The Red Eyed Giant by Manasvi Mudgal

My uncle’s heavy fist landed on my face, after a flash of numbness, my cheek felt warm. I spat a broken tooth and blood on his face. Infuriated, he pushed me back, and my head hit the door of his bedroom. From the space between his arms and large belly, I saw my aunt grip my cousin tight. His body shook with anger, but my aunt was stronger than her six year old boy.

“I’d make you sleep on the street tonight” my uncle cried. He pulled me up by my hair. Another blow fell on my face. More blood pooled in my mouth and mixed with my saliva. I spat it out.

“Look, what she did to the carpet” my aunt yelled and pulled my cousin back. “We should have never kept her.”

Before my uncle could turn his attention back at me, I pushed him and ran into his bathroom. I chained the door shut, but he kicked it open and cried “I will ruin you.”

He grabbed my leg and pulled me down. I slipped. My head grazed the bathtub leaving a small cut above my eye. I wiped the blood off and tried to catch my breath.

“You have no idea what I can do” he cried and blocked the door. His shadow fell by my feet. It crawled over my body as he got closer.

***
I was ten years old when I moved to my uncle’s place. He was my mother’s step brother, and while she was alive, she did everything she could to keep me away from him. During the first few nights, in this house, when I could not sleep, my uncle would come to my room and brush my hair. Then one night, he pressed himself against me and bit my lips. He took out a small box he had been hiding behind his back and showed it to me. “It’s the red eyed giant sweetie, it would keep you safe” he said and kept that box high on our cabinet.

***

I felt the bathroom walls closing in on me. He pulled me by my sleeve, it tore off, and his nails left deep marks on my arm. I pushed myself back. He threw the sleeve away and pounced at me. He pinned my body down and clutched my face with his greasy fingers. “Now I’ve got you” he hissed, out of breath.
“You know what I’d do to you” he whispered to me. I felt his rough beard scrape my face, digging into my wounds. His breath stank of whisky. “Nobody will want to marry you. You’d find work only as a street walker.”

I pushed his face away. My nail bruised his forehead. Infuriated, he caught hold of my arms and shoved them into the bathroom’s cold floor. A tile cracked, my hand felt numb.

***

The red eyed giant gave me many sleepless nights. It stared at me when I changed my clothes. It was there when I cried for my mother to take me away. At night its red glowing eye reminded me of my uncle’s constant presence. I tried to reach it, I tried to jump, but I was too short to get hold of it.

***

I smiled thinking of the seven years I had spent in the fear of this man, who could at his worst just beat me unconscious.

“What are you smiling at?” He cried and slapped my face.

I kept smiling and tried pushing him away with my one hand which I could still move. My aunt had moved on to the bathroom door and my cousin peered in from behind her. He was still crying, tears had stopped rolling down his cheeks, and his breath came in short bursts.

A loud cracking sound at our front door startled my aunt. She ran out and cried “she called the cops.”
For the first time I saw fear in my uncle’s eyes. He fell back on the floor frightened. A dark shadow appeared on the door. My cousin was in the arms of a tall man in uniform. A policewoman rushed in and pinned my uncle down. Handcuffs clinked, and my uncle spat out every obscenity he had used on me all these years. I lifted my finger, pointed to a small cupboard above the sink, and then everything went dark.

***

Yesterday I had gotten hold of the giant, and pulled it off my cupboard. It wasn’t on my uncle’s side anymore. It obeyed my command. I had turned it on, and called the police. Before I passed out, I saw its red eye watching over me. It would tell my story, and for the first time in many years, I’d sleep without fear.

9 thoughts on “The Red Eyed Giant by Manasvi Mudgal

  1. “What are you smiling at?” He cried and slapped my face.
    She ran out and cried “she called the cops.”
    – The lines when I felt excited!
    The metaphor of the red eyed giant is apt. Couldn’t have been more expressive. I like the way you broke the story in different parts: Something very unusual and innovative. The story has a pace, an emotional corner, a sudden turn of events: everything one hopes to find in a short story.

  2. Very tactfully portrayed the little girl’s perspective of the story – the nuances, the innocence and her intellectual understanding. The little girl carries the reader through her world – her understanding -The reader sympathizes with her at first and then, at the end, is left feeling redeemed; that her innocence has rescued her from the trauma and that she is going to be fine.

  3. This was powerful, and the shifts going back and forth from the flashbacks to the present were smoothly executed.

    1. Thanks Amber, I really wanted to write something meaningful. These flashbacks were a reason I was worried this story might not be approachable, I hope I didn’t make a mess of it.

  4. A incredible amount of emotion is conveyed in so few words. Fear, desperation, intelligence on the girls part and the ugliest side of humanity on the other from both the uncle and the aunt as she stands passively by, having clearly lost her footing a long time ago.
    An excellent example of what a talented writer can do, even in short story format.

    1. I find short stories to be the hardest to write, and this particular story I had written twice. It’s always a struggle to fit everyone essential in the word limit. Thanks for your kind words.

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