I must stay the course no matter how coarse the path.
I’ve learnt to pay attention to the details. When you are confined to a small room its always better to let the fox have a first go at the meal. Accrue some good will so that he wont snap as hard when he gets into one of his extrememoods. It has recently occurred to me that this perpetuation of state is my choice and not some imposition of poverty. I could have chosen to share the trees with the monkeys or lived in the pools with the fish. But living in proximity with those strong jaws and steely eyes makes me feel alive.
He finishes and walks away with a condescending snort. Still playing to a one-person gallery. There is a rib left for me. I start chewing. I must accept this concession as a gift except that this concession is no gift. He needs me just as much as I need him. There can be no predator without a prey.
Officer, I don’t think you sufficiently appreciate the anguish that these fanciful accusations have inflicted upon my family. I am the victim here. The pond lies in my estate. That I allowed the boys access to it is indicative of my generosity. Sure. Sometimes I would go by and take a swim with them, talk to them. I am not supercilious like others of my station… Well yes, sometimes alone… Yes, sometimes they came to the mansion for a treat. A reprise from their normally abstemious life. Perhaps the pendant was dropped during one of those visits. The parents should be appreciative that I took time out of my busy schedule to… mentor the boys… inspire them, if you will… encourage them to have higher aspirations than their fathers. What happened is unfortunate. I am appalled that it could have occurred on my property. But to imply that I had any role in those macabre events is sheer paranoia…
Yet, I am a fair man. I wish to mitigate any further speculations and have spoken to your Commissioner, a close friend of mine as you might know. He shall be calling you personally. No no… which ingrate is misleading you with that nonsense? I have no need to offer anyone hush money. Not with my connections! It was but an attempt to make their life easier. I merely suggested that a relocation and a fresh start away from this malicious gossip might be in their best interest.
Ah… I have been blessed with so much. Call me idealistic, but I like to share my good fortune with my friends. Tell me… I hear that you have a daughter who wishes to go study science in the City University. I happen to know the Dean. I would be glad to put in a good word. Perhaps even generate a scholarship. I am always happy to help out a friend. I can consider you a friend, can I not?
Nights in our desert were clear and cold. As was customary from the days of our forefathers, once a week the tribe would gather around the fire to discuss all matters of interest and concern. There was no real concept of privacy and the problems of one were the problems of all.
Every so often we would be reminded – if the tribe is our home then each denizen is a pillar of that home. The falling of one pillar would eventually lead to the collapse of all.
But the times had changed and the law had reached the tribe. The tribe elders had no real legal authority anymore. Nonetheless, the tags remained and due respect was given. Most meetings merely produced bromides. It was where achievements and excellence could be lauded and failures reprimanded, marital disputes mediated, interventions undertaken. The custom morphed but endured.
Like most of my peers I moved to the city many years back. It is only for the festivals that I return. I am an alien yet I am not. There is a comfort in sitting around the elders, listening to the stillness, the aroma of the sands and roasting meats reminiscent of the smells of my childhood. Some might find it frightening to hear the sand move in the silence of the night, but I could still read the shifts. Nothing to fear, just a harmless critter.
I run my fingers through the soft sands. It feels like meeting an old and dear friend. It almost feels like meeting my young self again. A self that I had relegated to some remote corner of my mind. The coarse sand sifts through my fingers clearing all the cobwebs of my mind. There is a cleansing that I feel.
I realize now that no matter where I go, I will always carry the tribe and this desert within me.
You think that this is a wondrous place with polite altruistic people who are always ready to help or give a hand. You are wrong. It’s the eyes. Always watching. Always following me around. Always trying to get close to me. And when I’m not looking, they play tricks on me. Like moving my stuff around, tangled shoelaces, moving me around. Yes. This morning I woke up on the park bench. And the other day I felt them squeeze my throat. They were trying to kill me. I know they were. But I don’t say anything. Cause the eyes have ears. They hear everything. Even the whispers. You have to pretend to conform. There are rules. If you don’t follow the rules, there are all these pills. They don’t want me to know. But I know. I see the eyes and I feel the shadows.
I have to move forward. But the memories keep me frozen…
“You’re driving me up the fucking wall with your me me me. I am trying to create something beautiful here and your constant cackling is interfering with my process. A little fucking peace and quiet, is that too much to ask for? Bloody selfish bitch.”
“How dare you! Four years. I’ve been patient for four years.”
“I never made you any commitments. It was you who imagined that this was some sort of relationship.”
“You lead me on. You said you need more time. Every time that I asked you, you said that you needed to finish one more canvas… then one more… and one more. You never said never… you just said insufficient. Four years of cooking and cleaning…. Did you actually think that was an altruistic booty-call?”
“No. That was you living rent-free. And we never talked about any pregnancy. That’s on you.”
“I told you I was late. What did you think? That my period was being tardy!”
“Hell if I know… and how do I know if that’s even mine?”
My hand instinctively goes to my belly as the cruelty of that memory strikes me again.
I look ahead. How ironic to have a women’s clinic right beside a church. I steel myself. I have to move forward.
He could feel the beads of perspiration forming on his forehead as he slowly peeked at his running companion. A good couple of years older than him and yet not a hint of fatigue on her. On the contrary she kept up a reasonably steady banter about Monday’s client meet.
The Madison account – It was what had gotten him here in the first place. If he could bag it, then his career would be made. The promotion, that coveted corner office and all the perks that came with it, it would all be his. He’d done the research. His proposal was solid. But his kakorrhaphiophobia had gotten the better of him. What if she wanted the account for herself? What if her support was a misdirect and she was actually working to undermine him? What if he lost the account to her? No. That was not an option.
By no stretch of imagination did he have the energy to run five miles. Yet here he was, running alongside her. She, who was training for the marathon. She ran like a gazelle. He had the gait of an elephant. What the heck had he been thinking!
“Earth to Mike…” a cheery voice rang out.
He turned towards her in slow motion, his vacuous countenance revealing all.
Her own expression morphed into a knowing taunt. “Winner takes Madison,” she chortled as she sped away.
As soon as she stepped into the room, she realized that this was going to be one of those days.
Mister Numbers was scribbling an elaborate polynomial equation that he evidently believed would get them to their destination more efficiently. The professor, who was more of a traditional homotopy theorist, looked on amused. Neither acknowledged her presence. She did not expect them to. Once he was involved in his quest for the more elegant solution, a quarter or even half the day would go before he even noticed her presence. The professor’s presence would only exacerbate that.
Some would be aghast at his indifference, especially considering that this joint would not run without her. But not she. Their relationship had a unique texture, one that she was comfortable with. She knew without a doubt that he was destined for greatness. She also knew without a doubt that it was her handling the nitty-gritties that would make that possible. His math may be solid, but he was frothy as air when it came to the everyday stuff. Every super hero needed a sidekick. She was his.
Yesterday’s file in hand, she stepped out and closed the door quietly. He needed the grant and she would make sure that he got it.
The councilman leaned back in resignation as the questions hit him like a tornado.
“Are you going to launch an investigation into this matter?”
“Don’t the people have the right to protest?”
“How much is the city going to have to spend to clean this mess?”
“Do you support the budget cuts?”
“Is this a failure of the law? Isn’t this plain truancy?”
Normally a happy and gregarious chap, he hated it when he was forced to comment on delicate matters. This was, in all likelihood, an impetuous protest against yet another reduction in the budget for arts in schools. But a failure to support the people and a failure to control lawlessness were both going to reflect poorly on him.
The councilman beamed one of his usual smiles, and took the podium.
“What you see is not mere graffiti. It is a novel experiment in self-expression and self-transformation launched by the city to help channel our youth towards wholistic expression and to curb the escalating drug problem. We are taking art out of confined rooms and into open streets.”
It was an election year and the councilman knew how to spin any story to his benefit.
For the last several days the traditional rice offerings left out by the women had stayed untouched. That was unusual… unnatural… inauspicious. The village elders were perturbed. The crows were a conduit to the ancestors. Surely the ancestors had not abandoned the village!
The council had decided that trackers would be sent to find them.
Many of the village’s driven youth had volunteered for this important task. Special prayers had been offered to the blazing sun god, to the luminous moon god, to all the bounteous tree gods. The young men had departed with much gusto.
It had been four days and four nights. The village waited. Hoping. Praying.
The fifth morning broke to the wails of the women. The dessert offerings had remained untouched. The insects had left the village too.
Written using words from the daily prompts Fandango’s One Word Challenge (gusto), Word of the Day Challenge (driven), Ragtag Daily Prompt (luminosity), The Daily Spur (tradition), Your Daily Word Prompt (conduit) and My Vivid Blog (dessert)
What on earth is a Nonet?… Weejars tells us that a nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second line eight syllables, the third line seven syllables, etc… until line nine finishes with one syllable. It can be on any subject and rhyming is optional.