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)

Binky the Clown

This is an cartoon image of a clown. I've chosen it because my story is a darkly humorous tale of a clown. In this picture the clown is happy but in the story he's ironically not. I've done this because I feel the contrast will add to the humor.

So, you’ve returned. Ha! I knew Binky the Clown will come back to us. You had such grandiose dreams! Pfft! Becoming a CEO, was it? A Michelin Star Chef? I remember when you walked out on us. You acted like you ran things here. ‘It’s my life, and I’m sick of the circus,’ you said. ‘Just you wait and see. I’ll be someone,’ you said. Look at you now. Begging for a job. Why should I offer you one? Give me one good reason Binky? Sure, you’re short on cash, but aren’t we all? The trapeze artist works at a male strip club when he’s not hanging mid-air. Hell, he puts both his life and his dignity at risk. And here you are looking all miserable, begging for another chance. The tightrope walker is a part-time hooker. So, why come here, thinking you’ll get enough? We can’t even buy good meat for the Lions and the mime’s smoking crack. The elephant is unwashed, and he’s temperamental as hell these days. Hell, the front tooth missing janitor no longer whistles with the spit coating his jaw. But maybe, just maybe I have a job for you Binky. So, there’s a market you see. There are these bunch of sick freaks into clown fetish. It’s called Coulrophilia. They’re usually thick-mustached, lipstick wearing, bespectacled men who keep pictures of Ted Bundy with hearts drawn all over them in their wallets. Dinky won’t do it because he’s handling the Balloons and Jinky won’t do it because he’s covered in his puke most of the time. But I’ll pay you enough if you do it. They’ll want you dressed up, complete with makeup and wearing a pink thong. So what do you say? You up for it. It’ll probably be challenging at first, but you’ll get used to it. Some of them will snort cocaine off your party nose, while others will coat your red, blue or green hair (depending on their preferences) white. You know what I mean. See, you must realize that you brought this on yourself Binky. Now we were a family, and we were doing fine. But you and the knife thrower and the star gymnast just had to leave, didn’t you? You had potential Binky. I saw a tragic-comic sensation in the making. But you just had to go, didn’t you? Well, comedy and tragedy can still meet. And I know you’ll take the job. Your wife’s left you. You can’t stop shooting crap into your arm. Hell, you can’t even talk without a slur. So, sign here and there and remember to wear a pink thong. It’s something they’ve got going in their circle. You’ll find out why soon enough, I’m sure. I don’t want to know.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Pink Paper Lanterns

This is an image of pink lanterns. I've chosen it because my post is an allegory that revolves around pink paper lanterns. These lanterns have a sinister appearance and that augments my prose.

When I was younger, I passed by your house, faint beige with its pink paper lanterns and the aura drew me, made me want to know. You were rarely home, but you gave me the keys to that large gate, and trained your hounds to never bark at me. And so, after weary days, and idea and ideal driven romances with women, I sought refuge and sat on the plush couch and allowed myself to some wine. Sometimes you visited, being my friend, but our conversations were one-sided: Me lamenting, and reeking of self-pity like sour whiskey breath, and you listening. But I soon realized that you were only pretending to listen and had a sinister purpose: an ulterior motive to destroy me, but those paper lanterns, the rustic charm, the hearth and the smell of doors made of solid wood, made me return. I guess friendships are very rarely a mutual give and take, and I wished I learned that then. You set me up with a girl who was already in love with someone else, and then took delight as I wept, heartbroken and dejected. I finally tried freeing myself from our fake friendship, but the struggle was intense: those paper lanterns grew red, the walls a darker brown and the allure of comfort for a nomad more enticing, and then suddenly you seemed kind, even loving like a brother. And so, I listened to you though a voice within said you didn’t want the best for me. You said you knew enlightenment and I followed you, and for a while it seemed like you knew what you were talking about. The house seemed perfect, the paper lanterns dreamy and mystical, but then, just like that, you snatched the keys from my hand, the hounds barked, the paper lanterns became gargoyles with grotesque faces, and the house threatening. You wanted me trapped, howling and suffering, and foolishly, because of my naïvety I made myself beg you to let me in though you were more a monster than a friend. You didn’t agree because you delighted in my misery. You made sure all the women in my life turned against me, fractured the most beautiful relationships forged after years of suffering and sacrifice. But one day, I broke free of you and the house immediately turned beige again, the paper lanterns pink, and the rustic charm returned, inviting me. The dogs seemed like mute puppies, and the keys reappeared in my hands, and yes, I opened the gate, but the moment I did, I saw the ugliness, and threw them down while the dogs raged and hunted me down as I fled. I escaped and when I came back, the charm grew, but I kept saying no. The urges stayed until I said a flat no. And this evening, I finally saw a demolished house. I guess you’ve gone someplace else. So farewell my friend, because I’m done listening to you, and I know now that the deepest red lies within a heart you imprisoned, and it’s breaking free, slowly unleashing with a love unfathomable and I’m walking into a new age.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Call for Submissions

The literati mafia

Hello! So we’re looking to spice things up on Mafia a bit. How can you help? Well, I’m glad you asked our lovely reader. We’ve recently opened up slots for you to be part of our collective. You can do this either by applying to become a general contributor or, if you prefer, post once as a guest contributor. So if you have any unpublished poems, flash fiction, short story (fiction or non-fiction) that you would like to publish in our collective go ahead and send it in to the following e-mail: theliteratimafia@gmail.com

With your entry please also give us a link to your blog and short bio of yourself. Please also mention if you are looking to become a part of the collective or if you’re only interested in publishing a guest submission. There’s no limit to what you can send, but please send it in one file. However…

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Men of Perdition

This is a picture of the beautiful woods with an ominous face in the background. I've used it because it represents the depravity of some men who destroy everything humanity stands for.

The clip found its way to YouTube, and my friends in college showed it to others on their phones as if it was a video of a back-heel nutmeg by Ronaldinho. I was guilty too, simply because I shared in the excitement. Many years later, it haunted me. He knelt, reading out something they’d forced him to. You could see the pain in his eyes, the horror in that look that begged for mercy. He knew that death was nearby like a rabid dog, uncontrollable, and rushing towards him, but he still grappled with fate; wrestled with all his might against an indomitable force, and even though the contest looked like a scrawny one-armed man trying to take down a Herculean Undefeated Olympic champion, he didn’t give up. He wanted to survive. I’m sure he’d wrapped himself with a blanket of delusion, and refused to let actuality pry it free. Perhaps, he sincerely prayed, and asked for both justice and grace; his petition so different from his mechanical chant at the Thanksgiving table. He was, at that moment, in the dusk of his life; reading from that penultimate chapter of his novel, unable to digest the words because what once read like a metaphorical delight with a debonair protagonist, was turning into an unambiguous note, filled with grammatical errors, and written by an unwashed, tired, bedraggled slave robbed of even the right to think. I’m sure he envisioned returning home to her; thought of when he met her, and how that moment became the apogee of his personal life. He’d found true love at last, but it was now enveloped by a miasma of despair, and her laughter which always summoned an ebullience that poets like Neruda have immortalized was now a faint stutter that tried to give him hope but failed; and the world they’d sewn out of Rayon Challis, was now spinning in the laundry machine, looking like a coarse mop cloth. He waited, and then felt the sword, and you could see the agony in his eyes as it slowly tore through the Levator scapulae. They were sawing away as if his neck was the bark of a tree. Soon his neck was partly separated from his body, and the sight resembled a normal distribution curve with the hanging head rising to meet the laceration, and the rest of the neck descending from it. It had an odd symmetry to it, and maybe my description is callous, but what’s really ruthless is men with black scarves around their faces, robbing a child’s innocence, and creating fissures in his heart by brutally murdering his father; men with twisted notions of faith, killing in the name of religion; declaring war on an already fallen race that is struggling to get by, and hoping to find elusive peace. Men butchering men like animals to announce their credo, to create a cause founded on askew notions of truth, thereby constructing an anathema with no real backbone; an abomination that has flayed reason and emotion, with an unmitigated penchant for destruction like an unpredictable tempest. Men who’ve rapidly descended that ladder of depravity, lost all inhibition, and are now like animals, grunting and howling; carnal beasts, who rape, plunder and then castigate immorality; men driven by frightening, twisted scruples, and are willing to die for them. Men who’ve abandoned love, and are already in perdition, hoping to devour many as they walk their journey of corrupt instinct; jog their marathon of hatred, and run their race of devilry.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

On Bipolar Disorder, OCD and religion

I’ve tried hard reconciling religion with mental illness, but I can’t do it anymore. I’ve concluded that being too religious only adversely affects my mental health. Now, I’ve struggled with Bipolar Disorder and OCD with psychotic features for seven years and time hasn’t been kind to me. The medication I’m on has made me put on excessive weight which in turn has led to diabetes and high cholesterol levels. I can’t walk properly anymore because my back stiffens, and since I suffer from the cyclothymic variant of Bipolar Disorder, my moods swing from low to high to moderately high to euthymic to low again every day.

I’m probably dying of cancer too because of my six-year-long, twenty-five cigarettes a day chain-smoking habit. I’m jaded, but I’ve gotten so used to my monastic, partly self-ostracized existence that I can’t fathom living any other way. Religion (Calvinistic Christianity to be specific) has crippled me, and I’m shaking myself loose of doctrines like double-predestination. What I’m doing is placing myself in an iron maiden and begging for the doors to be shut so that I’m grotesquely wounded. It’s some masochistic, religious thirst that starves more that it satiates. Some need for emotional martyrdom that’s placing me in an anaconda choke, and I’ve been stupid to not resist it. Now, I don’t deny God or Christ, but I’m tired of this whole ‘Reformed business.’

I’ve attended ‘Reformed Churches,’ and the people there are cruel and self-righteous. They scream, ‘Sin!’ and deny the very existence of mental illness. Not everything is sin. There are things beyond the sufferer’s control. Now, I’ve walked on thorns and have tried to gouge my eyes out with a branch, thinking I was doing penance. I’ve seen terrifying things. I’ve screamed my lungs out in a mental hospital preaching Christ, until they sedated me. I’ve felt unfathomable fear. And religion brings this. And when I speak to Christians about this, they laugh, mock me and say that I’m dreaming or that I’m ‘demonic.’ Where’s the fellowship?

Each time I fall into a ‘religious phase,’ I do the same thing: delete my writing because it’s not ‘biblical’ and because peace coats my heart, repent, focus on Christ, read the Bible and books by Spurgeon, Sproul, and articles by Piper with intense devotion while the joy in my heart increases but my mind feels like pressure cooker about to blow, and finally implode because something supernatural or psychotic (I don’t know) happens and frantically try recovering my work once I’m better, but find just a few pieces tucked away somewhere, start a new blog and follow old followers who think I’m completely insane.

I’ve lost so many of you because I’ve sounded preachy. I apologize. It’s beyond me. They say insanity is doing the same thing on repeat expecting a different result, and by that definition, I’m the craziest man you’ll meet.

Moving on, the mental healthcare system in India is terrible. You have this authoritarian, dogmatic system in place with people still obsessed with Freud. It’s ludicrous. ‘I’m the doctor! I’m in control! Do this mother lover!’ yells the psychiatrist and the psychologist, and I’m sick of them. Luckily I have a long-term prescription for Depakote, Sertraline, Valium, and Solian and I manage. There are days when I ask myself if this is all there is to life; if surviving and living in my mind is all there is, but I hope that I’ll make it as a writer someday; perhaps get a few books published and look back and say it was worth it in the end.

The fiddler plays but we’re not dancing

This is an image of a hand peeking out from the abyss. It symbolizes the struggles that the mentally ill go through which is debilitating and excruciating.

We don’t need to talk tonight, so hush, because the demons sleep. Sure, they’ll return tomorrow while the fiddler plays his sad violin on the roof, and I’ll wonder if this is the little girl I carried, and why, oh why has fate struck her with my curse and blessing, my gift and punishment. When we wake, they’ll howl and like little insects pierce through our thick skulls and feast on the serotonin in our synapses. But they sleep now darling, they sleep. So hush, it’s best we don’t wake them up at this hour. I hold you in my hands, gently stroking your hair, while you softly snore, and I think these thoughts. If I could, I’ll wage war against them, though my grip is weak, my sword blunt, and my shield shattered like a dented car’s hood. I’ll play the arsonist and set them on fire. Or the sacrificial lamb, take them upon myself, and let them completely disorient me, thoroughly destroy me, and drown myself after so they never return and you grow up normal, healthy and strong. But they exist in a realm I cannot touch, and prayer is dead in their post-apocalyptic metaphysical realm. They shield the sovereign with a black curtain, and so, I can’t do anything but stay at your side. I often think of years from now, when I’m gone, split by these fireflies from hell forming a scythe, cutting through skull and mind, finally making me a body blue and cold. Will you find a way by then to beat the apparitions? The ghastly horrible hounds? I never did, but I hope you succeed. And what if you don’t? Who will you turn to? Your mother’s an alcoholic mess, showing up now and then and using us selfishly for money, and your older sister succumbed, hanging from the ceiling fan, and taking with her, a part of me. I wish you’d set yourself on righteous fire, killing them off once and for all. But wishes are just delusions, probably placed in our minds by the same little death-moths making us believe, so we can suffer more. Find strength in the torture, find meaning in the pain, and when you can’t handle them, find a way to rip them to shreds; tear them, torture them in an inner purgatory reserved just for them. Show them pain; grant them unendurable havoc. You’re stronger than me. Become steel, transcend, and make them afraid: Terrified of causing you despondency or paranoia. Give them neurosis and psychosis and liberate yourself. And then walk into a new age. But tonight sleep easy, they aren’t here, and I am, and even when I’m gone, let my presence remain, because I won’t rest until you’ve flayed them alive, impaled them, and thrown them in a pot of boiling water. Kill depression and psychosis by using the old brutal adage: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Show them no mercy, but always remember that I love you. Sleep easy, my daughter, sleep.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)