Where did I leave off? Oh yes, I was narrating the tale of how I died AGAIN, wasn’t I? I should have known. I try to keep it a secret, but stories tend to flow out of my mouth these days like honey bees out of their combs, just a little nudge and every dangerous secret cascades out, inviting interpretations, resulting in an unlimited supply of false stories, and the real one is lost forever, like it was never found completely! I must have narrated this story myself so many times that I no more remember the truth. It is a trap, an entertainment fiasco, so you should listen, indeed, for it must be a good story if it really is untrue.
The room was pervaded with crying children of all ages. It wasn’t much a room as it was a hall with a bed, which was heaped with creasy unfolded clothes, and so the insolent bastards whined on the floor. Don’t get me wrong, I do like children, but there’s a tiny difference between a crying kid and a blood sucking monster, that was surpassed for me that evening. No, no, the kids did not eat me up or lock me in a dungeon, or throw me around as if I was a dirty catch ball, but it was worse, much worse.
He was apparently a few months old, a lumpy child. I don’t remember his name as I hardly cared, but only his big black eyes. His neck needed support, and so he was more difficult to lug around than the older children other adults in the room tended to. They were two big girls who seemed to be virtuosos of babysitting. I remember having spoken to one of them before, but remembered nothing about that conversation, thank god for that, else it would be a longer story.
Coming back to the small boy in my large hands, do you know how people say, children grow in no time. When your relatives look at you and exclaim-’It was only yesterday that she was a little baby! She has grown up so fast!’ and you scoff and think, if only it was that quick? I saw it. I am not kidding, I really really did. His head was stretching, and so were his arms and legs and tummy, and in only a few seconds, he resembled the kid in the corner of the hall who was one year old at least. And as more seconds expended, he looked the same height as a girl who was making her trains run all over the hall wrecking havoc, and was two years old. He stared at me shockingly, curious and frazzled at the same time. Do you know what they say, about what happens when children of the world go on changing? It either comes to an end or a revolution dawns on its plains, but that’s not what I worried about when I noticed blood dripping through his head enclosing his entire nose, source of which remained a mystery. He sensed something rested on his face, and tried to touch it, relieving his hand of the grip on my dress, but I prevented it. ‘That’s just some Kanku,’ I told him. ‘It is an auspicious thing. How can it be anything else?’ The innocent monstrous creature gaped at me nervously, for some comfort perhaps, for some explanation of what was happening to him perhaps. The blood changed colour to darker red and kept oozing out of an unknown place, making it harder to look at him, but I kept staring into his eyes, I have no idea why. I probably should have shrieked for some aid, which would be fairer than what I stunted next. A sudden blow at my back, an invisible blow making me lose my balance, and he FELL OUT OF MY HANDS! lying motionless, soaked in blood on the green marble floor. The blood covered not his face but the head. He was a few months old again, an infant. I shook him up, but received no response. I checked for pulse, which didn’t exist anymore. Had I been hallucinating? I wheeled about. Nobody took notice in the raging noise of now cackling children. ‘It’s a dream,’ I thought. ‘I should stay here and sort this out.’ But what if it wasn’t a dream? But how could it not be? Children don’t simply fall out of your hands and die like that. Or could they? Could I be so reckless? Yes, I certainly could be. I had no idea whose child it was, but he must have been important to whomsoever he belonged to. Quick, before anyone notices.
I ran, as fast as I could, which wasn’t very fast. Through the stairs, out the door, on the streets, I ran. ‘It’s a dream, it’s a dream,’ I kept repeating. ‘I couldn’t possibly kill a child, or even a monster, or could I? It’s a dream, so I can run more recklessly.’ I ran and surveyed left and right for a hospital. If I could fetch a doctor, I would send him to the address of the house, and disappear forever. But after sprinting for some while, I realised I had no idea where I was, let alone guiding someone else around. Everywhere there were lights and shops and playgrounds, but no hospitals. When I could declare to myself that I was jaded and sat on a stone fence over the footpath of a gully, a poorly lit or maintained street with just an empty basketball court in the corner, with lights still on, I saw them. Two policemen on the main road plodded just on the street corner. I was obscured by the players in their jerseys who had just left the court, for enough time to abscond. For an instant I wondered whether I should shelter in the court, and a man in green hat called me out, clearing away such a doubt.
‘What do you think you are doing sitting here? It is a government property. Nobody is allowed to sit here. Off you go then. Go, get up quickly. Where do these ragged infiltrators come from really!’
The police had heard the haranguing, so they turned around, finishing off their inquiry with an old man on the street.
‘Are you deaf, lady? Get your ugly feet off my footpath!’
I studied my feet, they were dirty indeed. And so were my clothes, mud engulfing them in, without a background story explaining its occurrence.
I got up and started on the road in the opposite direction, staying closer to the walls. The policemen treaded in my direction now, they possibly were in the quest for somebody, me? Shivering in consternation, relenting to a possibility of my crime being unleashed into the world, I furtively scampered towards the railway track beside the sports club. A shack was built right beside one of the tracks that turned a good hiding place. Imagine, if those police officers were actually looking for me? How could they recognise me really? Did they have a picture in their hands or phones? Or would they simply guess that a young woman who killed a monstrous child would look like me? I think it’s the latter. They would just KNOW. They usually know the wrong things, because you see, it was the blow on my back that made me drop the child, but then you could argue that I should have clutched the child tighter and closer. Then you may surmise that in my subconscious, I somewhere wished to get rid of the child, and let him go. Maybe I even wished for him to die. But then how could you prove such intent. Also, where did that blow come from? Was it supernatural? Or was it my own imagination? There is no difference between the two, and so, none of them could be proven. Does this mean I should be punished? It doesn’t matter, because I was punished in the end, wasn’t I?
I began my walk on a scantily lit railway track. And then obviously, a train whistled, and I hobbled onto a corner, hoping some train tires won’t kill me because then imagine this story ending with a train crushing my intestines into a slurry of cold blood and veins and bones sprinkled all about it!
I walked away and away and away, and halted at a staircase beyond which, there seemed nothing existing except darkness. While my hair ruffled and sprung under the influence of the whooshing train force which was only about four steps away, I sat down on the fourth tread of the staircase, right in the middle. There wasn’t anywhere else I could go. I waited and waited for the train to disappear, but then it stopped. My mind spawned into a rollercoaster ride again. What if the train had been stopped by those police officers on receiving the report of a young woman spotted on the tracks? What if this was a trap? What if they were here to take me away and feed me to a real monster, or shoot me down in front of all the passengers of the train telling them what I had done? That would be worse than falling under the tracks. And then again, imagine my death being criticised and awed at by people, like life wasn’t enough.
Before I could conjecture further, the staircase began to move. So fast and so quick, I thought I had stopped breathing. It was still a staircase, constricted with walls on both sides, but it was travelling. I could not keep track of how many minutes or hours or days it travelled, for now time had lost its grip on me. Sometimes bottles of cola, chips and toys on a station flashed before me. Sometimes, machines reeking with hot oil would whir above me, so that I had to crunch and rush downwards to save myself from being shredded to bits. Sometimes the walls would disappear, sky would open up, fresh air would rush in, and I would float in an office or a terrace or a lawn on this staircase no one could see, like it had an invisible shielding.
At last, when I was entering a very important office building (I somehow knew it was important), a flailing black silk curtain appeared before me. I could still see the bright LED lights, the circular turns as if I was on a trolley, artistic displays like it was a museum, people in ID cards, and never ending series of glass doors through the slits in the curtain arrangement. I was clearing every security entrance, and not the fat guys in scary uniforms, or the women in black jackets stopped me and asked me who I was, as nobody dared to check or question the black veil. I had cleared through almost every security troop, and the staircase was now moving slower, and I knew I shall be entering a safe place quicker than expectation, from where I could escape, and everything shall turn peaceful. But, then, in that one stupid and adamant moment, where I felt curious or foolish or weak or vulnerable, I slipped the curtain off, and exposed myself. I was immediately denied clearance, two guards had me down in handcuffs, and I was taken into a small room, blindfolded.
Five personnel with their angry faces greeted my eyes when the blindfold was removed. They had guns, phones, government ID cards, countenance of authority, and contrivance flashing through their eyes.
‘The audacity!’ screamed a tiny headed girl pointing her long gun at me. She wore a green uniform and her hair was tied in a bun.
‘We know all that you have done so far, but this? Breaking into a high intelligent workforce office?’ shouted another woman who was tall, posh, and possibly their boss with the way she carried her head around and put away the tiny woman’s gun. She asked everyone to leave her alone with me for questioning, and they obeyed without protest.
As you may have noticed, it was a time for confession or I might be killed with that big gun. Imagine being killed with a gun. If you were to be killed by a gun, what would you miss the most about life? In all probability, you shall mostly be killed in an instant and suddenly. For you see, I was just taking care of a baby until possibly a few hours ago, and suddenly now, I might be killed with this BIG weapon and I couldn’t or shouldn’t prevent it somehow. If you were dead and dreading, and moving around and reflecting, what would you say? How painful was it? Veins popping up, heart ceasing to pump, getting impossible to breathe, and your entire unlived life flashing before you, like you can see it all clearly now, what you want and what you are supposed to do, but now you aren’t allowed anymore. How long does it take really? Are you still alive and suffering even when your eyes seem to pop out of their circuits and others declare you dead? Are you still screaming for peace and waiting for your soul to walk out of your body to escape the feeling of not existing anywhere or anytime or in any form? And is the time different for different people? Do you still need courage after that gun passes through your heart and kills it?
I obviously wasn’t thinking about all this when I faced my interrogation, I just wanted to live.
‘Believe me,’ I started. ‘I didn’t know where I was going. I was just running. I will explain everything to you, but I will have to start the story from the beginning. Will you listen to it all?’
‘Yes. Tell me everything,’ she said, turning all calm and cold and cryptic. She was an attractive bold woman in power, and that frightened me very much, fear biting at my bones.
‘You do agree that dreams are not real. But when you are in a dream, or even in reality, there’s little to no way of knowing whether it is a reality or a dream? Then it must be no fault of yours, if you cannot differentiate a dream from reality, or reality from a dream?’
‘Yes yes, of course,’ she said, casting a hidden smile at me. ‘Tell me all of it, and only speak the truth.’ Her derision was apparent and there was no way I could truly escape her biased penetration, but I hoped truth shall set me free, how foolish was I.
‘I was born in a town called Frinzworl, and I am told I was a beautiful child-’
I spoke for hours or days or months or years and she listened. Sometimes calmly, sometimes uninterested, sometimes grinning, sometimes even laughing in contrast to her character. When I stopped, her chameleon disappeared too. She looked at me, piercing through my still invigorated body, glancing mercilessly at my helplessness.
‘My name is Claire.’ She winked, pulled the gun up, SHOT.
I was dead.
And you were hoping I should live, weren’t you?