This is a picture of a sunset. The afterglow captured in this image adds to the depth of my short prose piece which is about nostalgia and meaning.

I used to attend a Reformed Church filled with stiff-backed saints who were self-righteous in both appearance and demeanor. The Pastor would holler from the pulpit, week after week: “God’s curse is on this wicked and despicable generation who believes it’s okay for a man and another man to come together in unholy union!” And all I could think of then was poor Walt Whitman, the shabby poet who celebrated both God and his bedfellow. Did that old spider’s gossamer thread finally catch somewhere? Or is he being roasted in the fires of hell? Spider is a delicacy in some parts of Cambodia by the way. I often stand as Whitman did on the precipice staring out into the open space, but unlike him, I don’t persist. I know my soul will never find meaning in God, nature, women, friends, or laughter. I know that anguish is my mistress till the day I die. She’ll claw and claw until my flesh is ripped off and my bones show through the gangrenous wounds, and she’ll then mount and ride me, giving me no satisfaction because being entwined with her is like rumpy-pumpy with a woman made out of blades. Sometimes, I want to cry so badly, but I don’t have it in me to shed a tear. The faint Autumn afterglow outside my window with its little touches of despair like the drizzle takes me to a time when I was young, animated, and full of laughter. And then, thinking about how washed-up and haggard I am now, makes my heart echo with sadness. I sit on a moth-eaten couch, watching as the walls around me burn, and ashes and grime coat the ground. And when I rise, my joints ache, and my gait is unsteady. I want to scream; I want to wreak havoc; I want to destroy, but my conscience reminds me of the futility of revenge, and my howls become whispers, and my seething hate becomes indifference. There isn’t a place where I can dwell in solitude anymore. No place where the cool mist revitalizes and the petrichor awakens in me a song of praise. No place where beauty greets me and says, “Come! Come as you are!”

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

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