Now with recent reports in newspapers about robbers targeting malls specifically these past 2 months in what seems like a bad episode of a series that would be called "The Debt Collector" giving my credit card swipe-withdrawal symptoms, every opportunity seems like a golden opportunity to try out the lessons learned in the expensive self defense classes a couple of friends and I attended a while back. As a reflex I pulled my elbow back so far that it hit the person in the nose resulting in some blood loss any baby vampire dreams of at night.
The unfortunate person on the receiving end of the move that I like to call rearrange your face was a girl I knew from varsity.
She had a tragic story back then already and here I was as sensitive as always with my elbow in her nose. Coffee/soda and cake was the least I could offer her (especially since I was craving the coffee shop's chocolate caramel cake anyway). For the sake of this post let's call her Juno.
Juno was a year ahead of me which made her my senior in the hostel (hostel, dorm, pretty much all the same). She wasn't like all the other seniors though as she didn't make us leopard crawl the hallway in our panties whilst having to dodge water balloons every time we heard "Incoming!" No wonder some of those retards are still trying to get their degrees four years later.
She wasn't part of that crowd because she was never there. When it was me and my roommate's turn to wake her up the one morning, we stood there for half an hour knocking, more like gently caressing the door as some of the seniors got pretty pissed off being woken up by a banging noise which would later result in a new "game" consisting of more target practice involving eggs. All these "games" would actually make a darn good post someday. But not today. Today is Juno's day.
There were always rumors as to where Juno was. Obviously most of them involved a boy and well, doing something naughty. It was the source of many discussions in my room late at night when we were still busy learning the seniors' names and titles. Titles like Palesimomedante and Baritokwarskawa and Leilolopantstai. I know: what the hell, right?
I sometimes saw Juno in my building on campus as it turned out she was studying Afrikaans literature as well. She noticed me once because I was wearing the required hostel uniform on a Monday (no one could miss what looked like a red thumb walking the campus) and we started talking. We went to lunch that day and every Monday after that.
One day I saw her with a tall, dark man wearing a blue jacket, jeans and expensive shoes. He had an arrogance about him; that type of arrogance that comes from knowing one's power over the opposite sex thanks to good looks and money. Later I discovered he was a professor lecturing foreign languages in our department.
Of course you put one and one together already: she had an affair with the man, the Dark One. But he was married. And somehow his wife found out about the whole thing, one thing lead to another and the rector of the varsity called him in giving him two options: resign and leave the varsity with his reputation in tact or be publicly humiliated and lose everything. Of course he chose the first option. Juno was approached as well and her silence bought with a bursary covering any and all expenses. Only one problem: yep, she was pregnant.
I never knew girls could be so cruel. That whole sticking together-thing? Big myth that year. Word spread like fire in a dry forest and before she knew it, she was known as That Girl thanks to every sentence starting with:
"That Girl was so shameless! How could prof. R fall for her?"
You're just jealous that he was tapping your fat ass, Hippo.
"That Girl with the bun in the oven? Yeah, I know her. She's in my hostel. Real slut, if you ask me."
Takes one to know one, Hooters.
"That Girl got what she deserved. She should have known better."
I bet your grandmother is Judge Judy, Dorothy.
Now I know she was stupid to fall for his lies about him leaving the wife because she doesn't look at him the same anymore or make him feel worthy blah blah blah, but people make mistakes and who am I after all to judge?
I've never been one to go with the crowd, so I still had my Monday -lunch with Juno. I could see her cringe under all the malicious eyes every time we would look for a table.
"You know what? Ever since I've been hanging out with you, I'm a bloody celebrity! Look at all the attention I'm getting," I waved my spoon in the direction of a girl whispering something to her friend whilst glancing over at our table constantly and accidentally hit her full on the boobs with my chip-and-dip.
Try and dry-clean that, bitch.
"I just wish I didn't love him so much," Juno said in a tiny voice. For the first time I saw a twenty year old terrified, heartbroken, used girl sitting in front of me. "How do I stop loving him?"
"I can't speak from experience, but I can tell you what my friend granny Lil said to me way back when about love."
I took the last sip of my ice tea and aimed the can at a nearby dustbin.
"She said you can't kill love like you can kill an animal, a pestering insect or another human being. Not with a gun or a knife. Love is tougher than flesh and blood and it's way stronger than death. It burns like a flame from hell and not even all the water from all the oceans can cool it down or extinguish it. You can try and get rid of it by starving it until it dies. Starving it by never seeing that person ever again. The rest is up to time."
And now she is sitting in front of me again, but it's a different woman this time. Her eyes have a straight look about them, her posture is upright and proud, her mouth is gentle, but firm. She isn't That Girl anymore. She is The Woman now, happily married to The Stockbroker and her six year old son has the most serious brown eyes I have ever seen.
"I never thanked you for the advice you gave me that one Monday. It has taken me quite some time to heal and the scars are still there, but I don't look at them every single day anymore. And I never thanked you for being my friend when I had no one."
When we got up, I threw my empty ice tea-can in the nearest dustbin. I still wonder if that whispering-wimp got the miracle sauce out of her white sweater.