Friday, 1 September 2017

Short Story 7 - The Last Tirade.

Story Theme : Atmosphere 

Atmosphere is a literary technique, which involves setting the mood for the kind of feelings and emotions you want the readers to get from the narrative. This is based on the descriptions and details such as background, objects, settings, foreshadowing, etc.


The Last Tirade.

Sorry, I spout random rants when I am nervous.

Rants that make no sense to the context of what I’m trying to say, that is. Or facts that wouldn’t interest you in a hundred years. The thing is, that I don’t even know what I’m trying to say anymore.

There must be at least ten dozen roses here, it reminds me of how it used to be when I got nauseous. I hate roses, Meera knows that. Their sickly sweet fragrance always made me throw up. 

Why did she encourage all these people to bring so many rose garlands for me?

These flies buzzing around my ears, sitting on my face and my feet annoy me no end. They stick to my icy skin like reddish black blobs of wax with wings in tow. I can’t feel them, of course. I can’t hear them either, but then, one doesn’t stop being finicky about hygiene just because one has kicked the bucket five hours ago.

Meera knows I hate these disgusting creatures...why is she doing nothing about these horrid flies?

Like I said, I spout random facts when I am nervous. Facts that seem like rants to others, of course.

I know I shouldn’t be. Nervous, that is. I'm not the one who should be worried. After all , I'm not the one who's got so much to hide here...

It doesn’t matter anymore, does it? I mean, it’s all over now…or is it?

It’s funny, this weightlessness. This feel of floating in the air, suspended in the midst of nothing. This feel, it’s like I’m in the swimming pool, ten feet under the surface, letting the water swish around my ears, the buoyant warmth caressing my skin like wet satin…it is incredible and unbearable. The unbearable lightness of being…as that famous author...whats-his-name now…yes, Milan Kundera, would say.

It’s beginning to infuriate me now, this weightlessness. Especially since these weird people are behaving as if I’m really heavy. I mean, wasn’t it just last week that I weighed myself and the scales registered a mere 81 kilos? Alright, alright…it was 81.9…but then, would it really take 7 men to lift me up from my cot and fetch me from my bedroom, onto the mat on the floor of my living room?

No one thought of why I wasn't at the hospital. No one asked Meera why...

The wails. The continual wails are getting on my nerves. Wait! Is that Ramanujam, weeping like a child, tears streaming down his cheeks? Oh, and he clutches a bunch of drooping white lilies in his hand…the same ones that he almost killed me over last week, when I’d tried to steal a few of them from his garden...well, as they say, life is full of surprises.

I now know, death is even more of a revealer. Ramanujam has been…or was…my sworn enemy since the time I moved into this house, three decades ago. He should have died long before me, given that he smokes five packets of Marlboros a day and is grossly overweight… 

Life isn’t fair. But then, death isn’t always fair either.

Look at all these people! Who the hell are all these strangers, for God’s sake? And why on earth have they come over to my house? I never knew of their existence before today. When was the last time so many footfalls wrecked the glowing red-oxide floor of my home? I don’t’ remember.

Meera shouldn’t allow them to walk in without wiping their feet. The mud stains on the floor have already formed grotesque designs, these darkened cakes of brown muck, dotted with red, yellow and white petals strewn like tiny mosaics, from all those garlands people have been piling over my supine body.

Meera knows I'm a stickler for cleanliness. Why is she letting these people ruin my home?

I fume in disgusting fascination, as random ants, some unlucky flies and more petals get crushed into the filth under the steady feet of all my mourners.

Mourners, ha! All these fake expressions make me want to laugh out loud. Not a single one of them wants me alive anymore, I could bet my life on that. Yeah, it’s a bit too late for that, I know.

But hey, there’s Latha, that sweet teenager who lives down the street. She was the daughter I never had, always had time for me and she enjoyed my company…it was always ‘uncle, this and uncle, that..’ She would really mourn my loss…but, wait…why is she smiling at someone, then? And is that a chocolate bar she stealthily bites into, when no one’s watching? Latha, my girl, I’m watching. I’m watching everything. 

I can see a whole lot clearly now. I see the bluish-yellow unwavering glow of oil lamps, I see bored faces of many long-forgotten relatives beyond the haze of smoking agarbattis that form piles of ashes at my feet.

Where is Meera? Why isn’t she here? She must be in the kitchen, making tea for the guests…but hey, the wife is supposed to stay at her dear departed husband’s feet, until his body was taken away for cremation, right? That’s what you’d think.

Like I mentioned earlier, death isn't always fair.

I wouldn’t be dead, but for Meera. I mean, I was stupid, really. I should have known that she is one smart cookie, my wife.

Three drops. A mere three drops of that poison I’d smuggled into the house last week, would have sufficed to send her packing off from the face of this earth. But no, fool that I was, I’d hidden it in just the place she should have never found it. After all, why would she open my medicine cabinet in the bathroom…? Or so I thought…moron that I was.

I wish I knew how she managed to pull it off. The benign smile she offered me along with the morning coffee should have put my senses on full alert. But no, it didn't. In case I didn't mention it before, I was a fool. The odd taste of her special filter coffee should have warned me at least. But, no again. I emptied the cup, down to the last fatal drop…

Ah, here she comes, my dear wifey of twenty two years. Surprise of surprises! Her face is tear-stained; her eyes have sunken into their sockets above her skeletal face, as if she has really been crying. Was she really mourning my loss, then?

Wow…and then it hits me. Yeah, she must have seen the will.

Aha…no surprises there, she gets nothing of course…I’d had some sense to leave all of my 4 crores worth of assets, including this house and my farmlands, to the love of my life…whom I’d never married when I should have...

And now, here I am, mirthlessly watching my murderer lament the futility of her carefully calculated efforts.

They begin to shift me onto the green stretcher they have prepared for me from long coconut leaves matted together. The wails seem louder now.

I’m gratified to hear Meera’s howl rise above the din of all the beating drums, barking dogs, cawing crows and of course, the cries of all the people who felt I was worthy of this grand farewell.

Long story short, this was my last tirade. My last journey has just begun.


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