She leaned back and dragged a little too hard on the cigarette. Her neck muscles strained but she did not cough. She smiled at me. A little rue filled gesture. “Learnt this from hookah. Never cough. it shows your newness to the whole smoking venture”
“Why is that an issue?” I asked
She shrugged. “I just don’t like to show vulnerability.” she turned to me, staring at me hard. “do you like to show your vulnerability? coz you need to hide it. if you dont, they will use it against you.” she said. Her eyes had become hard and brittle and I felt like I was looking at a concrete wall that has the telltale signs of a fire.
“Let’s get back to the interview ma’am. If you dont mind, I’d like this article to be finished by tomorrow” I said. Clearly discomfited by her relentless glare. I felt like she was stripping me naked in her mind, but not physical naked. I felt like she wanted to see my soul, bare and fragile.
She was a small woman. Her collar bone was a like an ornament, jutting and proud. Dark skinned rwandan woman with unruly maroon and brown dyed hair, glorious in its snarly knotty dangerous curls. She was wearing torn jeans and a leather tee and she had about 10 arm bands on her bony wrists. her razor sharp talons for want of a better word were painted severely black as were her kohl lined eyes which reminded me of Avril Lavigne’s generous use of eyeshadow. Her lips, which were soft and bruised and swollen betrayed her severe personality, despite their mistress’ will, they were slightly upturned so she looked like she was about to smile.
“Yes, where were we? ah yes. Well, then he grabbed me and threw me on the counter, and bent over me and fucked me. Do I startle you with my use of profanity?” she laughed. a bleak bitter sound. “He did fuck me. I can’t say he made love to me because.. I don’t think he ever loved me for a day.”
“Your mother said he raped you.” I inserted. She turned to me with a grim smile on her face.
“You talked to Gertrude too? ah, You… journalists are thorough” she says as she waves the cigarette in my direction. The smoke from the cig creates a circle, she stares at it, for a moment distracted by memories of what happened to her.
As I am watching, emotions she keeps so closely guarded reveal themselves. I see how she really feels. She blames herself for the rape. Even though she is 19 and the rapist was a 35 year old man, she blames herself. I look at her in a new light. This is why she is so bitter and numb.
I get off the couch and kneel in front of her. She looks at me startled. “I think you know I dont like people getting close to me.”
“What are you doing?” she asks wary
I slap her. A hard resounding slap that knocks the cig out her mouth and brings tears to her eyes. She is so shocked that her mouth falls open and she forgets to speak for a minute.
Her bodyguard comes in. “Are you okay Ma’am?”
I wave him off. “Of course, something fell. We are okay. And I’m done. Im just finalising a few things. We’ll be out in 2.”
He nods even though he looks concerned. I am speaking fast, I want to get through to her before she closes off again.
“Did you just?” she stutters and I can hear the rage that is surfacing in her voice,its magnificent. Anything but the dead persona she uses as a shield.
I nod calmly. “Yes, I slapped you. I bet no one has since you became a star. I slapped you for two reasons. one and very importantly. It is not your fault. You could not imagine when you accepted this interview that I would ever slap you. how then could you imagine that a man you loved, your mentor, would use and abuse you after your father, his brother died?? how? another, also important reason I slapped is because I wanted you to get angry. smash something, go on a rant, sing something, write something, start a shelter for those going through what you went through. Being dead inside numbs the pain but it also kills your soul.
You’re too young to lose your soul”
She is breathing hard. I do not think a lot of people have ever been blunt with her. She looks at me and breaths “Are we done here? I have some stuff I have to do.”
Two years later, as I walk out to interview another star for the weekend feature, I am suddenly stopped by a big burly man wearing all black gear and razor ray bans. He says she wants to see me at the foyer of the rape shelter she built, she needs me to slap some sense into a new girl.