Funky Ink

This is an image of a wannabe musician. I've used it to satirize the mediocrity that's present in the scene.

They called themselves Funky Ink and played grunge. They covered Pearl Jam, but the irony was that they were the ones stereotyping, stigmatizing, lampooning, disgracing and degrading the misfits, the loners, the gays and the mentally ill in class.

‘Jeremy spoke in class because of you motherfuckers!’ I felt like screaming but bottled up my angst.

They had a lousy bassist who suffered from Bipolar Disorder. He was the only one given privileged status, but thinking back, I wonder just how ‘Bipolar’ he was. He was a conformist, a criminally insane, fucked-up, toad-faced, arse kisser who ran around the corridors in college kissing random girls in spurts of lewd mania.

His name was Tanmay, and he was as classist as they come. There was this time when he slapped a girl publicly because he considered her daft. It’s a good thing metoo# wasn’t trending then. But here’s the strange part: She kissed his arse a few days later, and they were all pally and shit.

They eventually kicked him out of the band and replaced him with another lousy bassist. And don’t get me started on the lead singer! Suneeth brayed and thought he was as good as Layne Stayley. But the truth was, he wasn’t even a fisherman’s Layne. He was a goat masquerading as a front man. ‘Puurrrple Haaaaze…baaah…puurrrple haaaaze…baaah!’ Fuck how did I endure it!

Anyhow that band’s dead, but Tanmay still moons with his trousers at his ankles. But nobody wants that arse son. It doesn’t have the mythical qualities he ascribes to it. It’s just a slightly askew butt crack that will give a black man in prison a lot of trouble. Lube might work though. A lot of it.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Wait for it!

Why should I care about the ramblings of a poetaster who suffers from acute schizophrenia?

Every line he writes reflects the disorder. There is poetic catatonia or the complete lack of depth, authenticity, and emotion. Dull and moth-eaten; leprous, and bland as insipid coffee.

There is the clinging and clanging, and neologisms when he says I serenade Siobhan.

There is a misconstrued, twisted paranoia that shrieks, ‘Oh! A love poem! How can it possibly engender originality! It’s a mutton bone I must feed to my pet dragon who appears on the 7th page of the 7th book in my series of 777 books! Hallelujah! Jehovah Jireh! Yes, it’s Catholic and shares a similar world with the brute, masculine, (hackneyed, overrated, devoid of intricate metaphor, empty) imagery of Tolkien!’ Yeah, I’m sure the deacon will be pleased while he’s defrocking the cantor and taking sacramental joy in his shrieks which are songs of joy to the presbyterate.

There is a false superiority, clearly evident in his rag-and-bone satire that he thinks, says, ‘I’m on par with George R.R. Martin!’ I’m sure you are, and Sansa loved it when you rode up to her on your unicorn dressed in nothing but a thong made out of hyacinths.

There is thought broadcast that makes him prattle on and on about myth and lore and keeps him warm at night thinking he dodged Zeus’s bolts with impunity while Aphrodite’s dove formed an unholy union with his cock bettering the union between Jacob and Rebekah, only because it’s sealed with white blood.

There is thought echo which takes him to strange metaphysics in which the Egyptian pyramid symbolizes the stages to self-actualization, and Kierkegaardian stages of despair are actually seeds of consciousness watered by the bad energy that comes from the obscure chanting of the people stuck in Plato’s cave.

Well, why should I care about this weirdo who treasures the opinion of a bunch of shallow (but pretending to be deep) giggly girls, or a self-proclaimed 21-year-old (now 34 or 35) lanky drug kingpin who shot at the police in the middle east of all places and lived to tell the tale!

I honestly don’t know why. I think I’m doing him a favor.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

The Emperor’s Demise

So, after Darth Vader threw Emperor Palpatine into that vortex, he found himself on this side of the universe. He looked at a Star Wars poster of the latest movie and grinned at the words ‘The Last Jedi’ written in red. He then walked up to a woman on a lonely street. He stretched his pale arms out in his uncanny way and tried mind control and asked her to join the dark side.

“Get away from me, you freak!” she screamed and ran away.

Disillusioned by his lack of strength, he succumbed to alcoholism and in a ramshackle bar met a former rock star now broken because of his fall from grace. They talked, and both ranted about unrealistic dreams: One wanting power and the other fame. But somehow, they managed to come up with an idea despite all the slurring and the occasional puking.

They decided to start a band.

Palpatine walked up to the mike stand and stood there while the band played heavy distortion and the drummer used his double bass pedal like a maniac.

Palpatine was unsure but decided to give it a try anyway. He softly said, “Dark side,” and the crowd roared. There was something about his voice that made it so distinct and raw.

Palpatine grinned, and his band soon achieved fame. All he did was walk up to the mike stand in his black robe and talk about wistful dreams of destroying the Jedi and ruling the universe.

Then Palpatine suddenly realized that it was possible to control human beings without a superpower, and he soon eliminated tinges of nostalgia in his rhetoric. He labeled the genre he invented Sith rock, called his fans Stormtroopers, and urged them to dress appropriately during concerts. The band attained astronomical fame. The critics loved Palpatine’s new approach. They called it progressive and reactionary.

All went well until some Stormtroopers took off their masks during a concert and decided to change things. They formed an instrumental band which was rooted in Sith rock but eliminated Palpatine’s rhetoric.

Palpatine derided them for not being true to the roots of the movement, but that only gave them attention. Fans and critics loved this new genre called post-Sith rock and left Palpatine. They called them inventive.

Disillusioned, Palpatine found a woman on a lonely street and stretched his pale arms out and asked her to join the dark side.

She filed a sexual harassment case, and Palpatine lost most of his money. He returned to the ramshackle bar and watched the trailer of The Last Jedi.

“Rey. Where was she when I needed her?” he slurred and puked.

(Inspired by Star Wars)

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

There are only dead ends here, friend

Well, firstly there aren’t any woods where I live, just ramshackle houses strangely painted using vibrant hues. What most of us don’t realize is that this weird flamboyance only emphasizes our poor, misery-stricken state, and our desperate need to keep up with the Kardashians (the Joneses are dead by the way). Anyway, I digress. So I’m standing before these two pot-holed, waterlogged paths, and yes, it did rain yesterday, but we must remember the raw sewage too. I looked down one sordid path and then took the other. I reasoned that this route didn’t stink much, but held my nose while I walked. And it wasn’t morning, but night, and these broken street-lamps with their muffled light were the only oracles given. Did I leave the other for another day? Sure, don’t we all? I’m sure some famous evolutionary biologists despite all their cherry-picking from postmodernism will say the same when the moral zeitgeist shifts tomorrow and we all pick up machetes and kill each other. Hell, they’ll even bawl inwardly before rationalizing that they’re doing the right thing and butcher someone. Wasn’t Hitler right after all? I damn well know by now that one filthy path leads to another. Hell, I’m an obscure writer who lives in a city where some women counselors ask me to get an Arts degree for the sake of it because that’s what ‘girls’ do. Some Protestants with their wet dreams aren’t very different. They tape record my sessions and then ask me to work in a coffee shop because I’m unstable and it’s a ‘noble’ thing to do. They know jolly well that in this place people who work in coffee shops don’t do it out of a sense of service. They do it because they don’t have an alternative. One must never do something because it’s noble when one’s heart isn’t in it. Take a look at some Cardinals, and you’ll get what I’m saying. Oh, they’re wearing red all right. And please notice the use of the determiner. They’ll fry you using a skillet of fundamentalism if you use language without precision. Anyway, I digress again. It’s this stupid habit of introspection you see. Some contemplate and find ‘enlightenment’ or something. For me, it’s a head put in the Guillotine. I say that because the noose is overused, the electric chair won’t convey it properly, and I’ve never really understood the lethal injection. Only the fellow who we think sleeps but is writhing inside probably does. I know, I know, I’m digressing again, and so, I’ll end this quickly. I know I’m never coming back, and one day after just a year or two considering the number of cigarettes I smoke, I’ll say this with a wheeze, a cough, and a death-rattle: I took the road less sordid, and now I’m dying alone, goodbye!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Requiem

Funerals are difficult but delivering a sermon at a murderer’s wake is excruciating. I see just five of you seated here. His mother, his three sisters and one friend who could bring himself to come. Now, I don’t mean to insult the bereaved in any way, but if I didn’t speak my mind, even if it’s for an audience of five who knew this man better than me, I might as well resign from shepherding my church and find another vocation.

What this man did was heinous. He was a teacher in a school, a man meant to educate, and facilitate intellectual and moral growth, but he broke bad and losing his grip on sanity, murdered thirteen precious young lives before taking his own. His wife has denounced him and isn’t here and that’s her prerogative, but the one person I wanted to see was his father.

When I spoke to you, I realized that he came from a troubled home and had a tortured past. His father took discipline to extremes which slowly deteriorated into both physical and verbal abuse. He never once said that he was proud of him, and rarely said that he loved him and when he did, it was in a flat, emotionless tone. His father asked him to ‘man up’ when he was severely bullied in school and disregarded every cry for solace. And now the man has the audacity to say that he took a ‘dark path’ and ‘chose’ to destroy himself. So, I’d like to address that man even though he’s not present and is busy giving interviews on news channels to purge himself of his guilt.

What you did sir, is just as heinous because you emotionally starved someone until his soul died. You’re guilty of murder too. In this age, we either don’t talk about feelings at all or we talk too much about them. But to live healthily is to feel healthily. And I don’t mean cheap thrills or ephemeral highs that drugs give you, which this man struggled with, before quitting completely, and tragically did what he did before he could celebrate his redemption. I mean a deeper, more profound connection to someone or something noble and dignified. Emotion is always two-dimensional. There is the object and the protagonist. Now this man was a protagonist when he was young. He was a young man, full of ambitions and dreams. Today, and as long as this world lives he’ll be denounced and degraded, and treated like a vile antagonist, but there was a time when he longed for something of quality and substance. If only you’d just nourished that need, my dear sir, instead of quenching it and indoctrinating him. A dogma becomes a snake in the mind which bites, poisons, and eventually devours, unless it’s given and received with love. You exasperated your child and today you aren’t even here. It’s tragic that you didn’t stop what you could have.

Having said that, I’d also like to address society. If we continue allowing our children – especially in this millennial or post-millennial age when technology which isn’t inherently bad but used abominably by men, spews all sorts of venomous ideas into their already addled heads – to emulate what we see or hear, in schools, to create cliques and enforce stereotypes at a young age because that’s how drama presents adolescence, then we’ll have to reap such consequences. There is more to life than a click-bait carousel on which digital avatars revolve. It’s a box within a box within a box. That’s how shallow and superficial we’ve become. That’s how bland and tasteless we’ve become and I’m just as guilty as everyone else. So, let’s make a change and get a hold of our broken, disjointed lives by knowing how to live in solitude, by finding simple pleasures, or by just taking a stroll in the park.

Returning to the deceased, God is merciful, but He is also just. And sadly, we’ve lost him forever if you believe in the Christian faith. He will suffer for his crimes and I can only hope it’s in the fires of an intense purgatory which enables him to finally know everlasting love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Turn the other cheek

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 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 (2018)

That Ragtime though…

I’ve never been to New Orleans and learned what little I know about the culture from HBO’s Treme. I do like jazz though. Now some jazz is inaccessible like abstract philosophy. You can only listen to it from a distance and wonder (in awe or repulsion) about what’s really going on. But play a Benny Goodman record and picture a cobbled street with decaying houses on either side and musicians playing despite the hardship and trial and you’ll soon weave poetry to the rhythm of the clarinet rushing in and slowly fading like an incandescent idea that erupts into stream of consciousness before  evaporating. I can see them now, under a blue sky, playing that old ragtime, creating those classic, tap-your-feet mellow melodies laced with a tinge of melancholia. Artists, just like you and me, struggling, moody and barely functional. Artists, given to booze, cigarettes and the occasional spliff, and a part of me just wants to watch them in solidarity and say, ‘The rum’s on me! To fucking peace on earth while the music still plays. To cigarette-scarred dry throats and husky voices. To sexy alto-saxophones and odd time signatures. To the little beauty left while the music still plays.’

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For What Pegman Saw: New Orleans, Louisiana