I walked into the liquor store today, slightly disoriented, disconcerted, disillusioned, and I paid the guy a thousand bucks for some wine. The pastor owed me two thousand for some work I did for him and refused to pay me; retreated into some self-righteous armor when I called him out, like a turtle protecting itself with a shell colored a fiery-orange. I use that color because he quoted Hebrews and preached wrath to me. I didn’t expect any less. And then he gave me long-winded lectures and said he’s praying for me. But when I called him a man of no integrity who robs a workman of his wages, some sword cut right through him. He paid me eventually, and I spent it on wine. You know I hate beer, and other harder liquor, I only occasionally drink. So, I decided to spend it all on an anti-celebration of sorts and bought expensive wine. There was probably some other guy wondering who this guy in his black shirt and track pants with an overgrown beard, unwashed, and unconditioned to etiquette was. But fuck him, right? Yeah fuck them all. I’d rather drink alone in my apartment than make an another visit to the cemetery and kneel before your grave, needing your touch once more, hoping and praying that you’d be reborn from clay again, wishing upon some dream where I walked right before that diagonal slash, and those soft screams, where I pulled the knife from your hands and yelled with tears, “Am I not fucking enough!” And then wept more, and held you saying, “I’m here and I love you. Promise me…promise me,” but that’s idealism, a utopian, alternate reality where you lie naked next to me, or your arm’s around me; your scent and beautiful, long natural hair giving me another day to live. Now, it’s waiting upon another day to die, again and again. I guess you were stronger than me to go down that way, and I guess I’m a fucking coward wishing for a slower, dysfunctional-liver death. But I peeled off the cover and realized I’d bought champagne. And so, I popped it for the first time in my life – feeling neither you nor your spark; just hearing the loud boom, and then it rushed out onto the floor, and I screamed, crying, “Why?” And much later, I drank it and smoked a few cigarettes. And I guess, I’d say, “Here’s to us,” if now was then, but I’m stuck with a sordid, anti-here’s to me.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)