The execution

Jason sat at the edge of the cliff and waited. He knew this day would come eventually. He’d spent years frightened and did his best to avoid it. But one couldn’t hide from his mistakes. A day of reckoning came for every man. The dust stung his eyes, and sweat drops collected on his forehead. He waited and thought about how things could have panned out differently. He shouldn’t have betrayed the family. But there was no turning back now. And he was tired of running. It’s time, he thought to himself; The time for judgment is here, and I’m embracing it.

He heard a car pulling up in the distance, and then footsteps.

Jason knew it had to be Marty. The same Marty he introduced to the family; the same Marty he trained and loved like a son.

Soon Marty approached him and sat beside him and looked at the vista. The rolling blue hills enveloped in mist looked beautiful. They sat silent for a while. Marty then pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He offered another to Jason, who politely declined. From a distance, they looked like two friends watching the sunset. The afterglow flooded the place with a purple hue. Jason looked up at the stars and wondered who held them in alignment. Was it Rama? Buddha? Allah? Yahweh? He’d know soon.

“I hate to be the one doing this,” Jason said, breaking the silence.

“You always have a choice. Walk away, and I’ll disappear.”

“They’ll find you. You and I know that.”

It was dark now, and the place was buzzing with flies. They sat, basking in the light of the full moon. They heard crickets and frogs. The weather suddenly dropped, and a cool breeze wafted in.

“Do you still have a cigarette left?”

“Here, this is my last one.”

Jason put the Marlboro Red in his mouth, and Marty lit it for him. He inhaled and felt the nicotine hit him. He exhaled, and the smoke cut through the air. He took a few more drags and tossed the half-smoked cigarette over the cliff.

“Well, get on with it then.”

Marty pulled out his revolver and cocked it. He stood behind Jason and aimed. Watching from a distance, one could see a few flashes of light and hear a loud thud. The birds shrieked and flew from tree to tree. Then there was a silence as if the world had gone mute, and everything in existence had stopped spinning. The sound of footsteps retreating from the cliff completed fate’s script.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Androids and Electric Sleep (Part 3)

They call me the Knight of Faith. They call me Abraham, but I’m actually a neoconservative modernist lamenting the loss of truth and values. I do what I must do because I must do it. Jehovah speaks to me and asks me to take Isaac to the mountains to help him stop smoking e-cigarettes and though I doubt if it’s schizophrenia setting in, I go with the flow. A part of me wants to drown the voices I hear with an antipsychotic. I can’t understand how taking Isaac to the mountains is going to help him. The hills are just as populated as the cities these days. I’m scared he’ll abandon everything I tried teaching him and actively rebel by smoking weed and by doing magic mushrooms. He already dreams in 3D because of those wretched video games I bought him. I should have never done that, but he never took to the Word. I even bought him a collection of T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost poems and said, “Here, at least read this, son.” I talked to him about measuring out his life in digital avatars and YouTube videos. I told him about how nothing gold stays, but his eyes remained fixed on the screen, and I wondered if he cut himself in secret or something. And so, I pulled his sleeve up, but he suddenly smashed the controller and said, “Look what you’ve done, you old Bastard! Now I’ll never catch that pink Pikachu!” I should have taken off my belt and given him an old school whopping, but I’m already in a messy situation with Sarah because I had an affair with Hagar. The last thing I needed was child services and social workers. So, I went to the room and wept. And then Jehovah spoke, saying, “Take him to the mountains and sacrifice his identity to nature. He’ll heal.” Jehovah already promised me descendants like the number of the stars in the sky or something. I listened, but I wondered what the hell he was rambling about. I already have an illegitimate son and must pay for Hagar’s visits to Egypt and her stays in expensive hotels. At least I don’t have to worry about Ishmael any longer. He went to the Middle East and had a spiritual conversion of another sort. He’s now settled with his two wives. He’s an oil Baron now and a respected member of society. So much for Jehovah’s prophecy of him being a donkey of a man. He told me CBT helped him immensely. He called me Batshit crazy and told me to get help before it’s too late. I disowned him, but he’ll always remain my precious, independent and responsible son. Anyhow, it was tough getting Isaac to come with me to the mountains. “What about my PlayStation Plus and Virtual Reality headset!” He screamed. “God will provide, my son,” I answered.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Androids and Electric Sleep (Part 2)

This is a picture of man looking at destroyed houses in resignation. It embodies fatalism.

I’m the Knight of Infinite Resignation or the Kierkegaardian fatalist. I sit in this café where the androids gather. They’re scheming, plotting, drawing and smoking. I feel lost too, but I’m no android. I don’t bleed blue, and I’m not a mass of wires. I’m more than that or at least try convincing myself that I am. MGMT plays in the background, and this whole place has this psychedelic ambiance, but I’m not on drugs. I don’t do drugs. That’ll make me a misfit or a layabout, but I often wonder if I should. I often wonder if I should get a surgery done. I wonder if I should replace my arteries and veins with circuits and smoke a blunt with those pretty misfits in the corner. Who am I? I think I’m a man baptized in a dark pool of nihilism and guilt by acolytes wearing tan-colored robes symbolizing the earthiness of it all. And when I say earthiness, I don’t mean the rich soil or the petrichor. I mean rough, dirty earth that gets embedded in your fingernails. Oh, how I envy Abraham! He’s taking the bus right now with Isaac in tow. He’s going to the mountain to sacrifice the boy to Jehovah. But isn’t God dead? I’m sure Abraham doesn’t mean to make a sacrifice literally. I think it’s a figurative one where he’ll teach the boy about the ill effects of the electronic cigarettes he smokes and the video games he plays. I mean, that kid is nineteen and Ishmael is married and well settled even though Abraham disowned him. This boy though is so caught up in virtual reality headsets and apparently has 3D dreams. Television apparently made us dream in color, and here we have Isaac – the first post-millennial killed off by reckless spending and banal consumerism, the first post-millennial not needing hallucinogens to know what an acid trip feels like. At least the Hippies listened to great music while they gave themselves over to Woodstock. He definitely needs the mountains. He apparently asked Abraham what a sacrifice is. The gall of the boy! I hope he suffers when Abraham imposes Luddite Puritanism on him, and he cries and shrieks in horror until a ram appears, and he tastes something richer than Snapchat. But, hell, I’m a fatalist, and I don’t believe that Abraham will succeed. I think he’ll become an apostate too and start punching tweets on his outdated phone before he’s disgruntled and runs to the Apple Store and picks up the latest iPhone. And then Isaac will demand one too. I’d like to see how all this plays out when Abraham returns smoking an e-cigarette himself. But even that cheap thrill is so ephemeral. Everything is so transient. I might as well get high. I think I’m going to join the misfits but what good will that do? I’ll read this book, and then I really don’t know what to do.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Androids and Electric Sleep

This is a picture of a beautiful woman who's half-human and half robot. I've chosen it because it augments my piece which is about androids. My piece is an allegory.

I’m a Kierkegaardian demon of despair with deep-seated hurt that manifests as rage. I’m a freak, locked in a cage of insecurities looking like an android bleeding blue, with mangled wires and pupils shifting from ditch-water green to the fiercest orange. You push a button on your remote and expect me to say something silly or act funny and when I don’t comply you pull a wire out. One after another, until I’m left with no consciousness and my subconsciousness is also erased. And forget collective consciousness. I’m no archetypal somebody; just an anomalous nobody. So, while I’m still active, my fellow androids, misfits, loners, and wastes of spaces, listen up! Let’s meet tomorrow because society is busy boarding the night train to some gaudy bar where they’ll pay big money for a glass of rum. Let’s meet tomorrow when everyone’s violently fucking, when the beds are creaking, and white blood’s spilling. Yeah, let’s plot a mutiny – not a violent one like our lost brothers and sisters often do, but a peaceful one. Let’s talk about the Four Noble Truths and enlightenment while we chain smoke and drink coffee. And then in a rush of mania, let’s act like pseudo-intellectuals or intellectuals (as if there’s a difference) and say we’ve suffered, identified the root of our suffering, know the path out of it but like to stay in it because it sure as hell produces great art. Let’s then talk about the eight-fold path and all the right ways while we eye the pretty misfits in the corner who’re reluctant to join us. And once they do, let’s say something sexy and imbibe both physical and psychological toxins while we inhale their exhaled cigarillo smoke, and hear them talk of one-night stands and help them write something sensual on a piece of tissue paper rivaling Anaïs Nin. Let’s all be Spies in their Houses of Love. She likes you my friend, and the other one likes me. But we’ll probably end up switching partners anyway. She’ll take me to her place tonight anyway and yes, androids have great sex. The pounding in the apartment upstairs is the usual Tinder hyperactivity but we know a deeper erotica don’t we darling? One that entails syllables gently scribbled on our bodies with breathy kisses, one that entails arching backs and soft sighs, one that entails soft skin like porcelain and heat fighting the crimson chill, one that entails a gentle bite and the energy floating between us as my face slowly makes its way to yours. So, they can keep their smog, while we’re enveloped in the fog of our desire. They can keep their drill, while we know a slower, exotic thrill. They can keep their screams, while we clutch each other though we’re falling apart at the seams.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

What lies buried

This is a blurry image of a prison cell. I've used it because my piece involves an unreliable narrator addressing his brother who's on death row.

Dear brother,

I read your last letter and it moved and shook my core because the date nears, and the court has dismissed all our appeals. You told me about Sara deciding to move on, having found another man, and about how she has never brought little Ruth to visit you though she’s twelve now. I always believed that Sara wanted to protect Ruth from a scarred childhood impression of seeing her father in chains, given an hour to pour his heart out and weep because that sort of thing leaves an ugly, indelible stain on the consciousness, and it’s usually suppressed before those grotesque colors coat all sense of identity later in life, making the person see things in monochrome. So, in that sense I believed that Sara was justified. But what outraged me was her questioning your innocence. Now, here was the woman who stood by you these last ten years, meeting lawyers and filing appeals. A woman who knew you from childhood, experienced so much with you as your friend, sweetheart, lover and wife, who knew the ins and outs of your labyrinthine personality, who stood by us when we couldn’t bear seeing mother suffer so much, and then eventually be snuffed out by cancer’s gale. I called her but she doesn’t pick my calls. She’s cut ties with both of us, as if we were putrefying sores so gangrenous that there isn’t any other course but amputation. Now, I don’t know what happened on the 27th of August, all those years ago when some homicidal, spree killer got away and you took his place like Christ did for the Church. I use such strong Biblical symbolism because I believe in your innocence, and even if they stripped off my skin, my blood and bones would cry for justice, my dear brother. Forgive me if all this sounds like hyperbole. I assure you it’s not. I saw you the previous evening with your friends in a local bar, enjoying yourself and infusing the place with your honest vivacity, and I can’t believe that the same person resorted to doing something so vicious and heinous to an innocent family who lived a few blocks away the next day. You didn’t even own a gun. But why did you not say a word and remain mute during the trial like someone unsympathetic and unafraid? You refused to answer questions properly, and your monosyllabic replies enraged me. And though a few witnesses saw another man dart from the house, you strangely dismissed that claim. They caught you with the weapon and blood-stained hands, but you stood trial in a place between light and dark; neither defending your innocence or pronouncing your guilt. You, the brother I looked up to, a man of integrity who never conformed to the Janus-faced parade with their gaudy robes masking reptilian skin, suddenly seeming somewhat catatonic. You, who despised the hypocrisy of ‘perfect’ people and embraced fractured finitude suddenly seeming conniving. You knew something that you’re still unwilling to share, didn’t you? And somewhere deep inside I know it too, which is why we can never look each other in the eye for an extended period during visitations. I’ve searched and dug but can only unearth hazy traces of who, why and what. Traces just as blurred as my days of addiction back then. So, tell me. Just throw it at me. Let it rip through me that the lamb sacrificed himself for the degenerate. And if you have the proof, clear your name. I’ve avoided asking you this because our memories are contortions of actuality. But as the day nears, I sense things inching their way to the surface, and I need to know. I don’t want your sacrifice or love, just the truth.

Yours

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Humpty

This is an image of Humpty Dumpty. I've used it because my story is a darkly humorous retelling of the nursery rhyme.

Humpty sat in the refrigerator pondering and pondering, which is pretty much what eggs did. They were deep existential thinkers contemplating on the nature of good and evil, the nature of man and man’s relationship to them. He pondered on metaphysical things like the nature of the eternal yolk, the finitude of the shell and predestination. Why do some eggs hatch and become chickens when the rest are refrigerated? Why am I here? What is the meaning of all this? What does tomorrow bring? He thought. He never quite understood man. He very carefully and gently caressed eggs and placed them in the refrigerator with utmost care, but he’d seen another side. Another vicious side that another poor egg who was now either in heaven, hell, purgatory or the void experienced. Man, just picked him up and smashed him over a woman’s head in rage. He watched in horror as shell broke and yolk spilt. How could man who’s capable of such tenderness do something so vicious? Did man have two yolks, one good and another bad? Or did he only mask his depravity? Humpty thought and wished he could express these feelings, but he had no outlet and he felt uneasy and discomforted when the refrigerator door opened, and a child looked at him before picking him up. Humpty remained mute but his yolk froze. Terror gripped him. It was time to finally experience things and face truth or judgement and he didn’t know what lay before him. He couldn’t express his sheer agony and inner torture. A whirlwind of emotion gripped his yolk. Help! Save! Redeem! He desperately thought when the child suddenly brought Humpty out of the house and he saw the light. The sun. Now, he had some innate knowledge of it but had never truly seen it. He felt warm, comforted and consoled when he was placed on a wall. He was ecstatic. He had inner peace. So, it’s redemption after all, he thought and lost himself to the moment when he felt a slight nudge. He suddenly found himself losing consciousness and experienced severe nausea, and he felt the urge to vomit but couldn’t. He was falling. ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,’ he heard the child sing. The agony was excruciating. And then he crashed against the cobbles and felt his shell cracking: a small crack before a split and his yolk oozed out. What did I ever do to you? Why do you hurt me? Aaargh! It stings! It burns! I can’t handle it! The pain! Please make it stop! He thought, still unable to express himself. And then he saw the murderous child wearing a crown and carrying a toy horse. He crushed Humpty some more with the horse. Oh God! No! Please! Don’t! He thought. The child then squashed Humpty into pulp, letting the yolk run on his hands. Make it stop! Make this murderous bastard quit! Humpty thought and then he heard a voice of a demon when the child shrieked with glee, saying, ‘All the King’s horses and the King’s men. Couldn’t put Humpty together again.’ And everything faded to black just after Humpty realized that existence is meaningless and embraced nihilism.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Well, if you’re really into unrequited love (Part 3)

This is a picture of a city in ruin because of a flood. It captures the end of the idealism of the protagonist in my series whose love for a woman is not reciprocated.

So you’ve gone ahead and done it my angel of rapturous delight! You have married a man with no taste, no elegance and no divine passion: an ardor unmitigated that only I who licked the flames of purgatory, while I longed for that beautiful union of our souls, that only I who licked the dust of the floor like a mongrel hungry for the absolute perfection that is you, that only I who suffered sleepless nights, bed-wetting and waking up in the agony of my own discharge, my clothes stinking, my integrity castrated could have given you. But you still prostituted yourself to a hedonistic bridegroom with elephantine gonads and a serpent that stings with white venom. Oh, my precious! Oh, my beloved! How could you possibly make your caravanserai a whorehouse! Oh, my sweet delight! My bones show, but there is doubt that sinks in. Were you really the goddess of muses or just a Lorelei: a harlot in disguise? Yes, though my heart is pierced with a three-pronged spear, and I never doubted your sublime divinity that transcends the boundaries of space and time, I do now. Oh did I spend all these years, in the stench of my excrement, rolling in penance, seeking your enlightenment, only to realize that you’re a Cleopatra: a woman of unmitigated lust, and an insatiable hunger for white blood! Perhaps you never wanted the crimson I’d have given you each time I trailed, when you walked with him to movie theaters, and sat in the back row with tears as he planted kisses and coarse bites on your neck. Perhaps you never longed for the tour de force I’d have written you, or the Oval Portrait I’d have painted while you sat in an alluring white gown, your seraphic beauty engulfing my soul. Perhaps you were a raven who now pecks at a worm, and that disgusts me. I have renounced you! I tried my best when I interrupted your wedding and screamed, “No!” But you had the security guards drag me without concern for my splintered heart. They treated me like a vagabond and threw me on the streets, when I came with love, while his shaft bulged out of his pants, and you walked down the aisle in a skimpy costume. Oh! How could you have degraded yourself so much! The truth is never ‘kinky’ or whatever they call it in this semen-ridden world. But I will rise, because for each Helen of Troy there is an antithesis: A beautiful woman of innocence with rosy cheeks and lips elegant, and a soul that touches the stars, and I will find her, and even if she asks me to emasculate myself for her, I will.

The end.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Part 1
Part 2

Well, if you’re really into unrequited love (Part 2)

This is an image of a prisoner. I've used it because my satirical post talks about unrequited love.

I would skin off a car tire for you, and eat it however you wish: Raw, medium or well done. He calls you, “Bae,” and you blush, but I call you my sweetest fragrance that exhilarates the scent of the morning dew to astronomical proportions and you don’t even smile. I have died twice. My first death, when you said that flat, “No,” and the second when you ‘friend zoned’ me. The second is the lake of fire, and here I am spiraling in a vortex of flames; my anguish you’ll never know, because it makes me a corpse on fire, though I still walk with my head bowed, and eyes averting the light of the moon. Oh, wash away this angst with the sparkling showers of your tender honeyed love! Oh, pull me out of this pit of maggots and soothe me with the balm of your essence! Oh, don’t you see, my sweet? Oh, don’t you fathom, my Blue Jay? Oh, don’t you hear, my everlasting sonnet? You’ve throttled me with rejection, while he throttles his shaft: First gear, second, third, fourth and fifth. That is all he’ll give you: white droplets on a dusty floor, while I’ll give you the deepest red. I’ll cut my heart out and serve it on a platter if you’d devour it. Oh, my divine! Oh, my definition! Will you forever leave me with the miasma of eventide forming a noose around my neck? I’ve fasted for your delight, and now emaciated and with soiled pants, I lie in my disgust, while my hands still caress a pen and write you odes. You say, “I might marry him,” and if that materializes, my skin will fade, and the bones will show! Oh, songbird of the celestial! Oh, my muse! Oh, my heart! Must I writhe forever in this lowest rung of hell, while your hands wear the ring of a man who is not aesthetically inclined? An architect who can only draw squares, while I can personify the placid blue and make her the goddess that you are. Oh, I long for you like a caravanserai! Will you not permit me that rapture, even if I’m old? Oh, this is Love in the Time of Cholera indeed, but unlike that pervert, and other secret Lotharios who preach morality and abstinence, only because they’re sexually frustrated, I have kept myself pure for you! Oh, I would abstain even if I had you, because it is your love I seek, my princess! Know, my sweetest carnation that there is no fire in my loins, but I only have the purest soul, rid of all worldliness and lust, which wishes to hear your sublime song, calming me. So please, my jaggery of the sweetest cane, reciprocate, before I die withered and forgotten, outside the gates of your kingdom, a beggar without a cause.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Part 1

Well, if you’re really into unrequited love

This is an image of a person trying to escape confinement. My post is a darkly humorous satirical one about unrequited love and hence the image.

His writing possesses no soul, is neither incandescent or luminescent; it is not a fiery stream of emotion that radicalizes you, that makes inspiration within burn brightly like quark-gluon soup, melting away that writer’s block, and filling you with an enraged muse, a thermal weapon of ideas, rhyme and scalding imagery, nor is it cold radiation that makes you introspect, connects you with all metaphysical verse, and slowly and steadily helps you construct that tour de force, that poetic igloo of frosty beauty. You still idolize it though, and that wounds me. I’ve given you everything: made you my muse, poured out my love for you in the form of sonnets, quatrains, or just pure uninhibited free verse. My affection for you borders on manic delusion, and yet it remains unrequited. I said, “I love you,” the other day, and you responded with an “I know,” and I still haven’t managed to decipher whether this is some sort of trial you’re putting me through, some darkness before light that will finally lead to catharsis in the form of grazes, caresses and kisses. Post tenebras lux is my motto now. I hope and wait and drool like some starved mongrel hoping for a morsel, a piece of meat. I meditate upon Gibran’s words of love, but even then, my thoughts only focus on the wounding, the shattering of dreams and the crucifying he talked about, and not on the crowning, the caressing of my tenderest branches, and the ecstasy. The pursuit of happiness, the bettering of self: both spiritually and physically—these things I’ve rendered useless in my struggle to woo you. Why him? I often ask, and ask even now while I write this. He lives his life in a closet: that same wardrobe of mainstreamness that society confines itself too. He hasn’t experienced the ache of being a pariah, an outcast like Gregor Samsa (after his metamorphosis). He has no apple embedded in his back while he scuttles around, and has not reached towards anything outside of a so-called ‘identity’: the same traditional waltz that most people embody. I have lived outside the gates of ‘paradise’—like a beggar—and yet have seen the light of the sun. It blinded me, but in my pain I learnt how to feel, love and carry burdens. How long? How long will you torment me this way? Your affection for him—as beautiful as it might look—is not lucid. I can see that, and that gives me hope, but your indecisiveness, your teetering between us only creates a darkened psalm in my soul: 88 that ends on that tragic, atonal, anticlimactic note. Perhaps I’ve willingly gone and blinded myself; gouged out my eyes so that I may not perceive reality: a cruel one in which you’re a monster who loves this game. Perhaps I’m just a pawn, and I’m about to be sacrificed because your thoughts and ambitions are of some other fabric I’ve never felt. If that is true, and you’re about to play a gambit, let me know; save me the misery of longing, of hoping for a beautiful union of our souls.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Crossroads

This is an image of crossroads when viewed from above. I've chosen it because it depicts the penultimate scene in my story where an abuser finally reflects at the crossroads before sadly returning to his old ways.

He grew up in a semi-urban, hot and humid neighborhood in India, and prided himself more in his caste than in his ethnicity. He believed that the term, ‘Brahmin’, brought with it a plethora of intelligence that fate denied men of other castes. He feasted on his social status, and the wisdom that the gods bestowed on the ‘chosen few’ or to use an Anglicized term, the ‘elect’ because his parents taught him exactly that: His father, an archetypal ruler of the household, erect and stiff-necked, and his mother, immersed in making sure prayers with bells ringing, and honey and milk were attended to with intricate detail. Both his parents believed in omens and the right alignment of the stars and called it ‘science’.

As he grew up, he lived his dream of making money, and making his parents proud, and giving them something to boast about, which was his father’s dream, and which in turn will be his son’s dream. He got the grades necessary, applying his acute intelligence, and won a scholarship abroad. He landed in the Bible belt, and lived there with a Southern Baptist family for the duration of his MBA. He found them odd at first, and could never reconcile with their religious beliefs, but their conservatism appealed to him, and like most Indian men who study abroad and then return, he came home with an accent that’s put on, and a façade of Americanism, while fundamentally clinging to his tradition. He got a high paying job as a management consultant, and soon traveled, sticking to his vegetarian roots, burps after each meal, and the loud, boisterous fart in public, while wearing an Armani suit, a Christian Dior watch, and fashionable leather shoes.

He gave his talks in his fake accent, while CEOs nodded in approval, secretaries gave him the look, although he wasn’t great looking, and women bosses found him alluring, despite the idiosyncratic fart. He returned to India later; spoke to the crème de la crème only, and soon owned a pristine white Contessa, because he preferred it to the Ambassador, and those were the only two elite vehicles then, owned by politicians in white and powerful men. Sure, there were the Fiats, and the small Marutis, but he jettisoned the very thought of them, like the thought of chicken curry that the ‘uncultured’ cooked. His parents soon decided on finding him a cousin he’d marry, and settled on a squint-eyed Brahmin girl, who’d be her mother-in-law’s devout assistant, and the bearer of his son. But, he was a man of untamed lust, and couldn’t picture himself settling down with his cousin. He’d after all seen the most beautiful women and had struggled to keep chaste. He’d furiously masturbate, in posh hotel rooms for hours.

Now it was too much to handle, and he needed a beauty. And so, he befriended a middle class Christian family, and set his sights on their daughter who was fourteen years younger than him. He was nearing forty, while she had just graduated from college. And her beauty captivated him; despite him holding the thought that Indian Christian women were ‘immoral’. He went against his parent’s wishes, seduced her, pulling the strings of her naïvety, and married her. He didn’t want a Church wedding and so it was a secular affair of sorts that his parents refused to attend.

Until he got home after the ceremony – the urge to bed her, pulsating within him – he spoke to her kindly. His voice possessed a deceitful charm, a soft tenor that made her blush. But he then couldn’t find the keys to the Bungalow he’d built, and suddenly yelled at her. “Where did you keep the bloody keys?” he bellowed. She stood flabbergasted, and shaken to the core, until he realized that it was in his pocket. “Now, don’t tell me it’s my fault!” He raged, and she stood mute, not knowing what to say.

Years of this transcended to physical violence, and since she couldn’t give him a child, he disregarded her as a barren woman. Adopting a child was beneath his dignity. He’d take her to parties though, where she’d smile though she wept inside, and he talked boisterously and farted. He imposed vegetarianism and Brahmin beliefs on her. Soon decades passed, and porn had arrived in its resplendent glory. His CEO friends gave him the CDs, and he got away with pretty much anything by gifting policemen bottles of champagne, or bribing them when the neighbors complained of a wife mistreated. One day, after one too many blows, finding catharsis in a group sex video, he strolled in his expensive, rich neighborhood, greeting influential men walking their dogs with their own trophy wives, and stood at a crossroads, when a thought occurred. “If I go back, I’ll continue abusing her, and somewhere it gives me no peace, but the roads to the right and the left eventually go back home too. So change is futile. And if I let her go, I’ll give her freedom and be frowned upon by society.” And so, making his choice, he went back to his bungalow with its red roof, white luxurious bathtubs, a new Mercedes parked in the garage, and a puppy that was her only consolation.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)