His heart was beating hard and the burning pain in his legs was now coming on. The world around him was increasingly black and white with a complete loss of sharpness. Its been raining hard for a week. Dusk had gathered even greater grey clouds in the sky and most people of this small city are already on their way back home. The cold is constant, like the static of radio which never seems to end.
“Tortured by static” a faint thought comes to his mind, then there is a barrage of thoughts;
“Torture? you are running for your life! They think you did it!
Oh god! Oh god! she is no more.
But who? Run Run Run faster. They think I did it. We have been fighting a lot lately, they must have heard us. She is so stupid, fuck!
she is dead!!! wait!
she lost it last week, called me names, said I wasn’t a man!! How dare she say that!
She is dead!
They think I did it. What if I had never returned today from work. I could have been with my friends. They would have never suspected me. How was I to know?
She is really dead!
I love her. If only we fought less if only I was nicer to her If only I listened to her. I am going to say sorry for everything once all this is done. Yes, sir!
Wait!! she is dead!!
what? How can this happen and they think I did it!”
The cold now was getting the better of him. His legs started to weigh a ton each. He just couldn’t go on running. Maybe, he wanted to keep running but his body, now devoid of oxygen, severely cramping was slowing down. He was wet, cold and utterly lost, mentally. He had no more control of his own thoughts. Running down on that dark black tarmac, washed clean by the endless rainfall, he peered ahead. The road rose up to a flyover. He had no idea where he was. He lived for years now in this small city. But for all the years he lived here he couldn’t recognize the road. All he saw was the muddy dirt road trailing on the left flank of the fly-over. He pushed himself one last time and though in his head he was still running, his legs were all but dead tree stumps. Slowly and precariously he crept further on the dirt road until he reached under the bridge where even the dirt road gave up.
Shivering and uncomfortable, he slowly walked clutching his abdomen reeling under deep painful breaths. For the first time in the last hour, he had stopped running. He spits out dark green sputum and squats on the ground. As oxygen starts to flood his system, his vision began to clear. A very different world existed under the bridge that he never knew existed. The bridge from its underside looked as if struck by some horrible disease, wherever the water rushed from over the bridge it flowed into long streams along the pillars which had turned slimly and black. Strewn all around him in a plethora of colors, deep reds to light blues to greys and black, plastic garbage. The ground itself was black, hellish, soggy and wet. The stench of half eaten and cooked waste food, wet, itchy and dirt caked dogs, excreta of all kinds, human and nonhuman, permeated the air. For a second he thought its better to keep running or even be out in the rain, but his body wished something else. Almost hugging himself like a lover lost at sea and now returned, he tried to warm himself but to no avail. Every piece of his clothing was soaking wet and cold. At that moment all he wanted to do was to take off t-shirt, pants and even his underpants, squeeze and wring out all water and put them back on. But the sight and stench around him made him nauseated at the same thought.
A moments respite and all the demons in his head now return with great gale force. Instinctively he covers his face with his hands and suddenly realizes that the skin on his hands is wrinkled and sodden with moisture like a prune. Tears start streaming down his face. The warmth of his tears gives his fingertips a unique sensation, like being woken up from a drug-fuelled stupor.
“But I didn’t do anything! I didn’t kill her. I love her. I want to make love to her. I want to kiss her. I want to wake up to her smell. I will say sorry. I will change! I will never hurt you again. I will take you to Patagonia, you always wanted me to go with. You always said Patagonia is as beautiful as its brutal, and life is like that. I want to hold your twisty curly hair when you put your head in my lap. I want to call out your name when we make love.
What. No. She is dead!
I will never see your smile ever again? Did I kill you? No. Never. Never. Never. Never. I love you. I am so sorry. Come to me for one second.” He looked towards the right where the dirt road ended. ” Call for me baby. Call for me once. Just your voice. I will give anything to hear your voice just one more time. Take my Life. take it!!!!!!!!!!!”
He sat there weeping and wailing for a while. The rain never for once gave up. It was beginning to get very dark. He could hear the cars and trucks swishing by on the road above him. At the point where 2 sections of the bridge meet there is an ever so small gap. The thud and swash sound from the gap gave him a sense of time. The clock started to tick again. Though no one wears a mechanical watch these days, a clear ticking sound of a watch reverberated in his head.
At that very moment, he transcended all time, society, values, ethics, and humanity. For that one special second, he stood above all his anguish, pain and fears. Thoughts as clear as a sunny day in the mountains, as the black writings on a Chinese tombstone, started to float by in his head.
“The past is the past. There will be time to grieve. The dead deserve our grieving but not today. Not today! I need to pick up this body and this mind of mine, for only they can carry me forward. The body is a collection of matter and the mind a collection of my history, my ancestors. I need to will this body and mind to do my bidding. It can be done for I am not the body and I am not even the mind. I am the consciousness that exists beyond humanities grasp. I am the bright light where every question is answered. I am reason, yet I am unreasonable. I am logic, yet I am illogical. I exist and yet I never exist.”
He stood up, no more tears, calm and composed. He saw the world for what it is. He saw the present only. He grew aware, like a man walking through a jungle infested with man-eating tigers. His sight smell, touch, taste, and hearing, all became acute.