Archives for category: Kathamrit

Welcome to the second installment of the Kathamrit series. This story follows a pilot who has crashed his plane in a strange unknown village and his discovery of its dark secrets.

 

NOTE TO THE READER: THIS STORY IS DIVIDED INTO THREE PARTS IN NONLINEAR FASHION. THE PIECE IS NARRATED BY TWO OF THE MAIN  CHARACTERS.  CHANGE OF NARRATOR IS INDICATED BY THE <INVISIBLE> OR <VISIBLE> AT THE TOP OF EACH SEGMENT. OCCASIONALLY AN OMNISCIENT <UNIDENTIFIED OBSERVER> ALSO SHOWS UP TO CLEAR UP AMBIGUITY.

 Part I

After the accident

<VISIBLE>

The village was small with mere 30 huts huddled together inside a small valley.  The people were friendly, after they’d found me in the charred ruins of my plane.  Angst I was, the pain intolerable. The little I saw of my body, were all burns, bruises and wounds.

Brown burn marks were splattered all over my body.  My left thigh was reduced to a purplish, lifeless lump that looked like it belonged to a rotting corpse.
I was immobilized for the last few months in that little, red bed.  The last few months which flushed out so slowly, that I awoke at what was like an end of a century.

The last few months: I don’t really remember much about them and I don’t want to.  But my memory keeps throwing unwanted pictures at me. So, I decided to gush it all out by quickly jotting them down.  After all, nobody will ever read it.  Least of all, me.

*

Those days.

The sunrays broke in through the windows to remind me that I was still alive.

Light.

It was an incoherent haze of nonsensical colors that confused me.

Shadows.

They pranced around the room as death circled around my bed, preparing a prognosis.

Those nights.
The gentle fingers of the wind rattled on my body.  The candlelight danced with it.  I saw the shadow of the candle crawling like a snake.  It looked hungry.

Life.
It was an incomprehensible mass of nothingness.

Death.
A dream.  One that would not come true.

Awakening:
I should have died but I didn’t.  So, at the end, I once again began seeing things as they were again.  And at that time, I didn’t see imminent happiness.  Instead, I saw a rude awakening.  Life suddenly became alive; alive with pain.

I felt like a corpse that was alive.

<INVISIBLE>

 

Food.

I don’t have much to say.  I feel so hungry, I feel so cold. The ful moon offers no warmth and its pale light reveals only the dark, cold, dirty street in which I am trying to light a fire.  The matches fall aflame on the wet branches I’d found, but covered by a layer of water, the branches are protected from the flamed matches that are running out so quickly.  This might sound pathetic but one can do anything to escape from the cold winter numbness.

These physical conditions leave me no room to take care of my mental condition.  I’m not sure, but I must have already gone insane by now.  I can feel the entire world conspiring to drive me mad.  After all, isn’t insanity the price of life?   I’m starting to doubt whether I can bear that type of price tag for too long.

<VISIBLE>

I never did find out what the name of my nurse was.  I identified her with her face, not with her name.  I might have the choice to describe her, but I as the writer will give the reader the complete freedom to conjure an imaginary face of my caretaker during those months.  Like the nurse, I will give the reader the entire freedom to imagine what the miniscule huts in the village and what my room looked like.

I sparsely remember.

All I remember about my room was that there was a balcony in which I often went out to get a dose of fresh air.  Up there, I often saw a small, poor girl in tattered clothes meandering down below in the streets, holding on to some loaves of bread.  Fate would make sure that I was haunted by the memory of the Girl for the rest of my life.  It makes my eyes wet every time my memory creates a hallucination of that Girl walking aimlessly in the dark streets below, as if looking for somebody to rescue her.

<INVISIBLE>

The room over there, who’s in there?

It’s usually empty.  Nobody wants that room where the walls crumble.

Who is that immobile guest in the decrepit room?  I haven’t seen that man before, he isn’t a part of this village and why is-

Oh! She’s coming!  I’d better steal the food before she takes it away from my growling stomach.

<VISIBLE>

I understood little of my nurse’s language.  Yet, I could feel the pangs of pain across her complaint.  The food had disappeared.   Again.   Something that had been regularly happening without any rational justification.  As my nurse yelled and complained, I looked down at the Girl down below on the street.  It was the same one with the tattered clothes and the same one that held on to the loaves of bread.

Loaves of bread?

I think that was the stolen item.

<UNIDENTIFIED OBSERVER>

The man, who was so immensely burnt, was looking at a tired sun ducking below the mountains. It was the phenomenon of the sunset, where the sun would dive below the horizon, only to shoot out into sky again elsewhere.

The incandescence of the setting sun was blinding for the man, but he could still feel the soothing effect of the sunset on his psyche.  For him, it was magical.

The door was wide open.  And so was the freedom of movement between the balcony and the rest of the world.

He sat on a chair, covered under a blue blanket with white stripes.  Nearby the chair was a very small table with his loaves of bread, the only thing that the villagers fed him with.

Soon, he is sleeping.

Grasping the opportunity, the Girl in the tattered clothes entered the balcony, and slowly held her hand out and touched the loaves of bread, her heart gleaming with irrepressible happiness.

He snorted and coughed.

The sudden snorting and coughing upsets the Girl and made her jump.

The sudden jumping of the Girl upsets the man in his slumber and he is awoken.  He turns his head and sees the Girl.  A smile forms in his stitched lips.

He spoke in what little he knows about the language of the village.  Bad grammar doesn’t always work as a retardant of expression; individual words will have more weight than the ambiguous sentences that they are parts of.  That is the beauty of bad grammar, the only case in the entire world where individual parts are greater than the whole.

<VISIBLE>

The face of that Girl was frail and thin.  She looked as though she’d fall with the lightest push and break with the hardest punch.

“So you’re the culprit who’s been stealing the bread?” I asked, smiling.

The Girl is not smiling. The muscles in her thin little face worked together to express intense shock. Shock so intense, that tears start glistening in her beautiful black eyes. A teardrop drove
through her hollow cheeks to settle in her skeletal lips.

I ignored her shocked look. The little thief deserved it.

I spoke again, more harshly, washing away my smile in the process “Speak! What is your name?!?”

She spoke. No, she croaked, “I …Don’t…know! My… fa-father… never… gave me… a name.”

<INVISIBLE>

The lips of the old man were ugly. The smile on those ugly lips was ugliness in perfection.

His grasp of the language is weak. He speaks softly, the friction detectable, “You, the thief stealing loaves of bread?”

He was looking directly at me.  I was invisible.  Past tense.  But this man here could see me.  Present tense.

I remembered my father telling me, several epochs ago, “You are invisible, Girl. Nobody can see you. Use that to your advantage to steal some bread. Fill your stomach! Survive! Nobody will see you.  If, nobody ever saw you stealing the bread, you are not really stealing, then you are not really guilty!”

But if this man could see me, then I was really stealing that made me guilty.

If he could see me steal his bread, then so could the others.

If others could see me too, then I would be doomed.

My legs started shaking as though the weight of the whole world was placed upon my head.  For the first time in my life, a teardrop made its way from my eyes to my lips, leaving behind a watery trail behind on my cheeks.  A lifetime of salty sadness was trapped in that one teardrop.

“Speak! What’s you name?” He yelled harshly, with his voice sounding like a knife being sharpened and his ugly smile replaced with an even uglier grimace.

And for the first time since my father died, I spoke out loud, “Don’t…know! My… fa-father… never… gave…me…a name.”

And just as there was no name for me, there was no name for that feeling I had when the words tumbled out one after the other.

*

So it was then thatI burst out with my little story.

The time had come for it to leave me. So,my lungs burst with expressive air, my heart banged with vacuous emotions and my tongue clicked out words that sang along with all of it. A choir that I had assembled to sing my story for him.  And I was merely the paper with some hastily scribbled lyrics that they held for reference.

<VISIBLE>

 

The Girl became hysterical, started chanting.  What was it that she was chanting?  I asked and she told me it was her story.

*

When she had finished telling me her story she asked me to let her go. I pointed to the door.  And she exited, never to visit me again.

Part II

Three Years Later

<VISIBLE>

I have become an unhappy man.

<UNIDENTIFIED>

After he let the girl go.  He was driven away from the village, driven away by the chanting of the girl, driven away by her story.

Stories are always powerful, especially when they are true.

Little stories too are powerful.  Unlike big, luxuriant stories where everything is told for the listener, little stories leave gaps for the listener to fill.  The listener determines the power of little stories.  The man gave the little story of the Girl too much of power.

<VISIBLE>

That Girl was truly invisible.  Nobody could see her.  I had that confirmed when I asked my nurse and some other people in the village whether they had ever seen a Girl like that.  They had seen no such Girl, and I knew that I was not mad.  I knew that my absurd experience resonated with a sanctimonious truth.

In my hollow life, the Girl’s story took all the space.

The true story of the inhabitants, their façade removed, tortured me.  So, when I could walk once again in about a year and when my health was fully restored, I decided to stage my escape.

It happened in the night, when everybody was sleeping, waiting for the day that was yet to come while I was running for the life that had left me.  I made my way through the forest and found a road that lead to the city.  I walked all night and reached the city, and found a police station.

I should have been happy but I cried like hell in the police office, trying to contact my family.

The dim light of the streetlights splashed across her bony face, I stepped on her corpse as I made my escape.  The Girl was dead; she had died of starvation on the cold streets.  And all I did was step on her dead body in pathetic haste and look back for a second, to find out how heavy my sins had become.

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

The Girl’s Story, in her own Words

<INVISIBLE>

Listen.

Everybody has their stories.  And when they are told, it is the wind that carries them to other places for others to hear.

My story is not a happy one.

It is an unhappy story that makes me cry.  Please cry with me when I am done, please.

 

*

I was born invisible.  My mother, who was born visible, died invisible.  And she died giving birth to invisible me.

My father, who died later on, too was not born invisible.  He was born to a purely visible family and he grew up as a child that heard a lot of stories.  That is why he took out a dusty typewriter and started writing.  His village did not like his stories and called them evil.  He was taken to court where he was sentenced to the witch.  The witch was an old woman who cursed the criminals. She cursed him, or damned him, as my father would have put it, with solitude.

My parents were given the worst form of solitude. The type in which nobody will know you exist. Because we were invisible, we did not exist.  We were a dream that had come true.  And that is why my father gave me no name.

I didn’t exist at all.  Why would I need a name?  After all, aren’t I a nameless dream?

*

Throughout my life, I have been a thief, a bread thief.

Even in my mother’s womb, I was fed stolen bread.

I am a thief and I steal others’ bread to survive.  And if it were not for that, I would not be alive.

You might argue that I have no right to steal your bread, but do the others have the right not to acknowledge my existence.  Do they have the right to give me the life of a wretched, bread-stealing ghost?

*

Throughout his life, in the parts I had seen, my father coughed.

One day, he coughed blood.  His face contracted with fear when he saw it.  That was how his last month alive started, after that he went to another world which only the dead know.  I know that he is happy there with my mother where he can talk to everybody again.

*

When he was coughing blood, I kept my father in an abandoned garage that, much like us, nobody cared about.  He told me that he wanted to die and see my mother once again, but to do that he needed my permission.  This wasn’t the first time that he had asked the question so I gave him no such permission.  I told him that we’d die together, I told that we’d go to the world of the dead together and I told him that we’d meet my mother there together.

*

My father died after I woke up on a cold morning.  I accepted his death only after a week of waiting for him to wake up.

*

After he died, I decided to live a little longer.  Only a little longer, I knew I’ll die slowly.  My father always told me that death did not like little children.  But the life I’ve been living has been burdened by the things he told me the day before he died.  I’ve been living both in the past and the present, and all the time the future whispered to me about the death that is yet to come.

*

The evening before my father died, he told me that he wanted to see the sunset.  He was weak and I had to take the dual responsibility of a daughter and a walking stick.

We went to a rock that was located on a cliff and we looked at the sunset together.

“Well, child. I guess the sun sets on me.” He said.
“No!” I yelled. “Not yet!”
“Look at how weak I am!” He said weakly.
I turned and looked at him for a long time.
“No, please not now.” I pleaded.
My father sighed and wheezed at the same time “I’ll try.”

Silence seeped into our conversation.
“Well, I have to admit though.” My father finally said.
“What?”
“Being invisible isn’t fun.”
“You just figured that out?”
“It’s society that did this to us. We’re invisible because of society.”
“I…I agree.”
“And do you know why society did this to us!  I’ll tell you why!  Society was built upon rules
written by some stupid old men.  And one of their rules was that nobody – nobody has the right to disobey those dumb rules.  I write against a few of those rules and I got evicted from that idiotic country club.  Dumb rules that made other decent people into invisibles and turned their children either into monsters or brilliant men who fade away into the earth, away from our memories.  But that’s not what bothers me.  That’s all in a day’s work for society.  What bothers me is that you and your mother have to suffer too. You have committed no crime.  You’ve never been inside society, never had any friends.  But you’re just a kid…without a chance…”

He started crying.  And when he stopped, he coughed blood.

He died the next morning.  But his words lived on in my heart and in my life and I’m sure I’ll remember them the moment I die.

“But you’re just a kid…without a chance…”

Yeah, I’ll be remembering that.

*

And that’s my story.  Now, please let me go, sir.  I have suffered a lot from the hands of this society.  I am invisible, I am all alone.  Life and society have both been cruel to me, I need an escape route.

Please…

<VISIBLE>

After I let her go, I frequently remembered the girl and her story.  Her story is the one story that speaks for all the people who have put into isolation and reclusion by the society, they are the invisibles.  To be excluded from society, to become invisible is to suffer.  And their children suffer even more from this exclusion that grows deeper and deeper day by day, minute by minute, person by person.  So, don’t forget and remember.

Remember the invisibles.

Welcome all, this is the Kathamrit series that I have begun posting in my blog. I’d like to thank all that have been following this blog so far and I hope that we can continue our journey together. The posts which belong to the Kathamrit series are short fiction pieces written by me. The inaugural story in the Karhamrit series is I Dreamed of an An Angel which features an unknown narrator and his recollections of a strange dream.

PART ONE
IN THE FOREST OF THE NIGHT

“NO!!!!”

And that was how all of my nightmares end.

*

It was a dark night. The leaves on the road danced with the wind. The full moon was eclipsed by the clouds. The candles of this city lay idle on their window sills; they were all lit out by the wind.  Scrawny night cats run away from the thunder. “It will rain tonight”, she had told me sometime ago. Her premonitions always came true. I stopped in my tracks; it was drizzling.

“The clouds of Zeus shall amass, covering everything in darkness. His Cyclops will forge the lightning. When lightning bursts with electricity, the people on Earth will shut their eyes to protect them from the harsh brightness of Zeus’s glory. They are too weak in front of him.”

That was what she had told me when I had met her tonight.

But did I have the strength to look through the lightning? And maybe, even see Zeus up there, somewhere in his palace of clouds, and look into the infinite knowingness in his eyes? Being nothing but a mortal, I had asked her that question.

Back then she smiled, amused.  “No, you can’t. But you can see me. That is what sets you apart from the others. I have chosen you.” She says.

The light in the lamppost burnt uneasily behind me. I saw my penumbral shadow on my door.

“When will it rain?” I remembered asking her.

“The rain will start pouring when you have reached your door. It will be a barbaric display of Zeus’ might. It will be the greatest, the most frightful thunderstorm ever. The tree outside your house will be hit by lightening and will look like an old woman whose head is on fire. The rain will stop the fire and that tree will become charred and leafless.”

I felt the key in my pocket and used it to open the door. The door squeaked as it opened and I went into the darkness within. In haste and in fear I slammed the door shut. I could feel my hands shaking as they locked the door again.

I was scared of her. The fear I felt was instinctive.

I didn’t think that turning on the lights would be such a good idea. I threw my wet coat into the darkness and heard it thud softly on the ground. My hands are stretched, and they searched for my chair. They finally found it and I sat on it.

Why was I scared of her?

It is dark in my room, dark like the wail of a lost child. There was a desk near my door where I wrote the stories she told me. I pushed it in front of the door. I stood quietly for a while, taking support on my desk. I had barricaded myself.

Or was I scared because of the way she talked? Or the things that she talked about? I went to see her every full moon. She stood by the dead tree and told me her stories with a sardonic whisper and her cold smile.

I felt my legs ache with fatigue.

Or was I scared of her because of her joyless eyes that were always searching for something? I always did feel myself wondering if they were searching for something that had to be found or for something that to be given. But I always knew that she was looking for something that could neither be found or be given but something that had to be taken with force.

I decided to lie down on my bed and think over my situation again.

Or was I scared of her because she said that she was coming? Was she going to tell me a story as usual, or was she coming to get whatever she wanted, to take it by force? Maybe, she would do that. Was that why I was afraid?

I crawled in my bed searching for the pillow. I found the pillow and covered my head with it. I remembered nothing more except for the metallic banging that the rain caused when it collided with the tin roof overhead.

PART TWO

I DID TRY TO HATE HER

When I woke up I saw that she was in the room. I am in my bed looking at her dark, faceless shadow. She is seated on my chair by the desk which I had used as a barricade. There was nothing wrong with the door.

She speaks, “You shouldn’t have barricaded yourself.”

“Don’t kill me.” I said, breathing uneasily with an incremental pulse.

“Why shouldn’t I?” She said cruelly, emphasizing the “why”, emphasizing her power over me.

“I don’t want to die, I don’t to die” I sobbed helplessly.

She laughed. This was the first time I had heard her laugh.

“Really?” she asks with her sharp sarcasm.

“What do you want from me?” I yelled. Lightning flashed. For a second I saw the entirety of her face and her wings. Then, darkness returned.

“Are you an angel?”

“Yes, I am.”

Another flash of lightning. This one hits the tree outside.

The dark is vanquished by the red flame of the tree burning in the rain. Now I can see her. She is standing in front of me with her wings stretched.

Her pale skin has become red reflecting the tree on fire. Her dark, curly hair floats in the wind. There is a harsh smile on her thin lips.

I looked at her, unable to breath. I looked into her eyes. They are alive with joy of discovery. And I saw her soft white wings that stretched further and further. It seemed like she was ready to fly. At that moment I descended into the excruciating agony of intense fear. She said something, her lips were moving but I heard nothing yet I felt its message creeping to me from her lips.

Then the rain starts killing the fire. The darkness began to creep back into the room. The darkness started killing me.

This is too much for me. I scream, clutching my blanket tightly, clutching to life. I yell as my whole world started to vanish in the darkness.

“NO!!!!”

And that was how all of my nightmares ended.