A Writer's Life

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Death Note - My Attempt at Short Story

I, the undersigned, Ajooba, am writing this in all my senses and without being forced to write so. This is a death note of mine, signed by me. The reason I want to die is not one. I am boggled by the cards laid in front of me by my life. By life, I mean Omar. Yes, she is my life. I was born to have her as my mother. I learnt to call her Ma, as and when I grew I felt the need to call her Maam and from Maam to Omar. The course of my life is over now. There is nothing much left for me to call her now. I am nothing and nobody to disrespect her, while respect from me is not desired by her. I am writing this to let Omar know that though she is the reason for me to die, she is not responsible for my death. But I AM. I am very much responsible for her death.

It all began, when I was of a tender age. The love she showered on me made my life bliss. I always used to seek her attention by hiding behind a banyan tree and getting entangled in its branches by going round and round. I remember her giggle in response to my act. She fed me when I was ill and when I was not, she cried for me, when I was ill and when I was not, she cried on my fate as well as on my weird sickness. She felt for me, when I couldn’t feel the pain of my hurt, myself. She loved me like no mother loves her child. Because she was not a mother, in fact she was not a woman at all. She chose to be a woman, and a human, to be my mother. 

Omar was born as a male child to my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Srivastava. He was christened Omar soon thereafter, after consulting the astrologer. The astrologer had some premonition of a bad omen with the child’s birth and insisted he sees the child to perform some holy prayers on the child. My grandparents were frightened as they did not want anybody to see Omar, lest the news spread like wildfire that they have an abnormal-looking child. The astrologer could sense something weird and insisted to see the child. On incessant requests, my grandparents gave way to the astrologer’s will. The astrologer did visit Omar’s mansion only to die of heart attack. He could not bear the sight of a child looking so horrifying. He saw the cradle and on approaching the cradle and peeping through the insect-protector sheet, what the astrologer saw could not be explained by the astrologer himself as he lost his voice with his last shriek. The child’s face was covered with flies as his flesh could be seen through his skin. There were several cuts on his lips while his chin gave way to an open vein that was so transparent that the blood flow could be seen through naked eye. There was a certain thing about Omar’s hair too. It lacked a specific texture. It was more thorny in some places like that of a porcupine and in the other places it was really hard to let your fingers pass without entangling itself. 
It was not until she was 11 that they noticed some very weird traits in him. At first, they felt he has animal instincts, no matter how hard they tried to imbibe mannerisms in him; he would behave and act as if he possessed characteristics of an animal. What animal, nobody knew. Omar left his tresses to grow…it turned to be more of an inexplicable yet spooky look of his. His father, while cajoling him to get a good, decent hair cut, cut his finger instead as Omar never gay way to scissors in his hair. The poor couple decided to let him be. “Peace be with us” said the parents in chorus. Going to the barber was no choice at all, owing to Omar’s problem. Doctors too feared to visit him, not because of his beastly looks but because of his infectious bites and beast-like behavior. His face looked like that of a 35 year old woman, or woman-like, to be precise.

It was this one day, when their maid came home late to work. Omar kept observing the maid – Sushma from a distance. She was unaware of Omar’s presence at first, but no sooner did she realize he was staring at her, she screamed. Sushma saw what she shouldn’t have seen. She saw Omar groaning in one corner, with his eyes bleeding, when staring at her. Hearing Sushma’s screams, Omar’s parents – my grandparents came running to the scene. They found Omar smelling hard like a dog, no! Some animal, half-human, half-animal, actually! Sushma was taken aback and so were Omar’s parents.

The sight of Omar at that moment was haunting the memories of my grandparents for a long, long, time, even after the episode was long over. However, Omar was not yet over with his ways. He started growling at Sushma and almost like a howling sound in amalgamation with a human voice, coarsely uttered: Why did you do this…grrr…the sound of heavy beastly breaths could be heard amidst the words, Omar spoke. Sushma lost her balance, and was found lying on the floor, suffocated as if someone was choking her. She held her throat and was trying to release herself from invisible clutches. Blood started flowing from her eyes too. She immediately pointed to Omar and attempted to speak while nodding as if to say: “I shall confess.” Omar sensed her words, even when she was trying to mutter the courage and leading the voice right from her red yet pale mouth. As if ordering some invisible power to release Sushma, Omar looked somewhere above Sushma and directed that invisible spirit sideways, giving Sushma some breathing space and the space she required to speak the truth. 

Sushma arose and still panting for breath, exasperated and exhausted, spoke: I did this because I had no choice. Omar, animal-like, bent down and started crawling towards Sushma with his long hair loose and eyes suddenly a black hole like a well, went even closer to Sushma. Wrinkles started appearing on Omar’s face with every facial expression change, like that on a 45 year old’s. Sensing danger, the feared Sushma, involuntarily chattered her jaws. And before she could say anything else, Omar’s long nails screeched on Sushma’s cheeks that were already red with fear were now smeared in blood, her own blood. Omar’s parents were dumbstruck. My grandmother was lying unconscious at the sight of Omar. They thought some devil had taken over Omar. But this was nature as natural as nature could be; Omar was born with devilish face and behavior, but with an absolute human heart with humanity in abundance. Sushma blabbered and pointed towards the attached lawn beyond the verandah of Omar’s house. Omar made a high leap like that of a cheetah and in one go, had crossed the fence of the verandah and with a second leap already smelled the lawn. Digging really fast with his claw size increasing that were once a baby’s finger nails, Omar dug up the whole area and found the miraculously-yet-alive ME. And that’s when I took birth again from a different mother. Omar had motherly instincts for me. The maid Sushma, was my biological mother but before killing me, she killed the motherhood in her, the feelings a mother carries in her heart along with the child in the womb. Sushma instead opted to dig me, her own child, deep into Mother Earth only because I was a child, who was born with abnormalities – similar to that of Omar. Omar hugged me and this time there were no tears of blood in his eyes but as saline as tears of a human could be.

After this incident, Omar was disowned by his parents, and he carried me in his jaws to a jungle 150 miles away from the village, where both of us belonged. The jungle was my home since my birth. No one from the human kind ever could spot us in the deepest of woods. This was where I first spoke like a human with a tone of an animal. There was one special ability in me – that Omar lacked. I could transform myself as a human, when I wanted to. Just like a chameleon would change its color, when sensing danger, so could I. I could transform myself into a human, when I sensed hunters were around. But when I was safe, I was wild in the wild woods. My life was not dream-like for a human, but it definitely was dream-like for a creature like me.  I had the most sensitive mother, the most sensitive one of all. She was a protector, a savior, a warrior, a hunter, a better HUMAN than a HUMAN is.

It was one day, when Omar  - my mother, went for a prowl. My mother had to hunt for me, to feed me. She got me a human. I was dumbstruck as I was aware of our history. She had narrated to me everything about my birth, my death and my re-birth, about her origin and mine. About her past life and my death life. Born out of human bonding, how could she kill a human? Aren’t we one of them? I inquired. In response, she gritted her teeth at me, which were smeared with human blood and I saw a beast in her eyes. For an instant, I fell from my own eyes. I considered myself a human and feeling a human is most certainly a powerful and a dignified feeling, an animal could ever have. I was an animal that could think wisely, act accordingly and was clever than the rest. I could hunt, could communicate, could transform. But today, I felt a heavy guilt in my heart. The guilt of having lost my belongingness! I considered other animals as my food because they were not my kind. But now! Now my mother has killed a human and I have lost that belongingness too. I felt the human emotion of guilt. Was I a personified beast, personified to experience human emotions and the like or was I really a human, a super-human. NO??? My mother gritted once more and this time as a signal to warn me, to dare me to think things favoring human. Omar hated humans.

I learnt to live with her ways. But the feeling in me, my ability to think and feel was way beyond my power. I was hesitant at first, and now nothing could resist me from savoring the human life, I was entitled to. Sure, Omar gave me life. Without him, I would not have been even alive to think or feel. But do I have to repay by being a beast. I am not a beast. I know I am not. I was sure; I am going to get my taste of human life before deciding to stay within the wall-less home of mine in the jungle, beneath the open skies or the constructed houses, amidst humans. A day came when my human mind could not refuse itself to think and I left Omar to explore the city life, the human life, the civilization I felt I deserved as my human right.

Covering the part of the jungle, where I have spent my entire life till date, was not easy at all. Every tree I passed had a memory. The memory of Omar and me encircling it, rejoicing the shade, the hunting lessons and…huh! Sigh! Memories! I reached the end of the jungle very soon. I transformed my animal state into a human. And sure! I was a handsome man now or so says Indira, my wife. Oh yes! I married and like every human, I too fell in love. But that’s at a later point of time. Back to where I was, I transformed as soon as I reached the outskirts of the jungle. I realized it was difficult to walk, when I could in fact leap. But when leaping in my early days, I still felt the fear of being hunted by larger animals. Now, even though I was walking step by step, I felt the freedom, the power of being a hunter. I felt like the largest animal, no not physically but my thought process was surely superior to the rest of the animals, my friends back in the woods.

I already started missing Omar, who by now, must be fanatically and frantically looking for me all over the woods. Now begins my struggle with the world that was unknown to me and the world that I was equally unknown to.

To be cont...

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