2011-03-05: The Good Of Suffering


Rashmi_icon.jpg Hosea_icon.jpg

Summary: Hosea and Rashmi talk about what she went through in Africa.

Date: Saturday, March 5, 2011. 8:00pm

Log Title: The Good of Suffering

Rating: PG

NYC - Thompson Square Park

Thompson Square Park is a small park in the middle of Mutant Town. The benches might need a fresh coat of paint, the fence might be rusted in places and the pavement is raised and has cracks but it's all part of the mutant haven and fairly relaxing. Trees and grassy areas are in between the many paths, there are a few structures and benches along the path as well as a special area of the park that is marked 'the dog walk'.

Two trees have been planted in the park as a Memorial to Carmencita Florez and Detective Baxter each with a plaque stating the tree is in their memory.

Late evening, and quietly Rashmi approaches the memorial trees, hands clasped, a wreath of fresh flowers danging around each wrist. Drawing in a deep breath, she lowers herself to her knees, carefully placing the wreaths at the foot of each tree, pausing to clear the odd bit of debris from around the foot of the plaque, a quiet, sad smile on her face. "I'm so sorry," she murmurs once her chores are done. "I wish you could be here to see what you did…"

Hosea has wanted to talk to Rashmi since they got back, but the opportunity hasn't presented itself. So he took to take the initiative and call her. His personal transportation is rivaled by few in the world, and it is only a few seconds before he is appearing about ten feet past the memorial, teleporting in with only a slight adjustment for his landing. He wears an old jacket, not unlike one would expect to find on a homeless man, durable but worn out. He takes a moment to take in the tone of Rashmi. The young man takes the three steps needed for his stride to reach her, and he glances down at the plaque that has been such a large point of interest for the city as of late. "Hello, Rashmi," he says in a quiet, yet still deep voice.

"Hi Hosea," Rashmi answers, the smile in her voice, as well as on her face. Despite the hushed sorrow that touches her when she visits the memorial, despite the memories of horror that defined their last extended meeting, the redhead does indeed seem quite happy to see the young Nigerian. "It's a nice gesture, isn't it?" she asks, nodding toward the plaques.

Hosea nods, "Dey are vedy nice," he agrees. "I was able to attend for your rally. You speak vedy well, it is a gift dat you have." He smiles. "I am sorray for not being able to come talk to you at da time, you seemed to be vedy busy dat day, yes? And I was worried dat some people may try to stop it, so I was trying to be alert."

"I saw," Rashmi says with a small chuckle, rising to her feet and brushing off the dirt from her skirt. "I don't blame you either, a lot of those kind fo gatherings have been pretty dangerous lately… but it worked out better than I could have hoped." Turning, she tilts her head slightly. "How've *you* been doing, Hosea?"

"Mmm. I do well," he says, "Nero's trial is set too far away, I think," he says, having been keeping up with the issues in Nigeria. The warlord's capture has been headlines there since it happened. "But it is set, no less. It is a cause for rejoicing. My people are free." He dips his head and measures Rashmi's face with his dark eyes. "But da reason I called, I was hoping to learn how you are doing." He doesn't elaborate, but while Hosea hasn't talked to Rashmi about what happened inside of Nero's gates, he's certain it wasn't pretty.

It's easy to read in Rashmi's eyes from the moment Hosea mentions Nero's name, and doesn't go away; there's a shadow there, that wasn't before, an echo of pain and fear, for all that she meets the young mutant's gaze without wavering. "Better," she says quietly. "Good days and bad days… more good, lately. It's hard not to remember, and sometimes I think the only reason I can still function's because of how my brain's adapted to my powers. But I never broke, Hosea… Even if the only reason I'm alive is because of God's will, I *never broke.*" This last, said in a low, strained whisper, as if part of a mantra she'd told herself during the worst of it, after.

Hosea reaches out one of his large hands to place it on Rashmi's shoulder. "Do you wish to talk about it?" he asks, knowing that the answer could well range from one end of the spectrum to the other. "You know dat I am heah for you, whether you wish to speak of it, or wish to keep it silent." Not to mention that he can relate to her horrors in a way that most are blessed not to be able to.

Rashmi is silent, for a moment, her gaze falling down and away. "…You know," she murmurs, closing her eyes, "I've been trying not to. Talk about it, I mean. But… you probably know better than anyone, even me…" Letting loose a small, shuddery breath, she shakes her head. "I guess I ought to, honestly… I couldn't tell my parents, or my other friends… C'mon," she says, nodding to the bistro down the street, "let's get some tea or something while we talk."

"Dat would be nice," Hosea says, and begins a steady pace toward the bistro. "You know, I have not bought a lady tea yet in America? It is a good opportunity dat I have now," his way of saying tha the's paying. He doesn't add additional comments, though, knowing that the girl may need time to gather her thoughts on the matter.

Rashmi manages a chuckle as she falls into step beside Hosea, eyes turned to the ground as she walks. "Well, it's not like it'd be for lack of opportunity… that was sweet of you, by the way, to help that Sophie girl like that. I can't imagine how much the difference would make her nervous, since this is all so incredibly new for her." Yes, she's avoiding the issue, but seems content to let lie until they've gotten their drinks and found a seat.

"You got to speak to her a little," Hosea says, "I think you would like her even more if you were to speak to her more." He holds the door open for the hindi girl as they head in. "She can heal, did you know dat? A great gift from God. But not her own eyes. Maybe Travis could heal her, do you think?" Hosea doesn't know much about Travis' limitations, but it can't hurt to ask. "I think he would like to be able to use dat powah for her if he could."

"I could ask," Rashmi murmurs, bobbing her head in thanks as the door is held open for her. "I don't know what he can and can't fix, really… Eyes would be tricky though—Darjeeling, please," she asks of the girl manning the counter. "But, yeah, I think I really would like her."

Hosea nods, and places his money on the counter after Rashmi orders. He looks in a puzzled manner at the menu, not being very well versed in teas. "Black tea," he says after a moment, not wishing to embark on a tea education at the moment. The girl takes the money, and gives the change, which he places in his pocket loosely.

Rashmi lets out a quiet breath, slipping into a booth near the window, to wait until their order is ready. "…You never really understand things like what you went through," she begins once Hosea sits, "not until you go through it. I mean, you can know in your mind… And even imagine it a little… but it's so much different than being there… And even now, i know that I only dealt with a very little of it."

Hosea folds his hands patiently across the table, and studies Rashmi's mouth as she speaks. "Do not feel da need to compare what you went through to me because I was dere longer. I do not believe dat it is less significant dat you have suffered under him because it was for a shorter time. But yes, it is vedy different to have walked da road den to have heard of da road. It can be hard for others to sometime understand just what it is like."

Rashmi waves an impatient hand. "Oh please. I've never been blind enough to compare suffering like that. ….Not between two different people anyway," she says, clearing her throat. "It's just… I don't know… sometimes I'm going along, doing whatever, and my brain just stops, and says 'You were tortured. You were stripped to your underwear, beaten, humiliated, and you had to choose whether it was the little girl or the man that lived or died.'" Chewing on the inside of her cheek, she looks up, eyes starting to water. "How do you *decide* to be the kind of person that *does* that to people…?!"

Hosea frowns, and grows quiet as she tells him the overview of her experience. His hands, still folded, raise up, and he rubs his thumbs against his chin. "A little folding of da hands, a little closing of da eyes, den da poverty of da soul will come like a robber, and want of righteousness like an armed man." Her tale doesn't bring back very friendly memories for himself, and her last comment strikes him particularly hard. "It is sadly not as hard as you may think." He would know. "He made you choose between dem?"

Rashmi looks down again. "I wouldn't, at first," she says quietly. "I refused to play his game the first time… so he killed them. The second time, I told him to kill me instead… so he killed them again. The third time… the third time the man *asked* me to choose him."

Hosea's eyes water a little at Rashmi's retelling. "He was vedy brave," he observes. "He took your burden." He glances to the side as the tea is placed in front of him, but he doesn't move to take it yet.

Rashmi closes her eyes, nodding slowly. "He was… And I won't ever forget that… But… that was just the first day. After he decided that I'd make a better wife than a soldier… It was just the beatings. The stupid brainwashing stuff. …And for when Travis was rude, he'd beat me too."

Hosea doesn't ask the obvious question with the wife comment. He just continues to listen. "What did you think when dat happened?" he asks. His right hand moves down to the cup, and his fingers roll along the mug to turn the handle to face the left before his left hand comes down to loop through the handle.

Rashmi shakes her head slowly, taking hold of her mug and staring down at the rich, red liquid inside. "….Actually… I didn't think much of anything, honestly… It's like… when he was beating me…? I knew. I *knew.* He was only beating me because I wouldn't do what he wanted. And I started to… Iunno… make a game of it, almost. Like it was the only way I could fight him… by not giving in. By making him beat me. By making everyone *see* he had to beat me. I'd toe the line every chance I got. And when they dragged me back, and opened my door, I'd just say 'I win again.'"

"What about when he beat you for Travis?" Hosea asks. This is the end of Nero's savagery that he was not on. He was male, so the torment he was subjected to was of a different nature, though like Travis had Rashmi, there were victims to hold against Hosea as well. He picks up the mug, and takes a sip.

"That Travis was fighting, too…" She holds the mug up to her lips, pausing for a moment. "…But he couldn't hold out forever. He said to Nero 'I'll do whatever you want, just don't hurt her.'" Closing her eyes, she takes a sip of her tea, shoulders hunching as she remembers the day he said that. "…So he made Travis and this other kid fight. …Made me watch. I don't blame him… I never will. There's a limit to how long anyone can fight like that. The only difference was… I know how to fight that way better, is all…"

Hosea's expression turns sad, but resolved. "Travis told me dat much," he reveals. "What he did. He did not do something wrong. He did what he had to do, because he cares for you. He was still fighting, but he placed your integrity above his own, yes?"

Rashmi nods. "He did… but also… He watched his father die, Hosea. When he was a kid… and he told me, he couldn't stand to see someone hurt anyone he cares for again…" Her lips twitch upward at the corners, and she takes in a shaky breath. "I wouldn't have minded, you know… if they kept beating me for Travis. It would have just been another part of the game."

"Rashmi," Hosea says. "If Travis had not fought, Nero would have killed you." The statement is spoken like a lead weight. "If you had continued long in your resistance, he would have killed you. He would not see it dat you had won because he had not been able to break you. He would see it dat you could not stop him from doing as he pleased, to beat you as he desired, and to kill you as he desired." He takes another sip of the tea. "Dat is not to say dat it was bad in da way dat you fought. But I believe it is likely dat Travis breaking saved your life. Nero would have killed you still, I think, had you been dere much longer. It is a reason to praise God dat you are both alive." Of course, Hosea wasn't in the room to see just how close it was.

"Oh," Rashmi says faintly, "I know. Like I said… it's only the grace of God I'm even alive to talk to you. That… meteor? Threw off his aim. He was going to shoot me right… there… because I told him exactly what I thought of him."

Hosea reaches into his coat pocket, and pulls out a golf ball sized black rock, and places it on the table. The meteorite from that fateful day. "Hah!" he laughs, looking at the rock and shaking his head. "God has vedy good timing, yes?" he comments with a large grin, though it fades away again after a moment. "How did you feel when you first realized dat you received your powahs back and could fight him?" he asks.

"….You mean when he had his hands around my neck and was crushing my throat…?" Rashmi shakes her head. "I didn't. Just like when I first knew I had powers… I didn't think. I wanted him off me, I wanted him *away,* and my powers did the rest. After that…?" She sets her tea down, staring morosely into the depths of the liquid. "…I always looked up to people like Dr. Gandhi…. People who would never raise a hand in violence. People who *knew* there was a better way, and were strong enough to hold to that no matter what. I always knew I was never *that* strong… but until that day… I never thought I had it in me to hate someone so much I could kill them. Even if it was just for a second… I wanted him to *die.* And if he hadn't been making a mutant out of himself… He would have."

"It is a terrifying thing," Hosea says. "To realize dat you have not only da strength to kill, but a mind dat could act on it, even if it is in da most terrible situation." But then that's not the real question that remains. "Do you still wish dat he had died?" the African asks. After all, it's a lengthy process to prosecute such a villain, and a lot of money out of hungry mouths, not to mention the possibility that he may somehow escape, or be freed by other means.

Rashmi is silent for a long, long moment after this question, the mug brought to her lips, eyes unfocused as she mulls over the question and all its attendant caveats. "…No," she says finally. "And even when the nightmares are horrible enough I can't breathe when I wake up… no. Never. The law is too important to me to ever really want that. Besides… how can he pay for *all* his crimes without a trial? I wasn't the only one he hurt, after all… No. Never."

"God will judge him according to his deeds," Hosea says. "Da price will be paid for his evil." The African tucks both lips in for a moment. "I know dat I must come to come to a place to forgive him. Though his deeds demand his death, dey demand mine as well. I hold hope dat he may be changed in his heart, da way I was changed. But I know for justice in dis world, da law will demand his death." He pauses after the statement, uncertain how such a radical view may be received, particularly since Rashmi has experienced Nero's evil first hand.

Rashmi nods slowly. "I've always believed that it's within everyone to find grace, Hosea," she murmurs quietly. "If anyone is proof, you are… I don't think he'll find it, but… I know he could, if he wanted to. If he chose to. I'm going to have to work to forgive him too… but I know… it'll be a while. Possibly a long while…. maybe even as long as it takes my hair to grow back… but I hope not that long."

A smile creeps across Hosea's face. "Do not think too highly of me," he notes. "I said I must come to a place to forgive him." He holds a finger up with his point. "I did not say I had reached it yet." He laughs lightly. "I have one more question for you," he says. "Do you believe dat suffering you endured was evil?"

Rashmi's lips twitch upward. "…You don't think it means much that you're able to *want* that place…?" Picking up her cup, she sips, brow furrowing at the odd question. "Would I complain about rain for being wet? No… that'd be stupid. There's a motto that some people here say, you know… 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people.' If I hated the suffering I went through for hurting me, I might as well throw away every bullet I find just because I don't like killing," she says, with a genuine, if soft, laugh. "No, Hosea… I don't think the suffering was evil. I think Nero chose to do all *kinds* of evil… But that's it. And the *best* way I can beat him is to turn what I went through into something good. I'll never regret going, you know… Not a bit of it. Because what we did *helped* people. And it meant something good."

Hosea smiles. "It warms my heart to heah dat, thank you," he says. "You may be shocked, yes? Many people think dat suffering is evil. But you speak da truth. Da suffering is not evil. It is vedy unpleasant!" he quickly adds, "But it can be vedy good. Dey say when you suffer, you can be da victim, or you can be da survivah," he quotes, though where he heard it, he couldn't say. "But I think dat you can be da thriver as well! Though dis still hurts, God will bring what is good from it."

Rashmi nods slowly, finishing off her tea. "That's pretty much it… and besides. If we weren't *meant* to overcome suffering, there wouldn't be any. You can't be all-knowing and all-powerful and screw up how you make people, after all… honestly? That's why I put so much faith in people, Hosea… Because it's on *us* to make the world better. God did all the work of making us happen. Now it's our job to be worthy of Him." Falling silent a moment, she tilts her head, eyebrow rising. "…Out of curiosity…? These are some pretty specific questions… almost like you were looking for something in the way I answered, you know?"

Hosea laughs, "Dat is a good perspective," the Nigerian agrees. "Da questions? I cannot take much credit. But I know dat when I left Nero, dey were things in my heart dat hurt. Abraham was wise, and asked me dose types of questions to help me work through da important things dat I wrestled with." He finishes off his own tea as well, less than ceremoniously, and places the mug back on the table.

Rashmi bobs her head, slipping out of her chair with a smile. "Well. I may not have Abraham's wisdom… But if you have any other questions like that…? I love a good, friendly argument. Especially with someone who doesn't believe everything I do. Oh… and thanks for the tea… but thank you *more* for the visit. It was really good to talk to someone about this… And I think even better that it was you."

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