Androids and Electric Sleep (Part 2)

This is a picture of man looking at destroyed houses in resignation. It embodies fatalism.

I’m the Knight of Infinite Resignation or the Kierkegaardian fatalist. I sit in this café where the androids gather. They’re scheming, plotting, drawing and smoking. I feel lost too, but I’m no android. I don’t bleed blue, and I’m not a mass of wires. I’m more than that or at least try convincing myself that I am. MGMT plays in the background, and this whole place has this psychedelic ambiance, but I’m not on drugs. I don’t do drugs. That’ll make me a misfit or a layabout, but I often wonder if I should. I often wonder if I should get a surgery done. I wonder if I should replace my arteries and veins with circuits and smoke a blunt with those pretty misfits in the corner. Who am I? I think I’m a man baptized in a dark pool of nihilism and guilt by acolytes wearing tan-colored robes symbolizing the earthiness of it all. And when I say earthiness, I don’t mean the rich soil or the petrichor. I mean rough, dirty earth that gets embedded in your fingernails. Oh, how I envy Abraham! He’s taking the bus right now with Isaac in tow. He’s going to the mountain to sacrifice the boy to Jehovah. But isn’t God dead? I’m sure Abraham doesn’t mean to make a sacrifice literally. I think it’s a figurative one where he’ll teach the boy about the ill effects of the electronic cigarettes he smokes and the video games he plays. I mean, that kid is nineteen and Ishmael is married and well settled even though Abraham disowned him. This boy though is so caught up in virtual reality headsets and apparently has 3D dreams. Television apparently made us dream in color, and here we have Isaac – the first post-millennial killed off by reckless spending and banal consumerism, the first post-millennial not needing hallucinogens to know what an acid trip feels like. At least the Hippies listened to great music while they gave themselves over to Woodstock. He definitely needs the mountains. He apparently asked Abraham what a sacrifice is. The gall of the boy! I hope he suffers when Abraham imposes Luddite Puritanism on him, and he cries and shrieks in horror until a ram appears, and he tastes something richer than Snapchat. But, hell, I’m a fatalist, and I don’t believe that Abraham will succeed. I think he’ll become an apostate too and start punching tweets on his outdated phone before he’s disgruntled and runs to the Apple Store and picks up the latest iPhone. And then Isaac will demand one too. I’d like to see how all this plays out when Abraham returns smoking an e-cigarette himself. But even that cheap thrill is so ephemeral. Everything is so transient. I might as well get high. I think I’m going to join the misfits but what good will that do? I’ll read this book, and then I really don’t know what to do.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Being a millennial

This is a picture of computer code. The image embodies the cyber, fake, artificial world we live in.

Instagram promotions that cater to the narcissist,
that feed him delicacy after delicacy of his choice
that he consumes with a voracious, insatiable appetite
like a murderous owl that preys on a rabbit,
Facebook status messages that promote a fabricated self,
craving for validation from other artificial cyber-realities,
and when someone wakes up now and then and realizes
that we’re living in a matrix, nobody listens, because
they’re content as long as superficiality fuels their egos
like diesel makes a locomotive run
and that’s what we’ve become, cars of different shapes
and sizes, the coat of paint reflecting our stature, our
‘substance’ and our standing,
Twitter filled with little birds tweeting out death threats
or supposedly intelligent remarks about politics,
religion, caste, creed and what not,
Youtubers making a living out of identifying gold-diggers
on the street, or creating ‘Social Experiments,’ in which they
feed a homeless man for a day, give him a couple hundred
bucks, make him cry and then say, “Off you go, son!”
People creating online petitions for the most insane things
like changing the ending of a TV show that a million others
sign,
Netflix preaching to us from the cyber pulpit, telling us how
to lead our lives, making the bogus virtual world
seep into our lives,
and we being the sheeple we are, listen,
because size matters,
a strong independent woman friend-zones a nice guy and has a
gay best friend,
an Alpha male gets away with trampling over
the Betas and the Gammas,
memes are the new adages,
perfect pictures of party girls drinking vodka at some
fashionable pub that they get into only because they have
a Ladies night is more eye pleasing than anything Van Gogh
painted, and don’t get us started on Jackson Pollock!
Love and lust are synonyms,
bullying, stereotyping, and gossiping is justified behavior,
and many more things.

How I wish for a place in the mountains where the air is crisp!
How I wish for a simple job, that satisfies me, and nature to invigorate me!
How I wish for solitude, and books alone, to keep me company!

But here I am, torn between preaching to the choir, and suffering from
the loneliness that a city brings,
here I am in a country snaking its way into Fascism like fish into a
mouth of a whale,
here I am, surrounded by crones, witches, stalkers, haters, ’empaths,’
and monsters,
here I am, consumed by myself, thrown into the very artificial world I detest,
unable to break free.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Musings

I used to walk up to the liquor store near my place, and buy myself, a bottle of rum. I wasn’t addicted to drinking, but I liked a couple of glasses of rum with coke. Maybe I was trying to emulate a low-life, but I’ve never worked odd jobs. Hell, I’ve never worked 9-5. Most of my work takes place after I read; after I clutch inspiration and gather my thoughts before letting them spill onto a page.

I live in an industrial area. I don’t wake up to the aubade of songbirds and the cool breeze. I wake up to the sound of the pneumatic drill, the sight of blue-collar workers wearing yellow helmets and barking instructions to their contemporaries, and the dust that stings the eyes.

I wake up to the roar of traffic. I wake up to people rushing off to work: Men and women skirting yesterday’s pools of rainwater and walking on barely cobbled sidewalks. I see a hollowness in their eyes and wonder how difficult their lives must be. I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but here nobody smiles and says, “Hello.”

In this country, it’s difficult to make acquaintances, let alone friends. It’s a hard place where the divide between the rich and the poor, and the educated and non-literate is enormous. It’s a place of political theater and lawlessness. It’s a land populated with people who only pretend to be liberal. It’s a land of staunch fundamentalists and zealots. It’s a brutal country.

But in spite of all that, there are a few who seek change. There are a few of us who use the little talents providence has gifted us to try to change lives. Most people ignore and often ridicule us, but we use our instruments to make music for the broken. We play our arpeggios with zeal hoping someone will listen, and yes, there’s always that one person who does. And that’s the beauty of human existence. There’s one person who loves you even if you don’t know much about them. It’s that thought that helps me keep dreaming; it’s that thought that makes me write again, and it’s that thought that tells me that all the pain and shame I’ve endured is worth it.

Society both attracts and frightens me. I’m comfortable when I’m in the company of a few friends, but once the conversation becomes tedious, I get visibly tired. I dislike long telephone conversations, and I don’t like anybody intruding on my personal space. I enjoy reading, coffee, and cigarettes. I like thinking, but I tend to overdo it. There are times when there are at least four streams of thought running through my head at the same time. And then, I try listening to music to make myself stop thinking, but my efforts are often futile.

I’m never comfortable around large groups of people. I end up sitting silently as a rock while all around me people drink, boisterously laugh and gossip. I try to force conversation out in such situations, but I only end up making a fool out of myself. I can enjoy society as long as there is a minimalist charm to it. But the moment things become raucous, I’m riddled with angst, and I need to run away.

When I started writing, I had dreams of becoming someone great, even though my work was full of mistakes. But time has taught me that though it’s nice to hold onto the inner child in you when it comes to being playful or charming, clinging onto idealism can destroy you. I now write solely for myself, and I feel a deep unease when someone projects themselves into my lines. Often, when I’m harsh, I’m harsh on myself, and I don’t have anybody in mind. I wish people would get this and leave me alone.

I disdain arguments and feuds. It troubles me when someone is especially belligerent or hostile. I used to react aggressively, but I’ve learned now that life only gives me a handful of moments, and wasting it by being bitter is the worst thing I can do. I mean, what’s the point? It isn’t mature, and I’m looking to add depth to my art, and not fight like a petulant child. There are places to go; things to see, and wonders to experience with and without the help of literature, and I want to grab life by his shoulders, shake him and say, “Look at me! Look at me! I’ll follow you and learn from you! Now show me everything!”

There is so much knowledge in this world. So many books that I’ll never finish reading. From the descriptive essays of Mary Oliver to the poignant portraits of a working-class America by Philip Levine to the harrowing, disturbing inner reality of Plath, there is just so much to know and such little time.

But then again, one cannot always read or write. Every life is a portrait that needs a few brushstrokes of experience. Experience can be both beautiful or terrifying, but it nonetheless teaches us. When I led a happy life reading Robert Jordan, I tried fashioning my identity by emulating traits of characters in his novels. It was only after a period of suffering and trial that I finally managed to see people for who they are and see myself for who I am.

In Fitzgerald’s novel, Gatsby organized some of the most elegant parties that all kinds of people attended. Attending his parties was like wearing a badge of esteem. Merriment, music, great food, and drinks made each party a hit. But none of those people attended his funeral. And that’s life. That’s the greatest lesson we can learn. Never let go of the people who stand by you when you’re down. They are ones who care. The rest will jump on the bandwagon as long as you’re in the limelight but will leave you trampled with a blood-soaked garment, the moment they can.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Wanting more

I woke up this morning and I looked outside my window. I watched the Flame of the Forest in all her effervescence, dancing to the rhythm of the breeze, giving herself up to the wind’s cadence.

I felt peace. I felt serenity. I felt a rush of tranquility, but it was short-lived.

Soon the voices in my head, and the hurt of the past screamed, shouted and shrieked. A scythe of disquiet hacked my solace in two, and I, distraught and disturbed wandered corridor after corridor, groping in the darkness, looking for answers in a society of charlatans wearing Bauta’s and just hating each other.

Passive aggressive hate.
Aggressive passionate hate.
Passionate passive hate.

Hate, hate, greed, greed, bitterness, bitterness, anger, anger – a theatre of mockery and psychosis, and here I am standing on the stage through the seasons, seething and broken, wanting to do something about it.

Dear Society,
Why do you have to be like that?
Why do you have to screw me over?
Why do you have to fuck me up?

I wish someone would find me amidst the puke covered streets, and the stench of ditchwater. I wish someone would breathe life into me. I wish someone would love me furiously, ferociously and pull me down from the cross, nurse my nail pierced body, remove this crown of thorns and I wish she’ll show me more to belief and faith, and draw my anger out of me.

I wish she’d understand me. I wish she’d transform this barren room with half-smoked cigarettes, spilled coffee and broken bottles of wine into something worth living in.

I wish she weren’t like the others – the women who came and went, waltzed in and foxtrotted out. I don’t wish for just physical intimacy. I wish for commitment, sacrifice and this beautiful, amazing thing that exists in the chaos, burning incandescently despite the wintry chill, this crazy thing we call love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Everyone

This is a picture of people silhouetted against a sparkling background. I've used this image to represent conformity and the dreams that fuel people and make them cruel.

Something special somewhere lies
out of reach of
everyone who longs to become someone,
frustrating, forcing
addled brains to know more incoherence
and then take their rage out on poor
nobody who knew no one and lived
nowhere.

Everybody looks up to somebody
who gives his umpteenth theatrical swansong
saying, ‘Oh! I’m depressed and can’t do it anymore!’
Amidst the clicks, flashes, cheers and claps
while poor nobody genuinely sings his song
to an audience of none.

Everyone wants to go everywhere –
fucking on wild tropical beaches
to the rhythm of the tide,
climbing the alabaster peaks,
just for the boisterous boast,
trekking through jungles with tribes
for a mugshot of an emaciated man
who crushes the serpent’s head with his foot before
the now famous ‘poverty’ or ‘education’ status
update, written on the spot, because voilà!
There’s connectivity! While poor nobody
knows no place except the thought of somewhere.

Oh devious, deceitful generation
with bloodshot eyes and zombie like fixation
on tips, taps, clings, rings, permanent vibration,
clicks, flicks, swipes, types, a cyber fake-salvation;
glued to the screen, books not read, dead attention –
the red light after a post, the ovation
you need – forever lost in fast transition

Everybody wants to live someplace better than
everyone else, and anyone who says, ‘no,’ is
nobody who’s tragically crying, ‘Anyone!’
While someone looks and laughs, saying,
‘Ha! Loser! He’ll never amount to anyone!’
And everyone joins in the chorus because
something special somewhere lies
out of reach of
anyone who wants to become someone.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

On Meditations by Aurelius

This is a picture of a statue of Marcus Aurelius. I've used it because my essay critiques his philosophy.

I like Aurelius. I like his notion of withdrawing into yourself irrespective of the space and time you’re in, his idea of mortality and fatalism, and a few of his thoughts when it comes to controlling impulse with reason.

I love his philosophy of the present, and never adding more to an unfortunate circumstance. But I disagree with his concept of this being the best of all possible worlds, or the Whole, or the absolute Reason. This world we live in, is often more absurd than fiction, and it doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out. Things go unexplained and you’re never going to find answers or that quaint room with its beautiful symmetry and archaic charm.

No, you’ll often find yourself in a space that’s disjointed and fractured from your convictions: a room with yellow wallpaper, and yes, please catch the allusion, or a frightening, unnerving blurred mass enveloping you with zombies and tricksters breaking free, threatening to bite through flesh, and chew on your bones. And this isn’t paranoia. Just one panoramic glance with keen insight and you’ll see it: the horror, the miasma of living decay that’s abominable choking you, making you want to retch.

And I also dislike his insistence on man being social. Being social comes with both its flaws and its breakthroughs. Sure, it’s good to meet people, but finding yourself in a clique that stereotypes, or a group that hates with an unwarranted agenda makes void the entire notion of socializing being something always productive. He says it’s terrible to fracture yourself from society, but you find artists who’re are complete misfits or loners, giving you masterpieces. I think this is related to his notion of the divinity of man, or looking within to find the light. Now, I always interpret the latter in a very general way, and never make mystical or spiritual connections to it. You must look within to change, but that’s pretty much it.

I don’t believe in human divinity because when I see the world, I see a swirling mass of darkened grey. I use this color because humanity is prone to wickedness although it’s capable of good. The notion of humanity’s inherent nature is a subject that’s hotly debated ever since the first man and woman came into existence. Some say Adam’s fall led to a shift in balance and total depravity; others say we’ve not connected with our innate goodness, but I think both views fail.

We’re not totally depraved, and we have the freedom to choose, but we’re not innately good either. Just one glance at the holocaust tells you enough of the anti-divinity that’s present in man, unless you say that divinity itself is evil. I think man has no divinity, but I agree with Aurelius on the concept of a soul. But his overemphasis on morality puts me off. It’s preachy and becomes self-righteous. But then again he’s addressing himself. Also, is it humanly possible to exist with absolute mastery over impulse and emotion? Still, all said and done, concepts like embracing death without fear, knowing that you’ll be forgotten one day, and that it’s pointless weeping for the dead since they aren’t coming back makes sense.

But the idea of us being recycled by the universe, and just being reduced to mere atoms is only partially true, in my opinion. Sure we’ll all die and go back to dust or ashes, but that’s only the body. I believe that the soul lives on, not one with the Whole, but in another dimension. You can call it heaven, hell or purgatory, but the soul is immortal, but definitely not divine. But I’ll contradict myself here and say that it’s possible that complete soul-annihilation takes place. Hell, I’m open to change.

© 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)

Three simple sonnets

This is an image of Constantine. I've used it because I've written three sonnets that revolve around him and the people associated with him.

A simple man

I saw a blazing sign in bloodless skies!
And so, I must obey! The shields they paint!
We won the war! I must erase the taint!
Both foolish men, and dirty pagan lies!
I fight for truth, and justice never cries
About men who hate blood and swoon and faint!
These idiots and their undue complaint!
But my son’s grief! That look! His sorrowed eyes!

No, I’ll not let inane fact govern me
And Licinius? Didn’t he warrant death?
They cheated Truth, they only claimed they’re mine
Now Jordan begs and I won’t let it be!
I must hear her and then that final breath!
I made the bloody sky and put my sign.

A simple law

I said he is immortal and I’m wrong
But didn’t he rescue us from tyranny?
If truth were told, he doesn’t need praise from me
But certainly, requires some potent song
And only fools attend the pagan’s throng!
The world is clearer now, can’t they all see!
But murder haunts my law and won’t let be!
I often wonder if he’s truly strong

My errors taught me I cannot revolt
Against raw power, all that does is kill
Poor Crispus, rebelling against the light
But look at him now hanging like a dolt!
Just for a horrid, thoughtless, carnal thrill
I said he is immortal and I’m right.

A simple truth

Is life a blessing or an awful curse?
I find a law in that inane, small phrase
As some say it is with each passing phase
when friends forsake, and painful wounds I nurse
I could allude, say that a hidden hearse
Awaits me; it was never truth that stays
That lifts anemic men to realms of praise
My name wasn’t written in ecstatic verse

I’ve tried to rage but dropped my fight to peace
I thought of love and looked at sparkling stars
I’m Crispus at the Emperor’s behest
What justice, fact is this? These thoughts don’t cease
And nothing changes that I’ve lost my wars
But no one answers the need for this test.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Crossroads

This is an image of crossroads when viewed from above. I've chosen it because it depicts the penultimate scene in my story where an abuser finally reflects at the crossroads before sadly returning to his old ways.

He grew up in a semi-urban, hot and humid neighborhood in India, and prided himself more in his caste than in his ethnicity. He believed that the term, ‘Brahmin’, brought with it a plethora of intelligence that fate denied men of other castes. He feasted on his social status, and the wisdom that the gods bestowed on the ‘chosen few’ or to use an Anglicized term, the ‘elect’ because his parents taught him exactly that: His father, an archetypal ruler of the household, erect and stiff-necked, and his mother, immersed in making sure prayers with bells ringing, and honey and milk were attended to with intricate detail. Both his parents believed in omens and the right alignment of the stars and called it ‘science’.

As he grew up, he lived his dream of making money, and making his parents proud, and giving them something to boast about, which was his father’s dream, and which in turn will be his son’s dream. He got the grades necessary, applying his acute intelligence, and won a scholarship abroad. He landed in the Bible belt, and lived there with a Southern Baptist family for the duration of his MBA. He found them odd at first, and could never reconcile with their religious beliefs, but their conservatism appealed to him, and like most Indian men who study abroad and then return, he came home with an accent that’s put on, and a façade of Americanism, while fundamentally clinging to his tradition. He got a high paying job as a management consultant, and soon traveled, sticking to his vegetarian roots, burps after each meal, and the loud, boisterous fart in public, while wearing an Armani suit, a Christian Dior watch, and fashionable leather shoes.

He gave his talks in his fake accent, while CEOs nodded in approval, secretaries gave him the look, although he wasn’t great looking, and women bosses found him alluring, despite the idiosyncratic fart. He returned to India later; spoke to the crème de la crème only, and soon owned a pristine white Contessa, because he preferred it to the Ambassador, and those were the only two elite vehicles then, owned by politicians in white and powerful men. Sure, there were the Fiats, and the small Marutis, but he jettisoned the very thought of them, like the thought of chicken curry that the ‘uncultured’ cooked. His parents soon decided on finding him a cousin he’d marry, and settled on a squint-eyed Brahmin girl, who’d be her mother-in-law’s devout assistant, and the bearer of his son. But, he was a man of untamed lust, and couldn’t picture himself settling down with his cousin. He’d after all seen the most beautiful women and had struggled to keep chaste. He’d furiously masturbate, in posh hotel rooms for hours.

Now it was too much to handle, and he needed a beauty. And so, he befriended a middle class Christian family, and set his sights on their daughter who was fourteen years younger than him. He was nearing forty, while she had just graduated from college. And her beauty captivated him; despite him holding the thought that Indian Christian women were ‘immoral’. He went against his parent’s wishes, seduced her, pulling the strings of her naïvety, and married her. He didn’t want a Church wedding and so it was a secular affair of sorts that his parents refused to attend.

Until he got home after the ceremony – the urge to bed her, pulsating within him – he spoke to her kindly. His voice possessed a deceitful charm, a soft tenor that made her blush. But he then couldn’t find the keys to the Bungalow he’d built, and suddenly yelled at her. “Where did you keep the bloody keys?” he bellowed. She stood flabbergasted, and shaken to the core, until he realized that it was in his pocket. “Now, don’t tell me it’s my fault!” He raged, and she stood mute, not knowing what to say.

Years of this transcended to physical violence, and since she couldn’t give him a child, he disregarded her as a barren woman. Adopting a child was beneath his dignity. He’d take her to parties though, where she’d smile though she wept inside, and he talked boisterously and farted. He imposed vegetarianism and Brahmin beliefs on her. Soon decades passed, and porn had arrived in its resplendent glory. His CEO friends gave him the CDs, and he got away with pretty much anything by gifting policemen bottles of champagne, or bribing them when the neighbors complained of a wife mistreated. One day, after one too many blows, finding catharsis in a group sex video, he strolled in his expensive, rich neighborhood, greeting influential men walking their dogs with their own trophy wives, and stood at a crossroads, when a thought occurred. “If I go back, I’ll continue abusing her, and somewhere it gives me no peace, but the roads to the right and the left eventually go back home too. So change is futile. And if I let her go, I’ll give her freedom and be frowned upon by society.” And so, making his choice, he went back to his bungalow with its red roof, white luxurious bathtubs, a new Mercedes parked in the garage, and a puppy that was her only consolation.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Men of Perdition

This is a picture of the beautiful woods with an ominous face in the background. I've used it because it represents the depravity of some men who destroy everything humanity stands for.

The clip found its way to YouTube, and my friends in college showed it to others on their phones as if it was a video of a back-heel nutmeg by Ronaldinho. I was guilty too, simply because I shared in the excitement. Many years later, it haunted me. He knelt, reading out something they’d forced him to. You could see the pain in his eyes, the horror in that look that begged for mercy. He knew that death was nearby like a rabid dog, uncontrollable, and rushing towards him, but he still grappled with fate; wrestled with all his might against an indomitable force, and even though the contest looked like a scrawny one-armed man trying to take down a Herculean Undefeated Olympic champion, he didn’t give up. He wanted to survive. I’m sure he’d wrapped himself with a blanket of delusion, and refused to let actuality pry it free. Perhaps, he sincerely prayed, and asked for both justice and grace; his petition so different from his mechanical chant at the Thanksgiving table. He was, at that moment, in the dusk of his life; reading from that penultimate chapter of his novel, unable to digest the words because what once read like a metaphorical delight with a debonair protagonist, was turning into an unambiguous note, filled with grammatical errors, and written by an unwashed, tired, bedraggled slave robbed of even the right to think. I’m sure he envisioned returning home to her; thought of when he met her, and how that moment became the apogee of his personal life. He’d found true love at last, but it was now enveloped by a miasma of despair, and her laughter which always summoned an ebullience that poets like Neruda have immortalized was now a faint stutter that tried to give him hope but failed; and the world they’d sewn out of Rayon Challis, was now spinning in the laundry machine, looking like a coarse mop cloth. He waited, and then felt the sword, and you could see the agony in his eyes as it slowly tore through the Levator scapulae. They were sawing away as if his neck was the bark of a tree. Soon his neck was partly separated from his body, and the sight resembled a normal distribution curve with the hanging head rising to meet the laceration, and the rest of the neck descending from it. It had an odd symmetry to it, and maybe my description is callous, but what’s really ruthless is men with black scarves around their faces, robbing a child’s innocence, and creating fissures in his heart by brutally murdering his father; men with twisted notions of faith, killing in the name of religion; declaring war on an already fallen race that is struggling to get by, and hoping to find elusive peace. Men butchering men like animals to announce their credo, to create a cause founded on askew notions of truth, thereby constructing an anathema with no real backbone; an abomination that has flayed reason and emotion, with an unmitigated penchant for destruction like an unpredictable tempest. Men who’ve rapidly descended that ladder of depravity, lost all inhibition, and are now like animals, grunting and howling; carnal beasts, who rape, plunder and then castigate immorality; men driven by frightening, twisted scruples, and are willing to die for them. Men who’ve abandoned love, and are already in perdition, hoping to devour many as they walk their journey of corrupt instinct; jog their marathon of hatred, and run their race of devilry.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)