I looked up, customarily. I was reading or rather ‘looking’ at The Republic of Bharat of Times of India Now. The only printed daily newspaper of the country featuring the headline on the first page: … (elipses). I located the source of the sneeze and found her standing there, diametrically and diagonally opposite to me.
The only symbols on the front page, inscribed in big bold ‘Comic MS’ font constituting the aforementioned headline. The page brimming with these three dots as if they would explode out in a scream. The second page with his photograph in which he is flicking his semi-curled cowlick from his forehead in that traditional hubristic hair flicking style reminiscent of long forgotten Late. Mr. Mugambo Puri, the nemesis of Late Mr. Invisible Man of Mr. India(1), captioned: #NationWatchingHimFlickAsHeWatchestheNation. The third page inked with his index finger pointed to the camera and the expression on his face as if he was admonishing someone on the other side of the camera or someone who didn’t agree with him, with another caption: ‘Pseudo-pseudos busted, Your Time is Up’. The entire newspaper was flushed with his images and captions. It wasn’t surprising or anything. It was the age of images and images in motion and their subsequent captions.
The critical news, the information about the unheard ones, the ones who never appeared on the live streams, the ones who still hadn’t been informed about this streaming shindig, the ones who were denied the rights of being associated with the words ‘minority, repressed, oppressed and discriminated’, their stories and their lives confined in the small font words which one would usually find, if one had the will or the sharp eye to discern these words, crammed and masqueraded under the ‘old-school’ columns featuring on the matrimonial pages.
Nobody read matrimonial pages anymore because nobody searched for marriage proposals via the newspaper, thus nobody proposed. Marriages had been made convenient and more ad-hoc with inadvertent taps and swipes. People ‘chose and ‘chose’ a lot. And amongst those choices, people segregated and filtered more choices, classified people into labels and then made the final pick(2): Pseudo, libtard, bhakt, Jaat, Mullah, Bourgoise, Misogynist, Feminist, Misandryist, Non-binary, un-binary, Gender Fluid and Asexual, Asexual who gets an errection, asexual who doesn’t, men who talked like women, women who wore clothes like men, mind-boggling number of permutations on sexualities and fetishes. Marriages rarely materialized. Everyone loved choosing and filtering and selecting and then removing. Thus, the waning eye-falls on the matrimonial page section.
Therefore, it had become fairly simple to confine the daily death toll post the pandemic, which had lasted for a decade or so they say-until his preternatural and uncanny vocal intervention-, the political uprisings if there were left any or the ones that made the news worthy of being confined to the matrimonial page section and daily rape figures which, according to a report by the same daily newspaper of the Nation, had been eliminated from the map of the country like an ancient plague almost as if a vaccine for rape had been invented, very easy to be put in the matrimonial columns and avoid the reader’s gaze. People watched and saw and looked at events, streamed them. Even streamed and saw and looked at ‘words’.
And events deigned to the matrimonial pages such as these weren’t called uprisings, rapes or deaths, they were simply called ‘incidents’. Murders never occurred, an ‘incident’ among group of people, between those who were ‘strong’-physically, mentally, socially, financially-against the ‘weak’ and ‘incompetent’. Nobody died of hunger; ‘An unfortunate event of dwindling resources leading to the body being unable to cough up enough vitamins and minerals for sustenance happened’. Rapes weren’t rapes anymore but were happenstances of ‘an individual unwilling to cede his/her/its/they/them/theirs prudence for mere 3 second gratification or la petite mort for an individual who mistook his/her/its/they/them/theirs resistance to indulge in this 3 second gratification outburst of jissom or la petit mort meant for his/her/its/they/them/theirs as his/her/its/they/them/theirs uptightness and elitism and high browed-ness and the second his/her/its/they/them/theirs didn’t like it and therefore, decided to just TAKE IT what is or was his/her/its/they/them/theirs’.
The newspapers which resisted this cultural shock in print and within the entire Nation itself, which still believed that murders, death by starvation, poverty and rape were the macro-events that dominated the cultural landscape of the Nation and that it was important to keep the words, the words of redemption and information in circulation, were snapped shut and were sent to the peripheral blogging worlds of the internet, where nobody read them because of the blog-deluge that was already there on the Internet. Everybody ‘blo-uhhhghed’. Writing became a word synonymous with ridicule, luckily so. Why?
Because nobody laughed at anyone or anything now. Every joke now considered highly political and personal and almost everybody got hurt by a joke: men, women, transgenders, feminists, non-binaries, asexual, queer, poor, rich, versatile, top, dominatrix, masochists, vixens, cougars, big beautiful women, blacks, Hispanics, Caucasians, white, old, young and even pedophiles. They eventually came around to even offend pedophiles now. You just couldn’t joke these days. There were more hearings on defamation orders than judgements passed on the prenominated ‘incidents’. Most of the defamation suits were filed against and by the Now-Ex PM. Overtly sensitive man. God bless him and put him in a screaming heaven.
He had succumbed to it couple of days ago, on his own prime time streaming program during his daily ‘Nation Has To Know Or Else The Nation isn’t National’ address. The Prime Minister of the country. His predecessors unfortunately had met their unjust and unfortunate ends. The penultimate predecessor, while unintentionally entertaining the Nation3 with his stoic and focused yogic postures, conducted in roughest of the terrains as the last resort to beat the Pandemic, whose spectacle was much widely celebrated by the now ex-Prime Time Prime Minister in his role as a news anchor, as he himself had given his two cents on the then Prime Minister’s resolve to exercise and stretch his muscles in times of such distress, all this in a bid to carry out a final ‘surgical strike’ against the virus, which Nation would win, always WIN, emerge Victorius and never lose, ugly, pustuled and sputum secreting losing, and as this PM was performing his ballet like postures in a bid to eradicate the virus with the powers of his yoga, the boulder had slid right there and then from atop the mountain onto the cave and the Television and satellites, the media houses, the neonate streams all had captured this moment in all ‘4 SuperUltra Maximum High definition until you becomes your eye socket itself HD’ and had rerun it over and over until it was realized that all hope was lost and the Nation had to live with the virus, until the time the now ex-PM made his oral and aural oracular intervention, accidentally of course. The last predecessor had simply died of Addisonian crisis. Very unfortunate indeed.
The actual, precise and word by word details would be hard to conjure for the description of the Now-ExPM’s transcendental intervention which changed the course and as well as the name of the Nation to ‘Nation’, since only post-incident verbal narration and depiction of events is all that is there in the video archives. No records that could have been read have survived. It’s all there in motion and animation. Although, my mother claimed she got to know about it from a 3rd or 4th source but that is how everyone did and nothing concrete could be established against it.
She said she had overheard , amidst the conflation of our neighbour’s loud ‘conversations’ amongst themselves and the Now-Ex PM’s loud blaring ‘Prime Time broadcast’ as a news anchor from their television back then, then the time when his predecessor was battling out the Addisonian crisis, she said she had overheard both the broadcast and the conversation at the same time and it was one of those old ‘NationYearnsToKnowDebates’ that was being broadcasted and since my father-who had just expired, who had died due to the virus that morning only and since the terminology of dying due to the virus wasn’t altered then(4)-loved it and always watched the broadcast for few good loud and crystal clear shouts(5) and therefore, she was reliving the nostalgia of all those catatonia inducing shouts and invectives and allegations by my father and that is why she stayed in the kitchen to overhear, eerily eavesdrop upon the broadcast as well as the conversation amongst the neighbors who themselves were ‘discussing’ loudly about this one incident they themselves had heard someone else discuss about how the Now ex-PM once was once shouting down a patient of the pandemic on his own Prime Time broadcast, all decked up in a Personal Protective Equipment and wearing his typical formal black suit and tie underneath it, dominating the patient with his verbal tirade for patient’s questioning of the unjust manner in which the information, the words revealing the true extent of the pandemic were concealed, and how if he were to get better he would get to the depth of it, he would, no two ways about it, but the Now-ExPM simply roared that he couldn’t just risk the life of the Nation by speaking out and speaking against the authorities and diverting their hard focused attention to such logistical inadequacies and at best, he was bordering on becoming the enemy of the nation only, and in a bid, in a last ditch grace and face saving bid, in a bid to not be humiliated for being a fucking patient of the pandemic, for being shouted down and alleged as being the one against the interests of the Nation, in a time when he couldn’t even fucking breathe properly and didn’t know how many days he had to live, the patient had in turned screamed back loudly at the Now- Ex PM, so loudly that his lips had fluttered and even that was reran several times on different channels of the Television and satellites, the video-blo-uuhhging websites owned by the different media houses, the neonate streams, and small tiny clips of it were made with ironical and self-depricating words captioning it and subsequently the stills of the patient shouting back at the Now-Ex PM were later disseminated in the only remaining print daily of the Nation back then and the most widely seen and entertaining blogs which later were converted eventually into streams only- 24 hour recording and exhibiting one’s life- also displayed those stills with the patients lips fluttering and some even went down to the extent of zooming in on the insides of the patient’s mouth using the same ‘4 SuperUltra Maximum High Definition until you become your eye socket itself HD’ tech and revealed his titillating uvula looking like a mission bell and it was this kind of exaggerated and emphatic distribution and redistribution that the Now-Ex PM pounced upon, that is what my mother overheard and told me, amidst the brouhaha of the neighbor’s shockingly loud arguments over the validity of the discussion they had heard someone else conversing and the din of the Prime Time news broadcast of the now-EX PM running on their TV. This mass effusion of stills and their implicit intent was used and moulded in a manner which nobody till today has been able to figure the mathematics and science of, promulgating and asserting that it was his own shouting down, the Now-EX PM’s, his own tirade against the patient that had at first eradicated the virus from the patient shouted down for being a patient in the first place, removed the final traces of it and then in that cathartic kind of healing, the patient had let out a scream of relief not intended in the form of a counter-tirade but a rather gratuitous scream, a final shrieking adieu to the virus, that is how it was disseminated throughout the country, the claim which was later corroborated by the laboratory test conducted on the patient, the laboratory which itself was owned by the same corporation that had major shares in the media house of the then Now-Ex PM’s channel as the tests revealed a positively-positive negative. Everyday patients were brought in to be shouted down, who in that same ‘saving your face from National humiliation by the Nation itself’ would scream back at the Now-Ex PM on his Prime Time broadcast and their subsequent test results confirmed as negative. An oracular miracle, she had heard them discoursing (and they had heard someone else discuss) wildly about, which later she confided it to me that this was the way his intervention was propagated throughout the country, someone discussing someone with someone hearing them discussing and then discussing what those someones were discussing with someone else and ad infinitum.
It was thus decided by the then addinsonian PM, the last predecessor, that these shoutdowns of the news anchor be played from every possible state owned speaker in every zila, district, state, metropolis at a particular specific time, so that those who could, benefit from it and rid themselves of the virus. And that was the final nail in the coffin how a Nation of burgeoning population came to incorporate the Now-EX PM’s ear worm like voice in their heads and couldn’t think of having to spend a day without his screaming voice.
There she was standing, at the maximum possible distance away from me, on her side of the metro door. Her right shoulder gently caressing the window glass panes which were ensconced into the frame of the door. Her right leg, draped in the black coloured Punjabi suthan slightly bent at her knee, resting against the white of the metro door frame. Her eyes listlessly trying to search for something on her side of the door, probing the sprinting darkness which was pacing past her in the opposite direction. Her left hand sitting atop her right and the right bearing a golden ring on her little finger.
The instant she had sneezed, her green hijab had slightly slid down, unravelling her hair which were jet black, like a midnight on a moonless night. Ceiling light of the metro sucking up to their lustrous blackness. I could have used this blackness to conceal my greying hair. She had reached out to her hijab with her left hand and had pulled it back up carefully, without disturbing her follicular equilibrium. But there was something else too that she had seemed to restore in that elegant movements of her hand reaching out to her hijab. I couldn’t position it into a definite bracket. Achoo! The lights of the ceiling of our metro compartment flickered as I let out a sneeze. She cursorily searched for the source of the sneeze like I had.
The addinsonian crisis PM soon met his potassium overdosed and kidney failing fate and died underneath the projected teats of his loving ‘Phoolkumari’ and a no-brainer referendum was conducted Nationwide post ‘Phoolkumari’s’ active lover’s demise and with the word Nation now gradually dominating the lexicon of every denizen, it was established that the Prime Time TV virus-eradicating-and-screaming-news anchor be made to sit at the helm, to lead the country/Nation into oral dominance and aural poverty.
What his predecessors had failed to or didn’t have the audacity to do, he did it. Tinkered with the constitution and made Right to Debate a fundamental law. The law printed in bold, italics and underlined: RIGHT TO DEBATE, towering over all the other rights in the book of constitution. The Nation was euphoric. No PM had empowered the citizens to such an extent. People were beseeched to discourse and argue about the most trivial things: whether everyone should take a dump Indian style or western style, whether men with flabby man boobs should wear bras or not, whether it is empowering to smell your farts and masturbate to your parents’ snoring and whether pedophiles should be allowed to file a writ petition against the nymphette/ganymedes for luring them and so on. It was all about debates and arguing and winning and shouting each other down. People were given assurances by his government that all these conundrums will be considered for policy making decisions. As for decisions and policies, decisions never saw the light of the day and policies, again up for debates, were changed or altered or dismissed everyday on his Prime Time ‘NationWithPMTherforeCannotHelpButHasToKnow’ stream cast with record number of panellists with so many tiny square windows on the screen that it was quite close to impossible to discern the faces of the panellists from the pixels of the ‘4 SuperUltra Maximum High Definition until you become your eye socket itself HD’, with the PM’s voice always reigning supreme and shouting down mini voices, crushing their decibels to a more ambiguous chatter, unaware whether the mini voices uttering mini opinions were of his own party or the simply the ones who didn’t agree and it was all revelry for the viewers, to see the PM taking such ‘active’ charge of a democracy, on his own , without consulting anyone one in the cabinet(6) and letting the viewership be a part of the policy making with every viewer, whosoever considered his voice significant for the betterment of the Nation being allowed to call in during the show, and how wonderful, that the PM himself receiving the call and the viewer before voicing his opinion being asked, in a manner humbly coercive to say, ‘Tweet’, to actually voice it out phonetically and then be out with what he has for improving the oral worth of the Nation.
Whatever grain of opposition that was left in the country in the form political parties, activist organizations and NGOs, realized that they couldn’t for now tide over this ‘PM with his 3.0 billion offspring wave’ and most of them turned to transcendental meditation for an afflatus, a spark, an idea which could make them, really actively and ironically like the PM himself, care about the Nation, in a ‘not so mother nurturing and canoodling her offspring manner’.
The people seated on her side of the door, seven seats, seven butts, 14 buttocks, all at once looked at me with big gaping eyes in utter disbelief, with their eye lids popped out wide and their eye balls bulging out. The people seated on my side of the door, seven butts, 14 buttocks, all looked at her mirroring the disbelief of those seated opposite to them. Our gazes, mine and hers, collided and she in the same cursory manner, like how one pedestrian sifts her gaze to another, withdrew it. Her hijab which was green in color, held mine. I couldn’t tell why she had felt the need to restore it over head. Was it something that could be thrown up for a debate? Was it her modesty that she willed and wished to restore to its fundamental state or was it an automated response, crafted and conditioned within her, with years of coercion and confinement?
The PM was dead. 21 days after assuming the charge of the Nation. Nobody knew whether the country could still be deemed to be called a Nation. Nation was in a state of a comatosed delirium. People didn’t know how to deal with a loss of an individual, an entity, an acoustic, a simulation, a graphic, a halo that had become so incorporated in their lives, a habitus, a poetic ritual of hearing him scream and shouting down the ‘others’, actuating a confirmation of self in those decibels, of Prime Time With PM and NewsAnchor combined, on ‘NationandNationalsShouldOnlyKnow’ that actively addressed the denizens every day at its Prime Time ‘NationandPMisoneandthatsallyouhavetoknow’ stream cast- that sometimes threw up some of the most egregious of dilemmas up for debate under Article (negative)-1 of Right To Debate- who had empowered them like no one ever had and with his trademark hair flicking, every 10 minutes or so, properly timed, as if timed with an atomic clock timer, who could possibly forget that. His loss, his predictable but still hard to absorb untimely demise was like unlearning how to discern time, to forget to make out the needles on the analog clock and to forget the human language itself, not like your regular everyday aphasia that the current opposition was suffering from, which was well masqueraded under the guise of transcendental meditation, maranasati and calls for abstinence (all elitist sexual perversions involving upscale elizabethean orgies and performing sadomasochist acts while wearing traditional khadi Indian attires of kurta and salwar) to preserve their chi but, actually to unimagine a form of life without this omnivocal and screaming PM.
Her eyes were ornated with black kohl, marked by a green outline around her both upper and lower eye lids. Her big black eyes angled away from mine, blinking; their kohl smeared dopaminergic blinking which manipulated my blinking into almost a manic tic of sorts. The contours of the green outline surrounding the black verdure, the density of blackness subsumed by the green boundaries on her eyelid, the kohl and its fierceness when juxtaposed with the earnest modesty of her hijab, the subjugation of the subject (she,her) by the apotheosized object (it,hijab)- the actual workings of this relationship, their distinct functions blurred by ginormous stratifications underneath which the most naked form of this dyad resides- when measured against the catatonically blissful submission of the narrator instantiated by the ‘powder of antimony’, an antinomy with a melodic contour, a sweet foul smelling paradox was engendered.
It was hard. There is no other fancy or baroque way to put it, but plain, dead, simple hard. Like Life used to be before the internet and smartphones and these new fucking devices. Tough. It was tough to put up with his loss. It’s not as if it isnt tough now, its rather more gruelling in its immediacy but back then it was hard and tough for an entire life. Now it’s tough with a but. With all the technological forgetfulness and quick fixes, it’s tough but also pleasurable and enjoyable. Its hard but help is always around the corner, just have to reach out to one of the big Corps. It’s not easy but hey we can make this uneasiness worthwhile to getting you a handmade vagina, manufactured and crafted with the fabric of your favorite Pornstar-Lisa Ann is it? Or are you a fan of the new dames? Dont worry, we’ll make this toughness feel like a ball for you. Back then it was tough, simple, plain, dead tough. With his loss, people almost felt as if they were forcefully vacuumated into the zeitgeist of those real tough times while still materially present in the current one, the one with the ‘it is tough BUT…’
I remember the day his funereal was put out on the stream, when billions streamed it, since it was easy to stream than to travel large distances to attend a death rite of someone you so dearly and overwhelmingly loved that his loss made you feel how it feels like to lose two hours in a day, to be coerced, to be made unmindful of the two hours that you shall never experience again, to actually, in his honor devise a clock system of only 22 hours for the day, a willful refrainment from time, a spiritual fast from your own biological clock itself wherein you become just like any other inanimate object, like a chair or a table in your room or the wall clock itself. Therefore in order to not lose more than the already 2 hours of lifeless time, billions in the country/Nation(7) decided it to stream from the comfort of their house because that is what the Now-Ex PM always provided them with, their most infantile and illogical comfort and gratification and this was their way, their testimony to his holistic ‘4 Super Ultra Maximum High Definition until you become your eye socket itself HD’ visual and auditory benediction.
It was the first death anniversary of my father, on the day of the Now-Ex PM’s funereal ceremony and my mother, after concluding the necessary ‘first death anniversary’ rituals, fairly quickly, rather with astonishing celerity, and the priest too only reciting the crux of the post-death soul palliative texts, flipping pages and mumbling to himself like a tutor ‘This you know…Yeah this has already been covered…Don’t need this, we have already told him to find his peace, he’ll manage it somehow… No, not this, unnecessary…Okay, looks like it has all been covered and…’ and hurriedly leaving to not miss out on the bigger and more fancy and mournful ceremony, my mother immediately put on her newly installed device, which offered the newly grafted and updated ‘360 degree in-environment experience as if you yourself were an animation inside the screen and with his shouts and invectives reverberating as if you were standing in an old cathedral’ feature and streamed his funereal. It was agonizing to see her transform from a more somber and accepting and ‘have to live with the truth’ state of agony- the 1st death anniversary of my Father that is- to a more wild, rapturous, livid and of ‘unjust nature’ one, beating her bosom with her fists as if she was sitting right beside his pyre, which in her mind, she was. I vividly remember the moment the stalks of fire were put onto the Now-Ex PM’s pyre, shouts and groans and moans ringing all across my housing colony, reminiscent of the screams and shout-downs that used to ring out throughout the city under the regime of the then Addinosonian Crisis PM who had ordered that the Now-Ex PM’s voice, in a bid to eviscerate the pandemic be blared out from all the state installed speakers in the country every evening, shouting “NO! YOU ARE WRONG!, WE WIN!, NATION WINS!, THOSE WHO DO NOT WIN ARE NON-NATIONALS, ANTI-NATIONALS, YOU ALWAYS WIN! WE ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!” and to hear these lugubrious moans and groans and shouts of people at the moment his corpse was put on fire, it was like nostalgia nostalgizing about itself. My mother tore couple of follicles from her scalp in despair and I wondered whether the entire colony, the entire city and the entire country/Nation had tore their hair with their bare hands from their scalps at the same instant or not(8).
The ones looking at me, the ones sitting at her side of the door, 14 buttocks, 7 butts with their eye lids pushed as far as anatomically possible, now had tears running down their eyes, streaming down as if a sluice gate of their Lacrimal lake was rendered open with 14 estuaries all running down to the floor of the metro, the projectile stream of tears, landing 3 feet away from their feet. The ones looking at her, seated opposite to the ones looking at me, 7 butts, 14 buttocks, the ones seated at my side of the door, mirroring the ones seated at her side of the door, the ones who looked lobotomized as if their skulls were split open and 7 brains were extracted out and thrown away, the ones who seemed severely neurasthenic, also had tears running down their eyes, but the tears of mirthless laughter directed at her, uproarious ruckus, their mouth so wide open that one could, if one wished to, make out 6 vibrating uvulas with one individual who had undergone Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) including a clefted uvula in there too and their upper lips miles apart from their lower lips, in a boisterous roaring laughter, directed at her.
Her lips tightly pressed against each other. Glistening gloss of orange dissolved into the contour of her lips. Oranges had always been my favorite fruit. I would at times eat 12 oranges in less than 12 minutes. I wouldn’t eat them gracefully or elegantly, as in my tongue wouldn’t caress or graze past the buried juicy orange petals underneath the veneer of white outer covering. Like a savage, I would feast upon them, one after the other, with spillage running down from the corner of my mouth. I cannot say whether that is how I wanted to devour her lips. The metro jerked a little and her hijab slipped again.
The nation/country felt robbed of the motivation to be out with it. The impulse to say the first thing that came in their head and be out with it, it was gone. A clout of silence clouding the voices of the billions en masse. People couldn’t bring themselves up to speak to each other in public places. Silence curfews imposed in some parts of the state, by the devout disciples of Now-Ex PM whereas in other parts, weeping infants, with their eyes turned dry and their cheeks coarsened with tears and their mouths gagged like a kidnapping victim held up(9) by their parents as a token of solidarity and mourning on account of the demise of the Now-Ex PM. Generation Zeeeee who had their social media avatars-a ‘real- life- them’ on a virtual axis, with a continuously running thread of thoughts, organized in a bubble like thread attached to the temple of the minds of their avatars-put up textualized thoughts like, “I don’t know… *sigh*”, “*sigh* *sigh* *Sigh*”, “*shrugs shoulders*”, “Ughhhhhh, its a drag” and so on and so forth. A mass bodiless non-material acedia. Unable to rid their ears of his screaming and shouting voice, people admitting themselves, voluntarily walking into hospitals and confessing conditions like neurosis, dementia, neuralgia, aphasia(writing the ailment down), schizophrenia, ataxia, aphanisis, sticky-ear syndrome and so on and so forth.
She addressed her hijab debacle again, pulled it over, right where it was. Her face shining like a full moon cast against the backdrop of dark green night. In order to not make her discomfort with the continuous slipping of the hijab too obvious, she began to straighten her marshy green colored kurta. The kurta was a marshland in which I yearned to discover her. I smiled at her. She didn’t notice as she was still straightening out the folds on her kurta, making her discomfort because of the corrugations on the kurta more obvious than she had possibly intended to not do the same with the hijab. I withdrew my gaze away and began to look at the floor. The floor was shaking hither and thither. Like a magnetic dipole caught in a strong magnetic field, my eyes eventually were forced to deflect towards her only, like a photo-taxical moth deflected away from his path of finding a safe and secure habitat to an artificial and more dazzling territory. Her black Punjabi suthan, a fine gossamer fabric that fluttered like the wings of butterflies; the brown bellies on her feet, angled away from each other. I withdrew my gaze again and without looking up started tucking my shirt in my pants.
It was like being caught in an existential maelstrom. The mind losing its will to live but the body not relenting, exhorting the mind to carry on, to honor its (body’s) presence and utility. And the mind, which while undergoing the withdrawal symptoms of entirely new spectrum, a spectrum of different wavelengths of the same voice, of the now Ex- PM’s shouts and invectives and tirades and allegations reverberating against the hollows of the skull that housed it, mistaking the body’s stimulus to carry on and to not fall prey to itself and to its own vices and its own ideologies into downright inexplicable triggers of inhuman behavior.
Suddenly a surge in news reports from across the country with instances as wild and strange as one could possibly imagine: Group of people belonging to low income section caught on drone cameras bull-riding upstate, formal suit wearing executives and bureaucrats, literally riding them like a bull or a horse to be conquered, like one of those amusement park mechanical bull-ride game but this bull ride of an actual functioning cognitive human, who en route his government offices and corporate co-spaces was stopped short by group of men with their faces covered in their dirty soiled handkerchiefs and their sooty coal-hands hurling down this first-class genteel soft-spoken Samaritan down on his all fours, upon the black of the roads, of a fucking highway for fuck sake and him lowered down on his lower forearms and his knees, and these rag wearing individuals who had their endoskeletons trying to break free from the tendons of their epidermis, riding your average- corporate-middle class- laptop-carrying individual who had always been fending for himself and his family for only god knows how long now; members of Parliament while seated opposite to each other in the parliament canteen at the tables, caught spilling water, more like launching water that they had intended to rinse their mouth with, into other MP’s ears from their mouths and running away, almost like a game of tag but a-more-serious-water-launching-into-fellow-MP’s-ear game-and-making-a-point-to-never-get caught-and never have the water the water which had now been mixed with the remnants of the tid-bit food stuck in their mouth, a thread of cabbage stuck between the incisor and a canine and a fragment of channa adhered to the upper palette, all now floating into the pool of rinsed water in their mouth, waiting to be launched at the word ‘go’ into a fellow MP’s ear, never have that water segueing down from your ear lobes and tidbits of someone else’s food stuck all wet to the side of your cheeks either, and to always make serious dash after subjecting the fellow MP to this debased absurdity and to get as far away as possible from having his water launched into your ears; a whole new fad-cult comprising of people who stalked certain people, especially shirt and pant wearing or white kurta-pyjama and gamcha wearing 60 year olds who tended to fart in public transports and places, these operatives of new cult almost following them undercover, chameleon like CIA-spy agents, following them back to their fucking houses and then doing it over and over until either the farter started to notice that he was being followed and he stopped going out to inhabit these public utilities altogether, never going out since he couldn’t place any material presence as to who was following him or what was wrong, or this callous farter never even sniffed anything wrong and was followed by ever changing personnel of fart-sniffing new fad-cult operatives his entire life.
Achoo! She sneezed again and I looked up. She was holding onto the aluminium handle attached to the frame of the compartment before the door. Her other hand, the one not holding onto the handle was again checking up on the status of her hijab, its apt coordinates and so on. I smiled at her. She didn’t see. I continued to smile at her, becoming conscious of my smiling, becoming aware of the fact that to hold onto a smile without a reciprocal smile does tend to get a little odd after a while. She still didn’t see. I was holding onto my smile by the last thread now as at any moment my zygomatic major and levator labii superioris would lose the will to sustain their state of tension and would relax eventually, thus attenuating my smile as I became conscious of my self-consciousness being conscious of my smile. Finally, she looked at me smiling at her.
The ones who were looking at me, seated at her side of the door, 11 hairy buttocks`(10), who were sobbing so hard, so profusely now ceded their sorry state and began to utter the word ‘SHAME’, with different pitches and amplitudes, SHAME in Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s tenor, a baritone SHAME of Elvis Presley, Adele’s contralto styled SHAME, a Bruno Mars’ falsetto filled SHAME of counter tenor, a SHAME of a vocal range of soprano singer and mezza soprano and a Leonard Cohen’s bass sounding SHAME.
After registering my smile, her eyes wavered left and right, ensuring that she was the one who was being smiled at. Her green hijab draped over the ears which I couldn’t see now, radiating her face in broad metro ceiling light. The muscles on her face didn’t cede their inertia. Her brain didn’t readily acquiesce. It must have taken her eyes a half second or so to communicate to her mind that my eyes which were looking at her had communicated my looking at her to my brain which had in turn beckoned the zygomatics of my face to pull up the respective corners of my mouth, thus making me smile at her, now well beyond time threshold of holding a smile. I was almost betting upon it being borderline creepy by now, if someone else, except the 7-butt- having-people, was looking at me. She finally steadied her gaze, after investigating the humanless empty spaces in her vicinity and smiled back.
The ones seated at my side of the door, the ones who were engaged in uvula titillating laughter and mirth which was all directed at her, ceased their roaring and formed a grim expression on their faces, an expression of serious consternation and dismay, imagine 7 people highly disappointed, looking at someone and directing their disappointed and let-down faces at that person and then one of them let out a bark, BOW! And then the person seated to this bark infested person barked as well, BOW! A barking chain reaction triggered and all the 7 butts and 14 buttocks, now barking at her, like real-life canines, BOW! BOW! BOW! BOW! BOW! BOW! BOW!
If red Washington apples were to ever be burnt and catch fire, then that is how my cheeks would resemble and feel like. I looked down at the blue metro floor to ease up on the blushing(11) and caught her lowering her eyes down in the same flush of merriment as well. I returned my eyes back on her visage but this time waiting for her to look up and not smile until I have ensured that both of us are looking at each other. She resumed her gaze back at me too and I smiled with an effulgence that I never before had mustered up while smiling at someone, my frontal incisors revealing my puffed up gingiva and the yellow plaque on my teeth which any moment upon thorough investigation by a periodontist could be qualified as Tartar. Her eyes wrinkled in jubiliance as well with wrinkles produced around the corner of her eyes. If this was by what they meant ‘Let there be light in the world’, ‘Love is the cure’, ‘Love is an accident. You can never create an accident, it just happens, like other fatal bone crushing and brain squelching accidents’(12), then it was thus. Like lock and key.
Until, until the light in the metro went out. Until there was a moonless midnight darkness again. A scream, a scream of a butterfly.
I was reading the paper again and looked up and there was no one there, diagonally and diametrically opposite to me.
Word is a virus. Have you ever tried to have a moment of fucking inner silence where in you close your eyes and never be infested by the words that you did and did not speak? — William S. Burroughs
- Reader warned and informed about the great struggle writer had to undergo in writing the word India because the word had been eliminated from the newly created history books; new term: Republic Bharat)
- If it ever came to that, that is.
- With much reluctance, it was called India back then.
- Now it is something like: Ceased to function for the nation to build up the ‘national immunity’
- Father was very fond of shouting people down, especially his wife, who in a very twisted way had come to develop fondness for the now-Ex-PM’s shouting, my mother had, because of the striking similarities in the amplitude at which he shouted down the panelists (oh, mercy on the panelists he had!) on his show and how my father shouted her down and at times drove her to catatonic silence, my father’s shouting did
- The cabinet also an active part of the debate and lying somewhere on one of the Cartesian coordinates on the screen, housed in their own pixels of varying ministeries
- Another dilemma that the citizen so dearly dreaded and were now facing.
- One of my neighbor who didn’t have any hair on his head had asked his kids to tap as hard as they could with their naked palms on his bald until their palms turned red or his scalp did.
- To paint a certain picture, think the lion king ‘circle of life’ theme but a more dark and shocking, with a gagged and a weeping Simba.
- One of the individual had hair removed around his asshole, while the individual seated next to the hairless asshole guy had only hair trimmed from one of the buttock; to conjecture whether these two individuals had anything to do with the mismatch between the hair on each other’s asshole is something that I wouldn’t mind conjecturing upon.
- In addition to relaxing the strained muscles of my cheeks.
- Not sure who said this one.