Atsango had a troubled past. He could tell by her curt answers to any questions he asked about her. More effective than a ‘Keep Out’ sign, he thought.
‘So, you live with your parents?’
‘No, I live with my mother’, she replied, catching him by surprise. He could tell she was on edge. Her body language had made a provocative turn. Eyes looking straight at him, she tilted her head, waiting for another question.
‘What about your father?’, he asked, leaning further away.
‘What about him?’
He attempted a defence, but she tore through it.
‘Well, I just wanted to know…’
‘Wanted to know what? If I have a father? Of course I do. My mother isn’t bloody Virgin Mary, and I sure as hell wasn’t born in a manger’.
He attempted a smile, wich only made things worse.
‘Okay, fine. So your father, is he alive?’
Smooth move, he thought to himself. Clearly there was not going to be an end to this any time soon.
“I don’ know. I don’t care. I don’t want to know…”
She started crying at this point. A soft, silent sobbing that grew and grew until it turned into a fit of wails and moans. She fell to the ground, attracting everyone’s attention. He tried to make her aware of this, but she merely cried on, fully aware that she was now at the centre of a small crowd.
‘You dare come now, as I cry here in public… Were you there for me when I needed you most? How loud does a woman have to scream before it hits you idiots that she wants to be saved?’
‘Atsango, you’re being ridiculous’, he said, over and over again, hoping that the shame that this realization carried would make her stop.
‘Was it ridiculous’, she shouted at the top of her voice, ‘when that so-called father of mine decided that I was equal to a whore in his eyes?’
‘You’re making a scene’, he added. But she was no longer listening to him.
‘When he said he loved me, I believed him. I thought his love was like the one fathers have for their daughters. But clearly he had other plans for me. And my mother let all this happen. Where was she when I was screaming her name, asking for anyone to come and help me? The beast – I dare not call him a father any more – used me and left me there for her to find. He walked away. I mean, it’s not like the scars or anything like that mattered. He just got up and left. And he left me with one message. That that is all I, his daughter, am good for. It’s all my fault that this happened to me. Guilty as charged.’
At this point the hysteria reached a peak, with her making furtive attempts at tearing her dress, screaming expletives at anyone close enough to hear and see what was going on. This was when it hit him, he could run away. He could forget all this. he could leave her there in all her misery. After all, what had he done? Nothing. he had just talked to her. Big mistake. But as he was working out this moral dilemma, he saw that she was in distress. Damn chivalry. He would have to be there for her. This was not some chance stroll down the railway, he had connected with her. She meant something now. She was his one chance at doing something right. He would… fix her.
She had gotten back to crying softly, shaking. She did not notice the crowd melt away, or him pushing away the hair from her face. She scarcely felt him lift her. He headed towards the railway with her, resolute, thinking this must have been how Superman does it.
Fitting, he thought to himself. Here I come to save the day.
He would have a lot of explaining to do.