The sojourner’s haibun

I’m trapped in my old sedan like the Sicilian Bull, the fires of trauma roasting me, and in agony I pound the steering wheel and incessantly press the horn, though the hairpin bends as sharp as glinting scythes stay deserted, except for the hard rain, the water like blood sluicing, the wipers like metal claws scraping the glass in desperation. On either side tea plantations like incisions on a masochist’s wrist haunt. The mist envelopes like white pus, and I can’t see the dying light circumscribed by the mutinous night with her soldiers with onyx spears and her crescent moon—her war horn with pitted symbols of anarchy. A solitary hooded man passes like the reaper in flesh. My shrieks echo, and the car burns the wet asphalt leaving tire marks like another layer of infection on a gangrenous wound. The rage from my headlights clamp the air like crocodile shears, tearing its appendages of oxygen and nitrogen. The fume from my exhaust pipe settles on crushed empty paper cups, like acid poured on a battered, torture victim’s face. I ascend, yanked by some invisible force, like a mongrel tied to the back of motorcycle and then dragged across winding curve after winding curve because it bit the driver, sunk its teeth into his flesh. I’m the dog and Fate is the driver. I should have never rebelled. I should have never played with his dice, tossed it like a chewed off mutton bone. The car has a few dents like keloids that eventually form if one keeps itching scabs. It’s running low on fuel like a terminally ill patient in the ICU slowly losing his life-force. The tires pass over a thin trunk with spindly branches – stripped away by the howling wind like a demoniac’s scream – like a spine yanked out with thoracic nerves attached. I don’t see it and it pierces one like a rusty nail impales a big toe. The air fizzles out like the entrails of a sacrificed goat. A loud pop like a gunshot to the head. I lose control and spin like vertigo before a faint. The car careens like bloody vomit and smashes a signboard saying, ‘12/24.’ Glass shatters like foot bones cracking when stepped on by football studs. My head hits the dashboard like a plate thrown, smashing a wall. I gradually drift in and out of consciousness like a man after a snake bite…

You’ll never reach the end of this long walk –
Because fate to man is no two-edged coin –
So, rush to meet life, the gods they enjoin –
you – fight, attend with silent, muted talk –

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in Morality Park


Spring lost its luster
I stare at forlorn Autumn
My life ebbs away

I don’t know when I changed for the worse. Maybe it happened when paranoia gripped me, or when I tussled with fits of rage and madness. But now, there’s a beast within me, threatening to break rib-cage and tear flesh and destroy when provoked. I try suppressing him; I try bottling the raw pain like flayed skin, but I never succeed. He eventually consumes me and everybody around him, and then the guilt of hurting the people who love me the most breaks me like that picture of Spurgeon smoking a cigar broke him and forced repentance (or so they say).

I then resort to self-medicating and drinking and chain-smoking. A false euphoria envelops me as the antihistamines hit, the alcohol goes to my head, and nicotine rushes to my brain like soldiers rushing on a battlefield. But soon, that touch from a false god loses its potency and defeated, deranged, and damaged; I look at the wall opposite me and spend hours practicing a twisted anti-mindfulness.

Then comes the craving for more codeine or antispasmodics. I beg mother for money; I say, ‘Just this one time Mom. I promise I’ll never ask you again.’ But we both know that this redundant ruse, this scene on repeat is just a way for me to always get what I want. Nowadays, this charade leads to confrontation, which eventually unleashes the beast within. A vicious cycle has me trapped; I know I’ve lost sight of Spring and Autumn’s decay personifies me, but I refuse to change because it demands excruciating effort, and so I stay as the crimson refuse slowly envelopes me and my blood, spittle, and shit rupture even a semblance of beauty.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For dVerse