“Toa Nguo” says Nixon.
To his amazement, Millie’s initial look of fear seems to disappear. In it’s place is a calm, far away look that he cannot understand. She gets up from the floor and proceeds to undress. Slowly, calmly, methodically. She folds each item and puts it neatly away on the old, shaky stool next to the bed. She then sits on the bed and looks up to him for direction. Again, that faraway look is present in her eyes. Expecting to deal with a screaming, scared girl, Nixon is perplexed. “This is too easy” he thinks though not relenting from his initial resolve. For the next 3 hours, he proceeds to rape Millie repeatedly. In between “the sessions”, he takes time out to tell her his life story. How ironical. As if it would interest Millie at all. At one point, he even breaks down and cries. Then he “requests” Millie to wipe his tears. She does but never looks him in the eye.
Millie on the other hand lies listlessly. Silently. Her body is present but her soul isn’t. It is as if it has retreated into a dark room. A dark cold room. Her soul cannot face what is happening. It refuses to be present during such an ordeal. Millie is naturally introverted and even in difficult circumstances in the past…her real reaction is delayed. But this time, it’s bizarre and strange. In her mind, Millie keeps asking herself “Shouldn’t I scream? Shouldn’t I ask for help? Shouldn’t I fight him? Shouldn’t I. SHOULDN’T I??? No answer is forthcoming. Her soul is silent. After sometime, it’s all over. Yet it’s not.
Nixon remembers the day from time to time. On most days, it doesn’t bother him at all and rests somewhere at the back of his mind. But every now and then, something will remind him. A girl of Millie’s age then. A sermon on seeking forgiveness. A counseling session on rape with one his parishioners or a rapist confessing his sins in the booth. He has spent countless hours asking God to forgive him, yet he feels unforgiven. Nixon the jail bird, the black sheep, the rapist is now Father Nixon.
Millie’s story is difficult to tell. She tells no one about the rape and blames herself. Would anyone believe her anyway? Yet, the impact of the rape shows itself in her day to day life. Her actions seem random, unrelated yet ultimately interconnected. She does not hate men. Not at all. She hates herself instead. A deep deep hatred that lashes out and hurts the people around her.
Each Sunday, she sits at the back of the church with her family in tow and listens to Father Nixon deliver the sermon. Never letting any emotion show on her face. She is a good parishioner.
It is simply absurd.