Toast was as unusual to his seventy four year old grandfather as the rain that failed to arrive in August’s prime. The bland hospital coffee lent an odour to his breath that even the fresh sloshing of cheap disinfectant couldn’t cure.
Before pulling the lights he spread a soft lotion over the old mans skin. Processed air had shrunk it’s pores sucking all of the moisture through the hospital’s air conditioning.
The fourth day had come with a smoggy brain. Best friends were dismissed with mere nods and grunts. Tears bore down his grandfather’s heavy eyes as memory proved to be Korsakoff’s bastard child. In his young arms lay a man who had loved his grandson an entirety. Hands that held his childhood trembled as his soul quaked under the dying liver. It wasn’t the fear of death but of the inability to hold on to fragments of a life that was slipping away.
"The toilet", the grandfather announced to his only heir. The sixth day had come with a desire to bestow a grace upon him. "You will have to wash me"
The man who had denied help collecting the daily urine for the lab’s scrutiny had succumbed to his weaker instincts. The grandson entered the bathroom with his grandfather.
Fields dried up and the earth smacked up the last drops of water that filled the wells. Rain failed as death did the man in the sick bed. Veins welled up under his skin as did the cracks in the earth. The sixth night was one of sweaty sheets, grandfather’s hands in his. Pain scratched the old back bringing up blood and tears.
"Please…", the grandfather begged on the seventh night, eyes travelling from the fruit knife to his crying grandson. A flood had shaken the man’s rocks, his shoulders had given in and his legs were sinking. The vultures lazed around in the distance.
In his hands the grandson took the fruit knife. Its blade was dulled out by the remnants of the kiwi he had cut.
His innocence was the dirt in his grandfather’s nails as he drew out in wet mud the alphabets he had learnt that day. Smiles were hidden in the birthday cakes they shared as their birthdays were only a day apart. Roses were buried in the old man’s chest where his younger self had slept in peace so many aeons ago.
His grandfather closed his eyes as he brought the blade close to the pulsating vein.
On the ninth day it rained, the monsoon had begun.
The grandson sat in the rain, the smell of fertile mud and waking seeds reminding him of his grandfather who he couldn’t kill but had died, right before the world had awoken.
He was grateful for the coward he was.
- Ron Mathew
It was a long time since Monday, or so reckoned the trivial calendar hanging on the rim of the medicine cabinet - a cabinet that was even more replete than the refrigerator - in our purple and blue-walled kitchen.
“I’m very courageous”, “Cold”,”Boob”, “Go free”, “High Lions”, “Soap”, “Her”, “All I need”, “Door”,” and more images nonchalantly wandered randomly through my head.
It was 5 O’clock and I’d swallowed four.
I could hear only myself, and the six ticks of the clock for every tepid breath I take (in and out).
A lick of cold numbness pinched right through my right foot, I stood there, bare, and roughly aware. So I shook my head and took a deep breath simultaneously, exhaling it created a sensation of shivers slipping from the back of my auricles down to the bottom of my neck, releasing the tension from of my shoulders.
Three little leaps to the left had me on edge. Meanwhile, the numbness in my feet was vanishing to a tingly funny feel. I raised the bar to three ticks per breath, and tottered my way through the corridor all the way to my bedroom.
–Two ticks per breath-
I kicked the door open, the earliest range of the balmy sun-rays was already sneaking into the room. They landing on the mirror and upon the Cello underneath it, reflecting a dusky natural irresistible colour as I approached to pick it up to pluck the strings.
-One tick per breath- I’m not there!
The mirror is empty, I’m in bed.
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