Innocence within the femme fatale

This is an image of a femme fatale. I've used it because my post is about finding beauty in raw writing. Writing that has a tough exterior is often full of heart and honesty.

There’s something about her writing that brings me back. It isn’t a Fitzgerladean crescendo, slowly building up in the tender night, tugging at your heartstrings eloquently and ethereally. No, it’s sprinkled with sawdust, and rusty nails, but once you dig deeper – at the risk of getting injured – you’ll find a hidden gem with so much depth and candor: multifaceted and transparent. But I’m sure a lot of people don’t dig enough, either from the fear of reciprocation, or because their superficiality and walking canes make them tragically stereotype themselves.

We’re quick to label writing as coarse, or cantankerous, when we have our own periods of vulgarity during the day, which the Sauvignon never solves. An artificial faux-elitist conservativeness is what I call it. An indelible keloid or a permanent tattoo both cut through skin, and just because the latter seems attractive, it doesn’t mean the former doesn’t bring with it the pain of experience.

But I go back to her, and I like the diamond in the rough – if you’ll permit me to use a cliché – or the esoteric sound like Miles Davis’ Paraphernalia submerged beneath layers of Grindcore. I find Meshuggah bringing individual units together to form a polyrhythmic machine, before finding another swirl of life in Chet Baker and Paul Desmond playing a standard like Autumn leaves when I read her: The latter’s unique alto tone evoking more than feelings; almost literally placing me in another space and time.

There’s so much beauty in unique art, but it lies in perception, and never in battles for superiority, or petty feud – counter feud poetry. We’re just individuals, and from a bird’s eye view, we’re one with the earth we walk on, shaped and molded by it, and what we create should facilitate growth, and nurture a collective artistic consciousness. Irrespective of the approach: confessional, descriptive, satirical, or a separation between the writer and his work, or pure stream of thought, this journey is beautiful.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

What goes around comes around

This is a picture of lightning. I've used it because it complements the fiery style of writing I've used in this post.

Back then, I endured every insult you flung at me like poisonous darts and let myself be humiliated.

I spent years wallowing in self-pity because of your mockery and wanted your life to break into pieces like a flimsy porcelain plate hurled to the floor. I wanted revenge. I wanted you to feel pain – raw, real, debilitating, destructive pain.

But then I realized that revenge gets one nowhere and is not mine to take. I learned from my mistakes and triumphed over the bitterness that scalded my heart like hot water searing flesh. My rage became quiet sorrow. My self-pity became apathy, and my hate became love.

I realized that you would sooner or later fall into a pit and I didn’t need to wish for it. And I was right. You built those sand castles and dreamt that they’d last because you ‘believed’ that you’d used onyx and graphite when you’d constructed them. But look at them now – rubble and debris intermixed with the piss of the very people you thought admired you. They couldn’t withstand the first sweep of the waves.

You thought you were a Daenerys Targaryenesque ‘Mother of dragons,’ who’d crush her enemies in one swoop and rule on ‘The Iron Throne,’ but look at you now – the commoner’s laughing-stock, raging and ranting at the air.

You made a ‘list’ of the men you ‘believed’ you’d date – regardless of if they felt the same way about you or not – and said, “You were never on it,” when I politely asked you out, even though you were crazy about me in college. You said it out of pure maliciousness and a want to wound, but look at you now, unable to keep a marriage and trying to win everybody over with lies about your husband.

I guess you realize now that it’s painful to have a heap of garbage thrown at you. And I sincerely hope you’ve snapped out of a dream where nymphs, fairies, and elves adore and crown you. I sincerely hope that you’ve realized that we’re all placed here to suffer and to endure because enduring pain and torment produces the fruit of perseverance which is so missing in the millennial.

I wish you well and hope you transform into someone beautiful because I know that every person can be beautiful. They only need the courage to face their vices. Redemption lies waiting beyond sorrow’s turbulent sea, but you’ll need to row as hard as you can, enduring the harsh rain and the ugliness to find the promised land.

You’re now in a blurry place where naiveté meets realism. Cross over to the real side and realize that even though there’s nothing much to start with, there’s still something more than a cup full of maladaptive dreaming.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Kaleidoscope

This is a black and white image of a couple holding hands and walking on the beach. The lack of color represents a flawed togetherness with its ups and downs which is the essence of love.

I know looking into your heart is like looking into a kaleidoscope, or maybe that metaphor’s a little showy, but I’m running with it for now. So, I look and find all these abstract patterns – bright and colorful, each representing a lover or a fling, and at the periphery, I find those one-night stands or slipshod ten-day sex without mental stimulation romances, but then I progress and find these blue patterns of a year or two-year old romances with ideas of a person or who you wanted them to become, and I guess that’s why they’re dreamy and resemble a hazy sky with abstract clouds, but then I’d like to find myself at the red core, which isn’t as vague as everything else, but not absolutely clear either, because darling, you and I know, that no relationship’s perfect.

Sure, I could bring you flowers this morning, and make you bacon and black coffee in that big glass, without sugar, just the way you like it, and then press you against the wall, while the hair you just did, cascades, and I know you like that – a morning taste of what’s coming, and then in the evening we could do the clichéd walk in the park, or a movie together, or laser tag.

And then, once we’re home, I could slowly unhook your bra (you know I’m good at that!) and then you could pull my shirt off, look at my scar, which you love for some strange reason, even though it’s this nasty keloid that looks like they sawed my stomach into two, and stitched it together, which they did, when I think about it.

And then I could kiss you on the neck and slowly, steadily and stealthily climb down, inch by inch, while you arch your back, and sigh, and before we know it, we’d be reaching for something so very electrifying; galvanizing each other with stimulation that isn’t purely physical, but emotional, psychological and surreal, and then exhilarating and relaxing, teasing and tantalizing in a way that’s not overtly flirty, but ‘mystical,’ if you like the term, and then, we’d find the warmth of two hearts beating as one, and each kiss that embodies a crazy, deep, insane rich feeling: the same red at the core of the kaleidoscope.

But that’s today, and tomorrow we might feel like doing nothing except slightly kissing, with the same emotion, but then the day after, something trivial might spoil things for a few hours, and hence, even at the core, what we have is never perfect.

We’ll always fall short of perfection, and then embrace the beauty of a perfect, almost-perfect togetherness, and I guess it’s just this thing we call love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The only way out

This is a picture of a path in the woods. It represents moving forward despite the tribulation fate bestows on us.

When I learned that she was going to breathe her last soon, that the disease was already in its fourth stage, I boxed the wall until my fingers bled, and then looked up. ‘Are you there? Do you even care?’ I asked the sovereign. Was this karma because I played God when I created characters and destroyed them using my artistry? Or was this judgement for each sin, consciously or subconsciously committed? I was left with these questions asphyxiating me, and the never knowing, making me smoke, giving me stained cotton lungs.

I smashed mirrors, the shards piercing through skin and bone while crimson soldiers of anarchy made their way to my wrist, staining the battlefield of my skin with their nefariousness. ‘Why are you silent?’ I asked him who predetermines. ‘Why do you turn your face away?’ I screamed with indignation.

I loved her. She was the only one who never judged me despite my idiosyncrasies and cantankerous temperament. She loved me selflessly and maybe the fact that I’d never reciprocated fully, birthed guilt, which birthed anger, and with a frustrated and devastated core, I took my rage out on him who’s supposedly omnipotent.

I spent days, negatively praying, and by that, I mean cursing him. So even though I believed, I succumbed to a spiritual nihilism and felt like I was carrying each cross of each broken person in this fractured world. Who are we, but dying candles braving the squalid winds of providence? And couldn’t all this be different? A world without the fall, without suffering, without Adam’s apple, and the serpent’s deception?

Watching her regress from a healthy, functional woman to a mass of tubes and bones impaled my faith with a spear of nihilism. ‘God is dead,’ I finally proclaimed, because I couldn’t handle watching the only person who meant something to me needing morphine to numb the pain, feeding off poisonous chemicals that kill more than save, smelling like a gangrenous mass of cells, and I drank, drank, and drank some more. I couldn’t visit her, because I didn’t want to see her intoxicated, but not being there made me drink more, and I wished for a way out.

And then something within, reminded me of my egocentricity, and rebuked me for playing the theatrical, ‘I, me and myself,’ card. She needed me, even if her essence was leaving her, and my pain was nothing compared to what she was going through. I learned at that moment what selflessness and humility meant. It meant giving and not self-indulgence, though the stones of tribulation strike you hard, and leave you bleeding.

But a part of me loved wallowing in my misery and did its best to enclose myself in a hazy room where my eyes burned, and the walls slowly closed on me. A part of me said, ‘You’ve got nothing left, so, why bother?’ And voices echoed, formed battle positions in my mind, and fought furiously while I looked at the liquor, and thought, ‘One more swig. That’s all, and I’ll be numb.’

But I lifted the bottle and smashed it against the wall. And threw on thrift shop clothes and ran to the hospital. I ran six miles. And sweating, I asked the nurse for an appointment, but was denied since visiting hours were over. ‘I need to see her. I’ve been here so many times before. Just for a few minutes. I love her,’ I said or partly screamed. But I was asked to come back the next day,

And so, I went home, and looked at the rum staining my floor, and a part of me said, ‘You fool! You wasted it,’ but another softly said, ‘Visit her tomorrow.’ And though I was an impulsive, reckless rebel, I listened to my inner voice this one time and spent the night fighting the urge to drink.

The next morning, feeling a conglomeration of love, withdrawal, hate and bitterness, I walked to the hospital again. And then I saw her, looking with tears in her years, wondering why I hadn’t visited. I fell to my knees and said, ‘I’m sorry. I love you,’ and she smiled through the pain. I visited her everyday though I knew she wouldn’t make it. I fought the withdrawal, though each iota of the flesh screamed. And finally, I stood in the back, when a family who’d abandoned her visited her, after she had deteriorated badly.

They transferred her to the ICU and one by one, people visited, perhaps trying to make closure, or to pretend that they cared. I was the second last. And there lay the woman who’d given me so much, and showed so much strength, now feeble and unconsciousness. ‘He gives and takes away,’ a part of me said, while another yelled, ‘Why?’

I stuttered when I gave my eulogy, but didn’t shed tears while people cried loudly; people who didn’t even bother to call her for years. Maybe they thought me cold, but I didn’t see a single one of them when I visited the cemetery the next day, and clutched the tombstone and engraved my own epitaph with my tears, literally screaming and howling, while the wind blew away withered leaves, and the sunset bathed me in the twilight.

Looking back, I found redemption from my demons because of her unconditional love, but I had to lose the most precious, beautiful person in my life to trudge forward. And that’s life: We live though we’re broken. We die though we’re happy, and through it all, despite the horrors and pain, some inner clock ticks, saying, ‘The only way out is through.’

Inspired by the quote, ‘The only way out is through’ by Robert Frost.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

We

This is a surreal image of a couple looking at each other. I've used it because to me it represents not being in love but still being together which is the theme of my prose poem.

I don’t know when we fell out of love. Did it happen gradually like a candle melting or did it occur abruptly like a glass plate slipping from a waiter’s fingers and shattering into pieces on the floor?

I remember when we were swashbuckling romantics who walked under the distress of noon, and the august, solemn canopy of Autumn, hand in hand, driven by quixotic passion and a raw lust for life.

Maybe it’s that very idealism that killed us. Maybe we woke up one night and realized that though we shared the same bed and lived under the same roof, we were just two extremely different people who could only find themselves if they went their separate ways.

Or maybe there was an incandescent spark once but like a firecracker that becomes ash and debris after an exuberant display; we became redundant – just immature children make-believing that we were swimming in a sea of turquoise when all there was, was an unfruitful land with skulls and bones.

But what bothers me is that we’re still together, not out of necessity or the need for solace, but out of subconscious choice. We suppress the truth that insists that we let go and bind each other with toxic threads of unity for the sake of it.

We’ve known charm and Chernobyl. We’ve seen thriving forests with wood nymphs and the seventh stage of the abyss. We’ve felt dashes of joy and ebullitions of sorrow. We’ve held love and hate.

But what saddens me is that all we’ve known, seen, felt and held hasn’t given us the will to walk away and plunge ourselves in the unknown where we’ll find insight and freedom.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Turn the other cheek

This is a picture of a heart shaped red tree with red leaves surrounding it. My piece is a darkly humorous piece about the nature of love and hence the image.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: So do something about it! There are two groups vehemently arguing.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Listen, we can stop this before things get messy. But I need your help. I’ll do the talking, and since you’re strong men, you can come between them if it comes to push and shove.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Stop saying that. You sound like the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm or poor line repetition in a bad villanelle.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: See extreme pacifism doesn’t solve anything. I keep a gun in my pocket for self-defense. I get that you want love, but love is a verb. We have to do something.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Okay, I’ll stop being eloquent. Here’s a simple analogy: Say you have a flat tire; won’t you fix it? Look they’re shoving each other already. Please, I beg you. I’m only 5’4, and those guys look like thugs.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Okay, say I shot into the air, it’ll draw attention, but I’ll need your help. Will you help?

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Look! They’re increasing in number. I think it’s some religious argument or something. We have to intervene!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Look! They’re punching each other now, and the number has increased. We have to stop this now!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Murder! Murder! It’s too late! It’s too damn late!

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Stop saying that! Look what we’ve caused. I don’t think I can live with myself.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Say that once more, and I swear I’ll shoot you in the head.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

Intelligent woman: Oh, so you want love, huh, you avant-garde moralists. I’ll show you what hate is if you do not stop! Say it, go on.

Men with peace signs: We only want love.

*Gunshots heard*

Judge: What you did was heinous and disgusting. You killed two innocent, educated men holding peace signs. They were only doing their best to protest against that horrible religious conflict that took place in front of you. Eight violent morons killed themselves. But two saints were martyred. You are as bad as Nero who burned people like these men. You will be shown those bloodstained peace signs in prison every day. And fortunately, in this state, we still use the electric chair. I will take pleasure in watching you burn, and hope there is a literal hell where you’ll burn some more. Death penalty! Death penalty! Death penalty!

Orange prison-robed woman: Please no! Please, I beg you! I only want love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Lucidity

This is a picture of water. I've used it to depict clarity because my piece is about my muse freeing me from all unnerving thoughts.

Have I told you that you’re my lucidity, the clearest thought that settles somewhere in the back of a shadowed mind, and slowly, gently, inch by inch lights it up, until I’m smiling again though my eyes are bloodshot and I’m staring like someone catatonic, looking through the phases of my life and time? You may not notice the smile, but it’s there, and the clarity your love gives me, even if it’s for a few moments is like a beautiful minimalistic piano piece by Einuadi or Allevi. It’s serene and absorbs me with a faint glow that slowly rises like a crescendo, building up very steadily and subconsciously, and it’s more than a jaded heart can hope for. I’ve walked the dark alleyways of littered purgatory, hoping for a cleansing from madness that possesses, but I only lose my way, and I’m trapped in a vicious circle, walking the same places over and again, the downpour chastising me, but then with soaked clothes, I remember that’s there more than a frightening, agonizing status quo. I remember you, and your grace and steel-blue strength: a tranquil yet sturdy resolve, your brown eyes possessing an allure that’s both subtly sensual and fiery, your way of handling the most complex situations with the simplest intuition, your beauty that draws me away from every other woman I’ve known, and I make my way home – earthy, with clothes clinging to me, feverish from the cold, and you pull me to you, despite it all, and kiss me ever so gently, and then this house we live in transforms – the muted bulbs become chandeliers, the worn couches become luxurious, the hard bed becomes soft, and the dust and echoes of trauma dissipate, and when we make love, it’s the apex of a together actualization, it’s the epitome of a together transcendence, because it’s deeper than lust. It’s a bond we’ve forged over years of an almost us, to finally taking the step and constructing our architecture that’s standing despite each storm of tribulation, despite each fire of unresolved hurt and bitterness, and I know we’ll heal, not because of the time we spend together, but because of what we share.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The five stages of Grief with Binky the Clown

This is an image of a sad clown. I've used it because my post is about a heartbroken clown forced into self-deprecating work because of fate.

 

My job’s to make you laugh, to give you joy and to coat your hearts with effervescence, and that I’ll do as long as I’m standing on this stage. I lost my second wife a month ago, and since then I’ve spiraled into alcoholism. But I guess it’s better than shooting crap into my arm. I’ve lost my day job selling popcorn at the fair, and I’m struggling to foot the bills, to get by. But enough self-loathing. I’m here to make you laugh, to help take your minds off the stress of actuality.

You come here – every Friday night – after paying the cheap five-dollar entrance because you long for entertainment. You crave for more than sleazy motel room sex with hookers. You want me to make you laugh and then satiate your vulgar appetites. But all I have…okay enough of that!

You’re here now, and it’s time to make you laugh. I’ve worn the green nose and the green lipstick because that’s what Mayor Green favors. He won the lottery this week, and I was mad when the owner said, “It’s green today Binky.” I mean, green! Fuck man! You’re one egotistical prick, aren’t you? Even after all these years of snorting J&J’s Big C, some shred of malicious ego makes you want to humiliate me. Do I have to yell, “Green!” too while you proceed with whatever the fuck you plan on doing with me tonight. Then again, you’re entitled to your fetishes, and I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this. So, I’m sorry sir. Please take no offense. And please don’t report me. This is all I have left!

I wish my wife, Molly the mime could pull me out of this rut I’m in. But she’s in heaven now, finally speaking, saying, “You’ll get through this Binky! Hang in there!” If only I could have prevented the accident, but we’re a circus, and we take risks. But still, I wish I was powerful and in command. I would have saved her then.

My job is to make you laugh, but I don’t have it in me. I’m exhausted and riddled with the most painful grief. So, take your turns, sirs. Let’s skip this showy sick display and get on with it. Snort your coke off my nose until your mustaches turn white and proceed with all the nasty shit you want to do. I’m all yours. Haha. Haha. Molly! Oh, Molly!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Binky the Clown 

Nathaniel and June (Part 1)

This is an image of the blue sky and the clouds. The picture is more complex than my depiction of it and I've chosen it because it depicts depth and intricacy to me. My piece is an intricate portrayal of a relationship.

Nathaniel was a man of quirks and eccentricities. He was a self-absorbed artist who spent his time brooding. He was once an idealist, but years of looking at Fate’s rugged, unwashed face threw him in a pit of nihilism. Nathaniel loved June but found it hard to express himself and make her feel loved and respected. He’d brush off her attempts at conversation with a nonchalant ‘hmm,’ or a ‘uh huh.’ He’d spend hours losing himself to his art though he’d given up on his dreams of getting published. He’d realized some time ago that the road he walked on was potholed, broken and covered with layers of dust and ash like a waltzing grey swirl caressing each contour of the landscape. But that didn’t keep him from writing and writing, chasing the will-o’-the-wisp, and revolving on that carousel of delusion.

His was a peculiar case. A case in which he had complete insight into his distance from reality, but made no effort to bridge the gap. A paperweight of unhealthy defense mechanisms had him trapped, and the swirling mass within the paperweight was slowly psychically and emotionally asphyxiating him, but he made no effort to pry himself free and find his own.

Now, there’s nothing in this world more fascinating than an intelligent fool, and by that definition, Nathaniel was the most captivating man in the world. He’d make the same mistakes and then find himself ensconced in a cocoon of guilt where he’d writhe in agony before purging himself of the unhealthy emotion and undergoing a painful metamorphosis of sorts. But unlike the Butterfly that dazzles us while it’s with us with its jubilance and effervescence, Nathaniel would regress again once he stumbled upon the same obstacles. But the truly fascinating aspect of all this was that Nathaniel knew his way around these obstacles, but was helpless in translating his ideas into action.

Nathaniel’s love for June bordered on worship. He believed that they were twin souls and that the loss of one will lead to the death of the other. But there were times when he despised her. He hated her when she didn’t conform to his vision of perfection and loathed himself more for hating her. If colors depicted emotion, then Nathaniel’s affection for June took the form of every hue. He sometimes burned red with passion, felt the green stab of jealousy, retreated to a blue ocean of calm when she was warm, nestled himself in pastures bold and green when he dreamed of brighter futures of togetherness, and thought in black while tears coated his cheeks when he dreamed of the harrowing reality they’d eventually face.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Jack and Jill

This is a picture of the stars. In my piece, which is a darkly humorous take on Jack and Jill, Jack looks up at the stars while he has an orgasm and thinks of the big bang. And so, the image.

Jack and Jill were a pair of punks who loved cocaine and BDSM. They cut each other before Jack gave Jill a punitive buggering or vice versa. One day, after a long session filled with tiny rivulets coating both pair of cheeks, blood, and murmurs of orgasms lasting long after the post-coital cigarette, they were dehydrated, and since there wasn’t any water in the ramshackle hut they lived in, and since no store in the village stayed open after 9 pm, they climbed a hill around midnight.

They climbed winding curve after winding curve in the nude, not bothering about the cold draft which froze Jack’s bullocks and hardened Jill’s tits. They finally reached a well, but instead of drawing water quickly, Jack rolled a spliff and took two puffs before passing it to Jill. She did the same and soon found herself bent over the wall of the well, swinging her head like a woman possessed to Jack’s explosive rhythm. Jack looked up at the stars in the sky and shuddered at the infinitude of the universe. He thought of planets, suns, galaxies, milky ways, and parallel universes and thought of the great fulmination that created all of it. At that very moment, his body shook violently, and his essence touched the celestial realm.

Jill, however, peered into the abyss and saw souls writhing in the throes of eternal anguish and screamed in pain and clung to her sanity tightly. But she eventually let go and surrendered to Jack’s every whim and when he touched the celestial realm and packed her with the milk from his loins, she went to the same place and saw it too – the magic, the wood nymphs, the gold, the scintillating light, and layers and layers of beauty. She felt each contour of that place and screamed again. But this time it was in delight.

But the exertion proved too much for the two of them, and Jack fell backward and tumbled down the hill. Jill, frightened and not knowing what to do, decided in an impulse to leap too, and an old crone – who had nothing better to do with her life – recorded a fabricated version of the story in verse where she made herself the heroine who patched the two of them up. But we know the true story and when someone reads this, they will too.

Jack and Jill died before they hit the ground because their hearts stopped. The police then found all the cocaine and sex toys they’d hidden in their hut, but Mayor Green, fearing that the town’s reputation would decline, paid them off, and since the teenagers were two nobodies the incident went unreported.

The old crone’s poem became a hit, and she went on to write many more poems under the pseudonym Mother Goose, and eventually won some prize that Mayor Green displaced in his office. He preened himself on every achievement of his town until his ego was too big for him to contain. And so, he started using some of J&J’s Big C himself. The rest of the story is about a washed up, political has-been who ultimately grew a mustache and became Binky the Clown’s favorite client. But we’re saving those details for another day.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)