Skunk Weed

Jimmy bought a new moped. “I’mma ride it to the hills, brah!” He squealed, the effects of the skunk weed which landed him in an institution where he spent hours talking to the ceiling fan and calling it his ‘Big Momma’ still affecting him. He reverted to his Indian accent now and then, but I always kept my fingers crossed, scared he’d go crazy on me.

“What do you plan to do in the hills?” I asked Jimmy, but deep inside I already knew the answer. “I’mma find a bootleg pill man. They sell some fine quality hashish,” he whispered, bending low on his moped and there was something terrifyingly odd about the way he did that, but then again this was Jimmy. Everything was odd about him. He slept with his feet on the pillows and his head where his feet should be, he drank scotch with mixed fruit juice, he managed to get some old cuckold to film while he fucked the man’s wife, he joined a book club and turned it into a Wednesday swingers party. I don’t how he did it. I think he had this weird cult of personality. It never worked on me, but it certainly did charm a lot of others into giving into his twisted fetishes.

I always wondered if Jimmy made up his exploits until he introduced me to the old cuckold and his wife at a cafe. The old sleazebag asked me if I wanted to join Jimmy and plough his wife. I politely declined. The last thing I needed was an amateur porn video starring me, some older woman and Jimmy of all people, while a cuckold, jacking off shouted, “C’mon son. Fuck her harder!” I guess I’ve seen enough amateur porn to know how it worked. I’ve decided to stick to watching it; the monitor separating me from the actuality.

I also walked into the swinger party by accident. Jimmy’s mother asked me to fetch him one Wednesday and I said, “Yeah, he’s probably at the book club. I’ll fetch him.” I then called Jimmy and asked him where he was, and he gave me directions to some apartment complex. I could hear loud music in the background but didn’t make much of it. He couldn’t have possibly converted a book club into a swinger party, could he? I wondered. I finally found the place in some cul-de-sac and asked the watchman for directions to Room 125. He looked at me with disgust and spat: the red, betel leaf juice tainting the parking lot. I wondered what I’d done wrong.

I knocked on the door and Jimmy opened, clad only in his pajamas. I went in and the stench of weed overwhelmed me. I then heard loud music and ferocious moaning from the rooms.

“What the fuck’s happening here?” I yelled at Jimmy and he said, “Peace fam. Lighten up. We just havin a good time, that’s all.”

I needed to get the fuck out because nothing good happened when Jimmy started speaking thoroughly in his Indo-African American accent. But I’d promised Jimmy’s mom that I’d bring him back and so, I grabbed him by the wrist and started pulling him out of the door.

“Nigga, you need to lighten up,” Jimmy barked before screaming, “Help! Terrorist!”

And some butt-naked girl ran out of one of the rooms and screamed at me.

“Leave Jimmy alone! Leave him alone terrorist!” She shrieked, her tits bouncing while she hysterically jumped up and down.

“Calm down,” I said, “His mother needs him.”

“Jimmy’s got no momma,” she said in some bizarre Indo-Chinese-British- African American accent.

“No, he does, and I’ll call the police if you don’t go back to whatever you’re doing.”

“I’m doing Jimmy you fat tit! And I’m not letting him go until I’m done!” she yelled and slapped me, and Jimmy started crying.

“I’mma lose it brah!” He whined and I had a panic attack.

“C’mon Jimmy,” Big breasts said softly, “I’ll fuck yer brains out until you’re happy again.”

“For real! Bitch please! You don’t know what I’mma lose.”

The girl then started crying and I took the opportunity to cart Jimmy away.

We raced past houses and ramshackle huts, Ganesha processions and Hindu activists and gay parades and livestock and restaurants and finally reached Jimmy’s house.

“I’mma lose it,” Jimmy squealed as I bodily lifted him and carried him home.

“You’ll be fine Jimmy. Just think of the bootleg pill men and the hills,” I said, dropped him on his bed and went out and smoked a cigarette.

© 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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Caged

This is a picture of a tiger in a cage. I've used it to depict animalistic lust which is a prominent theme in my story.

The day we broke up, the dying Sun was a blackish crimson like the color of menstrual blood. The only sounds heard were the incessant cawing of crows that sounded like the noises a lunatic in unendurable emotional throes makes. There was a slight drizzle, but it wasn’t like the soft healing rain that people enjoy. It felt acidic and bitter; sharp like little tungsten needles piercing flesh; grim and nihilistic.

She said, ‘I never loved you, and I don’t know why I put up for four years,’ and though that statement echoed my own feelings, I was bitter, and I felt it – some green, thorny reed pulsing in my chest, urging me to lash out at her. Anger gripped me like caffeine intoxicates you when you’ve had too much coffee. A manic thrill flitted around each thought of mine, scratching at their surfaces and creating a terrible itch like an allergic rash – red scales imprinted on chest and stomach. I wanted to wound her emotionally. I wanted to crush her with words like a rattlesnake’s bite. But I bottled up my rage and just walked away with seething hatred in my eyes.

Ours was a slipshod romance based on ideas of who we were and who we’ll become. The problem with such romances is that when they hit hard ground, the idealism quickly evaporates like nail polish remover or acetone, leaving a pungent stench. Then a bleakness sets in and the lush grandiosity is replaced by a wasteland, littered with scraps of ‘what should have been.’

We made the mistake of staying together despite the staleness and the acrid stench. We were far past even a hint of recovery, but we pushed on, though we secretly despised each other. I guess the need for companionship even if it’s toxic and volatile makes people do stupid things. We complimented each other, but there wasn’t any depth to anything we said. Everything became an ostentatious façade of the clichéd three words said, or pure lust gripping us like myriad demons and making us devour each other – possessed, insatiable and hedonistic.

‘I love you,’ she’d say after semen like little glaciers coated her breasts and stomach.

‘I love you too,’ I’d say, cleverly masking my nonchalance.

‘Where do you think we’ll be five years from now?’

‘I don’t know; possibly married with a child and a dog.’

‘Yeah, and we’ll be successful writers too.’

This trite, mundane small talk enveloped every conversation we had like smog enveloping a footpath. And strangely, it was only after sex that we’d even bother to engage in longer conversations.

There’s a difference between lust and love, and lust can often imitate love like Satan masquerading as an angel of light as the good apostle put it. Lust is an impatient, reckless muse. She gives you half an hour of pleasure and then dumps you, making you fall into an intense pattern of introspection as complicated as the designs you see in a kaleidoscope.

Love, however, is patient and soft and selfless (or so they say). I’ve never known her though I’ve romanticized her using sonnets and lyrical passages in my prose.

‘Do you want to get a cup of coffee?’

‘Sure.’

‘How about we go to this new café on Church street? I’ve heard the ambiance there is terrific.’

‘Yeah, why not?’

This sort of conversation marked our relationship like a birthmark marks a finger when boredom seized us, and we felt sorry for ourselves. It’s tragic that you see something in a person that was never there and cling to the chimera like you’re clinging to a branch you somehow caught when you fell from a cliff.

Sleazy sex and cigarettes; squalid thoughts and booze; dirty lifestyles and cock and cunt; thinking in shades of black and white. All this slowly creeps into the archetypal deluded relationship like the serpent in Eden who destroyed Adam and his progeny.

In the end, I was living with her in a sordid apartment, squandering my time, while self-loathing and hatred for her was the bile I was holding back using all my effort. Eventually, it reached a stage where I had to puke. I had to relieve myself of the artificiality and inanity. But she took the first step.

We had a fight, and it was only the second fight we’d ever had, but the redundancy of our relationship like a classic Macintosh computer broke our wills.

‘Is all this only about sex?’ She asked me with a look of disgust after we’d had an intense session that lasted nearly an hour.

‘What if it is?’ I said, and I knew I’d said something I could never take back.

‘I’m not a whore, you bastard! I need something more than just physical satisfaction, and I can’t believe you just said that!’

‘I didn’t mean it that way. I don’t even know why I said that.’

‘Yeah, but you did. What’s deeply rooted in the heart always untangles itself and becomes an utterance.’

‘Look, I’m sorry,’ I said halfheartedly, ‘I never meant to hurt you.’

‘Then why did you say what you said?’

‘I don’t know. All I know is that there was something else on my mind, and I just said something stupid,’ I lied.

‘Stop lying. Maybe you’re right though. Maybe these four years have only been about sex. I’ve longed for intimacy, but I’ve never found it with you, and I don’t think I ever will.’

‘What do you mean? Do you want to find it with someone else? I’ve tried hard to make this work, you know, but you’re always so distant and preoccupied,’ I said with a hint of insecurity.

‘I’m preoccupied! You’re the one who’s never there. All you do is mumble now and then, and honestly, I’m sick of it. ‘

‘Do you want to break up? Is this what this is all about?’

‘No.’

We avoided each other for the next few days, but we did eventually break up. Thinking back, I didn’t want her to find someone else, even though I was relieved that we weren’t together.

Freedom at last! It took a few days processing it. No more pretentious conversations, no more hypocrisy, no more sacrifices to altars of nothingness, no more suppressed hate like a pustule festering inside, no more us.

She soon found another lover, and that strangely felt like someone had clamped my heart with crocodile shears. I felt like someone boxed me in an iron maiden of emotion and slammed the door shut. But what fascinated me was me getting aroused thinking of her and her new lover in bed. It was an ugly mix of bitterness, turmoil, and libido. I spent days masturbating to the thought of them having sex and writhing in self-pity at the same time. I’d then think that I was a sick freak and masturbate to that thought too.

I stopped caring about personal hygiene; walked to the liquor store in the pants I’d shagged in and years passed as I watched my life ebb away. Was there a part of me that loved her? Did I miss the sex? Do deluded romances also have an aspect of actual, tangible, beautiful emotion that we suppress? I couldn’t get over her, and I still haven’t. I guess things will never be the same, but what’s ironic is that they were shitty to start with.

© 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)