Of poisoned bones

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I know a little boy back in France who spends each afternoon reading strange stories of bones, of bodies, of lives that some think have been left behind, some believe have dissolved forever into an uncertain sky, sometimes flickering unnoticeably into an invisible air. It was one afternoon that under the deep underwoods of olive tree, he found a centuries old bone buried, a femur, that belonged to who must once have been a beautiful woman and it seemed almost shining, like the most exquisite, the most ancient of all riddles. He took it to all the old people he could find, who had lived since perhaps forever, but no one could see anything, recognize any spot of any face they ever could remember. It signified to them nothing more than what it was, a fragile shard of calcium. But a hazel-eyed woman from the corner had whispered secretly into the boy’s ear that once, as a child, she had read in an unknown Latin that there exists on earth a light that may reveal all, even about ruins.

It was years later, walking in the cemetery close to my father’s house, that I’d found a piece of femur bone that had strayed far away from all graves. It was coated in wet dust, I was slightly hesitant to pick it up but it stayed there and after a few minutes, I just had to touch it with my fingers. I turned it many times, in different angles, hoping that maybe the warm sunlight will tell me something about it, maybe the moment of epiphany will arrive. It never did, as it never does, and so I threw it away casually further than where it was found. Had it been under the never-found light, it might have been seen that its white clarity, in places, reflected metallic yellows and that it belonged to the broken thigh of an aging queen who, in her desperation to keep her young lover around, had killed herself with aurum. Night after night, she drank a bitter elixir of gold chloride and diethyl ether as her body failed a little more each day, remembering the vision from her childhood where every summer was spent without idyll, eating ripe mulberries found at the bottom of neglected trees. She believed it preserved her beauty.

The woman who died of gold poisoning for her love, in a few hundred years, becomes an anonymous piece of bone. Sometimes, not even that. The bone your dog chews at the edge of your garden could be of a man you once loved, in another life.

The little boy knew already everything he was ever to know. In my dream, he is 6 years old and sometimes he tells me that in the decay is the extraordinary.


This was first published in the Seagull Books Catalogue 2017-18. 

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How to recognize a man in love

A man makes a cup of coffee, and goes online. The world is on the verge of collapse.  Any day now, a nuclear war – the white cloud of extinction. Continents have turned into prisons. The city this man lives in will no longer exist in a few years, there will be an ocean where he is sitting right now. Injustice is everywhere, poverty is growing, the air is turning into poison, species are dying, a black hole will soon swallow all of humanity.

This man, after reading about the new horrors of the previous day, locks himself inside the bathroom and weeps only for himself. This man is in love.

Love stands alone

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In the old observatory in the walled city of a pink Jaipur, an 8 year old girl will find a torn page from a book that is thousands of year old. She will forget what is written on the page. She will forget that she even found the page.

Twenty years later, while walking on the streets of Delhi, weighed by a feeling of crushing black loneliness, the last words on that torn page will flash like an emergency sign in her mind: “…love stands alone”.

She will fall. There will be no one to see the fall.

The biology of love

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In Bengali marriage ritual, the bride is often handed a fish that is alive. The auspiciousness of the new marriage is  gauged by how long the fish is held. The longer you can hold it, the better your marriage will be.

Clarice Lispector wrote in The Passion According to G.H. “… did something truly alive collapse the morality I had?”

Love is what is truly alive.

Love is a freshly caught fish writhing in your hands. Hold it if you can.

BREAKING NEWS

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The 27-year-old reporter reporting on duty.

As far as the eyes go, there are only half-dead men with trembling hearts dressed as grooms outside churches. And even the men who had previously seemed rather alive quickly seem to be falling on the ground. The whole scene is as if out of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, except here men (and only men, not women) are transforming into these strange creatures dressed in suits ready for marriage, but thoroughly unready for love. If women approach these men to ask even a simple question, the heart of these men start beating faster than the speed of light, and they fall straight on the ground unconscious. If women as much as make an attempt to kiss any of these men, they will display signs of hallucinations (demons, monsters, satan, hell) and some even die.

This remains one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century and (astonishingly) as yet unreported by media. The United Nations is soon expected to make a statement on this dire situation that threatens the very fate of humanity.

Notes on Love #2

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Et tu, Brute?

In a yet undiscovered second part of Shakespeare’s Julias Caesar, Caesar comes back as a ghost and kills Brutus with a diamond encrusted pistol while listening to Taylor Swift: “Look what you just made me do”.

Advice for young girls on how to pick husbands (after reading Mayakovsky)

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Growing up, we had classes of “moral science” in school. It told us how to keep good hygiene, and how to keep good morals.

The Moral Man (with a capital M, for this deserves the respect one usually reserves for God) was a man of self control, who betrayed no emotion, never fell prey to any passion, never did anything that might come back to haunt him later, in the face of any crisis, he always abided by the social code of what is right and acceptable. The Moral Man, in short, was the one who refused the apple when some immoral Eve offered it to him. Damn these snakes and Eves of the world, you could shake Paradise, but not this man. No, ma’m.

When the moment finally arrives when he has to kiss a fallen damsel, don’t worry, little girl, he won’t do it. Which is why you must always pick such a man as your husband.

And never as your lover.