There is another layer to this or something to put together at least.
I used to think love was something that hurt people. Not in all of me, of course, but some part of me thought it. It’s always hard to explain this. I thought it and yet I didn’t think it.
Maybe I got this idea because the people I knew who talked about love thought of it as a kind of greed. It wasn’t a desire to care for someone, but a desire to own.
Or maybe it was that people hurt those I loved in order to hurt me.
Or maybe it was both.
At the moment, the second one is playing a bigger part in the understanding that is coalescing in my mind following the fist fight incident (which turned out to have played out differently that I had thought, incidentally, but that’s for another day.)
My memory of Natalya being murdered is jumbled. Some moments are clear, but many are not. And it may not be complete.
I do think I screamed. There is a feeling of screaming in my throat when I think of it. I also know someone held me by the arm for a while, so that I could not move to go to her. I went to her only later when nothing much more could be done. I think I did not struggle against that person holding me—against my father. I may have. I think I didn’t.
But I also think I had the idea that she was killed because I loved her. My father would have done that. However, it may not be the reason the real motive. She could have been murdered for any number of motives that I might not be able to even guess because I did not know as much about my father’s friends and I don’t know how they thought.
So there was this idea that my love killed her. Not only could I not help in any way, but my desire to help harmed her.
It’s hard to get into my head the idea that I was just small then. I might have been 45 kilos. And I was only a child.
It’s hard to get it into my head because, despite my immaturity, I was the only one that really could help her. I was the only one with a conscience, or empathy, or compassion. The men involved were all monsters.
I think of them more like tigers—creatures that don’t know enough to care for a human being. So what would I think now about the situation if I had watched her torn apart by tigers? I think I wouldn’t think the same way. I think I would have said to myself, “Well, they were tigers and I was just a child. What could I have done?” And I would have thought about how it affected me to watch my friend torn apart. I wouldn’t have blamed myself or held myself responsible. I would have thought of it as a terrible accident. There we were and there the tigers were, and they did what tigers do. I wouldn’t have thought I should have known how to control the tigers or how to outsmart the tigers, and I wouldn’t have thought my desire for my friend to not be torn apart by tigers is why they did what they did.
Now, in reality, my dad made me watch in order to hurt me. But that is what sadistic psychopaths do. They hurt people. I could not stop him from doing it. If he had not been able to hurt me, he would have hurt someone else. Anyway, I was just there—like someone walking through a jungle, not knowing that there are man-eating tigers in that particular jungle. I was born into his household. There was no place else for me to be. And Natalya was there for her own reasons—probably because she was innocent and not very educated and, again, someone preyed on her.
So you could say that is what innocence is. We were innocent, and the man-eating tigers came and they did what man-eating tigers do. They ate one of us. There was really nothing either of us could have done about it.
Meanwhile, I did what human beings do. In the same way that they did what man-eating tigers do, I did what human being do. I loved my friend. When the tigers came for her, I tried to help her. I screamed, because usually this gets other people’s attention and sometimes they come to help—unless you are in the parking lot of a cheap hotel where this kind of thing is always going on, there is always screaming and always violence and no one comes because they don’t care anymore. They don’t think of the fellow screamers as human and it doesn’t occur to anyone to help. They see the victims as well as the perpetrators as another set of creatures who ought to be left alone to die. (But that’s a larger societal issue.)
The point is the murderers acted like man-eating tigers and I acted like a person.
I did not kill her and the failure of any help to arrive because of my screams is not any failure of mine.
So that is one thing.
The other thing is that life is different when there aren’t man-eating tigers around. It is different also when others, who aren’t man-eating tigers, see you as another human being and not a non-human member of a criminal and a-moral class. When I pulled Madame Kay away from her husband, there was a third person there: the man I had been dancing with. He saw what I was doing and loosened Madame Kay’s hand from the collar of her husband’s shirt, which she was still clinging to. Whether that made any difference, or not, I don’t know. But he saw what I was doing, and he tried to help me.
That is what human beings do. Mostly. We aren’t perfect, but mostly we try to help each other.
And that is why I could do what I did on Blessed rainy day night. That is why nothing happened to Madame Kay and why I was able to try to help her. There weren’t any man-eating tigers there and no one wasn’t a tiger saw me as a member of a criminal class not worth helping.
So, two things have changed: There are no sadistic psychopaths in my life and I am not being forced into criminal activity by anyone.
It’s easy to say it was the past, but what is important about the past sometimes is knowing how not to repeat it. I am quite certain, in the same situation, the same things would happen. Being an adult would not save me. Weighing 50 kilos and not 45 would not save me. Maturity would not save me. What keeps me safe now is the absence of close relationships with dangerous people. Not repeating the past is a simple matter: stay away from man-eating tigers. Stay away from jungles that might have man-eating tigers in them. Mostly, this isn’t difficult. There aren’t that many man-eating tigers in the world. There are a lot of tigers, but most of them will not actually kill anyone. They might talk you out of your life savings. Or steal your identity. Or any of a number of other confidence tricks. But mostly they aren’t so dangerous that I need to keep watching my friends to see that they still aren’t dead. It won’t happen again.
It won’t happen again.
It won’t happen again.
That’s a second thing.
The take-away messages from the two events, Natalya’s murder and the Blessed rainy day fistfight, are that life unfolds differently when your life is controlled by sadistic psychopaths and when it isn’t. Now that my life is not, I can expect that the people I love will not be hurt just because I love them, and I can also expect that my love can instead manifest itself in helping them. I suppose it’s hard to really know this until you are brave enough to try it out and see what happens. It’s hard to be sure until you can do it and also take in that you are doing it. Which I suppose is what I have done. Some. The taking in is a slow process. I can do it only bit by bit.
There’s something else: a third thing
What I experienced on Blessed rainy day—that people helped, that I helped, that my love didn’t hurt anyone—is more typical of what happens when there are no sadistic psychopaths around. This is more or less how the world works a lot of the time, and I can expect it to continue in the future.
I have so much mental rearranging to do now.