Mongoose

March 20, 2018

In the corner by the Mehndi Tree was a hole. It was home to a family of Mongoose. The fellow who lived on the first floor would often step out and feed them bread. Which they would gladly accept.

He was sure it was because snake did not taste as good. Though in all honesty it was probably because the snake population had been hounded out by the burgeoning human settlement all around the homestead.

His father had set up the homestead when few had dared to venture that far south of the city. It was a place populated by outlaws and cattle thieves and laborers who worked the brick kilns. And ghosts.

In fact that is how his father was able to afford the land in the first place. The plot of land that his father wanted had an old well. The ruined stone embankment around the well was a testament to its age. As was the fact that it was dry as a bone.

But at thirty feet deep and dark and cool it was a great place for bats to nest during the day.

The village folk around the well were convinced that the well was haunted. The yield from the soil around the well was about half of what was usual for this part of the country. And the headman swore that wheat from the parcel of land on which the well stood caused impotence in men and miscarriages among women.

His father had purchased the plot of land for a pittance and had immediately decided to make his life on it.

Everyday he rode out on unpaved roads – a full twenty seven kilometers. On an old Lambretta, with his service rifle on his shoulder. And bread and curds and pickles packed for the entire day and night.

He had set up a cot there. With wire netting strung up along it’s four legs. He would rest on the cot. While below him he would tend to five hens. He would feed them from a bag of feed. And water them from an irrigation ditch close by.

He had newspaper and a Fowler hat to protect him from the blazing afternoon sun and once the sun set he would feed off his bread and his curd and his pickles. Then he would lay down on top of the cot and listen to his radio as his hens settled in for the day.

His rifle lay at his side and when the village boys would come by in the hopes of stealing a hen for their pot he would fire a warning shot.

In the morning he would be relieved by a local youth while he went home to bathe, change his clothes and pick up his meal for the day. He would be back at his cot within four hours.

He paid the local youth in cigarettes and spare food and stories of the war. And sometimes a quart of Army rum.

The Hens did their part – they ate and drank and grew and laid eggs. He collected those eggs and sold them. And he collected the receipts from the sale of those eggs and made the rounds of banks in the vicinity.

He got a loan and six months later he had a shed up. With 500 hens laying him eggs.

Ten years later he had a house with the ground floor made of stone and brick. And the first floor made of wood and asbestos. He had a wife and a little boy and girl on the first floor.

The first floor had dark unfinished panels of wood for walls and asbestos sheets for a roof. He had a room. That was hot in the summers and cold in the winters. He shared it with his sister.

His Father and Mother had another room and there was a Kitchen and a Bathroom and and a Drawing room. His Grandma and his Father’s elder brother and his wife used to stay downstairs in the pucca house.

The first floor had many windows. And lots of light and air. It had a swing hanging off a wooden girder in the Drawing Room. And books. And nesting sparrows. And their young. And decent food. And lots of song and dance and merry evenings.

The boy had discovered the mongoose family when during an altercation over a rotting chicken carcass the mongoose had ripped off the Boss Dog’s nose and the hole below the Mehndi tree was surrounded by a dozen dogs all barking their heads off.

He had marched out among the dogs and with some difficulty made them disband and regroup a certain distance away. He had investigated the hole with a stick.

It was only when he stepped away from the hole that he saw a chipmunk like figure dart out from the hole. The dog pack attacked. And he thought that the mongoose was dead meat.

The following day he saw Mr and Mrs Mongoose fleetingly in the flower beds.

The mongoose had survived.

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Soula

October 26, 2009

16 = P.

After counting thrice he settled on the number. I have decided that I hate it. Having that decision under his belt he felt up to a shag. He jerked off furiously, waiting for a warm wetness to engulf him and put him to sleep. But today was a no lullaby day. He gave up chafed and soft. Panting he summoned energy to hate.

Hate was good to him. He was a writer and hatred was a powerful impulse. Yet as an impulse – especially one he wanted to win his bread by he could not but be suspicious of hate.

His hatred lacked fidelity. Very often at the most crucial of time he was unable to summon hatred. And without hatred he could not write. Without writing he could not live. He had a day job and it paid his bills. But it was writing that sustained his soul. His day job was inconsequential enough to want to make him write. It was another thing that made him hate himself.

He considered hate his friend. In his opinion too many people suffered because they happened to be wary of hatred. He truly believed that the world was populated by the dissatisfied.

Thus there were only two kinds of people in this world  – those who hated themselves and knew it and were okay with it; and those who were in denial and constantly seeking distraction.

No one was happy, this realization was a constant comfort to him. He wasn’t scornful of the happy people he met, he pitied them for they were unresolved as far as he was concerned.

That was the closest he came to compassion.

As a person he considered himself fully resolved. And in a way at peace with his own imperfections. He thought of himself as exalted because of this. When he saw himself he saw himself as complete and blessed and therefore rare.

It troubled him that the world did not see him as such.  He did not understand the difficulty in translation. Why was something that was so lucid to him so hidden from the rest of his peers?

Were they his peers – could they be considered as such despite their ignorance? He had trouble answering such questions. All he knew was that he was consumed by a certain misery and that he was not entirely to blame for it. He had as a youth tried to rationalize it. He had read extensively, the eastern, the classical and then the western philosophers. Poems, talks, prose; he had forced himself to read, to listen, to debate but had failed to change sides.

He was born with a faith in his own unique unhappiness. Nothing could change that.

What made this realization strange for him was the fact that he was sure that uniquely unhappy though he was, he was not alone. He knew several others suffered like him from pangs of inherently impotent realization.

Yet he was old enough to realize that the nature of human existence today was such that their cries of anguish would forever echo off deaf ears. People like him were destined to remain in a lone embrace with their anguish, the collective would never gather to console itself. Their cries would never be heard by their brethren. The lonely and the sad would never have company to seek comfort in.  Their grief would flourish, solitary and full.

He understood existence to be a trial and the afterlife to be a continuation of it. As far as he was concerned the only difference between the living and the dead was that while alive a foolish man could delude himself into believing that he had company or the ability to share, to receive and to give. Even the biggest imbecile was denied the benefit of that illusion while dead. That is why people were afraid to die. It was because they were scared to be alone.

He wasn’t afraid of death – not any more, he was more worried about his reincarnation. Of being forced to walk through throngs with his shouts unheard. He lived in mortal fear of life. And what unnerved him was the fact that he had good reason to be afraid of animation.

He craved only stillness and he knew it to be impossible.

In his youth he had been a writer of some renown. He had a secret. He had realized that acclaim would be his as long as he was able to express his inability to express. The critics were unanimous in the praise for the lofty ideas he handled so deftly. He was celebrated as the thinking man’s writer. He was aghast when he read the first review of his novella. A great man had called him a diviner of the human soul. He was god soon and revered.

That must have been the time when he laughed a lot.  There was much ado about his insight, about the fact that he had a handle on things that no human before him had had. He was bitter. They were missing the point. He was miserable. And he stood out because he was so utterly miserable and because he was so utterly unable to express it. It was his lack of expression that made him so valued an author. It was the depth of his despair that the “thinking man” and occasional woman so resonated with.

He was sad and had had sex frequently in those days. He tried to fuck as many nice looking young women as he could back then. He hoped to inject them with his unhappiness; impregnate them with his alienation. He wanted to give them a part of him. The part he did not like. Years later he read of tribal people in Africa raping virgins to rid themselves of the HIV virus. His efforts had been in a similar vein. He had hated women who had drawn satisfaction from intercourse with him and he had hated those who had been indifferent.

An abiding hatred for women had been a legacy of those years. He had never married and nowadays sexed only prostitutes.

Before growing up he had loved two women desperately, neither had responded to his bleating. He had hemorrhaged severely because of the lack of response. He had told them how he realized that they needed to be seized, possessed but how he was incapable of that transgression. He realized that they would never be satisfied with that, that they would make him compromise himself and then forever hold that against him. He urged them to reconsider their foolish ways.  He wanted them to see how they should be suitably impressed by a man who valued closure more than naked aggression and conquest.  By a man who could see the end and thus choose the means. Both girls were nice but relentless, they wanted to be wowed, they wanted to be taken, from their dreariness to exultant freedoms – both had died morose and unhappy.

Both had been responsible for the excesses he had committed on womankind while he was successful, while he could.

As far as women were concerned he had  started as a breast man and retired largely oblivious to tits and everything else. As things stood now he held all men in contempt and all women way below men.

As children were one day to blossom into men and women he found them tiresome and unworthy.

He liked dogs yet.

He knew he was close to death. An almost entire lifetime devoted to violent dislikes had robbed him of much of his vitality. He correctly believed that due to his hatred of most things he had lived his sixty odd years many many times over. He was not unduly concerned about the lack of time he had leftover. He knew himself as a dead man while still alive and looked forward to being alone in a place with many more people, each unable to communicate with his fellow despite the fact they were packed in tight as sardines.

Each of them waiting to be re-born, as a roach, a donkey, a man, an amoeba – whatever. He thought of death as a long queue. A kind of first-in first-out system. A necessary arrangement to make life sustainable, in the universe. For he had no doubt that we were not alone, that earth was just one of the many gazillion planets that sustained flourishing life. Each planet having it’s own miserably contained and lonesome population, unable to talk to one another and by extension unable to talk to sentient beings on other planets; caged.

Lonely and miserable universes forever preparing for annihilation. Getting ready for a death where everyone waits in unbreakable individuality.

He started jerking off again and gave up when he dick began aching. He used to be able to get-off thinking about butt-raping a prissy secretary at work, but he was having issues with that fantasy since the woman had put on some weight. Plus lately she had been looking a little constipated.

Out of breath he paused and thought of his mother. He loved her and she was part of his early life. This was before he had grown up and realized all he had suffered and had begun hating. It calmed him down to think of his mother and then he thought of god.

He loved god immensely. God was easy. Unreal and unbelievably sadistic. So very symptomatic of the malaise the entire tribe of cognizant living things suffered from. He believed that god was the one true manifestation of human thought, wrought in a rare moment of submission to the one truth of all existence – Misery.

He was partial to believers. He thought them akin to artists, to writers, to poets. They were all trying to articulate a pain that they could not quite understand. As the females of all species manipulated everything to get themselves pregnant and create more and more of the same, the artists and the devout of either sex hurt and complained and jerked-off. If there were ever a people he felt a kinship to it was devotees and artists. Souls, true in their acceptance of their torment. And thus he thought of god as life’s greatest known creation.

He had no concerns about the truth of god. He was satisfied that there was a need for god and thus god was there. It was a lot more rational than most other things he knew of.  The existence and maintenance of god was fundamental to sanity.

*****

Many years later this man died. Over the next few weeks much ado was made about his passing. Thousands who had benefited from his philanthropy showed up to mourn him, clad in white as they watched his mortal remains burn up on a pyre by lazy Gangetic effluvium. The newspapers talked of all he had done for the world. Female lovers and some men who had known him intimately chimed in from New Delhi to Rio about how he had changed their lives. His many children wept as did the students in his schools and the orphans in his orphanages. Stakeholders of his company fretted needlessly that his passing would deny them of their life’s investment. The literary community on earth and elsewhere saluted the demise of a doyen.

The old man was born again in the eternal city of New Delhi as a roach. Three months into his reincarnation he was mashed into oblivion once again by a heavily pregnant woman.

He remembered a lot of his hatred of things as a roach when she gave birth to him as a finely formed daughter a few weeks later. His memories made him bawl out loud in dismay before the doctor got a chance to spank his finely formed feminine bottom.

She was a few lives old and she didn’t like what she was in for.

 

 

 

 

 

Parchment

April 17, 2009

Feeling its form with his fingertips, tracing the silken contours, he let his fingers slip inside. He felt the around it and gently pried away a moist flap of skin. Leather; dark, tender, warm. Familiar; moist where he had been against it till just a few moments back.
He closed his eyes.
He wanted to wait.
Rolling the piece of skin he held between the ball of his thumb and his forefinger, he leaned forward and dipped his nose in. He sucked at the smell – he could smell a lot of himself. It did not cause him displeasure. He continued stroking the edges, feeling the fleshy resilience with his eyes shut as he chewed over the fragrance, breaking it down. The aroma became more and more complex, mucous membranes opening wide to receive and then clamping down tight, trying to make sense of his form, the smell yielded more – and more and more until finally his nose climaxed and everything became for a moment disgustingly ammoniacal.
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She used to write to him. Before they ever met. She used to write and then she stopped. That was when they were together.

It hadn’t lasted long.
She had resumed writing to him after a bit and continued till long after. But it wasn’t like before they had known one another.
Then she used to write two lines to him. Always two lines. Words teased to look like verse; but they never rhymed.
No pattern, no meter. Just little notes yet potent in a tucked in repressed sequestered way.
Always left him asking for more. That was her to him then – always  more.

Hara-kiri haikus – he’d call them. Deranged self destructive honest lovely little poems. He had missed her a lot when she had decided to go away. But he had missed her writing a lot more.
She had started writing to him again. But it wasn’t the same.

Time passed. He forgot about her, life wore down what little edge their association had left him with.
And then one day as he walked he felt something. An itch too soft to be called uncomfortable, a tickle on the underside of his foot, too flighty to really register. He ignored it initially.

But the sensation persisted.

He took of his left sneaker and moved aside underneath a street light. He wasn’t sure he could make anything out. He tilted the shoe letting the light pool in as he pushed his fingers inside – all the way inside.
He felt the dent that his toes had made, crossed the ridge that separated them from the rest of his foot and then noticed an unexpected denting. A Pattern – his fingertips followed the indentations as they moved from the left to the right. Then down about a quarter inch and again;  from the left to the right.
He unlaced his shoe and pulled back at the tongue. The pattern was gone.
He put his shoe back on and walked home.
At home he could not stop thinking about the itch, the insole, the pattern, and the sense that what was being embossed on his insole meant something.
He stopped wearing sneakers. He decided to wear a certain brand of black oxfords from then on; sleek enough for the kind of trousers he wore to work – yet brawny enough for a pair of jeans.
They weren’t the best looking pair of shoes and they weren’t the most comfortable. But they had a soft calf-skin insole. He had taken several insoles between his thumbnail and finger. Pressing scratches into them to see which would retain the scratch mark the longest. This brand of oxfords had the softest most plastic of insoles.
He purchased those shoes and waited – he wore them everywhere. Eight months later the shoes wore out and he purchased another pair just like that.

A few weeks after that he felt an itch.

Immediately he stopped walking, seated himself on a wide stone store-window sill and took off his left shoe. This time as he peered into the shoe in the afternoon light there was no mistaking it. He could see them form. Starting on the left  they seemed to be inching towards the acclivity of the perforated arc supporter, exactly where the insole was the broadest and the flattest; a  letter, then a word embossed itself.
The moistened warm leather held the word and he watched in amazement as another word followed the first one, embossing itself a little to the right of the first, three more words followed this word and then the invisible stylus paused and moved a little below the first line and formed another five words. It then formed a period and seemed to rest on it deepening to almost a perforation.

It was unmistakable; a hara-kiri haiku right there on the insole of his shoes.

He took it down on a scrap of paper and hopped back home with his left foot unshod.

Switching on a lamp he saw that most of the writing had gone. He could make out the words “hurt” and “bad” and he could still make out the period that ended it all. He didn’t care. He had the words penciled out; he copied them and stored the copy in his wallet. It was eighteen days later, whilst he was sitting in on a meeting that he felt something, this time on the sole of his right foot. He fidgeted on his seat for three tortuous hours until he was able to excuse himself. He rushed to the restroom and taking off his shoe was able to discern seven words.
He had wept then, because dispersed among those two lines and those seven words that he could read were four words that he could see had been inscribed but were now too filled-up to read.
A week later he was able to get a fourteen word couplet off his left shoe.
This became a thing with him and her then, at intervals of sometimes a week, sometimes a fortnight, sometimes a month she’d write him a couplet. First one, on the insole of his left shoe and the next embossed on the insole of the right. He copied all of them down. When he read something that made him happy, or sad or just aware of something that he hadn’t really thought of before or for a longtime – he would have that embossed on the insole of his shoe and retire that pair.

He had looked for  and then known that she was dead.

***********************************************************************
It had been seven months since she had last written.  He felt the inside of his insole. He no longer had to read; he could sense the words, smell her intent. He memorized the hara-kiri haiku and decided that it had been too long since her last message and that he would have this pair embossed.

His was an extraordinarily tidy apartment. Spartan and orderly. They said he had had a full life but nobody quite knew. He had never married and had no children.
Grand nieces and nephews were the closest living relatives and they mulled awkwardly with white-clad strangers in his house.

There was a clot of white in front of his shoe closet as a revolving group of people walked in and out of it. Neon lit, the closet contained 300 pairs of black oxfords resting on cream acrylic tubes and one pair on the floor to the right. All polished to a high gloss. It was a grand-niece who had discovered it while taking stock of the old man’s belongings.
She had walked into the closet amazed by it’s crypt like symmetry 150 pairs on one on side – 150 pairs on the other, almost mirror images. All arranged in rows, the rows arranged amphitheater style on a slope. Each pair she had noticed had one shoe, with some it was the left one, with others it was the right, that had its waxed black laces tied in a bow.
It had created quite a stir when someone had realized that with each pair the shoe with the untied laces had a couplet embossed on it’s insole in gold. All 300 pairs had an inscription on one of the shoes. All except the one that rested on the floor. Probably the pair that the old man had had on when he had the cardiac arrest that killed him.
People shook there head as they walked out of the closet.

Crazy old loon.

His will asked for all the shoes to be cremated with his remains.

Aum Shri Ganehsay Namah.

February 11, 2009

They say people are a third time lucky – since I know not better – I hope “they” are right.
As young women in India get ready to toss unworn pink panties at Hindu fundamentalists and a Black Man gets ready to sell American society over to the socialists, on 10th February 2009 – I who know not – start this blog with the intention of keeping it running till the end of my days.
And to this intent I invoke the blessings of the most benevolent and the merciful, the single tusked scribe; as I intone: Aum Shri Ganeshay Namah!