Something I wrote just because I felt like writing. needed to get the images down. So here it is,a convulated patch of images from my head, strung together with pretty words.
A crow descends into my world, black wings gleaming in the midday sun. It carves an erratic path, leaving a black ghost in its wake against the blue of the sky .It lands lightly on my balcony, silently and without hope, and if I weren’t looking directly at it I wouldn’t have noticed its arrival. But I have, it is within my world now, part of memory. I am a part of it as it is a part of me. I take a long drag from my almost forgotten fag and exhale it. Funny how the sound of my breath still seems alien to me. But the sound helps me reaffirm that I am indeed on this balcony, sitting in this chair, and staring at this crow, this particular crow, one out of a hundred of flying black rats that infest this place. But what can I do, when a man has nothing better to do than stare at the sky on a Monday afternoon he deserves to be stared at by flying vermin. I am being punished. I shall take it like a man. Stare Kafka, stare all you like. I will give you nothing except my breath and the breath of my cigarette.
The crow makes a noise. No one realizes what a crow sounds like at in a small room. The noise is deafening, but only for a second. The aural version of being blinded by the sun. The sound itself sounds unnatural, it was as if some one had taken the lion’s guttural roar and turned the bass all the way down and stuffed that into a space half a foot high. Yell all you want, you aren’t getting a peep out of me. My hand moves to my mouth, inhale, and exhale. I am playing a challenge and answer game of my own creation. I await the next challenge.
My eyes are still trained on the crow, but the heat on my lips signals the end of this fag. I reach for the clay jar I call my ashtray and stub it out on the rim, leaving it to join its uncountable brethren at the bottom. I lean back in my chair, the rattan poles fitting themselves into the grooves they have already carved on my back, and I continue this game of mine. Man against crow, the challenges are huge, my common sense is screaming from the place at the corner of my head where I normally put it. But I don’t even listen to it when I make important decisions, why should I change that now when there are matters of crow at hand.
My eyes are tiring I think, they feel raw and I can almost feel the veins filling with blood, desperately trying to stay open against their will. But I am chief of this democracy, and they listen to me and stay open and trained on my opponent.
The crow doesn’t seem disturbed by any of this; it continues to stare, now and again tilting its head in a normal crow-like manner. It was almost as if it didn’t care about winning. What blasphemy.
My thoughts are drifting again, and I find myself recalling old television ads. I am a self-proclaimed fan of TV ads. I pull out old jingles from my head and play one of my favorites, a jingle from an old ice cream ad starring a large anthropomorphic lion and a posse of children. I hum the tune out loud, to break the thickening silence. That ad made its debut when I was a child, and to me it was the greatest thing in the world, a lion who takes children around the world in search of ice cream. To a child, that would be the greatest adventure in the world. Then life began, and it filled the child with quests for sex, drugs and dark rooms filled with gyrating bodies. I would not sacrifice my life till this point for anything, I have made my mistakes, but it is my life. But maybe, just maybe if I could once again have dreams of caves in South America filled with frozen delights, life would be a bit more tolerable. Wouldn’t you agree Mr. Crow? And in response it flaps its wings, sending the dust on the balcony ledge airborne, and in this dark room they take on a life of their own, forming complex shapes in the space between me and open space. I see whole galaxies and universes in the dust. From creation nothingness in two seconds, a universe made of dust, created by the flap of a black wing.
“SNAP OUT OF IT!” my mind screams at me. “We have a job at hand; we have to beat that crow, soldier. And I expect a hundred and ten percent out of you! We do not have time to dilly dally around with this existentialist nonsense. Now straighten up and stay focused! That bird isn’t going to defeat itself.”
The screaming rant of my mind falls on deaf ears. I have already been caught by the bird, I am entranced by the universe of its creation. Or at least the universe I think I see in the clouds of dust. My eyes are glazed over in awe, or wonder, or some variation of the two.
I had lost to a crow. The lowest low a man can sink to, losing a battle of wits to a creature with a brain the size of its eye. But then again, if I was intelligent, I wouldn’t be sitting here on a Monday morning would I?
The crow glides forward to collect its prize, almost vanishing when it reaches the middle of the room, blending into the shadows. It lands on my table, I await the punishment, the punishment I rightly deserve. Death maybe?
Or maybe it will eat me. Am I to live out the rest of my days in the stomach of a crow?
The crow stands there, still tilting its head in that odd manner. It hops forward two steps, lowers its head, picks up my cigarettes, and flies away.
Cruel little beast isn’t it? Stealing a poor man’s last pack of cancersticks.
“Ah, that was a nice diversion into the existential. Now to get back to work.” says my mind. So I lean back in my chair, feeling the comfortable ache of distorted skin, and stare into the blue sky.
Now, I know I kept a spare pack around here somewhere.
Copyright Praveen Kumar 2007