He was sure he had conquered her. She who was as black as night and larger than life. He had wooed her and she had yielded. Now all the riches she possessed were his for the taking. He had his way with her. How could he not? After all, she was beautiful.
When he first laid eyes on her, she was wearing the most striking dress. It was a bright green, from top to bottom, with hints of brown here and there. I’ve only ever seen such a garment worn by royalty, he thought. As he approached her, he could tell that she moved with a rhythm so foreign and yet so graceful. Her body knew when to twist, when to swerve, when to sway. She was like an enchanting dance that he just couldn’t tear his eyes away from. He walked up to her. “Hi.”
“Hello,” she said. He could tell by the way she looked at him that she was highly suspicious. He grew conscious of his own nakedness. I should have worn a tuxedo, instead of these old explorer pants. But it was too late now. He looked at her; her head was slightly tilted to the side and she had one eyebrow up. Even in her suspicion, she was beautiful. He cleared his throat, and then he took a step closer. He told her he was from a land far away. He had heard about the lady with the dark skin and fiery eyes and he wanted to see for himself if such beauty truly existed. He had prepared a gift for her, in case the fairy tales had turned out to be true. He handed it over to her now, and watched as her piercing gaze inspected the white grains. She poured a little bit in her palm and dipped her tongue in it. “It’s sweet,” she said. Then, after a while, “What do you want?” He hadn’t expected her to be so direct. Where he came from, ladies were supposed to be subtle in their demands. And here she was, a lady so confident and poised and carefree. He was taken by surprise. “I want to get to know you better,” was the reply.
At first, she hadn’t objected much. She let him touch her, treated him to a few dances. He seemed pretty nice. But one day, he decided he wanted to get under her skin. Literally. He took a knife and slashed her belly. Out poured melanin and gold. Lots and lots of gold. The melanin he found to be utterly disgusting. It reminded him of stool. But he could get over his disgust for the sake of the gold. The more he cut her, the more she bled. Gold, melanin, gold, melanin. DIAMONDS! He stumbled upon diamonds! Now he was excited. He slashed and cut and tore her open. He couldn’t care less that he was destroying her beauty. She pleaded with him to stop, but he was like a lion that had sank its teeth in fresh antelope meat. He only growled at her to stop complaining, as he sank his filthy teeth deeper and deeper. It gave him great pleasure; she was dying of pain.
Life carried on like that. As he grew more abusive, she became more subdued. She didn’t fight anymore, she just watched as he shipped away her wealth. She watched as he tore her open. When his knife slashed her wrists, she didn’t flinch. She only looked the other way, perhaps reminiscing on the days when he just wanted to talk. How can one man be so greedy? I would have shared everything with him if only he had asked me politely. But now…now he just takes everything and doesn’t even say thank you. My mother taught me better than this. My mother taught me… I can’t let this go on. I have to fight. If he had known what was going through her mind at this time, he would have run. But he kept on slashing, cutting, tearing her apart.
One day, he slashed, and instead of the usual gold, diamonds and that godforsaken melanin, he struck iron. Confused, he struck again. Again, he found iron. Just then, she grabbed his wrists and pinned them behind his back. He was surprised by this act of violence – indeed, the pain he was feeling from this simple manoeuvre was like nothing he had ever experienced in his life. He looked up into her eyes, and what he saw there made him wet his pants. They had grown hard and cold. In them, he saw death. “Go back to your faraway land, or else I will kill you.” The threat was delivered in the most chillingly calm voice. When had she become so strong? She released him and began to walk away. That is when he realised how different she was now. She had replaced her beautiful green dress with what looked like armour. Her hands were covered in iron and curled into fists. Her movements were no longer an enchanting dance but a determined trudge. Her beauty was still there, but it was masked under a hard shell that looked impervious to any of his previous tricks. Realization dawned on him. She was becoming like him.
Angry and humiliated, he rushed towards her and attacked her from behind. They fell to the ground and struggled for what seemed like ages. They rolled in the mud, tugged and pulled and swung their weapons at each other. There was no love anymore – in fact, there never had been. He had possessed a fierce will to conquer her, and now she possessed it too. There were casualties. She cut open his belly, giving him the exact same scar he had given her the first time. He plucked out her eye and trampled on it. She sunk her sword into his thigh. He broke her wrists and kicked her ample behind. Finally, with all the strength and rage that she could muster, she shoved him to the ground and held her sword to his neck. “Go. Back. To. Your. Land!” She spat each word with such anger and hatred. He knew then, that there was no way he would come out of this alive. She had become as brave as a knight. Except her armour wasn’t shiny, and she wasn’t riding a horse. He laid down his weapon and promised to leave…
Years later, back in his own land, he still sees her. He still feasts upon the wealth he stole from her. But he’d be foolish to think she would never rise again. He had awakened the fighter in her, even though he hadn’t intended to. He knew the damage he had done would take long to get over. The scars he had inflicted were only just starting to heal. He felt a mixture of gratitude and loss when he thought of the eye he had plucked out. She was only capable of seeing half the picture now. She only appreciated half her beauty, she struggled to see herself as whole. In a way, this was what he wanted. Because it meant he would always be superior.
As time passes by, he notices that her one eye is seeing more and more. And that scares him. Because he knows that when the time comes, and this dark knight he had created finally rises, he is going to have to step down from his pedestal and make way for true royalty.