Rape is humiliating to the victim. Which, if you try to think logically, is surprising because the victim does not bring it upon herself. But the feeling follows every victim. While at the University, Jane had attended many legal aid clinics and had attended to many victims of rape. She had been surprised then by the shame they exhibited.
“There is nothing to be ashamed of. You are the victim here. The one who did this to you is the one who should be ashamed,” she counseled other women often.
But now she knows exactly what they had been feeling. She is feeling dirty and embarrassed. Her head is swirling with internal conversations.
Why did I come here on a Monday?
He called you for a professional engagement in his office Jane.
Why did I wear this dress?
No Jane, the man is a rapist. He would have raped you even if you had been wearing heavy jeans and a mechanic’s overall on top.
Did I tempt him?
No Jane, look at this room. It was built specifically to enable him to rape and fornicate. It is not about you, it is about him.
In spite of her best efforts, she cannot wish away the feelings of guilt. She feels as if she is somehow responsible for her rape. But her biggest dilemma is whether she should tell Jude. After raping her, the Bishop forced her to shower in a tiny bathroom within the bedroom. Then he had warned her not to tell anyone because “I will get you arrested for defaming me”.
He had bragged that he knew people in high places, so she would only land herself in trouble if she tried to tell on him. But if she co-operated and allowed him to have his way with her regularly, she could profit handsomely.
Such a nerve! Did he think she would just throw herself at him for money?
But she did hear him, and she has no intention of going to the police. She knows that if he is capable of rape, then bribing cops would be a piece of cake. She does not know who to turn to. Her parents are both dead. There is her boyfriend Jude…but how will he take it? Will he believe that she was raped or will he think that she threw herself at him?
After the rape incident, Jane decides to act as though it did not happen. Externally, at least. She still goes to work every day, does her work, goes to school and then goes back home. She avoids the fourth floor or any other place where she is likely to encounter the Bishop.
But she is dying inside. Any keen person would notice that she is “not herself”. And Jude does. He keeps asking her if she is okay, but she insists she is fine. Their relationship has become strained because as much as she tries to cheer up, she finds that she can’t. Yet she cannot bring herself to tell him the truth. Which makes her even more depressed.
Then she misses her period.
At first, she is too depressed to notice that she has missed her period. But by the second month nausea makes her remember that she did not in fact see her monthly flow. When she misses the period that second month, it all but confirms her worst fears. Still, she takes the pregnancy test.
She is caught up in a roller coaster of emotions. There isn’t a doubt in her mind that she will keep the baby. She is frightened, but for some reason she has warm feelings about the baby.
But there is Jude.
She cannot make him bring up another man’s baby, which can only mean that she will have to terminate the relationship. She will come up with a reason. He will be hurt, of course, when her pregnancy starts showing because he will assume she has been cheating on him. But she cannot think of another scenario that will allow her to keep her child. Jude will have to go.
Jude is a quiet man with a ready smile. Many people assume he is docile and a pushover…until they cross him. He is a surprisingly forceful man behind the façade of a smile. He is also very clever and amazes Jane with the speed at which his brain generates solutions to problems.
When Jane tells him that she wants to end the relationship, she assumes that it will be easy because the relationship has been strained for two months anyway. She approaches him on a Monday when both of them are not working.
“Jude, we need to talk,” she says, sitting on his couch. She has visited him very few times for the last two months. In fact, they have met very few times outside of work. She always comes up with excuses.
“Yes, we do,”
“I don’t think can do this anymore,”
“Be in a relationship with you. I am sorry for wasting your time. But I don’t think I can do this anymore. I just need some space,”
Jude is silent for a while.
“Is there someone else?” he asks finally
The question catches her by surprise.
“No, no. I just need some space that is all,”
“You could have said that two months ago instead of giving me the silent treatment. What is going on Jane?”
Her eyes start welling. She did not come to argue. She is not prepared for it. She just wants to be fair to Jude by removing him from the mess that is her life. Can’t he understand that?
He moves closer and hugs her. Her body stiffens. She has not forgotten her experience two months ago. But this is Jude…
He notices and pulls away.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
Jane cannot hold it anymore. She starts sobbing, asking Jude to forgive her.
“I am a wicked person Jude. I do not deserve you,”
“That is nonsense and you know it,” he says, hugging her once more and rocking her gently. When she composes herself, she frees herself and looks at him straight in the eye. She must do this quickly before she loses her nerve.
“I am pregnant Jude,” she says.
That knocks some air out of him. He is confused. Although they are dating, they have not been having sex. They decided to abstain until marriage.
“I can confirm that no angel came to tell me that we shall name him Jesus,” he says light-heartedly.
“I am serious Jude,” she says. He notices that she is about to break down again and gets serious.
“What happened?” he asked.
She narrates to him the whole story. Jude is furious but manages to keep his emotions on check.
“You should have told me earlier. Here I was, thinking you were ignoring me because you found someone better,” he says, cuddling her.
“I am so scared Jude,”
“I know baby, I know. I will make that fool pay. I promise you,”
“What can you do? He is wealthy and connected. As a matter of fact, you are his lowly employee,”
“I have a plan. Don’t worry. My friend James will help but we will also need your help,”
Jane stays silent for a while, enjoying the warmth of his chest.
“I want to keep the baby Jude. But even that frightens me. I never imagined I would find myself a single mother,”
“You don’t have to be. I will be your child’s father,”
“You don’t have to do this Jude. That is the reason I wanted to break up with you. You don’t have to bring up another man’s child,”
“I will help you put that criminal behind bars. Then I will help you bring up that child and the others you will bear for me. Then we will grow old together, just like we have always planned,” he says, pecking her cheek.
Jane starts sobbing again.
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