Goosebumps sprout on the underside of my body parts when he laughs his loud, horse laugh. I squirm like an octopus when he speaks abruptly in his hormone-weighted voice. I feel my breath choke when he is anywhere near. His long shoe-face always wears a mournful expression, and he has a perpetual habit of sadly shrugging his shoulders. And even if my face is turned to the other side, I can vividly visualise his herbivorous teeth peeping out of his wide open mouth, and a streak of drool stealing down the left side of his chin. Something kicks hard in my stomach then and I put on the earphones I keep handy in case and turn on the full volume of some fast track song.
The happiest days of my life were the ten days he was away at the school summer camp. I had not gone because I was down in bed with measles. I had wandered around the house, fearless of the fact that I would suddenly come on him. And even in my weak physical condition I had persisted on going out to the town on my own. It was such a liberating, freeing experience, being without his shadow hanging over me, it had dug itself a place within me and over time cultivated into an unnameable desire and was at the root for me thinking the way I had begun to in subsequent years.
What else could I do? I had spent all my life worse off than if I were in hell. In our preadolescent years, he used to wet his bed. It was a twin bed and I would be woken up every night by the bad smell and see him lying in the urine pool. It would feel like leeches were stuck all over my body and I had to escape out to the kitchen and spend the whole night there, shivering, switching on and off the burner and warming cold hands. Or I would lay there, shifting, turning sides. And yet despite all this pretence of disgust and annoyance I could experience a strange euphoria whenever I pictured him lying in his urine, limp, drained, pathetic.
There was the usual debris of destroying gifts and surprises of your sibling. I did that too, and some more. Take that rabbit. He was very fond of the rabbit, had it with him all the time. Scorpions used to crawl on me just seeing them together. There was that sharp toothed dog around and I let it in at the gate the day no one was at home. He had cried and not touched food for days. But the wicked pleasure I felt wore off after some time. And now there is Lucy the cat, inseparable with him; jumps into his lap, licks his face. It seems animals are more unreasonable in love than humans.
And are humans unreasonable in their hatred? Is it intense hatred, or extreme dislike? Is it only that his tall, gawky body, mournful long face and wide teeth are an affront to my aesthetic senses? His presence makes me think of black mud, centipedes, slippery worms. It is quite horrible.
I observe people in the vicinity to see if his presence would have the same effect on them. I notice mother withdraw diffidently whenever he hugs her—is it distaste on her visage, or pity? Her eyes fixed on his face. I myself prefer to think that people pity him. Like they would a disabled person.
Was holocaust the result of such antipathy? Do genocides happen because of such deep seated aversion? Can racial and gender discriminations exist without our conscious choice? Was it why Cain killed Abel?
The girl was a mousy one. He had invited her home for dinner. She sat by his side across from me. I thought she was not dumb, just knew her own worth. He made slurping noises while eating, eyeing her shyly. Afterwards he walked her home. It was rather late and the night was dark. I followed them secretly. They held hands and talked in whispers. I could hear their giggles.
They halted on the doorsteps. The overhead bulb shed light upon them as he stooped to kiss her, his fat mouth opening like a gash in the skin, his fat red tongue lolling out like a cattle’s. I saw his large clumsy teeth drawing towards the red-veined flesh of the girl’s mouth. Filled with a sudden loathing and disgust, I threw up on the sidewalk.
He is sitting in a chair before the fireplace, his back to the door, Lucy curled near his feet. I enter stealthily and try to skirt round him to my room. I do not want to speak to him, nor look at his flushed face. He has not sensed my coming and in turn it arouses my curiosity. I pause with the doorknob in hand and look over my shoulder. His head is tilted to the left and the right side of his face is profiled against fire, a reddish glow on it. I become aware that he is watching me out of the tail of his eye. There are frown lines on his face like when he thinks deeply of something.
—I saw you follow us to her home, he says.
—I… I swallow hard.
—Please don’t, he holds up his hand. He comes over to where I stand. Taller than me the horse-faced bends over me, nostrils flaring out.
—Do you desire her? he asks, eager as ever to comply, to please, to give.
I see his eyes, and the mouth, agape, full of teeth. My right hand flexes itself into a fist, and I calculate from which angle to sock his face to knock out all teeth in a single blow.