The beautiful game

This is a picture of a skull face smoking. I've used it because to me represents the human condition. Are we good or evil? That's the question the picture asks

Do you remember when we played football on that turbid field? You’d pass the ball to me, and I, lacking acumen would race past defender after defender, before being tackled. You’d laugh sometimes and sometimes – irritated – yell at me, urging me to play better.

After the match, you’d resort to your post-match ritual of stretching and warming down, while I’d puff on a cigarette analyzing my game. Looking back, I think we’ll both admit that football fuels some degree of narcissism, even though it is the beautiful game – celebrated by the rich, the poor, the loner and the winner. But then again, I often wonder if you even have traces of nostalgia drifting through your consciousness today.

How did you get radicalized? Was there always some aspect of your being that thrived on serving a wrathful deity using a sword? Sure, you loved discipline on the football field but championed liberty and freedom in life. You believed all men were created equal, and your identity lay more on the hedonistic side of the spectrum than the conservative one. You disdained acts of terror in the name of religion, cause or philosophy. You believed in empathy, forgiveness, and peace.

And then, you disappeared and came back aloof and troubled. But you were unwilling to share your problems. I tried, like any best friend would do. I firstly gently coaxed you before directly confronting you.

“Is it a woman?” I asked.

“You wouldn’t understand,” you dismissed me.

“You were never like this; never indifferent or callous. So, tell me, what happened? You know I’ll never judge you.”

“There are some things in life that we mustn’t speak off,” you answered cryptically.

Soon, you cut all ties with me. And then I heard about the beheading; about the gruesome, despicable way in which you’d robbed two children of their father. You said you did it in the name of God because the man was a blasphemer and an infidel. You said that you’d do it again.

At first, I was shocked, but after accepting that you’d become an animal, I wondered if I was asking the right questions. Is there a caged beast in all of us that we’re only unaware of because society’s norms keep him trapped? Can even the most educated men fall prey to the simplest deceptions, thereby throwing away their moral convictions? Are we prone more to violence, greed and a lust for power than kindness, beauty, and truth? Do we even know the truth or are we all living out internal postmodern realities where everything’s distorted, without insight?

They say education saves but does it? You find cruel men using inherently good technology to carry out ingenious but vile schemes. From gas chambers to the nuclear bomb to cyber-terrorism to identity thefts to Ponzi schemes to fake news to Facebook pages spewing propaganda; I can’t help but think if there’s something sinister creeping in our veins, threatening to break out and metamorphose us into terrifying, feral primitive beings, consumed by the wrong passions and pride.

I remember when you passed the football. You had such vision! You’d know the direction of the run, the striker’s speed and the defender’s positioning before your feet touched the ball. You played chess on the football field, calculating moves in advance, and knocking off pieces. If only you’d had that same insight in life. I wish you did and pray that I get it because that may be the only way to keep the beast caged.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Innocence within the femme fatale

This is an image of a femme fatale. I've used it because my post is about finding beauty in raw writing. Writing that has a tough exterior is often full of heart and honesty.

There’s something about her writing that brings me back. It isn’t a Fitzgerladean crescendo, slowly building up in the tender night, tugging at your heartstrings eloquently and ethereally. No, it’s sprinkled with sawdust, and rusty nails, but once you dig deeper – at the risk of getting injured – you’ll find a hidden gem with so much depth and candor: multifaceted and transparent. But I’m sure a lot of people don’t dig enough, either from the fear of reciprocation, or because their superficiality and walking canes make them tragically stereotype themselves.

We’re quick to label writing as coarse, or cantankerous, when we have our own periods of vulgarity during the day, which the Sauvignon never solves. An artificial faux-elitist conservativeness is what I call it. An indelible keloid or a permanent tattoo both cut through skin, and just because the latter seems attractive, it doesn’t mean the former doesn’t bring with it the pain of experience.

But I go back to her, and I like the diamond in the rough – if you’ll permit me to use a cliché – or the esoteric sound like Miles Davis’ Paraphernalia submerged beneath layers of Grindcore. I find Meshuggah bringing individual units together to form a polyrhythmic machine, before finding another swirl of life in Chet Baker and Paul Desmond playing a standard like Autumn leaves when I read her: The latter’s unique alto tone evoking more than feelings; almost literally placing me in another space and time.

There’s so much beauty in unique art, but it lies in perception, and never in battles for superiority, or petty feud – counter feud poetry. We’re just individuals, and from a bird’s eye view, we’re one with the earth we walk on, shaped and molded by it, and what we create should facilitate growth, and nurture a collective artistic consciousness. Irrespective of the approach: confessional, descriptive, satirical, or a separation between the writer and his work, or pure stream of thought, this journey is beautiful.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

The only way out

This is a picture of a path in the woods. It represents moving forward despite the tribulation fate bestows on us.

When I learned that she was going to breathe her last soon, that the disease was already in its fourth stage, I boxed the wall until my fingers bled, and then looked up. ‘Are you there? Do you even care?’ I asked the sovereign. Was this karma because I played God when I created characters and destroyed them using my artistry? Or was this judgement for each sin, consciously or subconsciously committed? I was left with these questions asphyxiating me, and the never knowing, making me smoke, giving me stained cotton lungs.

I smashed mirrors, the shards piercing through skin and bone while crimson soldiers of anarchy made their way to my wrist, staining the battlefield of my skin with their nefariousness. ‘Why are you silent?’ I asked him who predetermines. ‘Why do you turn your face away?’ I screamed with indignation.

I loved her. She was the only one who never judged me despite my idiosyncrasies and cantankerous temperament. She loved me selflessly and maybe the fact that I’d never reciprocated fully, birthed guilt, which birthed anger, and with a frustrated and devastated core, I took my rage out on him who’s supposedly omnipotent.

I spent days, negatively praying, and by that, I mean cursing him. So even though I believed, I succumbed to a spiritual nihilism and felt like I was carrying each cross of each broken person in this fractured world. Who are we, but dying candles braving the squalid winds of providence? And couldn’t all this be different? A world without the fall, without suffering, without Adam’s apple, and the serpent’s deception?

Watching her regress from a healthy, functional woman to a mass of tubes and bones impaled my faith with a spear of nihilism. ‘God is dead,’ I finally proclaimed, because I couldn’t handle watching the only person who meant something to me needing morphine to numb the pain, feeding off poisonous chemicals that kill more than save, smelling like a gangrenous mass of cells, and I drank, drank, and drank some more. I couldn’t visit her, because I didn’t want to see her intoxicated, but not being there made me drink more, and I wished for a way out.

And then something within, reminded me of my egocentricity, and rebuked me for playing the theatrical, ‘I, me and myself,’ card. She needed me, even if her essence was leaving her, and my pain was nothing compared to what she was going through. I learned at that moment what selflessness and humility meant. It meant giving and not self-indulgence, though the stones of tribulation strike you hard, and leave you bleeding.

But a part of me loved wallowing in my misery and did its best to enclose myself in a hazy room where my eyes burned, and the walls slowly closed on me. A part of me said, ‘You’ve got nothing left, so, why bother?’ And voices echoed, formed battle positions in my mind, and fought furiously while I looked at the liquor, and thought, ‘One more swig. That’s all, and I’ll be numb.’

But I lifted the bottle and smashed it against the wall. And threw on thrift shop clothes and ran to the hospital. I ran six miles. And sweating, I asked the nurse for an appointment, but was denied since visiting hours were over. ‘I need to see her. I’ve been here so many times before. Just for a few minutes. I love her,’ I said or partly screamed. But I was asked to come back the next day,

And so, I went home, and looked at the rum staining my floor, and a part of me said, ‘You fool! You wasted it,’ but another softly said, ‘Visit her tomorrow.’ And though I was an impulsive, reckless rebel, I listened to my inner voice this one time and spent the night fighting the urge to drink.

The next morning, feeling a conglomeration of love, withdrawal, hate and bitterness, I walked to the hospital again. And then I saw her, looking with tears in her years, wondering why I hadn’t visited. I fell to my knees and said, ‘I’m sorry. I love you,’ and she smiled through the pain. I visited her everyday though I knew she wouldn’t make it. I fought the withdrawal, though each iota of the flesh screamed. And finally, I stood in the back, when a family who’d abandoned her visited her, after she had deteriorated badly.

They transferred her to the ICU and one by one, people visited, perhaps trying to make closure, or to pretend that they cared. I was the second last. And there lay the woman who’d given me so much, and showed so much strength, now feeble and unconsciousness. ‘He gives and takes away,’ a part of me said, while another yelled, ‘Why?’

I stuttered when I gave my eulogy, but didn’t shed tears while people cried loudly; people who didn’t even bother to call her for years. Maybe they thought me cold, but I didn’t see a single one of them when I visited the cemetery the next day, and clutched the tombstone and engraved my own epitaph with my tears, literally screaming and howling, while the wind blew away withered leaves, and the sunset bathed me in the twilight.

Looking back, I found redemption from my demons because of her unconditional love, but I had to lose the most precious, beautiful person in my life to trudge forward. And that’s life: We live though we’re broken. We die though we’re happy, and through it all, despite the horrors and pain, some inner clock ticks, saying, ‘The only way out is through.’

Inspired by the quote, ‘The only way out is through’ by Robert Frost.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Life as I know it

This is a black and white picture of a depressed man's face. I've chosen it because my prose piece is a personal confessional about my struggles with depression.

I’m a broken man who leads a very lonely life. I don’t have any friends or ‘treasured acquaintances’ as Sheldon Cooper puts it. I’m highly introverted and gravely misunderstood. I have made my share of mistakes, and they haunt me like the spirits that made Legion break his chains and torture himself.

I’ve lost my sense of duty, and I’m as irresponsible as they come. Hours pass with me smoking cigarette after cigarette and listening to the same song on repeat. And when I’m feeling a little determined, I try losing myself to a book. But there are days when I can’t read, let alone write. I feel numb then and try to stimulate my mind with a lot of caffeine; hoping some feral burst of inspiration will strike me, but it rarely works. And I’m left like a defeated prisoner, bound up and tossed in a cage; looking down at the grime and piss.

Once, I was idealistic and believed that I’d hold the stars in my hand like the Son of man. But fate dealt with me harshly and made me realize that I’m dust and ashes, and nothing more. He cruelly stomped on my feet as I chased the will-o’-the-wisp, taking from me the people and dreams I held close to my heart. He made me live out a reality that I once mocked – nurses in pristine white gowns injecting me with tranquilizers, doctors plotting to throw me in a halfway home and over-medicating me like I was a lab rat, and even my parents looking away with contempt.

Then, I looked for solace in religion. I went through mad spiritual phases in my life where I thought serving God is the only purpose in life. But religion only accentuated my grief. I found more terror in faith than love. I had horrific visions which led to more white-gowned nurses and doctors.

Finally, I accepted my circumstances and walked away from wanting validation from people, and no wrath from God. I can’t say that I’ve gained closure, and I doubt I ever will, but for whatever it’s worth I’ve decided to exist as long as there is breath in me; not caring if I’ll fade like discarded Polaroid over time or if I’ll find myself framed on someone’s mantelshelf.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

On chimeras and a constant need for validation in our postmodern age

This is a picture of a man silhouetted against a matrix. It represents our digital, postmodern age which revolves around technology.

You sometimes encounter people in life who want you to love them intimately. They’re literally obsessed with you and try forcing their perceptions of intimacy on you. They’re not exactly stalkers but aren’t a far cry from that breed. Now, I understand unrequited love and the need for someone to reciprocate your feelings, but if you truly love someone, you’ll let them go. You’ll never force your delusions on them because no two people think alike.

Yes, there may be a collective consciousness, but I don’t believe in the concept of soul mates or two people sharing one soul. A collective consciousness is something more genetic and has to do with traits acquired and personality, but ultimately you are your being.

People fail to recognize this aspect of liberating individuality and seem to constantly seek the approval of the ‘other’. They have ideas of the other which are often so different from who the other really is. They have dreams and misconceptions that often lead to such acts of foolishness. We live in a cyber, postmodern reality where a few messages sent, or a few Tinder dates make ‘together forever.’

Love requires commitment. Love isn’t judgment. Love isn’t falling for fancies. Love has a deep emotional aspect to it but that’s something that one acquires after years of actual togetherness and it’s not the puppy emotional, fake, cyber simulacrum.

I have found strange people entering and exiting my life. They come in like hurricanes of trust and promises and exit like whirlwinds of bitterness all because they expected something that I didn’t want to give them. I can offer friendship, loyalty, and trust if people give me the same, but I cannot offer love that satiates your chimeras. People don’t understand that I’m not hardwired to love them like their mind tells them. Your mind tells you many things and you feel myriad things but most of what you’re going through is self-indulgence. Pure selfish, hedonistic anti-altruism and when I don’t give you what you seek, your bitterness erupts like a pustule and those warm eyes turn into icy glares meant to pierce or wound.

People go to insane heights when their delusion meets the hard ground. You’ll find them unfriending people on Social Media, engaging in gossip and projecting their anger and insecurities onto the person they perceive insulted them. They dig into their pasts and scrape old wounds until they’re bleeding again and play the blame game. The person of adoration becomes an object that needs destruction.

Sometimes the madness descends to utter incoherence. ‘How could you have done that?’ You’ll find them screaming when you did nothing wrong. I don’t love you and neither did you love me. You worshiped me, and I’m not flattered. I need you to move on. So, please get over it. That’s the only response you can give people like that and if you don’t want a direct confrontation, just cut ties. Trust me, any vicious cycle, even if a person has faced similar circumstances in their life but deludes themselves into thinking that creates a special unity, needs a severing.

What is with this age and the need for constant reinforcement? I guess social media has played a destructive role in fueling our narcissistic egos. It’s all about the likes, comments, and shares and it doesn’t matter if you’re happy or depressed. If you’re happy, you’ll resort to posting picture perfect selfies and gloat as the likes and comments flow. And then there’s the sorrowed narcissist. The person who uses depression, prior abuse, and the ostracism or bullying they’ve faced to get the same likes. This person doesn’t usually use Facebook but uses blogging platforms to achieve the same goal – an ephemeral reinforcement.

I think we’ve forgotten how to have a good time. We don’t even read paperbacks anymore. We prefer shortening our attention spans by spending time reading blog after blog, hoping someone will find our blogs and like or comment. And a comment; something said by a stranger we know nothing about makes our day. And if it isn’t repeated the next day, we feel insecure and lost.

My friends, this is shallow living. But getting out of this needs suffering. You need to suffer pangs of loneliness to know solitude. You need to suffer failure to know that victory isn’t everything and this is a gradual change or an unraveling of sorts.

Having said this, I’m guilty of so many things I’ve pointed out and criticized, but I’m slowly realizing that this cyber existence isn’t worth it. Now I’m not advocating a Luddite puritanism but a balance or a middle road like the Buddha put it – neither giving in to too much or too little.

© 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)

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)