in this city, he walked straight towards the vast darkness spread out there. He didn't hate it, but he no longer felt belonging to it. It's better not to think about the city and its lights and its buildings. Now, he only wants to think about the first morning train back to his town.