FictionLetters - Sushant Dhar, Jammu and Kashmir

Letters – Sushant Dhar, Jammu and Kashmir


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This is one of those several letters that I found in the morgue. The man who wrote it lived an impoverished life. He was afflicted with diseases in dreams and thus suffered a failing health. The letter doesn’t mention any name, place or date.

This is my life; I run all week, I run through different trains, buses, places, lanes, roads, villages and cities. I dare sun. I dare death. I run in summer, rain and winter. I fear nothing. I crave for food. I work for food. I have a new home every day. I suffer from a disease.

I see a tall mendicant knocking at the door every night. He wears a torn white fluttering robe. He watches through the window and whispers, ‘Soul to the divine and flesh to the fire.’ I glance through the window. I see him sniffing. He looks back at me. His eyes are glistening. He offers a scornful smile and disappears. There was something inauspicious happening outside. It was in the air. It smelled putrid. I opened the door and went outside. There was hubbub in the streets. Thousands of them were marching towards the bridge. I saw corpses lying naked, blood stained gravel and heard distant cries.

The river has dried and skeletons lay in heaps, of horses and men. I saw people hugging each other, jeering at me and thumping their chests. I witnessed celebration, flowers, food and beverages. I saw a drunkard abusing a simpleton and simpleton thrashing him to death. There were more deaths. People were lined up in streets, laid on white linen and given to fire. Smoke ran through the streets for a week. The other day river started overflowing. There was no sight of rain. The entire town was inundated. It appeared desert, desert sinking into the abyss slowly and slowly.

I found myself in a dungeon. I saw people being manacled and flogged. I swear by God. I swear by the ashes of my ancestors, I haven’t sinned against anyone. I never harmed anyone. I lived all my life in isolation. I’m a saint. I lived in obscurity. I will die holding my respect; I will die unscathed, pure, in peace. I’m the epitome of morality and righteousness. Infallible. Vainglorious. Ah! A clean and clearer soul, pure heart and fouled breath, I’m all what humanity means.

 I search for words explaining my inner self. There are no words. I find them repulsive. ‘Coward’. ‘Timid’. I dwell in fears. It makes me strong. This gives birth to fear, a fleeting fear… ‘Brave’. ‘Stouthearted’. I’m not brave because I fear. Fear is the assailer. But cultivating all those fears in your heart needs courage and living each day is bravery. I must confess that everyday takes a toll on me. Fear makes me frail. I live my life in anxiety and confusion. I live through death. I live for a day. People are happy. I’m sad. They narrate folktales and share gossips. I’ve nothing. I’m hollow. I lost everything. I’m weighed down by thoughts which have no meaning. The cursory thoughts creep over my mind and heart. I feel ants crawling over my body. The past is here. It has come searching for me. He has my name. It will tear me into fragments. I run. I survive.

We could never evoke their conscience. We can never evoke their conscience. They were long dead. We are long dead. We were set free. They celebrate ignorance and loathe wisdom. They walk over it. We will both suffer. We suffered. None will rejoice. They are all capable of causing great sufferings and arousing great emotion. Why sufferings? They squabble, fight, kill and die. Some live, enjoy and make merry. Some die. We have to carve out joy from our sufferings. We all live. We die. Why don’t we live forever? Why don’t we die forever? What is happiness? What absurd is living and dying! What it is to be free?

I was stabbed, gutted and cheated. I was left alone. The entire world turned cold. I feel like thrusting myself into a void. I want to escape this wretchedness. I desire to live again. I stand naked in front of realities. I embrace truth. Nothing will stop me because I never started. Nothing will cause pain because I already suffered. These are not trifles. This is pain breeding pain. I seek inspiration from sorrows not from fleeting moments of disguised happiness. My song is long dead. I wait for the final moment. I wait for one last breath. I lived my life in ignorance. Ignorance is mankind’s biggest foe. Ignorance is scourge.

Wafts of smoke and repugnant smell from roadside eateries made me vomit everything. I came across vegetable vendors, shrill voices, fish sellers, half cut chicken, severed head and grotesque sight of big piece of flesh. Cacophony. Filth runs through the drains adjacent to my dwelling. I make my way through a sea of crowd; the poor, the rich, the very poor, the crippled, the invalid are trudging on. I work for food. I tremble and starve in the nights. My red tearful eyes and swelled eyelids are scary. I appear ugly and the heat goes deep into my skin, scorching sun breaks through it, drying it and the rashes line up whole body from the edges of fingers forming streaks on hands upto neck. It’s a necklace of rashes. There are painful weird swellings under my hair, on my hands and trunk. I smell and rot in summer, I appear ugly. Rains and winters bring sloth. I decay. Hunger and yowling of dogs keep me awake. The gaping wound under my feet is filled with pus. There is blood. I take the pill every day. It recedes in the afternoon and then comes back in the dead of the night. My head burns, pain passes through my forehead and goes down deep into the recesses of my heart, stretching them wide, tight, something like a drilling machine digs deep into my skull. The turbulence grows loud. Convulsions. I don’t remember anything. I can’t sleep all night; I feel drowsy in afternoons and evenings. It is an earthquake. The earth is trembling. I run. Death is dry. It is dark and nimble. I escape death.

I am a stranger to you. We see each other every day.  I’ve come to this place from some distant corner of the earth. I lived in pain and sorrows. They offered me pity. They were kind to me. They stored and nourished anger in their hearts. They reared envy and left me to vultures. For what I have gone through even the earth weeps bitterly and this entire sky with its stars and moons wail for me. I lived my life in solitude, despair and gloom. It wasn’t easy living alone. It was difficult striking conversation with walls. I longed for life. I longed for warmth. At times I was so overwhelmed by my emotions, by my past that I cried all night. That wintry night is still etched in my memory, when people ran after me on the street calling me a coward, a cheat, a maniac. I went mad with pain; slapped myself, pulled out my hair from the scalp and lay prostrate on the street. The night that followed was dark and long. I slept on the street in bone piercing cold. I shivered and slept in snatches. I gazed deep into the dark looking for a glimmer of light. I thought of dying and living for eternity. I looked for hope. I escaped them.

The ugly lachrymose evenings, this dampness, animal carcass, dry thin limbs and vomit allures more dark. I live through darkness. I long for sleep. I pray for an hour’s sleep, a two maybe or half.  I will die of sleep deprivation; this insomnia is eating me up. I’m short of air. I’m losing the earth and the sky. I can’t feel my limbs. I can’t see. There is haze all around. The mountains are half clad with dark and the other half with bright sunshine as if thousand stars have landed, warm sunshine, far off and the dark hovering over, eating up the bright and gulping the sun. The people around, of some other land, staring at me, calling me, chasing the bright sunshine, a string of voices all over, raising their hands, waving at me, a wraith emerging from the dark, macabre, pulling me to the bushes. I hide in the darkness. Forsaken. I wait for the resurrected sun and its brightness. I close my eyes and dream of thousand suns blazing in the sky, stars and moons, more stars and the pure light burning all flesh, mounting on the darkness and riding it to pure light. It all turns to ashes and devastation. There is no light and dark left. It’s all air, stifling dry air wafting under the dead skies.

As I gazed into the dark, I saw disease, air, pestilence clouding my senses, sleep evaded me every night and the pain, indescribable. What will I eat? I don’t feel hungry. I have eaten up my appetite, some devil is devouring on my body. I have eaten my stomach. People offer me sympathies, they pray for me. I die every night. I miss my beat every second. I suffer from spinal tuberculosis. I can’t stand and move. Some silence has fallen on me. It’s the same every day. My eyes have come out, I have lost my vision, I see death, I can’t bear this pain, it is tormenting. I can’t speak a syllable, I gasp for a word. A pang pierces my body, took me a minute to swallow a morsel, I can’t hold my eyes still; my nerves are long dead, I suffer from paranoia. Is there someone in this entire world, one with a heart, who can save me? I fear death. I long for life. Cure. I see that distant mountain and the bright sunshine dotting over it every day in my dreams. Death is despairing, it’s gloom descending.  I see light. I breathe life. I see someone calling me from the mountain, they say there is life and people live a century. I want to live and suffer more.

I suffered from an ailment, something that had to do with the pancreas and the bean shaped organs. They didn’t work. I was searing. I was sweating profusely in winters. I gasped for   breath. I was reduced to bones. I waited all night for the morning sun. It rained for weeks together.  I looked at the watch all day. The watch had stopped long before.  I wasn’t able to digest food. I had nausea all day. I grew weak, bony and my swift, strong and stout shoulders vanished. I cried all day. I was transfigured into something that was inexplicable. I stood mute watching myself struggle with every breath. I was drowning into the sea of sufferings. I wanted to say something. I turned melancholic. I had rivulets of tears. I was overwhelmed by emotions, disease, pain and sufferings. I wore a smile on my skin. An hour later, people around the station assembled, men and women, strangers, friends, they placed me on the bier and took me to the nearest crematorium on the other side of the bridge. It was dark. I was left all alone. I was half burned. I was cold.

His exile has ended. He saw her. Stories of love have proven true. The sky is full of colors and clouds. It’s glittering with light and colorful drizzling. The earth has turned alive. They stand baffled at his presence. Thousand suns stand guard to his song. His song has survived. They all live. Scourge was conquered.

Editorial Team of Indian Ruminations.


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