Sunday, 1 March 2015

Prose500 2015 Longlist, Prachi Manchanda

Consent

The clinking of cutlery as she sweeps that too large piece of cake into her mouth, while silently surveying me over her spectacles, her hawk eyed gaze never truly leaving my face is like symphony into the awkward silence that stretches between us. Over her right, I see her son - dressed in his finest suit,- eerily smiling at me and her potbellied husband tastelessly eying the gold bangles around my mother's hand. Instantly, I am struck by the thought that I shouldn't have agreed to this but, I quash it wordlessly. Turning my fork over, I casually play around with the food in my plate, leaving me curiously mute on such occasions, which stands in sharp contrast with the bubbly, outspoken girl I usually am. I feel his eyes over me as keep my eyes resolutely trained over my plate but my pale complexion betrays me as my face colours.

His mother seems to suggest that we 'talk', even though I don't really understand what 'talk' in this particular setting could mean, but under the weighted stare of my father and his family, I grudgingly agree. As we separate, I stare into his all familiar eyes which have dotted my sojourns into the dream world for so long. As he shoots question after question at me, I answer with the polite aloofness of a prospective bride and I realize, with a start, that my father would probably be proud of how well I am handling this.

While we move back to the table, I can recall the touch of his hands on my wrist and the feel of his body against I mine, the all too strong perfume he wears and the crispiness of his afternoon shirt when his mother's grating voice shatters my reverie.

"So, will you marry him?" she asks.
"Yes," I reply as I stare unflinchingly into the eyes of the man who raped me.

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