It is my afternoon off today, so I spend it on the beach. I lay near White Sands with my book. There are a few tourists around and several locals with not very much to do. A few surfers are riding the waves, and I sit up to watch them. There is a girl amongst them who is very good, so I spend time watching her.
‘You like them, yeah? You bitch!’
I hadn’t heard him approaching. I turn around and can’t really control my expression. I think it’s a mix of surprise and anger. What the hell is he on about?
‘Again?! Kiri, I’m looking at the girl over there, she’s very good.’ But I can see he is not even looking at where I’m pointing. He is just looking at my face, disgust set on his lips.
‘I saw you staring at them for ages. Everyone saw you. Do you think I’m stupid?’
I can’t quite find the words to retort, so I get up, grab my things and head off. This is getting ridiculous. He grabs my arm and pulls me to a stop.
‘Where are you going now, to meet your boyfriend?’
‘I’m going home. I’m sick and tired of this. Kiri, you’re out of order! You know I’m only here for you. Now let go of my arm!’
A slight change in his eyes tells me that he has received the message, but I can see he is still seething. He lets go and heads back to work.
I walk home. This is really getting too much. What is wrong with this young man? How damaged is he really? It feels as two people are living inside him. One is sweet, tender, innocent and genuine. Needy of love and affection, craving security and attention. The other is deeply disturbed, evil, only interested in hurting. Hurt people hurt people, they say. And how true is that! I need to wipe away all the pain he has suffered so that only his sweet self can show.
I head back. Thoughts pounding in my head. How can I help him?
We are ready, and we are heading down toward the beach. The party at White Sands is in full swing, but Lisette and I didn’t want to spend the whole evening having our eardrums shattered, so we have been lazing about at home.
As we walk into the restaurant, we have to fight our way through the crowd of already drunken tourists who should be thanking their lucky stars every time they stumble without falling. I really don’t enjoy these scenes. Maybe I’m too old for it all.
I head straight to the bar where I know Kiri is working. People at the counter are five deep, and the demand for drinks is relentless. I stand in the corner, just watching him. My heart is bursting with love for this man.
He sees me and comes toward me, kisses me lightly, looks at me, ’Lassanai, beautiful. I come to you later.’
I nod, but before I walk off, I see him downing a shot of clear liquid. It doesn’t bode well for me. I put the nagging feeling at the back of my mind and join Lisette at a table on the beach. She is talking to a young couple who is staying at our guest house. They are French too. We chat until they decide it’s time for them to head back.
We sit there, Lisette and I, waiting for this interminable noise to subside, for the human remnants to drag themselves off home, and for there to just be peace again, so that we can reclaim our men. Ishan comes over often, stays a few minutes, then goes back behind the bar. Kiri pops over rarely, and he is distant and unreadable. I make sure I only talk to Lisette and only look at her or at our table. I know he is checking on me, and I don’t want to give him any reason to get upset. I’m getting good at skilfully avoiding any possible conversation with random men. I’m also getting extremely good at spotting areas where there are no men where my eyes can rest.
‘Kiri is drinking again.’
Ishan looks worried as he sits down next to Lisette. He looks at me with sad eyes.
‘We’re here for you, sis.’
I want to sweep his concern away, but I see Kiri heading our way, glass in hand, swaying slightly. He comes over, sits down and moves his chair farther away from me. We just sit there in silence. I get fed up and bid them farewell; I’m going to bed. I’m tired, and I hate being treated as if I don’t exist!
I start off toward home, and I get grabbed by the hair and pulled back before I reach the road.
‘Where do you think you are going? Meeting your boyfriend again?’
The tone of his voice freezes me. There is nobody around. I feel a chill go down my spine. As he lets go, I try to walk off, but he follows me, grabs my arm and pushes me against the wall. My head slams hard against it, so does my back. I know there is no point in reasoning with him when he is in this state, but I have nothing else to try.
‘I love you, Kiri, calm down!’
‘Shut up, bitch!’
He shoves me against the wall again. A yelp escapes me, and he just laughs.
‘Was that a scream?’ He mocks me and pushes me again.
He stumbles back under the fumes of alcohol, and I take my cue. I run to the road, but where am I running to? I’m not safe anywhere. I feel my head being pulled back again, he grabs my arm and twists me around, then pushes me hard on my chest. I lose my balance and fall. My side hits the road hard, and my sandals come off my feet. I see him walk back, grab a branch and walk toward me brandishing it. It’s all in slow motion, and I can’t seem to do anything else but watch him come toward me. I am dead, I hear a voice in my head say. I see a light, a tuk-tuk is coming. Kiri stops, branch in mid-air. The tuk-tuk stops in between the two of us. It is the owner of the Beach Bar. I take my chance, get up and run back to White Sands. There are still people there, they might help.
I get there before him, but he has not given up. I stand near Lisette and Ishan. He comes over and starts pushing me again. I don’t know where he gets his strength from, but I’m lifted off the ground and land four feet away. Ishan steps in and with Sanka pulls Kiri to one side. I just want to go home and go to sleep. I don’t want to be here; I don’t want to be the protagonist in this horror movie. I know he won’t give up. I haven’t got the strength to be here all night. I try to leave again, but as soon as I get to the bottom step, he is there, so I run back up again to stand next to Lisette and Ishan. There is no stopping Kiri now, he lunges for me. Ishan and Sanka pull him all the way toward the bar. I need to go now, or this will go on forever. I can’t stay here and depend on others for my safety... I run, go the opposite way, away from home. I need to try and shake him off. I hide behind some tables at the Beach Bar. It’s dark and lonely here. I’m scared. I pray to the universe for him to just fall asleep somewhere and leave me alone.
I sneak a look out toward the beach. I’m stuck here, there is nowhere to go without him seeing me. Light is breaking already, and I see him walking down the beach in the opposite direction. He is looking for me, his hair loose down his back, his steps angry and purposeful and he has a branch in his hand. He is heading where he thinks I would have gone if I were going toward home. He looks like a demon, even from behind. I’m paralysed. I can’t risk losing my cover. I sit down on the floor behind the table, my mind blank. I replay the scenes from tonight over and over on the screen of my mind, but I can’t comment on them, I’m just an observer.
At least half an hour must have passed. The sun is nearly out. I’m sure he has crashed out somewhere as he usually does after outbursts of this intensity. But I can’t risk it, so I take the longest way home. He wouldn’t look for me here. I drag my heavy legs, willing them to move forward. I’m still dressed in my black strappy little number, and people are going to work and look at me with curiosity and disdain. I’m clearly still up from yesterday, I would never pass for one of those early risers. I look at my watch, I have no idea what the time is, and I notice that only the leather strap is on my wrist, the watch has gone. Probably broken on the road where I fell. The adrenaline is wearing off, and my head starts to pound. I put my hand on it and feel a bump. My back is also playing up, and I notice my dress is torn. As I’m trying to walk and take the inventory of my aching body, Ishan appears on a scooter.
‘I looked everywhere for you. Where have you been? Kiri’s asleep outside your room. I can’t wake him. You’re safe. You just need to step over him and lock yourself in, but I’ll be there with you. Don’t worry.’
So, I go back, step over Kiri sleeping on the floor in front of the door, give a thankful wave to Ishan and lock myself inside. I collapse on the bed. It is daytime already, and I can’t sleep. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling. My mind is blank.