The silence of the night was broken by the sounds of their slaps across her face and back. Crack! Another whiplash across her broken spirit. Their hatred shows up red and hot on her perfect creamy skin. She knows that the only respite she will get is from the touch of the cool floor on her lacerations before the dreams claimed her. It would be a long night and things had just started to warm up. She sighed and kept her head bowed down. Her tears were lost in the long tangled strands of auburn that one of them kept pulling at. Her lips hurt from keeping her cries in, but she knew she’d bleed more if any sound escaped.
She didn’t know how much time had passed since the first one had left the room. It always seemed like an eternity. Sometimes she wondered maybe this was what hell was like – same torture repeated over and over again till you want to die more than you already can. She felt dead alright; yet her body breathed in traitorously. She tried to rearrange her legs enough to bring them up to her chest. Her skin was a mass of nerve endings and each one was screaming its head off. She looked around for something to cover herself with but the room was as empty as she felt.
The sun had decided to beat a hasty retreat after witnessing her horror and was slowly hiding itself in the folds of the dark clouds. The last few rays tried to touch her feet in apology at their helplessness before the barred window turned black. Now it was up to the moon and the bright twinkling stars to set the stage for her humiliation. They too would bear witness to their depravity and maybe on the Final Day her mortified heart would weigh lighter than the feather. After all, she had already been in hell once; He couldn’t condemn her again to the same fate.
Her restless sleep was broken by the sound of the key turning in the lock. The rusted old bolt was drawn back to the sound of raucous laughter. She could hear the faint strains of music in the background of clinking glasses and hoped that they got too drunk to stand. Their hedonistic pleasure might just save her tonight. If there was anything to be saved at all. Her reverie came to a halt when the door opened and he kicked a dog’s bowl filled with leftovers in front of her. But before she could silence the rumble in her stomach, he pushed himself on her face. Her torn lips threatened to weep some more and her dry throat refused to suck in the air, but she knew that denying him was out of the question. “Do as you’re told and you will live” – that’s what he had said when he first got her here. Her master. Her owner. Her husband.
She dared not spit his venom out before he left the room. It always angered the viper in him to see something go to waste. But once she was alone, she spat away her disgust at herself. She wished there was a way to gain the strength needed to end it all. Oh, it was not cowards who chose to end their lives – they were the real brave ones. They were the ones who knew that it would take much more effort to finish the chapter than to continue flipping the pages. She glanced at the bowl that looked like bits and pieces of undigested food and tried to not gag. If she didn’t finish this before he came, she would get nothing more for the next few days.
Some where in between her third and fourth bite she started thinking about how she landed up here. There had been no signs on her palms that could have foretold this fate. Everything had always been peachy and perfect; now, even having to leave school early to help out in the fields seemed like such an easy thing to do. It was her vanity that led to her ultimate doom. She had always felt underappreciated in her little dot of a village on the map of the country. Her parents had not helped her dreams either, trying to drown her tinkling laughter behind the clanking of hundreds of utensils to watch. They had swathed her in rejects that even a beggar would laugh at. Her blossoming youth had demanded an audience and her wish had come true when she met him. Oh, how foolish she had been! She would give anything now for just a scrap of modesty.
There was a sudden screech of protest as a chair was pushed back roughly. She trembled in fear at whose face might disgrace her threshold this time. It was her husband’s father; supposedly her surrogate father. He reminded her in no manner of her own hard-working sweat drenched sire who had spent all his youth in ensuring their future. As the door was shut hastily behind him she thought that now the guests were gone and it was time to take care of the family. That she was very good at. None of the men in her family could deny that she hadn’t brought them happiness. How could they, after having darkened her doorstep a hundred times already?
As he humped himself dry on top of her she thought of him almost fondly. He was too old to truly hurt her. In fact, it was probably the only way he knew how to show the gentle side of his nature. But she knew that if she did not scream and scratch convincingly enough to prove his manliness, he would resort to more painful ways to penetrate her soul. Hah, the ego of men! Even while raping they had to prove their strength to the others. She rustled up all the desperation inside her and obediently shouted in rhythm to his thrusts.
When all were through for the day, she begged the last of them to leave her a piece of cloth to wipe herself off with. He laughed as he handed her the dirty handkerchief that he had used to wipe his betel stained mouth with. She didn’t cringe in disgust any more; she had stooped just that low. Anyways, the red was a welcome colour; it would hide all that she mopped off her own body. She wanted to make herself as clean as possible since it would be another two months before she would be allowed a bucket of water to expunge their sins off her person.
Before she allowed herself to faint into the arms of the night, she dragged her weary self to the wall near the window. With the celestial beings as her witness she scratched away a thin layer of plaster from the wall to mark another day that she had survived. The starlight shone briefly against the wall and illuminated the six hundred and sixty sixth night of her imprisonment. She laughed as she suddenly realized what that meant – 666 was the number of the Devil. Now there was no doubt in her mind that she was truly in hell.