December 19, 2008

An Insignificance

But to see her was to love her, love but her, and love her forever - Robert Burns

She woke up at six a.m precisely and checked as usual. Nothing presented itself magically at her frozen nerve endings. Good, because emotion, or any other rot like that, was the last thing she needed. Carelessly examining her bitten nails, she picked up the phone and called in sick again. On loss of pay, they said. And yes, we are looking for a replacement. Whatever. She rolled over in slow motion and got up. The cycle was parked outside, the yellow-and-black colors already fading, and the rust visible in rather many places. It was his last gift to her. She idly thought of him as she searched for the keys. He had been quite nice; very understanding and sweet in fact. But terribly boring. They all were boring actually. But he had been quite nice. She climbed on and started pedaling slowly up the road. She did not look left or right but of course she took in everything. The rip in the child's clothing. The violent wound in the tree bark. The fear in the mother's anger. She knew these things needed to be there. This was the world and everything in it. The drunk beggar at the junction greeted her with a beatific smile. She nodded back, her eyes glazed. Charity is a fallen angel's gift.

The water purification plant just outside town was pretty impressive. It was a modern building, all steel, deep ponds and shiny pipes. It had been a retreat for her as long as she could remember. For years and years. She parked the cycle near a dome-like structure and sat down on the cement seat. The mother sitting nearby with two young children discreetly started wheeling the pram away. She watched them leave, without really bothering too much because it happened everyday anyway. It could have been her several tattoos, or her odd piercings, or the heavy black eye makeup. It was most probably due to the multiple symmetrical scars that riddled her wrists and neck, lines made in palliative attempt. Humans are quite shallow, really. A gong went off in the distance and the churning in the nearest pool stopped. The little waves tried to adjust themselves so that the surface could look placid and calm quickly. She got up and stood at its edge, observing with aloof disinterest. Maybe a change of scene would help, she thought. Maybe I could go to Greece and do some sketching of that ridiculous Colosseum. Or even Venice with its garbage-filled canals and ugly gondolas. Yes, Venice sounds quite plausible. Venice...

She jumped. No, it had not been her intention to do that at all, but struggle she would not, as there was nothing to struggle for. She did not make much sound going in, barely a few ripples. No soap opera, this. The muddy water enveloped her in a welcoming embrace and she gladly sank into oblivion. Her body floated noiselessly, calmly, one hand raised slightly above her head, and the other at her left breast. She did not look like Juliet. She did not look ethereal or pretty or delicate. She did not possess unearthly beauty. She looked exactly what she was, a twenty-four year old wasted hippie, who had gone through it all. Her body was used, worn, and now finally rested in Pool No.14 of the Municipal Water Plant.

There was a slight quickening in the air. Nothing brazen, but a tiny part of the space-time curve suddenly gave way. He dropped the drill he was holding and ran frantically through the nearest exit. It's too late, it's too late, mocked his voices. I know she's dead, he shouted back, sweat pouring from every crevice, spit escaping in speedy ejaculations. I know, I always knew it would happen, but I want to see her. He dragged the pool and lifted the body out. She was so ugly, even after death. No serene, peaceful smile to ease the passage. Why had she been so incapable of returning his love? It had always been so very hopeless. He buried her with whatever money he had. Put flowers at her grave every year. Remembered her every hour of every day. Till he died miserably in a run-down nursing home four long decades later. She never knew. It was all too insignificant somehow, the whole affair.

1 comment:

PENolan said...

Too many thoughts circling around in my head after reading this story. Mostly recognition of a kindred spirit.
Thanks for leaving a comment over at MS. If you hadn't, I wouldn't have found your post this morning.

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