Prologue : This is the second in my fairy tales series where I rework the old fable into a more contemporary setting. You can read the first one on Red Riding Hood – here.
The Beast And The Beauty – A Love Story
SHE was thirteen when her dad had raped her the first time. Her mother had run off with another man the previous day and after searching futilely for her the entire day her dad had returned home and in a fit of rage had torn her dress off her and raped her brutally right on the doorstep. She had screamed and screamed till she could scream no more. And then had gotten used to it. It was just one more chore she had to attend to daily- like fetching water or sweeping the house- to spread her legs for her dad. She was fifteen when her dad brought home her first customer- a man who had been as brutal as her dad was on her first time. She quickly learned that men, all men were savage when they paid for it. There was no tenderness in what they did to a woman. She yearned to be kissed. But no one ever did. At least not till she was nineteen. And that’s why she remembered him he was her first customer who had ever kissed her and that so gently, to her great amusement.
HE was a nondescript little man to look at. Not much over five feet. But that wasn’t the most striking thing about him. It was the small hump on his back which made people take a second look and then guiltily glance away from him. What made it tough for him was the remembrance that till he was fifteen he had been as normal as those who looked so at him. And then he had fell sick and nearly died. Later the doctors told his parents that he was lucky that the tuberculosis and had been contained in his spine and he had survived with just a weak and bent over spine. He wished he hadn’t been so lucky. He wished he had died. Many times he had wished he could have died. Many, many times. Whenever he saw his friends with their families. He wished he had died.
SHE had been surprised to see him again. She didn’t have many repeat customers. Maybe they didn’t like the way she fought them when they got rough. And she was surprised to see that he had followed her here to her new home. She had been as surprised as anyone else that her boyfriend had actually cared enough for her to beat up her dad and take her away with him. That had lasted for a few months till she got pregnant. Then he had kicked her in the stomach one day and she had lost her baby. When she had recovered back he had sent in a customer to her, just like he did with all his other girls. That day she finally understood. She had thought that she could be his special girl, only for him. But she had been wrong. She was indeed his special girl. He charged more for her than for any other of his girls. That special she was.
HE had decided that the second time he saw her he would go so far as to kiss her on her lips but now seeing the faint look of amusement dancing in her beautiful eyes he didn’t have the courage to go through with it despite the ache he felt for her. For months he had fantasized about her lips and when alone he had often cursed himself for not doing it the first time he had seen her. After all he had paid the full price for her hadn’t he? But somehow his courage had failed after that first peck on the cheek. And then she had disappeared and the old man had curtly refused to tell him where she had gone. He had gone mad with despair. He had gone back often and often to the old man to pester him till the old man had threatened to call in the police. Fat chance of that. At last, the old man had told him. For a price. But she was worth it. Worth any price, wasn’t she? And so he had hurried to her new house. And this time he had to pay the new one double what he paid the old guy. And he was told to be speedy about it- only one hour allowed and many customers waiting. He almost cried when he saw her again. Almost.
SHE was surprised. The man actually seemed so happy on seeing her. He wasn’t doing anything just sitting there and staring at her. Same like the last time he had come, many months ago. I found you he had told her, searched for you and found you again. She couldn’t understand why. Why? He could clearly afford any other girl. It’s getting on, don’t you want to start she almost asked him. But she could see that he was in a kind of rapture, just staring at her face. on an impulse she leaned over and kissed him. Kissed him on the cheek like he had done to her last time. He looked like he had almost died and gone to heaven. He opened his mouth to speak but could only blubber; the spit was drooling out of him. She almost laughed at that but knew enough to keep her mouth shut. She didn’t want to end up with a broken jaw like some of the other girls did when they had spoken at the wrong time to the men.
HE was in heaven. There was no other way to describe what he felt. She had kissed him herself. All his pent up love came forward. For years and years he had dreamed of this. All those months he was bedridden in his teens, he had dreamt of a girl he would find soon. A girl he would save from dragons and monsters and all kinds of dangers and who grateful to him would love him forever and ever. And then when his cousin brother had taken him to see her the first time, saying he was old enough to have a woman now, he had finally understood. This was fate. This was the girl he was supposed to save from the dungeons of her existence. And he would save her whatever the cost. After all his father had died recently and left him all alone in the big house with all the money. He didn’t need all that money. He was happy with what he got from selling his paintings. If his money could make her happy, then he wouldn’t mind spending it all to get one smile from her.
SHE had been surprised when her boyfriend came and told her she was to go with the new gentleman. She had cried and cried. This was a life she understood despite the hardships. What would the strange man, that dwarfish hunchback do to her? Why did he want her, of all women? She was afraid of him and so she begged her boyfriend to let her stay. But he said no and laughed at her fears. He had already accepted the money for her from the strange man and she had no choice except to go with him. She screamed and cursed him then. She reminded him of how he had promised to keep her always with him, when he had beaten up her dad and brought her away. But he slapped her hard and told her to shut up and leave. And like she always did, she obeyed him mutely and went away quietly with the stranger.
HE was happy beyond words and felt he was in heaven. He took her home and settled her in great luxury as he had dreamed to do for so long. He bought her everything she desired and more. He cooked for her and cleaned for her and never disturbed her if she dint feel like it. He was happy that she was happy, that’s all he desired. And then one day she told him she was pregnant with his child and insisted they marry. When he asked his brother about it, his brother had cursed him and had told him to drive her away right then. But he fought with his brother and made him agree to arrange it. And one fine day they went and got their marriage registered. Now he was in peace- he had everything, a wife, a child, a family – all the things which he had been afraid he never would have. He transferred the house to her name and showed her where everything was hidden just in case something should happen to him. He didn’t want to leave their child alone and poor- to suffer her fate.
HE was in the bath, two weeks later. She was clutching his hands with great strength and keeping him from getting up out of the tub. “Die, die, you dwarf” her boyfriend screamed as he pushed his head under the water and held him. His eyes glazing over, he looked mutely at her unable to understand why. She answered his unasked question “because you are so ugly and he is so handsome” and she laughed at him even as his life ebbed away. His last thought was that the story of the Beauty and the Beast which he was so fond of reading- had never had this ending. He had thought he was the beast but no, it wasn’t him.
Fairy Tales never come true. That’s why they are called tales.