18. I kissed a girl for the first time. I know
it’s late, compared to what you post-millennial,
prematurely hanging by the noose, post-children do.
But it was an experience worth savoring. I remember
closing my eyes instinctively, my mind riddled with
chimeras of growing old together and gnarled hand holding,
arthritic, disease laden, “Till death do us apart.”
She dumped me two days later. 19. My first serious
relationship. We made out everywhere—parks, autos,
classrooms, and I felt her up while the teacher droned on
like a cricket—a monotonous lecture on phonetics and
stress. I guess I should have left it there, and not fingered
her. I should have absorbed the ashes and dying embers
the old man gave us because I’m a writer today, and
I’ve had to teach myself to tattoo meter with
a kitchen knife—a small cut, and then a dig, a small cut,
and then a dig, the blood ensuing. Oh, the thrill of poetry!
I snuck her into my house while my mother slept
downstairs, poured a little lemon vodka on her body,
and gently drank her in. The irony is that we never got
down to doing it, though my fingers like the first five
syllables of a haiku, slowly felt each part of her, though
my calloused palm gripped her. I even had an almost
ménage à trois with her and her best friend
with whom she attempted a lesbian connection.
But the chemistry and synergy were dead.
We were like Jesters trying to be Monarchs.
20. I called it off. She was
into corporate cults and I was an angry young man
who’d suppressed so much, thinking I was a martyr
in a selfless relationship. I fell apart and each
iota of bitterness shot up like an ashen plant with
withered branches. I said, “I can’t do this anymore,”
and deleted her pictures on my phone, and quit
masturbating to the thought of her. 22. I finally lost
this cherished thing we call a virginity. It was a fling
with a friend’s girlfriend, and we were both
inebriated, talking dirty, and then saying mushy
things like the clichéd three words. I’m sure we meant it!
It was bad sex, and I looked at her afterwards
and saw the guilt in her eyes, enveloping her cornea with
a downer haze. It shook me, and I got dressed and slept
feeling like a doggerel if you must compare me to poetry.
She called me again for another session, but I just
couldn’t. She loved the bastard, and though I disliked him,
he was a friend. An epic paradox.
24. I got very high—out of body experience
high, and watched myself lying on a hard cot on an acquaintance’s
house. A surreal thrill! A phoenix rising from bone and blood
and skin, only to return and fortunately not haunt or avenge.
24-29. Years best not talked about. Years of madness, dropping out
of college, and a slow and steady
blotched execution of my innocence. I’m
not gullible anymore. Yay! 29. My best friend came to me
after ten years
and I loved her. Each feel was ever so alluring,
each glance made something glint within, even
if it was a broken shard. But I was far gone. Alcohol,
addiction, and walking the mean streets alone made
her rightly quit on me. 31. A few months ago, I reached
this milestone, and oh, the epiphany! I drink
myself to sleep now after binge popping both prescribed
meds and downers. I’m dull like a crushed autumn leaf
carried by winds of misfortune to a place I don’t know,
to a prison maze, my
screams echoing, but not heard. “Help! Help! Help!” An
alcoholic me will shriek, before a nihilistic me
says, “Oh, just leave me the fuck alone,” and knock-
knock-knocks on heaven’s door.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)