Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Fever is a jilted lover
It is so tough to unsettle the haze, he thinks. The haze inside his chest. Sometimes it scares him. And then he has to close his eyes and imagine light - red light - surrounding him, like some sort of celestial shower. When there is haze, no song stirs his soul. The blue-chested bird perched on the high-tension wire evokes no feeling. A young girl in school uniform only makes him aware of lost youth - of family that could have been, of that feeling of oneness that he knows would never dwell in his heart.
Out of sheer habit he gets up, struggling on his feet, on to the kitchen, to prepare coffee. He imagines pictures on the door of refrigerator, like the ones his friends put up on theirs, stuck with magnets - pictures he associates with that oneness; portraits of time spent in quaint hill stations, or in bright-coloured rubber rafts in foaming waters, or posing in front of an antique shop in some exotic foreign land.
He comes out on the balcony, holding his cup. Amidst empty shoe cartons, beer bottles (one of them is half-filled, he notices), old newspapers, a discarded lampshade, he sits quietly and lights a cigarette. If the haze can't be unsettled, it can be thickened at least, like some story plot. The thought makes him smile.
He coughs a little.
Bright red flowers in dried milk tins, typewriter, silver paper cutter and someone complaining of knee pain - this imagery would only exist in his dreams. This is his parallel world, his live phantasmagoria. Here, on this balcony, there is only loneliness, like a vague toothache.
He remembers he had planted a few tree saplings in front of his house a few months ago. Now he realises they are gone, chewed to death by stray cows, crushed under the wheels of a car parked in hurry, or just because of his indifference. He looks at his right foot. He imagines it frowning at him, as if it had a mind of its own. It reminds him of a woman's foot - a rebel guerilla's. He had met her many years ago in a jungle of Sal trees. She had dipped it in a streamlet while she cleaned her gun. Would she be alive, he doesn't know.
The coffee is over. The cigarette as well. He feels his forehead. The fever has returned. Like a jilted lover, it too takes its revenge.