They say writing about your trauma can help the healing process move forward. I sure hope that’s true, because I’ve been hanging on to something that has been tearing me up inside. A few years ago, I lost the love of my life in the most horrific and dehumanizing way imaginable. We were both taken and held captive by a man I’ll refer to as “John.” Though I managed to survive the ordeal, she did not.
We met in an industrial district in Bangladesh. Though walls of sheet metal and soggy streets were far from the romantic scene you’d see in a romantic comedy, we had a real meet cute moment. The instant I laid eyes on her, I knew we were meant to be together. She was perfect: soft as silk, warm, yet surprisingly strong. In a tug-of-war, she could easily have held her own. The best part was that she seemed to love me as much as I loved her. From the get-go, we were an inseparable pair. Our lives were pretty great, and we spent most of our time lounging around and enjoying ourselves. Everything changed one fateful day, when we were given the opportunity to travel overseas. We should have known better: I hate myself for not being more cautious, and for not seeing the signs. A free trip abroad? It was too good to be true. I should have realized we’d just been shipped away and sold like slaves.
We were packed like sardines in a shipping container with hundreds of others who’d been fooled like us. Throughout the trip, we worried about what would become of us. Would we be separated? Would they hurt us? Who was going to buy us? I was absolutely terrified, more for her sake than my own. She didn’t deserve this. She was all that was good in the world, whereas I had always been rough around the edges, and could stretch myself thin. If anyone deserved to be punished, it was me. She and I spent days discussing horrific scenarios, but even in our wildest dreams, we couldn’t anticipate the awful things that would befall us.
After weeks on the open ocean, we arrived at our destination. Still bound together and exhausted from the trip, we were unable to fight back when a group of men strong-armed us out of the shipping container and carried us to him – to John. I remember it so vividly: the perverted smirk on his oily face, his meaty fingers reaching towards my loved one, the lustful way in which he squeezed her body. I knew he wanted her and only her, but we were a package deal. She clung to me so tightly that, even if he wanted to discard of me right then and there, he wouldn’t have been able to. We were practically interwoven. It feels so unreal to think about it now, like I’m seeing it through a third person perspective. He threw us in a large sack and tossed us in the back of his van.
Before long, we were taken to his home, where we were trapped us in cells so tight and airless that they might as well have been coffins. I could hear my other half nearby, begging for me to save her from this nightmare, but I could do nothing to help.
The cell stunk of musk and broken dreams – a scent so pungent that even Death himself dared not come to our rescue. As I crawled a few inches back and forth in the cramped space, the overwhelming taste of salt seemed to seep into the very fabric of my being. I couldn’t help but wonder, as our coffins swayed back and forth, if we’d been thrown out to sea.
John broke us. After stripping away any hope we had, he offered us a small reprieve. Fresh air never smelled as good as when we were removed from the cells. For a brief moment, I embraced my lover while John examined us with disgust. He seemed repulsed by our scent, and hosed us down like animals. We were then separated. He placed us in a larger cell and forced her to lay with another as I watched, powerless. The cycle repeated every week. Some days, he’d take me and put me back into the smaller cell. Other days, he did it to her. I think he wanted to keep us desperate and on-edge so we wouldn’t rebel. About once a week, we were washed. In those few moments, and I’d get to tend to my broken-hearted beloved. Then, he’d give her to another, undoubtedly in exchange for a fair sum of money.
Seeing him breed her with others was bad enough, but the worst was when he did it to her. I could barely watch as it happened. The monster wrapped her form around him, moaning and groaning as he had his way. She hung from him like a broken doll, life draining from her soul as his seed poured into her. I think that’s what finally ruined her tender heart.
My own spirit broke the day John brought a woman home. I thought we’d finally be saved, that she would hear our pleas and rescue us from our hell. Alas, she was as cruel and conniving as he was. She took pleasure in hearing my pained groans as John removed me from my cage and tied me to the doorknob outside his room, forcing me to listen as they partook in their wretched acts of depravity. I’d gone from feeling renewed hope, to sinking into an abyss of depression. I was powerless, and there was no point even trying to resist. John would never let us go.
Over the years, John wore my loved one down until she was just a shell of herself. She was frayed and coarse, where once she’d been gentle and loving. There was no life left in her. Her face sagged and drooped as though she’d aged a hundred years in a fraction of the time. John lost interest in her, and I could tell he wanted a new plaything. This may sound odd, but the thought of him giving up on her was almost as frightening as the thought of him continuing to use her. I knew what it meant. I’d seen what he’d done with the others.
One day, John put a hole through my beloved’s head, and disposed of her as though she were a useless object. He didn’t mourn her, he didn’t give her a proper burial, he didn’t even seem to care. The monster merely replaced her, leaving me crying for days. I didn’t even get a chance to hold my mate one last time before he took her away. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t get to tell her that we’d see each other again in the afterlife. My heart broke a thousand times with regret, guilt, and heartbreak. Life stopped having meaning when I lost her. She’d been my only light in the darkness. The rare moments we had together were what kept me going.
It wasn’t long before John threw me out like trash, too. I was tossed in an alley, my body laying against the cold cement. For the first time in years, I was able to see the sky, and its beauty blew me away. A knot of guilt brought me back down to reality, and I realized that my lover would never get to see the stars in the sky. I remember thinking I’d let myself perish under the moon that night. We’d be together in the afterlife, right?
Thankfully, a stranger found me and took me under his wing. He gave me renewed hope and purpose in life. Now I live, but my chest feels tangled like a Celtic knot. I live my life for myself, and for my better half. I survived, and I owe it to her to live life to the fullest.
I miss you, you really were my better half.