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iCide


By Kartheik Ganesh Iyer

Bzzz….bzzz…and so on, you get the drift.
The noise never really stops. Irreverent, guileless, shameless, the flies continued their meandering, like Brownian motion all over again. Their tiny wings, almost translucent in their intrepid flight across meaningless distances flapping furiously, like there was nothing more important than getting across to the next target, but could not remember what it was. The thousand compound eyes flick incessantly, watching for signs of movement, for signs of danger, for even the average run-of-the-mill fruit fly wishes two things, to live to see the coming of the great round ball of fire in the sky, and to be the proud (if late) sire of a new, young batch of fruit flies. Nobody wants to die a virgin. Not even flies.
A rolled up newspaper comes into sight, sluggish in its languid path across the general scenery, like that dame titanic herself, and crushes the fly in her mighty ardor. Having picked up the fly in her traversal across the toilet, she proceeded to embed it in the nearest available wall, adding one fly to the tens of thousands already present, some limbless, some wingless, all lifeless. Guided by an external force, the newspaper did only what she was made to do, for she was no tyrant, nor racketeer; merely one who told their tales.
I sat on the dingy toilet seat and had at the various flying paraphernalia provided for a diverting and engaging experience. After all, shit can be so much more. The newspaper in my hand protested, groaning and sagging under the influence of my many ministrations. Ah, what could I do? They rarely put anything worth reading in it anyways.
I’m out, I yell, at the teeming hordes waiting to get in. Poor fellas, asking for a hole to shit in, everybody wanted one these days. I walk past, my sunken eyes going over the effects of last night’s revelry, and of the night before that, and, well, you get the gist. An overpowering odor of cheap perfume and wasted alcohol fills the air, until the sensitive person starts choking in it. Then, to the depressing menagerie of smells you also add putrid vomit. Then you take a deep breath and walk out.
I walk down the stairs, tripping over them in my eagerness to conform to gravity’s whims. Outside, the day is what people might have gone as far as to describe ass good. Pleasant, breezy winds ingratiated themselves down your exposed neck, and young dogs chased bitches in heat with undisguised ardour, and this applied to not just the canines. My nether regions itched, and I was thankful that urine itself had antiseptic properties.
I found a bicycle nearby, with no lock and a post it on it. ‘G’wan’, it said. ‘This is me bicicyle, don’t yo’touch it. Keep yer bally hands off me preperties’ or words to that effect. In any case, I removed the note, delicately placed my delicate ass on the cycle’s seat, and pushed off.
Mumbai is one of the lord’s own creations, I maintain. Original sin, and all that. Jazz on the bay, too. I cycled through slums and sideways, through dilapidated highways strewn with garbage conforming to all sizes and descriptions, broken bottles of cheap beer, crushed cans of soft drinks, glass shards from broken windowpanes, stained with mustard and kajal, used condoms, unused condoms, leftover food, broken tubelights, spoilt transistors, their leaky batteries contaminating all that was around, plastic bags, newspapers, old examination answer sheets that schools had sold off to the nearby bhel-puri vendors,  banana peels, frequently with attached bananas, that dogs leapt upon, fought over territorially and then ate together.
I cycled through a section of town devoted to the wholesale purchase and subsequent sale of electrical goods, then one that catered to the needs of the rich and poor regarding bathroom fittings and other assorted hindware, then one lane filled with shops, if you could call them that, where people anxious to house their idols could avail themselves of those marble constructions designed to meet such needs. It was a bit ironic, though, that the same shop housed its idols on a humble wooden ledge. I cycled onwards, coming to a derelict shop that contained unfinished sculptures of local politicians, now broken and hollow, some upturned and some burned.  No explanation was needed to explain how they got that way. I continued pumping at the pedals till the shop was out of sight. The only construances that remained unblemished were some ganesha idols, waiting for their first lick of paint.
The grand tour continued, and my faculties seemed to be diminishing. I had cycled into unknown, uncharted territories, where even the dogs seemed to think of me as an alien presence. The surroundings bobbed and dimmed, like the feeling one gets, the first time on a ferry with a drunken captain. It seemed very quaint, the people stepped in a lively sort of manner as I approached them at a reckless pace, the traffic signals positively danced as I approached. Even the traffic, with all of its customary hustle stopped to swear in an enthusiastic sort of way as I passed by. The sounds and lights bobbed up and down,  twinkling and blurring as i wove my way through a crowded marketplace where the racket was so loud that it reminded me of some very fishy business.
I was conscious of a dull ache in my legs, but it didn’t really connect with anything that I was seeing, hearing or smelling. With some horror I realized that I was climbing up a flyover. The whole thing seemed very placid, as if i was watching somebody else cycle up a flyover. But then again, after three sleepless nights, everything seems like an out of body experience.
I navigated my way through the whole strip of concrete safely, took a right turn, then a left trn, then another left turn, and one more, and found myself climbing the same flyover again. Soon, I was at the crest, and commenced my downward journey, when I realised that all the traffic had gone absolutely crazy and started their travels in the opposite direction.
Stop! I cried, waving my arms and gesticulating in a manner designed to capture attention. This did not seem to affect them much. Indeed, one crazy woman actually shouted at me for cycling on the wrong side of the road. I earnestly contrived to convince her of the dreadful folly on her behalf, but her reticent manner would have put off all but the very best.
Well aware of the predicament that I was in, a bus or some similar large vehicle had taken the chance and crept up cunningly behind me, and proceeded to administer a rather forceful impulse concentrated at whatever part of me it could establish contact. Upon impact, the bus seemed to start spinning, as did the flyover, the angry woman, the streetlights, the hungry dogs, an onion on the road and the road itself.  With an alacrity I wouldn’t have thought possible of it, the ground rushed up to meet me.
As the pain started exerting its presence, and waves of blackness started to wash over me, I remember what it was that had been nagging me all along.
‘Shit’, i thought. ‘this is real.

 

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