“Everybody remembers the monster and the man. It is the woman nobody talks about.”
They had just finished watching Victor Frankenstein and he was waiting for the water to boil. Her statement confused him for a moment because he was thinking about the actor and how some can shed and put on characters like clothes. Making the audience fall in love with each character. It took him a minute or two to realize that she was talking about the line from the film which stated that everybody remembers Frankenstein’s monster but not the man who created it.
“That was because she lived in an era where women were treated that way.” He replied, turning off the kettle and pouring the water into a mug with coffee granules at the bottom. It instantly sent out a pleasant fragrance of coffee, tempting him to take a sip. He began to look for a spoon.
“You’re right.” She said and she wasn’t talking to him. She liked ranting on. She didn’t necessarily need an audience. He continued his search for the spoon and realized that all the spoons were in the sink. He picked up a fork and decided it would do. He began to stir his coffee.
“May be, that was the monster she was talking about.” She ranted on. The society. Think about it. Doesn’t it all fit? A mad scientist stitching up rotting parts from different creatures to give birth to a new monster… Now it all makes sense. Somebody must work on it. Somebody must read it from a feminist angle.”
“Post-colonial or post-modernist would be better.” He was enjoying the discussion. He couldn’t remember the last time they had had a conversation like the one they were having now. She was silent most of the times. Silent and sad. It broke his heart to see her sobbing in the middle of the night. He tried his best to make her happy. To make her understand that it was her happiness which gave him a reason to live.
“Not again. One cannot equate gender inequalities with those of races.” She said.
“Why not?” he argued, taking his coffee and moving into the bedroom. “Discrimination is discrimination. You of all people shouldn’t be biased with biases.”
“You don’t understand.” She said, frowning. “Women have been oppressed since the beginning of times. Other discriminations come and go.”
“You’re right, in a way.” He was getting tired of the argument now.
“Imagine, Mary, a fifteen year old madly in love with this famous poet.” She didn’t stop. “Sitting between his wise friends, listening to their philosophies and feeling like a nobody. I guess that’s what created the monster.”
When he heard it he began to wonder whether she was talking about Mary Shelley or herself. He was tempted to ask her whether that’s what he had made her feel. He wanted her to know that he never wanted her to feel so. That she was, and always would be, his muse. But he didn’t ask her anything. He was afraid to know where he had gone wrong.
“I wonder how she came up with such a brilliant work at such a young age.” He contemplated out loud.
“I have thought about it too.” She said, smiling. “Are you going to write about it?”
“About what? Frankenstein?”
“No. About our conversation.”
At 2:00 am, he was woken up by the sound of muffled weeping. He was too tired to get up and comfort her. She was sitting on the floor, next to the bed. He turned and put his hand on her shoulder. She looked up.
“I know why she wrote it.” She said, through her teary voice.
“Mary Shelley…she wrote it because she had to let her monster go… Monsters need to be set free after a point of time.”
“I know what you’re trying to say. But I’m not letting you go. You’re not my monster. You’re my muse.”
And then the memories came flooding. Him desperately and helplessly holding her hand as she took her last breath. In the same room. Reading out Shelley to her long after she was gone, in a desperate attempt to bring her back…
“It’s been fifteen years.” She interrupted, saving him from drowning in the dark memory.
“But I need you.” He said. He said that whenever she wasn’t around. He meant it.
“I understand.” She said with a hint of sadness. “Sleep now.”
He closed his eyes and let her sobs lull him to a dreamless sleep…