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)

Breathe life into me

This is a picture of a grief-stricken man smoking a cigarette. I've used this image because it captures the essence of my post which revolves around sorrow.

What are we but shards of stars, trapped in this paperweight we call existence? A sight to behold, peer into and then placed on the dusty shelf. I’m bruised, and with each uppercut, on the verge of being knocked out. I guess I only dreamed I could trade blows with fate with a Hagler chin. I’m tired of these ashes, this sackcloth. I’m jaded and the pills I pop, which once gave me a false transcendence, now toss me in the lowest rung of the Pyramid. Even your touch, the love you’ve given me seems so far away. I’m silent and put on a façade of strength, because I don’t want to burden you with my demons, when you have your own. But beneath appearances, if stripped down, I’m just ashes, drifting away with the slightest breeze. So, hold me, love me more ferociously, until something within sets the withered canopy that envelops my soul ablaze. Make me feel again, help me breathe again, because I’m standing on the ledge, waiting for gravity to be my last muse. I often want my name erased from Fate’s Gazette: the pictures, the pages and the dates. Give me something to hope in again. I know you’re here, sitting beside me, but you still feel so far away, so distant. And it’s not like I don’t love you, I want to feel it more. I want every ounce of the emotion, each iota of the affection, because without it, I’ll never feel like I’m worthy of you. What are we but crushed love letters – the lines now crossed out – tossed in a basket of what was? Something once cherished, but now forgotten. Look into my eyes and let me look into yours and let something drift both between and within us: some song of beauty that’s woven from melancholia’s time and notation. I’m fading…falling…I need you now more than ever. I know it sounds selfish, but I need you, so that I can reciprocate the same love you’ve given me, the same passion you once grounded me in. So, hold me, breathe love into me, make me walk again, hand in hand into the unknown.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Sodom

This is a picture of the apocalypse. I've used it because my post is a darkly humorous take on the biblical destruction of Sodom.

I woke up that morning, feeling sixty-five and I needed a walk. I needed to breathe in the fresh air. Now, I lived on the outskirts of the city and there’s a Jacaranda Park very close to my house. The violet-blue flowers dancing to the rhythm of the morning breeze invigorated me and filled me with confidence. I sat on a stone bench for a while and lost myself to nostalgic reverie. I thought of the years spent following the rules and standing up for what I believed in, years spent being a conservative, years spent devoted to one woman, and I felt pride swelling up within me and teary-eyed, I returned to my cottage.

The carpenter Bill came home that day because the cupboards needed repairs. I looked at the size of the nails he used and wondered how painful crucifixion is. Those big, slender but powerful nails. I imagined them piercing skin and splitting bone and shivered at the thought. We fortunately didn’t carry out crucifixion in the city. In fact, we outlawed the death sentence, but we had Lot constantly criticizing us for doing so and campaigning for it. He really acted like a judge of sorts. Maybe it was sexual tension. I don’t know but he considered himself ‘righteous’ and preached at every quarter of the city. ‘The day of the Lord is near!’ He barked, the spittle falling on faces.

I had a wedding to attend that day. My distant relative was marrying this beautiful woman called Maria. And so, I walked to town and saw Lot barking in a corner. ‘Sodomy! You’re guilty of sodomy!’ He yelled vehemently. I ignored him and went to the town house. The ceremony was beautiful. The man was a young conservative like me, but not radical like Lot. It was beautiful seeing two people in love waltzing and enjoying themselves. The wine flowed, and I drank to my heart’s content. Soon it was dusk and time to go home.

As I walked home I saw two men descending the hill with Lot. They were headed to his house. The men looked angelic and there was a commotion outside Lot’s house. And so, I rushed there, hoping to solve the dispute. And then I got a closer look at the men and dropped my pants. I rushed to the door and screamed with my walking stick in hand, ‘Bring them out! So that I may know them intimately!’ My loins were on fire and even Viagra didn’t compare to this tension, this excitement. I needed those men and it was strange because I was a straight, conservative man. What is happening to me? I thought but brushed the thought away. What about my wife? I thought but screamed at that thought. I needed those men. ‘Sirs, my daughters are virgins, you can have them and do as you please,’ Lot said, but all of us shouted, ‘No!’ In unison. It was then that I realized that I wasn’t alone in my heat and would have to fight others with my walking stick if necessary. But I was ready. ‘You’re always Judging us Lot. Now bring out those men!’ I screamed.

But then the men did something, and I couldn’t see. I stumbled into the others gathered and they all screamed of blindness. It was black and that terrified me. Soon, I thought of my beautiful wife and I decided to go back home. I ran, slipping, stumbling and falling. I hurt myself and I was naked waist down! I don’t know how I got home but I pounded the door and shouted, ‘Jeanie! Jeanie! Open! It’s me!’

‘What happened?’ she cried and took me in and my sight suddenly returned. ‘That bastard Lot!’ I yelled, but she put a hand on my shoulder and then bandaged me and fetched me new clothes. We then ate kebabs, and chicken biryani with some Kingfisher. And then the fire and brimstone struck.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Old Souls

This is an image of the blue ocean. it conveys lucidity and I've used it because it augments my piece which is about a relationship grounded in reality

If you’re gone tomorrow, I’d find myself meandering cracked sidewalk after cracked sidewalk, trapped in a Kafkaesque reality; loneliness the bigger, brutal, menacing, monstrous pugilist and I, the grief-ridden journeyman wishfully hoping for a Buster Douglas knockout.

They say, ‘Never make a person your everything because even the most beautiful people in your life are finite and flawed,’ but what we’ve seen together, what we’ve fought together creates a bond that inches close to perfection like a boy on a stool almost touching that cookie jar.

They say, ‘Never venerate or worship a person because we’re inherently depraved; fundamentally twisted,’ but I don’t idolize you, or picture you as a goddess in white one moment and a false prophetess the next. No, I love you and I know that what I offer isn’t perfect but I’m giving it my all because you do the same for me.

In this age filled with cyber Bautas and big screen emulation where people create unnecessary drama because they’re quick to imitate what they see on cheesy romcoms or ground themselves in the verses of the Book of Buzzfeed; where lust and love are synonyms in an urban dictionary that’s so tech-savvy and theater-oriented; complete with floodlights and background Indie music, we know true suffering and those hearts don’t go dry, darling.

In this age filled with picture perfect selfies of togetherness and bizarre notions like ‘breaking up when we’re still in love,’ we rise beyond a constant need for a cyber reinforcement of likes, re-blogs, and claps. We do this because love is a gentle commitment that’s long-standing and come wither or weather stands like the strong oak (if I were to use cliched imagery). We do this because love is a profound emotion that’s a far cry from millennial infatuation. It comes from peeling layers and layers of the onion of each other’s personality, and though that stings and hurts sometimes, it creates a strong synergy, a symbiosis that endures despite parasitical tendencies. We do this because love isn’t playing make-believe with emoticons and hearts, a delusional carousel of romantic jargon that the internet’s filled with. We do this because love isn’t acting out a character or playing a part like life’s a movie and reality is something some unseen hand records while we flaunt our pseudo-eccentricities.

We do this because I love you and you me.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

A portrait

This is a portrait of a man in black and white. I've used it to depict tortured personality that yearns for freedom.

Well, I’ve known him from school and I’ll admit that he was natural. He did win a writing competition besting me with the sharpest prose. But later, he quit writing altogether and took to another field that never suited him. A field filled with authoritarian therapists and pseudo-scientists trying to decipher maladjusted minds with cryptic jargon, and abstract sentences: Wrestling with creativity and trying to stuff it into a box, before crumpling it and tossing it into a wastebasket of indifference. I guess that got to him, because he couldn’t fit into one particular genre of ‘thought’ and he eventually quit, picked up a pen and started writing again. But doggerels of years, forced him to re-learn all that he’d forgotten, and I guess in that sense he taught himself how to write. The irony was that he did this while he sat in the patient’s chair, listening to those very therapists prescribing him with machine gun doses of antidepressants, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. He initially speckled his poetry with the softest tears of naïvety, but I’ve learned now that he is his biggest critic, his biggest judge and that might be both an axe and a box of treasures. He eliminated his writings once he got popular, tried getting off the medication, and tried religion, but a certain doctrine from Geneva haunted more than it ever saved. And then began a period in his life which no hermeneutic will ever explain. The last we met, I was balding, struggling with similar side-effects (albeit to a lesser degree) and I tried setting him up with a girl who was seven years older. He said, “I’ll think about it,” and that right there is the problem. He did date her eventually, but he probably thought twice before making love to her, and wondered if passion will lead to something that lasts or if it will fizzle out. And so, he gave up on her, and thought about everything, except when he wrote, because then something strikes like lightning, and it just spills on a page – verbal vomit that strangely has structure, but I guess it’s better if he thinks and pours out syllables on a page, stringing together alliteration, drawing from every other eclectic source, and the suicidal aspects of his own life, because when he ghosts away, that’s when he suffers the most. I mean that’s when he gives into utter madness. He once walked on the street at two in the night, tried gouging out his eyes, stepped on thorns, and came back home completely befuddled and disoriented. He thought it was penance. Fortunately, some slight wand of fate always prevents him from going the distance. And then he’s back to writing, stitching together pieces, and it seems like each time he disappears and comes back, he gets better at what he does. I always thought sorrow is the muse that makes a few, but I guess I’m wrong; it’s inner torture. And from what I’ve read, I thought his writing parallels Perrin Aybara’s life: very moralistic and willing to go the distance for art, but it doesn’t. It’s definitely not Matrim Cauthon because you won’t find him frequenting bars and writing bard poetry, even though he says that’s his favorite character from the series. No it’s Rand, starting naïve, and then judging himself and letting his anger flare though each line, before finally struggling to break free, and then walking into a new age. But then that’s a series. I think by now everybody knows that art and life are not completely connected. Anyhow, he’s back on his medication, and writing to survive, and I read from a distant land with a wife that I often hate, and a son that I love, and I’m glad as long as he thinks and reads and thinks, and then writes, because if he vanishes, I’ll have to call immediately and find out that he’s done something terrible to himself again, and I don’t want that.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Nec Dextrorsum Nec Sinistrorsum

This is an image of a rock concert. I've used it to depict a shallow, materialistic, bourgeois lifestyle that heralds all the wrong principles.

Well, it’s probably that time of the year again – The Old Cottonians’ Ball where people brag about ‘cherished lifelong friendships,’ while whistling drunkenly to the old anthem we sang in school under the spiteful Sun. You’ll find every ‘somebody’ bragging about his job in Michigan or was it Thailand? You’ll find the same old cliques and clichés, the same old petty bullying and the same old lack of maturity. Yes, you’ll find people wearing designer suits, but a miasma of malodorous, pernicious malice rises from them. You’ll find the same old gossiping like old hags gathered around a Thanksgiving table, the same old boisterous boasting about some trite materialistic gain or a pretty new girlfriend or wife.

I stopped getting invitations for these events a while ago because they consider me an underachieving, under par pariah. A thirty-something unwashed, cocaine snorting fool. But I’d rather be a knowledgeable ‘fool’ than an ignorant overachiever. I’d rather lie in the lowest deck of Society’s cruise ship wearing the rags of ostracism and mental illness because being there – in that puke-ridden dark place – brings a depth to character that no amount of ostentatious picture clicking can provide. People on the upper deck reek of superficiality and artificiality while they sip their expensive scotch. Imagine getting degrees in engineering from prestigious schools abroad and still cloaking yourself with a benighted arrogance only because you’ve never known suffering. There’s something so obnoxious and suffocating about such a man. His achievements and his planes and his cars make him, and that’s the only standard he uses to existentially rate himself. You drive a Rolls Royce, but your emotionally stunted, avaricious psychical age is repugnant, my friend. And the woman who ‘falls for you’ has you trapped in the perfect wealth is directionally proportional to good sex façade of a relationship.

“Oh, Nitin used to cry in school! What a sissy!” You bark when your girlfriend tells you I’m cute, and that’s as deep as you can get. You aren’t even aware of your insecurities, and so, I’ve realized it’s pointless hating you. It’s better to pity you or even mourn for you in sackcloth and ashes and pray for your dear soul to reveal itself to you. “Oh, Nitin Lalit is a loser. He fell into drugs and alcoholism. His grades fell, and he’s jobless and worthless now,” says the schoolmate, while he’s smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey. And that’s as deep as he gets. His hypocrisy blinds him, or perhaps he justifies it by saying, “I’ve achieved this! He hasn’t! That’s the difference!” Oh, you pustule of a man. Are you going to be buried in the fancy car you bought for yourself? Quick to judge, but quicker to resort to the most peevish, childish defence mechanisms when judged.

Well, there you go. It’s that time of the year when I read Thomas Ligotti and Fitzgerald and herald pessimism, while you flaunt your repulsive, stigma-filled, classist, pseudo-elitist, hierarchical, ‘saccharine’ optimism that runs on the list of things you’ve done, singing, “On! straight on! On, Cottonians on!”

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Onion

This is an abstract painting. I've used it to depict personality and identity because they have myriad layers to them. One can never truly comprehend another person fully.

He was odd, to say the least, and he would walk around hunched, with this peculiar gait that made him look like some wounded war-veteran who limped. He seemed so absorbed with himself, and I often wondered whether thoughts buzzed around inside his over-sized head like flies circling a pile of garbage. He had this effeminate way about him, but his voice was a rich baritone that reminded me of the Euphonium. It still shocks me that he took his own life because nobody really hated him, and some in fact nicknamed him “a man with a thousand reflections,” and wanted to get to know him better, to put together the hundred pieces that made him so unique, so that they could finally get a glimpse of the solved puzzle. Having said that, loneliness isn’t about being alone in a dimly lit room with a back against a wall, smoking a cigarette; it is being surrounded by different unique realities, or a hundred faces – each with their contours, pimples, wrinkles and facial hair (or lack of it) – and still seeing this thick impenetrable fog that threatens. Was he lonely? I don’t know, but then again what do I really know? I’ve lived with my wife for fifty years and even though she’s been so forthcoming, I think I’ve only peeled a few layers of the onion. Every man’s mind is a galaxy in itself, with ideas and constructs orbiting the core that makes him. Sometimes I wonder if he really was that complex, if he was really an instrument like the piano, with its tuning pins, soundboard, keyboard, bridge and case, or if he was just this hollow reed we mistook for a flute. The naïve often have this enigmatic charm about them that makes them so alluring, and makes us see them from all kinds of vantage points, thereby giving us a blurred reality. Maybe it was just us, looking through glasses, or a microscope when we should have seen him plainly for who he really was. Nonetheless, none of it matters now. He sleeps and with him rests an over-analytic mind that calculated the steps he took to reach the college canteen from the classroom, or an introspective one that told him that there was no escaping the frightening hands of fate; or a creative one that made him think that he was like a character out of a fantasy book: grey in every sense, or a simple straight forward one that couldn’t get past some obstacle, and hence caved in.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)