I was 26, swigging rum from the bottle in a cheap Delhi bar. A dead loss with scared fists, one step away from a murky past; still strong despite the heavy drinking, the drugs, and not eating. Strong enough to fight. Strong enough to fuck too. Faye was with me. We fucked a lot. She was good at it. Faye wrote for a tabloid and was waiting to fall in love with the wrong guy when I met her in London. Her last mistake had been an editor with a wife and a new born baby. I was the long shot that would work out. The bad idea turned good.
She wanted to write about India so she left her job and we flew to Delhi; making an ill-advised decision to set up base there. I was flush from bouncing and dealing in England and thought I might pen a novel.
The bar was small, dirty and gloomy. We were drinking hard and making a lot of noise. Sullen Indians nursed glasses of Honey Bee brandy. We were falling about on each other at the bar and getting the bartender drunk. Every guy was staring right at her. We could hardly care.
Faye was small, pretty, provocative. Defenceless, she spent her life in fear of assault or rape. She had long curly brown hair, an impish grin, and held her body slightly too close to anyone she spoke to. When she talked with you, her eyes locked on yours and you were the centre of the universe. Men accosted her at every opportunity. As much for her look as her manner. She wore promising expensive clothes. Even in the midst of the masses of India, where conservative dress was a must, her figure was outlined and her shoulders were bare. Once, in a restaurant, she pointed to a poster of King Kong on the wall; the one where he’s hanging off the Empire State Building with a blonde clutched in his paw.
She said: “I had that poster in my bedroom when I as a teenager.”
Faye carried that wide-eyed sexuality everywhere. She would smile if I mentioned it.
“That’s just men,” she said.
But I regularly fended them off with threats or fists. Her Dad had a lot to answer for.
The bar was closing. Sodden, we got up from our table and I paid the bill. We went out into the muddy unlit street with the rest of the barflies. The night was hot and sticky. Realising I had been short-changed I went back in. In the few minutes it took me to return 10 or 15 men had surrounded Faye. She was swaying, incapable of refusing the hands swarming over her body: grabbing her breasts, sliding under her waistband, pinching her, leaving bruises. I started hitting people. In the melee a big Indian joined in on the correct side. A few went down and the rest of the bastards ran off. I threw Faye over my shoulder.
“That could have been very bad,” said the Indian in English.
“Yeah,” I said, “Thanks.”
I began to trudge down the street with Faye laid across my back.
“Hey – where are you staying?” he called after me.
“Who fucking cares.”
Knocking woke me.
“There’s Mr. Khan to see you in reception.”
“Who?” I said. “I don’t know any Khans.”
“He asked for you.”
The night before drifted back like an unpleasant aroma. Vomit covered the floor around the bed. I dragged on some clothes and went downstairs leaving Faye to sleep.
The big Indian was lounging in an armchair. He was in his early 40s - an intelligent face, a scar running along the left side of his jaw to his lower lip, sleek black ponytailed hair. He was dressed in jeans and a pressed white shirt. His English carried the clipped tones of someone who’d had a British teacher but never lived in the UK.
“Good morning Jules” he said.
“Oh hi, sorry, your name?”
“Amir. Amir Khan. I hope you are ok? Has your girlfriend recovered?”
“Yeah. We’re fine thanks. And for last night - I owe you.”
“It was nothing. You want a drink? I have some time until this afternoon and you’re welcome to my hotel. I have good whiskey?”
I followed him out of the hotel and down the street.
It was midmorning and the heat was beginning to settle. Rickshaws, hawkers, tourists, beggars and cows were thrown in the road together: exhaust fumes, spices, incense, sweat, shit. I followed Amir Khan to a side street off the main bazaar of Parhaganj. The area is a close frenetic network of streets and alleyways near the train station. It’s known for its hippie guest houses and drugs.
Amir’s hotel was better than ours. It was a place Indian businessmen stayed. There were antique replicas and expensive Hindu prints in the faux marble corridors. We went to his room and I sat on the sofa and he sat on the double bed. The furniture was all elaborately carved. The bellboy came with soda and glasses. Amir took the whiskey from the bedside drawer and we enjoyed the first drink of the day. He rolled then lit a joint. He handed it to me and I took a drag – good Himalayan hash.
“How did you find us this morning?” I asked.
“Oh I know many people here. I just asked a few questions. I saw how much you were drinking in the bar and I was impressed. You put a lot back and you were still fighting. However you ought to be more careful with your girl. It can be very dangerous here at night-time. A moment longer and she would have been dragged away.”
He was in Delhi on business- he was vague about what sort - and was waiting for the afternoon train to Varanasi. His wife was Italian and they lived there. She ran an orphanage. He said he came from a wealthy family. We had more whiskey and swapped anecdotes for an hour. He gave me his phone number and told me to visit.
“I’ll show you everything. Get you the best, anything you want,” he said, with a wave of his hand. “You will be my guest”
Our hotel room was a mess. The management were beginning to distrust us. It wasn’t the sort of place that housed degenerates. It was an overnight stay for middle-aged tour groups heading from Delhi international airport to the Taj Mahal. Large rooms, air con, flat screen tvs, unlimited hot water, clean sheets. We didn’t leave the room very much during the day. I had a good contact for smack so we lazed around like sleepy cats. I would order beer from room service. The bellboy always tried to look round the door at Faye, who was invariably naked under the sheets, as he passed me the order. We were certain people had their ears to the door. Faye got a thrill from that. There were looks when we emerged dishevelled into the evening.
We should’ve moved down to the cheap tourist hotels where they didn’t ask questions. Faye didn’t want to.
“I don’t want to stay in some dirty guesthouse. We need our own place. I want to feel at home.”
She was a luxury woman who had to have what she needed – and she was all the more beautiful for it. So we moved into an overpriced apartment in a leafy suburb of South Delhi and burned our money on heroin and booze.
We had a good time in bed- we explored the niches and recesses of our characters together through our physical acts. It was love that allowed us to do this. Sometimes she would try and convince me to fuck her and I would pretend to be too busy – at the computer or reading. She would take her clothes off and position herself around the bed. She would end up on her hands and knees pushing her ass out towards me. After I liked to put a belt round her neck and lead her on all fours through the apartment, slapping her ass and occasionally dipping my cock into her mouth.
We met a pervert in his thirties from New York called Jim. He worked as a writer in Hong Kong for Time Out and was visiting Delhi. He had shoulder length blond hair, wore wire pince-nez type glasses, and was good looking in a goofy sort of way. He told us over a drunk dinner he’d developed a predilection for high-end call girls. We tried to convince him to hire one that night so we could have sex in the same room. He wouldn’t do it and we went home. Later, high and drunk, I called him and asked if he wanted to watch us. He came over in a taxi. “No touching,” I said. “Just watch.”
When he arrived Faye told him to sit in the chair opposite the bed in our room. We fooled around and then she sat on top of me and began to bounce. I smacked her breasts, grabbed a fist-full of her long tangled hair, put my other hand over her neck, and pushed my tongue into her mouth. I pulled her head back and slapped her in the face. She slapped me back harder and pushed down deeper on me. Faye turned her gaze and stared defiantly at Jim as he examined her proud and exposed body, her breasts and cheek flushed from my slaps. I pulled her off me by her hair, got up on my knees and looked at Jim. She was on all fours, my hand still bunched in her locks.
“Do you want her to suck your cock?” I asked him.
“I don’t want to answer that,” he said.
“It’s ok I don’t mind.”
I guided Faye’s open mouth onto my erection and then pulled her away again. “Do you want her to suck your cock like that?”
“Yes, of course”
“Well it’s not going to happen.”
Faye and I laughed at Jim and I told him to get out.
We needed to get out of the city. We were tiring of the routine. I called Amir Khan and told him we were coming over.
“No problem man,” he said. “I’ll have a good hotel booked for you. See you in a couple of days.”
It was an overnight journey on the train. The station was huge, crowded and confusing. Our train was a kilometer long and the platform bustled with people and packages. There was oil and dust in the air. We found our carriage and took our berths. A young married couple joined us. She was pretty and dressed in pale blue sari with diamantes along the hem. He had a caterpillar moustache and was dressed in the ubiquitous cotton pants and shirt, which I had also taken to wearing. We arranged our luggage and made room for each other. All smiled warmly; a commonality was apparent through the differences of language and culture.
The train laboured from the station.
The best thing about Indian trains is that you can open the doors between the carriages and sit with your legs hanging out. Faye and I squeezed next to each other and watched the sun go down over the flat hazy countryside. Lonely towns passed by and we held hands.
Just before dark we came to a stop. I went to step down from the train to buy a drink from the stall on the platform. There was a decapitated man under my feet. A lump of meat lying there, clothed, alongside the steps to our carriage. The head and the left shoulder and arm were under the train. A platform conductor walked by and ignored it. Faye didn’t want to see and went back to her berth. I stepped over the body and bought some water and samosas. As I came back people from the train were crowding the door to see. Someone, excited by the gore, took a picture on their mobile phone. A pubescent girl was staring out of a window from the train. Her gaze fixed on the corpse. I pushed back onboard, walked into the carriage and touched her on the shoulder. She looked up and I gestured to her parents that something was wrong. They looked out the window and moved her away. The train pulled off.
“Chai Chai Chai, Coffee Coffee Coffee.” I woke from a troubled sleep. The vendors, in a uniform of dirty blue trousers and grey shirt, were carrying their metal containers up and down the train, doling out tea and coffee in inadequate paper pill cups. Faye was already up.
“I think we’re nearly there,” she said.
Soon we pulled into Varanasi. It was five o’clock in the morning but hot as noon. Outside the sand coloured colonial station we were greeted by a blanket of locusts. They covered the ground like a curse. We crushed them underfoot as we made our way over to the taxis. I told an auto driver the name of our hotel and he nodded. We were too tired to haggle over the price.
After getting onboard he began an insane venture through the dawn streets. Traffic was light so he traveled fast. At any moment it felt as if the three wheeled contraption was going to turn over. Livestock, bicycles, ox-pulled carts, women bearing pots, ragged children all zoomed past just inches from collision. Across a round-a-bout the left-hand wheel became airborne. He smiled at us through the mirror, his teeth black from chewing paan.
“My name is Shiva,” he said. “It means destroyer.”
Varanasi is where Hindus go to die. Shiva, lord of serpents, destroyer and creator of the world, founded the city 5000 years ago. The Holy Ganges flows from Shiva’s hair, and those who are burnt and have their remains cast into the river receive moksha - release from the cycle of reincarnation – and ascend to Nirvana. Varanasi is home to the world’s oldest and largest death cult. We passed temples adorned with images of skulls and snakes. It is a place where mystical Sadus pull semi-cremated bodies from the water and eat the decomposing flesh.
Arriving at the hotel, which was at the far end of the old town near the river, we made our way up the polished stone staircase to the room. By nine o’clock it was too hot to sleep. Faye put on the television and watched Fashion TV, a catwalk channel that advertised a sparkling reality at odds with the ancient ways still teeming on India’s streets: The screen catwalk a sterile dreamlike conveyor belt - while outside life, all greens and reds, erupted from the dirt.
We got high. The sound of temple bells came ringing through the window. Sex in the heat and the stillness. The apparitions of the models - perfect souls drifting above existence – flickering across the television. I came with her and in her and we kissed deep and deep and deep and there was no end just life and living.
“They say this is the city of life and death,” said Faye after, her head on my chest. “Imagine if one of the souls floating up there decided to come back at that moment.”
“There’s no soul, just blood and guts.” I replied. “You’re going to need a pregnancy test when we get back to Delhi.”
Amir called at 11. He took us to an Italian restaurant by the river. We ordered beer and pizza, and smoked hash. We told him about the dead body.
“It happens a lot on the line to Varanasi,” he said.
He pronounced Varanasi with an Italian accent that made him sound like Dracula.
“Suicide. Perhaps they think that killing themselves under that train will bring them closer to moksha. They must be very desperate.”
As a Muslim Amir didn’t entirely understand the way of life in Hinduism’s holiest city. He said he met his wife in Goa on holiday, and they had moved from his home in Bombay to be in Varanasi. He missed the metropolis and was bored by the traditional pace of life.
Amir and I were already fast friends. Violence was part of our lives and we could see that in each other. Faye seemed to be enjoying herself as well – sex had formed more of her personality than brute aggression but she could relate. Back and forth we passed our stories; pausing occasionally to agree on some half formed philosophy gleaned from the experience. After a couple of hours we got up to leave the restaurant. I tried to pay the bill. At first Amir wouldn’t hear of it but when I insisted he gave in. Then the restaurant owner wouldn’t let me pay.
“You are a friend of Mr. Khan’s. You are welcome.”
We strolled to the hotel from the river bank. The area was like an old debutante, penniless now, regaling the stories that had cost her youth. The buildings were still graceful but yellow, tired and sagging. They retained splendid latticed window frames and elegant doorways – hats and dresses left over from beautiful spent parties.
Amir told us many of the crumbling but functional buildings were nursing homes for affluent Indians wishing to die by the banks of the river. Back at the hotel we ordered drinks but it was too hot to talk. Amir left; he would return at seven and we would go to the Muslim quarter to eat. Faye and I relaxed, alone, naked, entwined.
At seven we climbed into a white Ambassador taxi and drove to the restaurant.
“This is Papu,” Amir said, introducing our driver. “He will take you anyplace you want to go during your stay.”
Papu was dressed in a traditional dhoti and wore an ash mark on his forehead. His head was freshly shaven and there was a sticker of a cobra on the windscreen of the Ambassador. He looked like a monk.
“Why is he dressed like that Amir?” Faye asked. “Is he very religious?”
“He is in mourning. His daughter died recently so he has cut his hair and is wearing old clothes. It is a sign of respect.”
“Please tell him how sorry we are,” Faye said.
The restaurant was quiet. It served ground mutton and semolina with pistachio. Beer was served under the table.
“I used to have business in Bombay with my brothers.” Amir explained. “Bombay is nothing like Varanasi or Delhi. There are not so many rules, there is more freedom. There are parties, nightclubs. Things happen. I have many friends, in business, in Bollywood also. However my wife doesn’t like me to go back these days.”
“Doesn’t trust you eh?” I said.
“No it’s not that,” he replied. “But we should visit. You are in the wrong city. Delhi is no good man. Everyone is asleep by nine o’clock and there’s no money. In Bombay there is money. Lots of money. You will never get anywhere in Delhi. If you come with me I will introduce to you to people. I will find you a good job with one of my friends. They can always use someone like you. I’ll show you the city and make a little money myself while I’m there. I’ll show you the real Bombay.”
We were interested. Faye told him about her newspaper stories; maybe it would be a good place for her to find work.
We drank steadily and Papu brought us back to the hotel. Amir sent the boy (an old man) out for whiskey and cigarettes. Faye went to bed and we talked into the night. When Amir was 12 his father, a factory owner, was killed in a shooting organized by a business rival. He and his brothers were sent to Bombay to live with their mother’s family. His father’s business partner then killed the men involved.
“He knew it was death to retaliate,” Amir said. “But he also knew that if he didn’t take revenge, we would have to. He didn’t have children and he loved my father so he ended it for him- to save us.”
Life in Bombay back then was wild. It was exploding with commerce and the city held many opportunities. Amir bought a motorbike and began to visit Goa, a short trip south of the city. He soon became involved in the drug trade so prevalent in the Goan beach resorts. After becoming friends with some Italians he visited Naples and learned to speak the language. He lived in Bombay until he met his wife, who was also Italian. They got married, she fell pregnant and they moved to Varanasi, where her orphanage was.
“We should go for a holiday,” he said. “I can get you some good work there with my friends.”
In the dark he reminded me of Dracula again and I suspected there was something he wasn’t telling me about his exile from Bombay. Some trouble there. For him and maybe for us. It didn’t concern me though, I trusted him not to do us deliberate harm and I was happy to go for the ride. Violence had always been so spontaneous, so random – a shove in a bar, an argument over a girl, a perceived slight - that it seemed ridiculous to attempt to predict where it might appear.
The next morning Papu dropped us at the silk bazaar, a brief walk from the cremation ghats that line the river. The bright shapes of the fabrics vanished as we slipped into the high crooked alleys along the riverbank. Shortly we found ourselves at the stairs leading down to the Ganga, wide and mysterious. Swirls of mist rose over the river - lit orange and red by the early morning sun. Four cremations pyres burned at the bottom of the stairs. They were surrounded by large piles of wood and the remains of silver and gold coloured shrouds. Mourners prayed and chanted, the sounds mingling with the everyday life all around us. Children played cricket on the next ghat, Hindi music boomed from an alleyway, and boats jostled at the water’s edge. And there we were, along with a smattering of other gawking pasty-faced tourists, accompanying the scene.
A funeral procession burst from an alley, like an arterial bleed, drummers leading the way. It seemed impossible that so many people could squeeze through that cramped maze. From the middle of the pack, on the shoulders of four men, came the wrapped body draped in marigolds. They took it down to the river to be washed.
We peered at the fires. One was burnt lower than the rest. Amid the embers there was a blackened jaw and thigh bone. The air smelt of incense and sandalwood.
A priest approached us.
“All night all day fire. 24 hour,” he said. “You give money for families.”
Faye had all our money in her purse and she gave him five hundred rupees, which was a lot. He turned to me.
“You now,” he said.
“That’s enough,” I replied.
He looked at Faye.
“You ok,” he said and then looked at me and pointed to the ground. “But you - down.”
I laughed and Faye elbowed me in the side.
We turned away and I bartered with a boatman to row us upriver to the bathing ghats. Another boat was pulling out as we left. This one carried a corpse. It made its way into the middle of the river and the body was lowered into the water.
“Pregnant women, children, holy men, all clean, no burn,” the wiry boatman told us.
Further up people left their washing to dry on the slopes below the high pink walls of the buildings lining the riverside. Multi-coloured rows of saris stretched out. Next to them piles of human shit. A group of boys played in the water as we went by. Moments later the distended grey corpse of a women floated past. We came closer to the bathing ghat. There were hundreds of people swimming, washing, and praying in an overwhelming swirl of noise and colour.
Still amongst the chaos, a holy man sat on the dockside crossed legged, arms resting in his lap, staring out across the water. His white douti contrasted beautifully with his black skin and gracious slim body. He seemed to be orchestrating the scene around him. Perhaps here was something to believe in among what seemed to me to be superstitious rituals and voodoo beliefs: his splendid form older and more truthful than all. A god born of nature. Then, as if to remind me that everything was the same, that it all comes from and goes to the same place, the god leant over the side and began to scoop and drink the murky fetid water.
Amir took us for a final drink before we got on the train. I asked for the hotel bill while we were waiting for him to arrive. I was just about to pay when the manager realized Amir had booked the room. He told us to forget it. When Amir arrived at the hotel Papu drove to a bar near the train station. It was a large dingy hall with no attempt at décor; full of silent drunks.
“All the bars are the same here,” Amir said, shaking his head as a man across the room slid from his chair and hit his face on a table.
We downed a few shots of cheap gin and made arrangements to go to Bombay in three weeks.
On the way to the station a policeman in the road stood in front of the Ambassador. Amir rolled the window down and he walked around to the side of the car. The cop poked his head in. Suddenly Amir grabbed him by the collar and pulled him further into the car. Using his arms and torso he shoved the cop back through the window. The policeman lost his balance and fell into the road. We drove away.
Faye was pregnant. We waited a couple of weeks after returning from Varanasi to buy a test, but we already knew. We took a walk around the small park near the apartment.
“We could keep it,” she said. “I know there’s a baby coming. We could find a way to keep it.”
“I would love for us to have a family. You know I would do anything to make this work,” I told her, and maybe I meant it. “But we’re in a foreign country, we don’t have jobs, and we’re constantly wrecked. It’s impossible.”
“We have nine months to get things ready,” she said. “We could make it happen.”
“It would be craziness. Our situation is completely insecure. You would be stressed through your entire pregnancy. It wouldn’t be healthy.”
We walked in silence in circles on the footpath bordering the grass. Side by side, but not touching or looking at each other.
“You’re right,” she said, taking my hand for a moment. “I knew all along. I just needed you to tell me. But now I know it’s there, I can feel it growing inside me. You’ll have to help me Jules, I’m not going to be able to do this on my own.”
Her hand slipped from mine and fell to her side.
After we took a cab to the gardens and green fields around India Gate. Young families gathered around ice-cream vendors and teams played cricket in the background. Because she was trying to convince herself we would be stronger than ever for going ahead, that it was a sacrifice we needed to make to get things right in the future, she told me she felt there was a validation in the war memorial: It’s pleasant grounds were comforting and pointed towards the good that could come from deliberate death. I didn’t think that what was inside her was alive, or that sanctifying inevitable military sacrifice, the consequence of unconscious historical tides, was any different from what we’d witnessed in Varanasi: A way of confirming the purposeful identity of the group in the face of an eternity of darkness. I kept my mouth shut because I needed her to believe in what she was doing.
At home we looked up private hospitals and the next morning we took a taxi to an expensive international complex. Faye saw a gynecologist and was given two pills to take at home. Back at the apartment she bled out our would-be child while we drifted out on smack and watched TV on the bed. I tried to hold her but we felt broken.
The fights started after the abortion. We got drunk and we got high. We were on the road to junkieville. Something needed to change. Money was running out, her freelancing plans had not materialized. She didn’t want to bum around living poor, she missed her friends in London, she wanted her job back. We didn’t go to Bombay. Faye didn’t want to travel because she said she was still unwell after the abortion, and she’d decided she didn’t trust Amir, so I rescheduled with him hoping to change her mind when she felt better.
I was pissed off we were hanging around in Delhi. She’d helped me spend all my money. I needed to find work and Bombay seemed the best place to get it. One night both dead drunk she clawed at my face, collapsed sobbing and laid the blame at my feet. She curled up in the foetal position on the bed and withdrew into her own blackness – I couldn’t reach her and it frightened me. I went for a walk to let her be alone with it.
The night guards on the end of each block whistled ahead to each other as I passed. I left the suburb and went out onto the main road. The dogs roamed in packs here and you had to be careful to avoid them, or at least not show any fear if they came close. There was an encampment under a flyover up the road. Most of the inhabitants were asleep on the concrete. Tarpaulin shelters, cycle rickshaws and all the other paraphernalia of desperate poverty were gathered around them. I paced into the next district. The buildings were rows of discoloured buck teeth. Electricity cables slid from the roofs in groups and bundled together over sporadic wooden pylons like knots of angry snakes. Sleeping shapes prostrate in doorways passed as I put more and more distance between myself and Faye.
I turned a corner and walked into a group of five police officers beating a guy. There were moans and heavy breathing and nasty sounding words I didn’t understand. He was laid on the ground raising a bloodied hand above his head. Evidently they’d been taking turns on him with their batons. I was taking in the scene when the cop I bumped into gave me a vicious jab in the chest with his stick. Instinctively I got hold of it with my right hand, and all the anger and fear and sadness welled out of me at the pain and the promise of a physical confrontation. I pulled him towards me and smashed him in the face with my left forearm. My elbow hit his nose and he hit the deck. I was dead.
I turned and ran but before I got far a blow fell across my shoulders. The force travelled down my spine and took my legs out from under me. The back of my head took the next one. A baton was swung hard into my face. Black soaring pain. My front teeth snapped and caught in my throat. I chocked and coughed the remains onto the ground, blood and bits of teeth mixing in the dirt. I tried to get up but I was surrounded. They beat me until they were exhausted. I felt disinterested and apart from myself. When they finished my arms were shackled behind my back so that my hands went numb. Then my ankles were shackled and I was picked up and thrown into a nearby van.
They regained their breath on the way to the station, ramming my head into the floor. I could feel blood pouring down my face. Pain was flooding my senses now. The van stopped and they threw me out onto concrete. I was going in and out of consciousness. I lay there for a while and then two cops came over and grabbed my arms. They pulled them over my shoulders and hauled me into the station, my face dragging along the floor. I blacked out.
I woke up in a dank concrete basement still shackled and in throbbing agony. I shouted for someone to call the embassy. I sounded like Quasimodo. A cop opened the door and kicked me in the gut. There was a kid, who looked about 17, in there with me. He was huddled under a table along the wall terrified. After an hour or so four policeman came in. Three of them pinned the kid on the table while the forth beat the soles of his feet with a baton. The kid screamed and screamed. It didn’t make any difference.
I lay on the floor praying I would get out. After hours a cop came in and barked for my address. Faye came to pick me up soon after. She broke down when she saw me. My entire body was a livid bruise. My top teeth were pretty much gone and my face was bloated like I had some gigantic tumour. A massive black eye stuck out like a bag of oil. I was lucky they didn’t just make me disappear. They probably would have if I had been Indian.
I spent over a week in hospital. The embassy helped make arrangements for me to leave the country as soon as I was out. If I made a fuss about what happened the police would charge me with attacking their officer. It was better to leave quietly the embassy man said. Faye cut out on me before I left the hospital. She didn’t say goodbye. There was a note delivered by a nurse.
“I’m sorry” she wrote, “I fell in love with the wrong man.