The sojourner’s haibun – Nitin Lalit Murali

I’m trapped in my old sedan like the Sicilian Bull, the fires of trauma roasting me, and in agony I pound the steering wheel and incessantly press the horn, though the hairpin  bends as sharp as glinting scythes stay deserted, except for the hard rain, the water like blood sluicing, the wipers like metal claws scraping the glass in desperation. On either side tea plantations like incisions on a masochist’s wrist haunt. The mist envelopes like white pus, and I can’t see the dying light circumscribed by the mutinous night with her soldiers with onyx spears and her crescent moon—her war horn with pitted symbols of anarchy. A solitary hooded man passes like the reaper in flesh. My shrieks echo, and the car burns the wet asphalt leaving tire marks like another layer of infection on a gangrenous wound. The rage from my headlights clamp the air like crocodile shears, tearing its appendages of oxygen and nitrogen. The fume from my exhaust pipe settles on crushed empty paper cups, like acid poured on a battered, torture victim’s face. I ascend, yanked by some invisible force, like a mongrel tied to the back of motorcycle and then dragged across winding curve after winding curve because it bit the driver, sunk its teeth into his flesh. I’m the dog and Fate is the driver. I should have never rebelled. I should have never played with his dice, tossed it like a chewed off mutton bone. The car has a few dents like keloids that eventually form if one keeps itching scabs. It’s running low on fuel like a terminally ill patient in the ICU slowly losing his life-force. The tires pass over a thin trunk with spindly branches – stripped away by the howling wind like a demoniac’s scream – like a spine yanked out with thoracic nerves attached. I don’t see it and it pierces one like a rusty nail impales a big toe. The air fizzles out like the entrails of a sacrificed goat. A loud pop like a gunshot to the head. I lose control and spin like vertigo before a faint. The car careens like bloody vomit and smashes a signboard saying, ‘12/24.’ Glass shatters like foot bones cracking when stepped on by football studs. My head hits the dashboard like a plate thrown, smashing a wall. I gradually drift in and out of consciousness like a man after a snake bite…

You’ll never reach the end of this long walk –
Because fate to man is no two-edged coin –
So, rush to meet life, the gods they enjoin –
you – fight, attend with silent, muted talk –

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

You can find more of Nitin’s work at Fighting the dying light

Life finds provenance and meets Death cradling Grief – Nitin Lalit Murali

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I’d ask her, once a fractured identity, found its cast of maternal iron and grit, determined to see the boy through shoves that split ears open – red drops of anguish finding an emotionally ramshackled Gethsemane – though he was too young to pray, to plead and to say sorrowfully, ‘If it’s your will, take this cup,’ and desperate to see him uphold integrity and become the antithesis of the man, who – when she had an early hysterectomy because blood and nearing death finds its provenance in sorrow and ashes: the grime of you’ll never be good enough as a wife, lover and a person – beat the boy on the way to the hospital for leaving a textbook in school. ‘God! God! You and your mother chant! Where is your God!’ He screamed trying to smash his face against the car’s dashboard. ‘You’ll fail your bloody exams, and even if you were to find your textbook don’t you dare tell me that you said so, you little bastard.’

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I’d ask her after they’d finally separated and she took the gamble and said, ‘I’d rather be on the streets with my son than watch him grow, wearing his father’s skin.’ She’d seen the rebellion, the blows delivered in the parking lot, but some shared idealism of knowing worse kept them. He’d pinned her to a bed when the boy was still five and tried killing her, and as innocence slowly left the boy’s soul and he let out a primal scream, he slapped the boy. ‘Shut up!’ He countered with feral ferocity and slapped the ground and shouted, ‘See I’m hurting myself too!’

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I’d ask her after disappointments on the football field and the wrong woman, who was never the yin to my yang, never the destiny, the truth or true love because these things find their birth in collective pain and strength to both wear and bear it. The girl had known pain but she suppressed it and marched to Hypocrisy’s parade: a salute and a stand at ease when Society barked on his platform held together by man’s strained, crooked limbs and knock-kneed stance. ‘Rip the veil and see,’ I’d tell her, but the traumatized often either worsen or slam the iron maiden shut on others like them, or swing, unsteadily somewhere between, where there isn’t darkness or light; just the false lull of addiction.

‘Will things get better Ma?’ I asked her, holding her frail limbs and bellowing, a sudden car crash of recollection. ‘Stay! Tell me! Please!’ And after years of separation and my relationships with worse women and flings with alcohol, she smiled a smile of togetherness, but it wasn’t a bittersweet ending for me; just a spear cracking skin, breaking arteries, piercing my organic core and rushing out from the other side.

‘Will things get better?’ I ask myself in this small town where the petrichor supposedly enlivens, the birds chirp, and Autumn tosses orange scarves as she drifts slowly in her gown of bristles and thorns, with ripened halitosis – a dethroned Empress, and she stares at me, never knowing where I’m heading, bleeding from the rocks of Reality thrown, and says, ‘Godspeed. I hope things get better,’ with a sad idealistic smile.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

You can find more of Nitin’s work at Fighting the dying light

Introducing Nitin Lalit Murali – Room 101

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I live in a room that’s both my last meal on Death Row and the Gas Chamber. When it’s the former, I embrace this illusion we call ‘free will’ and enjoy a sumptuous meal according to my desires, but I’m soon dragged away by the guards of tyranny, and a brutal genocidal force, and I’m strapped in the chamber, my fear echoing, my heartbeat an odd time signature that you can use in a Math Rock song, and I’m soon left writhing with apparitions surrounding me, threatening to engulf and envelop me, and as foam drips from my mouth, and my irises disappear, I’m slowly fading, clutching to pillars of delusion that only seemingly held me. Delilah defeats Samson thoroughly here, because he’s denied his strength even after he’s tortured, and his eyes are gouged out. This room’s both pleasure and pain. The unmitigated dark pleasure of the ebb and flow, and twisted secrets kept when I’m with a woman – personifying and venerating her, giving her a place outside restrictions, smashing Time and his infuriating ticks, tocks and chimes. But it’s also the pain of watching her dissipate within seconds and replaced by a deep-seated primal fear of watching dimensions split and cacophonous syllables spoken by a horrific deity slowly inching their way into my mind, scalding reason, and overwhelming and overpowering me. This room’s both catharsis and oblivion. I find here, the catharsis of downers, alcohol, and jazz – the juxtaposition of a slightly loud piano and a gentler alto saxophone, and the ephemerality of sex and fluid, of women entering and leaving, but I also slowly find that with each transient nirvana I’m granted comes a plethora of soul-sucking thoughts, ripping my heart from its place and placing it out of reach, showing me just how vulnerable and insignificant I am. I find that with each orgasm comes guilt, because she isn’t here to stay, and will waltz back to her life the next morning while I’m fox-trotting out my life in click-bait and endless cyber repetitions. This room is many things, but despite the moans and sighs, the false lull of pharmaceuticals, and the chaos and quietude of a mind, it lacks love.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

You can find more of Nitin’s work at Fighting The Dying Light