Fired- didn’t quite make the cut.
I knew the real Ella M.
A face on the wall, the plaque in the hall
The great dame of corruption
A legendary center fold.
But I knew the real Ella M
Her wit quicker than a whip
And deep seas of doubt that haunted
Her iron clad pronouncements
I knew the real Ella M
Her dark eyes hiding
Our shared happiness
A great moon over an ocean
And I killed her.
Backwards moving started time, Suddenly
“Curiosity struck again” said the cat detective.
The astrologer gave me a wicked smile as he called me closer. Even the poorly painted palm that advertised his presence seemed sinister.
His office was tucked away in a narrow lane with many houses bearing down on the road, but I saw no people. Inside it was painted red and the only light came from a dirty, shut window. He gave me a rusted coin box while he prepared his cowrie shells.
He smiled when I dropped a whole heap of coins but gasped when he looked at how his shells fell. I looked at him hopefully but he only said “I don’t like looking at my own future.” and returned my coins with a grimace.
The problem with the old watchman was that he was too hard to read. He left people no choice but to smile uneasily at his unchanging face. So all people the people at the housing colony knew of him was his love for radio soaps.
He’d walk up and down with it held against his ear until he made a swift escape at dawn. Like most watchmen he was a little more than a part of the background in most peoples minds. Unfortunately not everyone had forgotten the old watchman and he was compelled to train a new heir. The colony was on the outskirts of town where leopards were still seen and was build like a maze, so experience in navigating it was mandatory.
The new watchman was happy enough but could hardly take the boredom or the old watchman’s love for soaps. His uneasiness put them both on edge. To make matters worse monsoon brought with it many other problems. A few days in he was saw the old watchman walk through the rain.
He was about to follow when he heard someone throw rocks at the main gate. He saw nothing when he went to investigate. But he knew the loud clang he heard was deliberate. This place was too far away from town and too isolated to be of much interest to any miscreants. But his complaints were brushed aside.
The old man’s face showed no change as usual. He took a long look at the calendar. He turned his radio off and motioned for the young watchman to sit.The rolling of thunder and the rain only made the young man more agitated. He looked at the old watchman and told him he’d rather go out again. In all honesty it was the old watchman who made him uncomfortable.
The old watchman grunted and the storm thundered outside, as if in agreement. The young watchman sprang to his feet and seemed to be trying hard to think of something to shout about. The old man, noticing the panic that was overwhelming his companion, sighed. He began to narrate a story, for the first time showing for the first time the wight of his age and drawing up his wrinkled face.
His companion shifted in his chair very indiscreetly.
The old man began “When I was about your age there were a few houses nearby. The farms were gone but people didn’t want to leave their old houses. I didn’t know them but one of them always interested me. He never seemed to sleep. If he wanted to find me he’d throw stones at the gate till I turned up. He’s the one that got me interested in the radio soaps. Well one day he just stops turn up. I was more than a little annoyed. A few months later I hear a pebble that was thrown against the gate. I was still angry so didn’t bother going.”
The old watchman pulled out a beedi as slowly as he could and took his time lighting it. He continued “The next night I heard two rocks being thrown. The night after that three. It was only next week that I heard my friend had died after a long illness . The poor man must have spent all his energy trying to contact me.”
The old watchman waited for the next thunderclap and said “Yesterday I was certain I heard one stone being thrown. I have no doubts about what will happen after the next three stones tomorrow.”
The young watchman was not willing to find out what really happened after that, much to the disappointment of his would be employers and his drinking buddies who had been told the story a million times. But he did not count it as a total loss, after all this was where he had picked up a love for radio dramas.
A serpent slithered besides me
Demanding paper with every step.
I had plenty I thought,
And gave a page now and then.
Blank paper; what is better
Than to spoil it? So he was fed.
Soon we reached my door
And what monster did I beget
Now slithering across my floor?
The park was always in ruins. No one knew if it had ever seen better days but you can be sure that the colony’s respectable residents would never be seen there.
I would always scheme with the other residents about it. Especially that Naik. No one would ever think we didn’t get along.
Living near a place with such a bad reputation can do us no good. The atmosphere is never right but these other fools will never understand. Everything that is bad happens because of atmosphere. It is why dictators who smoke get their countries in trouble. They make for terrible atmosphere. Just look at Cuba.
Now we must do something about those dam hooligans at the park. Everyone nods when I tell them this but are happy to sit at home with only the light from their TV’s leaving their houses when the time is right. How many time have I told them of my plan? That gatekeeper is terrible. I keep telling him to get the other servants together and paint those dam fences.
Those rusty fences would give you tetanus if you even look at them. My plan was perfect. It was simple, and the intelligent could see that this rainy night was actually the best time for it. Just a few knocks on the head would send those idiots at the park away. They were better off at home rather than hanging out in parks so late. Well, so I thought.
There’s the gateman now. His smile always unsettels me. It seems to be mocking me in its unusual whiteness. Maybe I should give him a knock on the head too, now that I know the measure of my blows. He wasn’t wearing a watch. More time would always do me good.
No, I just have to get back to the east gate. I was right, the atmosphere was perfect. In the rain all you could see was the blue and yellow glows from the apartment windows and the lamps that would only fliker like the insects that flew past them.
I looked at my watch carefully.
Hmm. I didn’t mean to do it honestly, but I think it will be for the best. All I saw was him shuffling around aimlessly, suspiciously. I should have noticed that bent gait but I was a bit too excited to be honest. I took my walking stick and aimed.
It should have hit his arm buy he stumbled across nothing. That dam Naik. What was he doing in the park without me? I was the one of started the whole clean park business and now he goes off without me?
I nearly felt my pulse go when his did but I realised that atmosphere was just right. I made sure to tap my walking stick extra loud and even leave a cough or two as the gateman walked by. I didn’t want to oversell it.
That fool was always blind, might actually take him a few days to find Naik. I looked at my watch carefully in the orange street light and memorised the exact time again.
Who could know if I came home at 8 or 9? No one other than the gateman would know I was at the park and I would have many ready to testify how I sat by the TV all day. When the police come at least there won’t be anymore idiots at the park anymore.
Most of the 1000 vistors I got that this year are people who know me in real life, follow me on social media or on WordPress.
However WordPress has a “search term” feature that tells you how some lost souls came across your blog.
Here are the more interesting search terms that took people to my blog:
- Story of peeing of with mother others in paddy fields
- My poor malalala
- My poor malayalam.com
- Smelt strange
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- www. How to make a ballal side
- Rat flower
- Public Press Word
- Window stories