For The Story – The Old Bachelor’s Respite

The Old Bachelor’s Respite

 

 

 

 

I called her over for dinner
The table was bedecked, lavishly spread
Her place was set with the first soup, and salad
-Wine and a delicate vinaigrette
She walked in demurely, arm in the crook of my arm
And at the sight, very nearly lost her head

 

At the sight of her, I very nearly lost my head

 

She sat down gracefully, into the chair I pulled
It was very clear that she was visibly thrilled
The white arch of her throat stark against the blood red ruffle
Her gaze fluttered alluringly in my direction, calling
I took deep breaths to inhale her, compose myself, and stilled
My forced calm went unseen
She lingered lustfully on each dish instead
I knew it right then,
I just had to get into her head

 

I poured her another glassful, her eyes sparkling, crystal cut
The effort it took to restrain my appetite, was too much
Fork clashing with knife, a vessel overflowing with life, such
Was the pull that I almost left my own food untouched
The subtle press of her fingers on mine, as I passed the bread
Intoxicant for my vintage, I simply had to hurry
She was already getting ahead

They all threatened to get ahead
-I took a deep breath-
They never did
I was hungry, I decided petulantly
Dinner was served
Now it really was time I fed

 

I walked around to pour her one more, just
One more innocent glass
In a moment, her duck l’orange was cooling patiently, congealing
Into an indistinguishable meaty mass
Because her knife would descend no more, nor would
The orgasmic sigh, so softly, sound
She lay half splayed in her chair, lifelessly
As the blood pooled upon the ground
Her eyes were fixed, her face a rictus
A death mask, a last oh how could you!
I ignored it, pretty but mere accessory, as I chewed
Through that elegant neck’s sinews
Contorted, no doubt, but salty and delicious
-fresh is always best, as I’ve often said

I picked up the fork from her limp held fingers
It was time to get into her head

 

 

(c)CM
11.05.2016

Written for the story, The Old Bachelor’s Respite, found on Reddit.

 

 

Cheers, and bon appetit. ūüėČ

 

Advertisements

Blood Is Thicker Than Water

My uncle was a vile man. My dad’s elder brother, he did what I would otherwise deem impossible- surpass my father in being a beast. It’s heart breaking, and disgusting, and staggering all at the same time, how these things come full circle.

 

My uncle was always the black sheep of my dad’s family, literally. He was darker than his siblings, and a trouble maker in his childhood. But being a trouble maker has entirely different connotations when you have a harsh and unforgiving father, like my grandfather was. He was punished mercilessly, and he rebelled repeatedly, and the hate on both sides hardened, till one day when my grandfather threw his teenaged son, my uncle, out of the house. Then, when he tried to sneak back in late at night, he had him arrested.

 

My uncle never came ‘back’ again. Stories of his exploits and people he exploited would reach home, occasionally. Sometimes the conned would show up at my house, where my dad would roar and bellow at them and tell them it was their fault they got gypped. Somewhere in the middle my uncle married a girl who came from nowhere anyone knew, and a baby followed soon after. No one knew which came first, the baby or the wedding, but no one cared except to gossip viciously a little more. The woman, who I never got to call my aunt, was happy, loud, jolly- at least, that’s what I can see in old home videos and old wedding reels. A few more kids followed till there were five, but things had started going downhill long before they got to the fifth.

 

My uncle’s penchant for cruelty, for example. Probably other people have trouble grasping how he could have even done it, but I’ve seen my dad, and I know, these brothers and sisters are capable of things the sane human mind cannot think of inflicting on other human beings. After a few years of ill-gotten business gains and a spurt of prosperity, the scam dwindled and my uncle hit the bottle. And when he hit the bottle, he hit his wife. Repeatedly. Every weekend, then every night. The woman stopped laughing, the children stopped smiling, and by the time I was old enough to talk, she had already subsided into a sullen silence. My uncle, as it turns out, hit her so many times over the head that she went insane. He beat his wife into insanity. She’s still alive, if you can truly call it that. A gibbering, drooling mess who talks to walls and chews her own fingers when active, or simply sits there rocking herself, when passive.

 

Soon after that her oldest daughter took over the role of house mother. Managed the cooking and cleaning, kept the house together so that the younger ones could go to school.My uncle vanished chasing a more dubious scheme, and in his absence, my father and his siblings funded their house. The younger siblings studied and worked, under their oldest sister’s eye. I met them maybe once or twice a year, whenever we came here, and had that odd dynamic of people who are related by blood but don;t even know each other. We grew up, and I think we were in high school, when my uncle came back. Very soon after that my oldest cousin went down exactly the same route her mother had. She isnt as passive as my aunt, she walks around more, but she’s a blank slate too. Blank eyes, hair that went white before she turned twenty, and a masklike, absent face. Her siblings left the house soon after, shipped to boarding schools by my father.

 

Things had been looking up for them in the last few years. My uncle had a couple of cripling heart attacks that should’ve killed him, but just slowed him down enough to be human, like the rest of us. They broke his ‘power’, though, and he stopped barrelling through everyone’s lives. One sister is a professor of microbiology, one brother married a woman older than him but became a architect and settled down with her. The third brother works as an accountant, and the youngest sister, my youngest cousin, just finished writing her exams for her Bachelors in Applied Genetics.

She died this morning.

Two girls on their way home, crushed on their bike by a swerving bus. The bus driver ran over them, got out and actually tried to run away. People around them caught him and thrashed him to within an inch of his life, and called the cops and EMS. Both died on the spot, resuscitation didn’t work, and that was that.

 

We buried her in our family’s plot in the graveyard, close to my grandmother, a few uncles, a few aunts, most of whom I have no recollection of. After they released her body to my father, we ‘women’ took over the process of preparing the body for burial. Muslim women are not touched by men, after death. The body is washed by women who are clean, preferably related to her. She is washed, cleaned, clothed, her hair parted and braided, and the body wrapped gently in five pieces of cloth. Everyone who has come to say goodbye does so, after this, and then she is bid farewell. Every Muslim woman is advised to help bathe at least two other Muslim women in her life, so as to know closely, what death looks like, what it does to us. Muslim men are advised the same. Every person who goes to say goodbye is to contemplate their own death, to face the inevitability of death, and realize the blessing that is life.

 

And I stood there, helping bathe this girl who I knew but didn’t know, thinking of the last time we’d met, two months ago at a wedding, when she was showing me how long and healthy her hair had gotten. And I washed that hair today, it had grown even longer- but she had grown lifeless. And I was marveling at the odds that her one fully capable sister had gone out of the city, and couldn’t be contacted. The other, poor thing, didn’t even understand when we tried to tell her. My other aunt’s daughter was out of the city, and me, the only ‘sister’ left, was by some miracle, clean enough to help her one last time. And that doesn’t sound like a lot, I know, but here’s the thing- Today was a drinking day. I had no plans of doing anything but drink myself into oblivion, which would’ve automatically made me unclean. But I literally walked to the bar’s door and away, because I didn’t feel like, at the last minute. Instead, I went home early and showered, and was clean enough to pray, when I got the news.

 

And we washed her, we bathed her, and I glared daggers and wished a long and poisonous death on all the women who stood idly gossiping near her body. Couldn’t they see my sister? The sister I never saw, the sister who never really saw me, but the sister who I watched like a hawk over till it was time to bury her… And I realized by the pain, the pain I felt when I saw her unlined face, so peaceful in death, the pain I felt that she would never know the exhilaration of moving away from the madnesses that we grew up in. She would never feel love, she would never have children, she would never live- she’d never comb her hair out and watch our other cousins look on jealously. Everything that is Life dies. Everyone who is alive, dies. And in death we know the fierce protectiveness, the love, the visceral, undeniable, bone deep relations we choose to deny in life. And that realization wakes us up for what comes after. We never laughed together. We never bled for each other.

But blood was always thicker than water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Husnah, our beloved

I wish I had had more time to love you 

Mourning this Morning

I seem to be losing a lot of people these days. People who matter, people who are important to me. In a mire of people I don’t particularly care for, former seem to be a rapidly shrinking minority. And someone left today too.

Earlier this week, my great aunt passed away. She was a good few years ahead of eighty, and she passed quietly in her sleep. The funeral was a loud and shrieky affair, as large family gatherings usually are. And in the midst of it all, I sat next to her as I had done many times, only this time her withered hand wasn’t clutching back.

I wonder how many of the noisy mourners around me knew her well. My great aunt from my father’s side was actually related, in a very roundabout way, to my mother’s side too. She grew up playing in the fort my great grandfather ruled his province of about seventeen counties from. My gradfather and his younger brother loved their little cousin like a sister. There were no little girls in my other’s side of the family, and suffice to say, my great aunt was the only one whose orders were followed without blinking. As life will have it, my grandfather’s younger brother and my great aunt transitioned into being more than childhood companions eventually. Both were similar in temperament- kind, shy, reticent, quiet and thoughtful, as opposed to my grandfather, who was the kind of bad boy that only old, old money can fuel. The fort and the reaches of the palace were lit up for miles around to see every week, when he held his parties and his gambling fests and what not, but my great aunt and his younger brother grew closer in their reticence. It almost seemed a sure thing that they would marry, till a disastrous fact came to light. Apparently when they were born, which was in the same year, the same wet nurse nursed both of them. By some derivation of culture, that made them akin to being siblings of a sort, since they were fed by the same nurse. Consequently all possibilities of a marriage disappeared. Heartbroken, my grandfather’s brother left for Oxford, and my great aunt went to live with her cousins for a year. But that year, a lot of things happened.

The Partition of India, for one. The great swath of land that stretched seamlessly under British Rule was divided into India and Pakistan. There was a lot of pressure on muslims living in the subcontinent to migrate away to the country being made for them. My gradfather was seventeen at the time. His grandmother was his guardian, both parents havig died a long time ago, and a seventeen year old prince didnt seem like the best person to challenge a rising democracy that would swallow his slce of the provinces in one bite. My great grandmother decided to move to Pakistan, where her estranged brother lived, taking the equivalent of their assets with them, leaving the lands behind for democracy to claim. One grandson in Cambridge, and one in Oxford, she made the shift of her own accord, but when she got to Pakistan, she was in for an unpleasant surprise. Her estranged brother turned out to be a commnist of the most idealistic sort imaginable, a gift of his education in Moscow. He refused to file any claims whatsoever, saying that a country that was just establishing itself did not need the burden of aristocratic leeches. My great grandmother had to content herself with living ‘just’ as an upper middle class person. Of course, my grandfather was blissfully unaware of all this. When he and his brother finished studying and takking their gap year, they were ‘informed’ of the change in address and change in financial situation. Neither of them hesitated to adjust, although from what I have heard, the transition was painful and slow.

It could have been easier, had not more tragedy struck. My grandfather and his brother found themselves adrift again as their uncle passed, followed quickly by their grandmother. She had left a tangle of relations behind as refusing to accept my grandmother into the family (a ‘mere commoner’), she had fixed his marriage with one of the scattered blue blooded descendents of royalty that had migrated too. The proud and pericingly beautiful heiress didnt take kindly to being scorned, and in the spirit of damage control and stepping out of his brother’s shadow, my grandfather’s nrother married her instead. A series of bad decisions, and the news spread fast.

When it finally filtered back down to India, my great aunt, who had been riding out the partition safely ensconced with her relatives, decided that she would get married too, since evidently my her interest had moved on. She caught the eye of a Turkish aristocrat form god knows where, got promptly hitched, and moved off to Turkey. For seven to eight years no one heard a peep form her, till the day when she landed back in India at her parents’ house, widowed and with three children in tow. Her husband’s family, it turns out, had never taken kindly to the outsider as well, and promptly showed her the door when he kicked the bucket. Painfully aware of the burden that her presence was putting on their already restricted finances, she did what any proud woman would do. She got a job. A simple, clerical job that paid a good deal more than it would do today, but being a woman educated abroad was a big deal back in the day. She helped run the entire household on that pittance of a salary, and pushed her children through whatever education she could find for them within her means.

All this, obviously, happened a long time before I existed on the planet. My earliest memories of her were of a fragile, delicate lady who always had sweets in her bag for me. When my mother married my father, she was so overjoyed at having one of her childhood companions’ daughters living near her that she became, in essence, as reliable a figure for us as grandmothers are for other people. Toys, books, clothes, birthdays, school competitions, whatever it was. She was there for as many of them as she could make it to. She was the first person who tried to teach me how to be ladylike, constantly perplexed by my stubbornly mannish posture, ramrod spine and squared shoulders. She didn’t know why I was as tomboyish as I was, she didn’t know the details of what went on in our house. By mutual agreement me and my mother had always hidden as much of dad’s psychotic side from her as we could, because mom knew that she would tell her family, and she didn’t want her parents knowing how she really lived. I’m pretty sure she suspected some stuff, even though she was too graceful to poke and prod. She did poke and prod me though, multiple times, with that damned fan of hers. She has to be the only woman I’ve ever seen who actually carried a delicate lace fan- white, as befits a widow. Steel grey hair coiffured, clothes in mild pastels, and all the affectations of royalty, only undiluted. Not diluted, like in my mom, or me. Kings without kingdoms, princesses without palaces, but the aura and the carriage persisted and passed down generations, long after the provinces disintegrated.

I don’t know why I’ve gone off into such a long winded reminiscence. Maybe it was the thought that this woman lived a life so brilliant, and died so completely unsung, or just that I’m trying to process that she died at all. We never think that about the people who are fixtures in our lives. That they might, one day, just vanish, and leave a person shaped black hole of memory there. Or it was just the roiling anger I felt at sitting there next to that tiny, bowed woman, holding her wrinkled hand, talking to her while she stared at me, recognixing my face but not able to pin a name on it, in the last few years. Her memory had gotten progressively worse, till she forgot almost everyones names and faces, you see. But she would always smile when she saw me. More than once she told me, ‘I don’t know who you are exactly, but you’re a friend, I know that’. And I wont give in to being maudlin or wailing loudly, like they were doing at her funeral. One less reason to meet the mooks again, what make up her children and grandchildren. None of them took after her, none of them learned from her, none of them really cared for her. So they did what crass people do in such situations. Sat around her and exchanged recipes and gossip, throwing in a ‘It’s really too bad’ here and there, or mouthing platitudes like ‘it was meant to be’ or ‘who can deny fate’. Or the best one- ‘We all must die some day’.

But as they did that, and as I stood behind the gouped Amazonian sizzed women whose asses were literally level with my chest ( I kid you not, they were), I didnt feel the need to cry, or make a big show of my grief, or anything. I was taught by the best. I was raised better than that.

Thanks to my great aunt. She never got to marry or live with the man she loved, but she followed him into the void just a month after he left. A real lady, a true lady, A beautiful woman, a beautiful person. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

cry, or make a big show of my grief, or anything. I was taught by the best. I was raised better than that.

Thanks to my great aunt. A real lady, a true lady, A beautiful woman, a beautiful person. They don;t make ’em like that anymore.

The View From Where I Stand

The View From Where I Stand

Today was not supposed to be a ‘writing’ day. But something quite phenomenal happened, and I really want to put every single word down before I lose it. I want to have these words on hand for every time I’m stuck looking down on myself- that I need to look up to myself.

It’s been a rather unpleasant few days at home. Le Demented Dad has been more demented than usua, the assignments have been piling up, work has been piling up, and as the piles of things to do and unresolved anger grew, I was steadily pushing myself lower and lower.

I didn’t want to deal with anything, I couldn’t find it in myself to deal with the same old shit, yet again. The absolute wall of no-way-out was standing in front of my face and I simply couldn’t find the will to look beyond it, as I always do. The minute my sleepless weekend got¬†done with, I dragged my backside to a local bar to grab a couple of drinks, sit in solitude and finally get the thinking over with. And I did just that for an hour or so, and then randomly called a friend to join me. And that’s where everything changed.

I haven’t really had a lot of time alone with this friend before. I mean we’ve spoken, many times and about a lot of things, but always topics that skimmed the surface of who we are as people. Nothing like the bare all conversation we had today. Nothing as honest, nothing as illuminating, and god, was it illuminating.

And it was just a few simple words from him that changed everything I was feeling, everything I was looking at. Rather, the things are exactly the same. My house, my hellhole, my hellion of a dad, everythng is EXACTLY the same it was when I walked out the door in the morning. But the way I was looking at everything was completely different.

His exact words to me were- Let it go.

Let it go. Your father’s a mad man and you wake up into the same suffocating atmosphere every day. Let it go. You feel right now like you don’t have a way out of this mess. Let that go too. You’re feeling despondent, you feeel stifled, you’re refusing to face the things that you have to face- let it all go.

Because life is beautiful. Life is the biggest gift the universe can give, and we have been given it. We are ALIVE. We wake up each morning with our limbs intact and a roof over our heads, that’s something to be grateful for. We have destructive fathers, but mothers who¬†have to have been made from the purest earth by the very hand of God- that’s something to be grateful for. We are intelligent, we are educated, we are honest people. We have been given the opportunity to help others, in small or large ways, and that’s something to be thankful for.

It’s difficult to move past mental blocks sometimes, and it gets difficult to look beyond that barrier in front of your eyes sometimes, so don’t. Let the barrier exist where it does, smile and grateful for something to lean on, and keep tunneling around it. At no point should¬†you ever let yourself feel anything but loved. Because at no point is our situation so bad, that there’s nothing to be grateful for- and there is so much, so much to be grateful for.

And I feel like a changed person. I walked into my house and I looked, I really looked at my mother. I really looked at my house, my room. For every corner I’ve been beaten in, for every room I’ve been locked in, there’s another memory to overwrite with. As bad as¬†my childhood was, I grew up here. There’s height notches (where they stopped anyway, hehe) and Harry Potter on the walls. I can cover the bloodstains with that. For every thing that has gone wrong, I know of something that has gone right. It’s all a matter of what we choose¬†to see, what we choose to focus on, and I’m glad I’ve been set right. It’s one more thing to be grateful for.

We are a speck of a planet in the middle of infinity on all sides. And we are a speck on the surface of the planet. If I think about that for one minute, the ‘magnitude’ of my problems gets instantly dwarfed by the very miracle of my existence. For that I am grateful.¬†I have been given a life that’s tougher than some people have it, but I know, a lot easier than a lot of people have it. For that I am grateful.

I have to live with a man who’s purpose of existence is to spread misery in the name of religion, ‘training’ his children, and life lessons. And in doing so, he’s taught me exactly what NOT to be as a person. For that, I am grateful.

I have been given love. I have been given so much love that it’s downright insane. And I have been given the opportunity, a person to love with everything that I am. That is a miracle as of itself. I have been given a partner with compassion, understanding, and possibly the¬†world’s largest serving of common sense. For all of that, I am grateful.

I have been given the ability to speak, a platform where I can stand up on the internet and spread my arms out to the world. For that I am grateful.

I have been given perspective by a wise, wise friend. For that, I am very grateful.

The world is beautiful.

Life is beautiful.

We are broken. We are whole. We are beautiful.

Big Unknown

Big Unknown

Why are we so afraid of death?
The idea of a consummate end
Is it the notion of mortality?
The vision of decay, organically
Being reduced into soil, reclaimed
‘back to the earth from when we came’
Or is the threat, that all our strengths
Will be replaced by nothingness?

A man who changed the nation’s tide
A girl who wasn’t anyone’s pride
The father who killed her, and seamlessly lied
But he died, and she died, and he died, and they died

No one walks away from Death
Unless we walk burdened with regret
That, before we knocked on Hell’s door,
We had so much, so much still left
Bucket lists, a big unknown plot twist
One more chance for a lover’s last kiss
Before Death claims us, claims them, claims it all
We fight, gnashing and struggling, flailing our fists

We all must go, one day, into the big unknown
Where Heaven, Hell, and Afterlife, or
Reincarnation are sown
Figments of the imagination, or the ultimate truth, either way
Leave nothing undone to regret, when d
Death calls you away

Completion is the antidote to our fragile mortality
People who walked years ago, are gone but we still see
Images and remnants, history and memory
In our brief existence, we may build immortality

©CM
28.06.2015

Fire For Fire

Fire For Fire

Burn, burn, burn them all
Burn them all, let the ashes rise
Before your eyes
Tiny fairies, winged lies
Let them fall
Let them fall, let them die
Douse them, give them a
Glimmer of hope
Then set them alight
That’s how you do it, right?

Not tonight.

Burn them, I’m burning them all
I might rise with the ashes
I might fall- I don’t care
Keep your silence, but don’t you cry
When tomorrow you come by
And there’s nothing left to find

Tonight, I’m smoking myself
Out of my mind

©CM
13.05.2015

Death Notes?

Death Notes?

Do you hear him?
I called his name
Not in fear, rather
Like a friend, as a lover would
He stood
Just beyond my sight
In the shadows
Smiled reassuringly
But he never came

I waited
I wasn’t upset, but
It was confusing
He was there
He knew I was waiting
And he’s aware
Patience is not one of my virtues
But decidedly uncommunicative,
He only left me reason to
Believe
It wasn’t yet time
To accept the Reaper’s reprieve

I’d gotten so distracted
By the thought of dying
I’d forgotten all the living
I had to pull through
Enigmas and conflict and
Puzzles and
rhythms, hidden
Subdued

He would come
He was there
He would come, as promised
Just after I’d done everything
I had to do

©CM
19.03.2015

Is anyone ever really ready for Death?

What about the people who wait for him?

Do they fare better?

You know how there’s this standard sort of scene, in tv shows and movies, where the protagonist- and otherwise happy go lucky sort of girl or boy, sitting day dreaming in class- gets pulled out by the Principle or the police to inform them that there father was killed in an accident. Or found dead. Or, I don’t know, killed himself. Jumped off a bridge or lay on the tracks, something of that sort. That kid.

I always wanted to be that kid.

And my day dreams would often extend into how people would find my reaction bizarre, because I wasn’t going to crumple onto the floor, my world ripped apart by tragedy. Heck no. I’d probably give two warrior whoops and strip naked and do the conga in the school hall. Okay, maybe not strip naked, but I’d definitely do the conga. Nothing’s as celebratory as the boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-POP!

But obviously, that’s unreal. It’s the kind of daydream that’s on par with winning the Lotto or stumbling across a hidden treasure while drunkenly crab walking on the beach. Not at all plausible. So I switched to dreaming about me dying instead. Not by hand, mind you. I was too young to even understand the concept of suicide. It was just a scary thing that condemned you to the deepest pits of Hell instantly. Ohhh no, no, no. Even at eleven I was a smartypants. Something convenient and relatively painless, like a car hitting me or an earthquake or a heart attack while I slept- something that would do the job, end my misery, and Hello! Pearly gates! There was always the possibility that one day dad would just kill us all, but I didn’t want to give him that satisfaction.

All that childish (and adolescent, and early twenties) day dreaming aside, nothing prepared me for my sister suddenly coming out of her reverie while watching tv earlier today, and going, “I always wanted to be that girl. The one whose father dies.” And she proceeded to describe how she thought people would think she’s lost it, because of the trauma, because she’d definitely start laughing. And, well. Pretty much the same things I grew up wishing for.

It’s simultaneously horribly painful to hear your sister talk about her death so nonchalantly, and kind of darkly funny too. I mean, it’s almost the exact same words I used, that I used to think. Death just seems like the easiest way out.
To what end, neither of us know. No one does. But a way out.

It’s just that it took me a while to realize that.. Dying is inevitable. Living is painful and dying is inevitable. We might as well make the most of what we’ve been given. It’s not like I’ve learnt all the lessons… but definitely some. Love. Patience. Short but important (unimaginably important) bursts of feeling complete. Hope. Fulfillment. Pain. More patience. And more Love. I hope she learns more of them than I do. And I kinda hope I’m around to see her after she’s learned them.

Because, you know. I’m not waiting for Death, but he just might decide to drop by.

Love and light to you all

Cookie ‚̧