Monday, April 1, 1991

My suicide (or Never to Return)

 I walk down to the station
 I go there every day
 But this is the last time.
 Today I go, 
 never to return.
 I walk through the same throngs
 that rush past every day
 scurrying to their offices
 their factories
 to meetings
 to hearings
 appointments for two o’clock sharp
 and births and deaths. 
 They will go on forever.
 Their numbers swelling
 every day.
 But not me, I won’t be there,
 I go today
 and will never return.
 No, I’m not dressed for this occasion,
 my last trip to the station.
 Couldn’t bear the thought 
 of all that messy blood
 mucking up anything better 
 than what I’ve got on.
  And I blend well
 with the others
 in their pretty clothes,
 Swinging, slinking,
 marching, lurching,
 flowing, going past.
  I’ve been through here
 before, you see.
 I go down to the station
 every day.
 And back.
 Used to, that is:
 today is the last time.
 Today I go,
 never to return. 
 If you climb the station bridge
 you’ll see a curious sight. 
 People stand there
 Concentrating on the track below,
 they stand,
 Ready to speed down the steep stairs
 and leap
 into the train of their choice. 
 I shall be poised elsewhere,
 waiting for the train of my choice.
 But how do I choose? 
 I climb down the platform
 onto the tracks 
 to the point where
 thousands cross every day.
 Cross: jostling, pushing,
 shoving, elbowing.
 But the time has passed 
 for me to be part 
 of that inelegant crowd.
  Today I stand
 on the track
 never to return. 
 I have nothing left to live for. 
 Today I shall let the train
 take me to my final destination. 
 My warm blood
 will bathe the tracks
 with the mud and grime 
 and the secretions of some urban Indians.
 So I walk a little way down.
 And stretch out.
 Lie flat on the ground.
 And rest my neck
 on the cool, comforting steel 
 of the railway track.
 I close my eyes.
 No, not happy.
 But I am at peace.
 People climbing over the tracks
 climb over me.
 One more thing to step across.
 Or on: 
 someone steps on my finger.
 But I don’t care.
 that is the last time
 that anyone will ever step
 on my finger.
  The train is coming.
 The track vibrates
 against my cheek.
 Now it is sighted.
 People on the wrong side
 leap across in a
 I get trodded on
 But never mind,
 I’ll survive.
 Or rather – I won’t, ha ha.
 And then I have a vision
 of something dropping through
 the floor of the train.
 Through a hole
 that was built there
    for people to drop 
    the wastes of their body.
    Those wastes
    are what will drop
    on my decapitated head.
    How undignified.
    How terribly undignified.   
    So I stand up
    and dust myself off.
    Perhaps, after all,
    I will return.
first appeared in Brown Critique Aug 1997

Sunday, March 17, 1991

The abandoned

One day I came home from work and discovered that my refrigerator had left me. There was a horrible empty space in the kitchen, right where she used to stand, which gaped at me, mocking. Some wrinkled tomatoes sat on the draining board, covered with shiny beads of condensed water, and a few dehydrated chillies lay beside them. But that was the only sign that I had ever had a refrigerator of my own. She had just taken everything – and left.
It was a horrid shock. I know we’d had many disagreements – but then, what man is there who can truly say that he has never quarrelled with his refrigerator? Who has never complained about her constant need to be defrosted and cleaned, about the electricity bills she is responsible for? No, I never expected it would come to this.
After all, hadn’t I given her a good home – pride of place in my kitchen – and filled her with food and drink of every description? The ungrateful thing! I was angry, and hurt.
But before long my anger turned to grief. I remembered sadly the day when I had first taken her to be my refrigerator. It had been a day of rejoicing and happiness. We had been happy then, full of plans for the future. It was a wonderful feeling to have my very own refrigerator, to love and cherish till death did us part, and I was filled with pride. What had gone wrong?
It had begun gradually enough. There was the odd day when I’d come home hot and tired in the evening, longing for nothing so much as a tepid bath and a hot meal. But she would have nothing to offer but the cold congealed remains of previous repasts. I can tell you that made me mad. I slammed in her door good and hard a couple of times! Then of course she’d begin making a noise. Somewhere between a grumble and a whine, she’d start up with a click when I happened by. It was awful and of course I’d have to go out to eat. It made me feel guilty and all but, I ask you, what else is a man to do?
Finally, things got so bad between us that her light wouldn’t go on when I opened her door. I knew she was acting up when I called in the mechanic and he couldn’t find anything wrong.
Perhaps I should have sensed the depth of her hurt and tried to make amends. Now of course it is too late, she has gone. In spite of everything, I can’t help wondering how she is going to manage.  A refrigerator on her own … it’s a tough world out there. The empty space in the kitchen stares up at me accusingly.
As for me – no ice, the milk spoiling, fruit rotting – no, I could never live like that. There’s nothing for it but to go out and get a new refrigerator.
The prospect is quite stimulating, really. I shall have to look far and wide – advertise, perhaps – but at the end of my search, who knows, I may just find a refrigerator of the right shape, the right colour, manufactured by the right people – and one that works well, too.
first appeared in Business & Political Observer on 17 Mar 1991