Happiness is a Trial

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By Awrup Sanyal for AlalODulal.org

Jaron and Ashanti walked towards the large wood and glass door at the top of the stairs. Squeezed in by the swell of the crowd from the hall they moved in step. All the while Jaron video-taped the crowd on his smartphone. The music was pumping, the chatter deafening, the party still waltzed on its drunken legs.

Ashanti unlinked her hand from Jaron’s and pushed ahead a few steps, making her way through the sweaty bodies. Passing under the doors she turned left and away from Jaron’s vision, and hooked her arm with the tall guy’s with a bowler hat, who looked like Alex DeLarge from Clockwork Orange. Standing on her toes, eyes closed, face tilted up, she puckered up her lips and offered them for a kiss. He kissed her, full on the lips. Fishing out a white pill from his jacket pocket, held between the brown paper-lips of a Starbucks serviette, he thrust it towards her mouth, which was still glistening from the wet kiss.

“What’s that? Am I going to hallucinate?” She asked.

“No baby, this will keep you from getting pregnant.” His glazed eyes quite dead and still, with no trace of humour. He looked through his haze of high towards the girl he had just kissed. “You have been following me all through the party, haven’t you? And who might you be?” He said, looking at her suspiciously.

“Anyone you want me to be!” Her false eyelashes fluttered, as she put on another dramatic pout.

The tall guy hastily stepped away, as if brought back to cognisance, and hurried down the stairs to catch up with his group that had detached. She yelled from the top of the stairs, “Loser!”

Jaron came up behind her, caught her waist, clutching at it tightly, he guided her down the steps through the swarm, “What the hell is wrong with you? What did you do with that guy?”

“I was asking him for a cigarette, is all. Let go off me, you’re hurting me.”

Ignoring her protest Jaron pushed her down the stairs.

Ashanti was slurring on the top of her voice, “Happi-ness is a tri-aa-l, happi-ness is a tri-aa-l.” in an improvised tune.

“Shut the fuck up!” Jaron whispered angrily in her ear.

At the bottom of the stairs, near the exit, a uniformed janitor was being shouted at by two beefy blokes. The janitor kept saying, “It’s my job, dude, let me do my job.”

Jaron and Ashanti sidestepped away from the brawl that was getting nastier by the second. The janitor was being pushed around. Ashanti sang, “He is just a-sla-vin, he is just a-sla-vin.” in that original tune she had just composed.

Jaron pulled her away forcibly. Stepping outside the building they walked briskly away. Jaron asked her again, “Now what did you do with that guy?”

“I told you.” She said.

He pulled out his phone and with a few flicks of his thumb he played a video; in it she was kissing the tall guy. “You lying bitch!” His voice was a register higher now.

On the sidewalk, other revelers passed them by, seemingly headed for the party. It was only a little after midnight. Under the streetlights Jaron could see Ashanti’s eyes squinched up and the pupils dilated. She walked with her legs crisscrossing in front of her, like scissor hands, and with every fall of the feet on the pavement her buttocks tautened up in the tight shorts that she was wearing. Exuberant sweat collected on Jaron’s profile, his jaw muscles tautening and slacking from the nonstop manducation on a gum.

In the empty parking lot Jaron stood in front of the car and bellowed, “Now, what the fuck did I tell you to do? Did I fucking tell you to kiss him? Huh? I asked you take his hand and shove it down your shorts so that he could feel your pussy, and see that you were dripping wet, ready for him! You can’t even follow a simple fucking instruction!”

“Don’t shout at me. I did my best. I was cramped for space and there were too many people. His hands were in his jacket pockets.”

“You should have accepted that pill he was giving you! That way you could have brought him home. You fucking messed it up, you fucking-good-for-nothing-fucking-bitch!” He rasped breathlessly.

“I tried…” She choked.

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut the fuck up! What the fuck am I supposed to do with this hag! Huh? Jesus! Can’t you get anything into that dumb nut of yours!” Jaron was yelling by now. He shoved her into the car. Her head hit the frame as she ducked.

“Ouch!”

“Stop the drama you fucking bitch!”

Jaron drove away from the parking lot at top speed, tires screeching. Back home, at the front door, he was trembling as he fumbled with the keys.

Ashanti leaned against the wall, her demeanour slightly changed, her body though still stiff, and said, “Hurry up, you sloth!”

The mock in her voice found the target. Jaron’s nostrils flared up. At that moment the keys turned and the door swung in. Jaron pulled her inside. Closing the door behind them he pushed her against it, his right forearm rode up to her neck and pinned her head back against the door. In the darkness of the living room the porch light leaking in from the windows illuminated his sweaty facial muscles quivering with naked anger, his hot breath blowing into her face. Then he moved away, his right arm swung up over his left shoulder and came down on her in a reverse sweep, crashing into her right cheekbone. Then with both hands he lifted her off the floor and flung her across the room, her flailing left hand caught the floor lamp next to the door, accidentally switching it on, and together they fell, her head crashing on the wooden boards, and the lit lampshade head, now detached, swaying on the floor, to and fro, threw up giant moving shadows on the wall. In her hazy vision Ashanti saw Jaron’s figure looming over her, his fists clenched, saliva dribbling down the corner of his lips. She passed out.

***

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