Explore O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press offerings on Amazon.

Support O:JA&L’s free presses.

Subscribe to the O:JA&L YouTube channel.
Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.
Follow O:JA&L on Facebook.

Gogol

SMOKE

The Morphinist by János Vaszary

 

Chapter 1

The black dog barks.

You have reached that age where a simple glance from the opposite gender keeps your jewels throbbing (you are watching educational VCDs all the time, so you are not sure if it’s love.) You have learned to swear, your favourite cuss is “K M “, yet your throat dries when you see the hem of her skirt flirting with her knees. She is out of your league – the senior boys in school are after her – you don’t stand a fucking chance – Supriyo agrees this one time. Oh, your school fees are high, and you rub white chalks on the canvas shoes that you wear. Your saving grace in that high end, white (like really local milk powder white – you haven’t seen the Taj Mahal so milk powder is your reference point for all things white) cheap Victorian architectural replica of a school is your grades. So stereotypical, so filmy. So Bollywoodish. No wonder you screwed up your life. You ask Supriyo –ki kore potabo? hoping to elicit some advice on wooing while bunking your tuition for a show of Supriyo’s fathers’ educational VCDs.  (You don’t have access to cable TV connection, for your dark-skinned, rumbled cotton, saree-wearing mother thinks it will hamper your class rank – she doesn’t have enough money to spare for entertainment of the dish channel.) Supriyo laughs – his smile starts from his right ear and spreads all the way to the left – by now you know that this will be a long lecture which will invariably end in the climactic tale of his romance with the 40-year-old maths private tutor. Supriyo’s jewel sometimes hurts – but who cares? Private tutor doesn’t look like one of those females with upper body, antigravity symmetricity – neck downwards – you see on the cover of Supriyo’s father’s VCDs – but hey, one of you has been touched by the opposite sex. So Supriyo the school stud can now advise you and he opens his mouth when a knock arrives at the closed door. Simultaneously, a loud coital noise erupts from the TV, somehow you switch it off and throw the VCD away under the bed just when Supriyo’s mom enters the room. Supriyo is the first child after two miscarriages, he is her chokher moni, her love for him is almost tattooed on her forehead in Sans Serif – font size 140, and this chokher moni needs animal protein every 3 hours. She gives him a glass of milk and hands you a Marie biscuit. She leaves; and the advice comes out with the sagacity of a hermit – write her a love letter.

And you do…

You write.

You bombard her with letter.

In tiffin time.

At the end of school.

In PT period.

You behave like a dog in heat, a bhadro masher kukur. Or Shahrukh Khan’s Rahul from Darr. You forget to chalk your canvases. The school physics teacher gives you multiple yellow slips for a parent teacher discussion meeting which you conveniently dump in the dustbin.

Meanwhile, you realise –

she notices.

She winks at you.

Maybe.

You are not sure.

You ask Supriyo, your desk neighbour…

She winks again.

Such a sweetheart…You fantasise about her long neck; tender flesh and you lose your interest in Monica Belucchi’s clips from Malena. You forget Supriyo for the time – he seemed sad but who cares – he is getting touched and you are hoping to get touched. Your letters aren’t being replied, it affects your mood. Some days the sun shines just right, and she replies to you in winks or gestures, some days she just ignores you, and the sun behaves like a BC (your second favourite cuss). You chalk your canvas shoes regularly (females notice a boy’s shoes first -expert advice) and memorise every nook and corner of her shape outlined by the starch white shirt, yet strangely at night – in your dream – she has the symmetricity of Monica Bellucci and now you are sure this is the four-lettered word called love which has stuck you in your heart (or your private part). You go to her birthday – you were not really invited but as an afterthought – you stole your father’s wallet and bought a bouquet of roses for her – slightly stale; fresh premium ones are out of your father’s budget,

and,

she kisses,

kisSES,

KISSED

SUPRIYO dressed in a dapper suit and he

KISSES,

KISSES and

KISSED HER BACK – ON THE Cheeks. (Fine, cheeks aren’t lips, but they are close.)

You eat the salty birthday cake pieces.

You go back –

Your mother is waiting – her hand holding some yellow slips and Dad’s wallet – Dad is angry – the same Dad who could recite Lorca and teach you Shakti Chattopdhaya is waiting with his dilapidated belt – your soft supple skin is lashed with marks – the belt is surprisingly resilient. Your cheap replica of a Victorian shithole of a school doesn’t care and neither does she. You hope in anticipation, but she never turns at you – she has moved on and you stare in disgust at the hint of your toes through your frail shoes and think of excruciating ways of exacting a pound of flesh from that KM. Never happens.

The black dog stands in a corner of your room…

You buy a pipe…

Chapter 2

 

The dog barks.

She is going to dance wearing a black thong (you have googled the word and are pretty sure no female or male you know wears that), charges 500 rupees extra per hour for that.

This is how one of these stories start.

You are in the final year of your local engineering college (you didn’t make it to IIT, sala private colleger BC engineer—your future boss will use this slur on you). You are lucky en masse though. You have been selected by an IT recruiter for some American idiot who can’t open his laptop without spilling coffee on it. No more tattered canvases. You will be moving to Bangalore now. You are also a virgin. The arrival of a job in your life demands a celebration. So, Supriyo hires an entertainer. (Your friendship has continued in a complementary manner—he pays for your alcohol to drown the occasional reappearance of the black dog, while you teach him classical mechanics) Supriyo—the chapri nibba—the cheater cock who had kissed your school sweetheart (where is that KM now?), who wears ankle length jeans, blue singhara hair and rides a KTM bike bought on emi by his father, has connected with an entertainer through his Facebook profile. Supriyo, the fuck boi of your town. He wants to upload a tiktok video with her too. He goes first, and then you—with all your hours of watching educational videos—you are doing miserably when Supriyo gets a call.  Both of you run (miss the thong dance) and find out his father has collapsed, out of breath. The death certificate simply says—Mr. Sahadeb Biswas, death from unknown causes. This has been a year of many deaths from unknown causes. After a few weeks, you call the entertainer, and try to negotiate a cut of about rupees 200 inclusive of the black thong dance. She refuses and you shout—you were bad luck opoaya, my friend’s father died—at least give a discount for his sake!

She uses the choicest words on your origin you have ever heard.

The black dog sits on your chest.

You light up…

Chapter 3

 

The dog barks.

They catch you.

With your pants down.

You realise now.

The reason behind the pronouns.

They.

For the reaction has both a masculine violence sprinkled with the feminine drama. He throws an iron at you. A 5 kg iron. And then she cries. She comes with a knife to slash the intern you were squeezing. He takes a sucker punch at you, she scratches your face, and they storm out of the sleazy OYO room where you are butt naked.

They had always warned you. Don’t cheat with me. (If it was some other people, you might have gotten away with that. But not your Mrx. They ain’t open minded—in fact for a queer they is pretty conservative), and  you had promised—till death do us part.

It won’t happen immediately—because you were there. Because you were there when Shubham got his first art assignment, because you were there when their father disowned them (Shubham became Shubnam; the sex that night was awesome), because you were there when they wore a saree and danced to Katrina Kaif’s chikni chameli, because you were there when they got teased in an auto ride from the fucktards of Bangalore, because you were there when they got their food poisoning from phallus hadriani. They will cry over the breakup a lot. Memories have a habit of adding salt to the eyes—events of you going with them in art galleries, making fun of paintings which look like dic pics—or swollen mushrooms—so many memories. But guilt eventually dries up like a wasted pond, and they will move out of the city. The black dog stays with you though.

Now the fact that you have never wanted to live in Bangalore comes on to surface like a benthic itch that you had trained yourself not to scratch. A lot of shit happens to you. You get thrashed by an autowalla (alone this time). Your performance grades slip too. You question—sala why doesn’t someone blow up the city? You think of calling  Supriyo after a long time—you know he is gonna ask if you are fine. You don’t.

You laugh (silently) about how Supriyo had become a pathetic fuckboi and that one day you had fucked a whore and about Supriyo’s father’s porn stacks.

Later, you open your diary and find that first poem you had written for them.

Jack and Jill, Went up a hill,

And caused quite a heartbreak feel,

Jack loved Jim

And Jill had a thing For Chantelle,

Times weren’t fine,

So Jill took a pill

And Jack jumped off the hill,

World moved on

Only the kids remembered Jack and Jill. (They was graceful enough not to breakup after reading this.)

Some days you feel like you might kill yourself,

but you know better –

  1. a) you are hoping Mrx. Shubnam will come back one last time—they don’t.
  2. b) you aren’t that type of a lover boi yet.

You have been blocked on Instagram, on Facebook and what not.

You upload your first poem to wallow yourself in pity and self-loathing. A comment appears—this poem seems familiar. You are angry at this flippant remark and then click on the profile pic—hmm nice tits she has got. You dm her, hoping to get laid. Doesn’t work. You leave Bangalore. The black dog follows.

You exhale rings …

Chapter 4

The dog barks.

She is the JNU type. Fiery, feisty. Shaves her arms. Not where it is required though. You meet at an office event. You are clueless, whether you should order a red wine or go for a neat JD (you can’t order an old monk in a public setting, you want to wheedle your way to your boss’s inner circle). You go to a corner and sip your pint of beer (you prefer not to get matal like the college days). Gradually a group appears, the music becomes white noise, and you find yourself in discussion with a group of half-known colleagues who are trying to impress your office Monica Bellucci by discussing the impacts of capitalism on society and how that has led to this cultural decadence in India. One makes a pass at a beautiful ass (puro tanpura, that ass should be framed on a wall and put on display as per  the general recommendation of the asses in the party) and the ass turns. A verbal assault follows, and the crowd gains mass and momentum, from angry, hot males who have come to blow away their frustration from the perfunctory obligations of work. The ass covered by a yellow bell bottom has a face. The face could be kind at times. But right now? The face is fucking angry. You try to be a hunk, go up to the crowd and look at her.

Now, take a pause dhaaamna! If this was that type of story, your eyes would have met.

A wind/cool breeze/draft (please pick synonyms of your choice) would have caressed her hair and-

the time would have stopped;

the music would have changed into a mellifluous 90’s song;

and the world would have erupted in an orgasm.

For two people had eventually found their SOULMATES … in a bar of all places –

But;

But;

But…

This ain’t that type of a story, moron! (And you are having trouble finishing this one.) You puke onto the bouncer who is dispersing the fight. You get punched by a Hariyanvi 10 feet tall, a chest of 90 inches monster of a bouncer. Before you blackout, you see the shocked expression that the angry face has.

To cut a boring narrative short, the punch catalyses her into your world. She had felt sad for you (rookie mistake) and had taken you to the hospital. (Your colleagues are not your friends—you learn your lesson).

And then it starts again…

Once upon a time…

She giggles, you dimple.

She bites her lower lip, you twiddle your thumbs.

She curls her hair with a twisted finger, you fucking pout (case khacho khokha)

She asks you—what did you notice in me the first time?

You say—jheel si ankhein (liar liar, your pants house a fire)

Delhi’s weather is so balmy, the odyssey from hospital to art—galleries  feel like a dream (the black dog observes at a distance).  Later you slip a poem into her vanity bag while in an exhibition about skyscapes –

“If you say yes,

I will gift you a tale,

where under the cobalt skies,

and above the boiling puddles,

A man met a woman,

I can’t tell you the ending,

I have been writing for long,

so long my fingers refuse to budge,

this tale is yours to take,

If you say yes.”

(Go on, rip off Sunil Ganguly!)

You wait.

What is love but an exercise in anticipation of foreboding—you try to be poetic with your thoughts. The betel face, the perfect shape of pearly corn teeth adorning her luscious lips, her fair elbows, the sometimes-messy hair, the near perfect eyebrows—you remember some of this every day for the next week. Also the ass part. Mostly the ass part.

You read that Murakami love story about that 100 percent perfect girl. You shiver. What if?…

She says yes.

It is over.

You cheat on her with the office Monica Bellucci on a field trip.

You were a gandu, didn’t put a lock in your WhatsApp. She casually scrolled and found some nude pics of the siren. (You say you regret the affair a million times—however, her jewel clasping your jewel has been permanently etched into your top ten memories of all times playlist—all in all, it was a fuck to and from heaven.)

She had a lot of faults. She never allowed you from behind. She never sucked you like they do in the viral mmses. She wasn’t even symmetric in the nude. She nagged all the time. Also, you haven’t kissed the office one—so technically it isn’t even cheating.  You could do better. She loved you though…

And so you start…

You go on a fuckathon.

A Bong siren – check.

A probashi jain – check.

A sphinx tattooed on her chest college girl who wants an iphone – check.

You hire a whore from Instagram. She wears a black thong. You remember Supriyo’s dad’s death. Sex goes on—the stakes are higher than 500 rupees this time. You are rebooted—you tell everybody.

And somewhere in the liminal phase from monogamy to promiscuity, it hits you.

You stop shaving.

You stop taking a bath. You stink.

You slit your wrist. You have become that type of a loverboi.

You are saved by a stitch in time at 9.(pm or am, you can’t remember)

You try to call her—she has blocked you. You try reaching out to her friends—they call you pagla and give you an earful—disturb koris na.

You have this visceral, in the back of your head, painful, gnawing at you urge to meet her.

You

1)  start to shave again because office bro

2)  hope (again) she will return.

Bal bara, that doesn’t happen.

Your read somewhere writing about grief helps—also things that have made you angry.

You start doing that. You try to write. (The black dog doesn’t allow you for so long.)

The diary notes—She is a bitch because …You don’t remember.

You smoke up…

Final Chapter.

You work hard. At your routine.

You diligently practise the squats. The movements.

You run so that your heartbeat rises. It’s not much, but something is better than nothing. The sweat trickles over what is a scar on your wrist to rejuvenate the ghosts of girlfriends’ past. The ghosts disappear and reappear.

You receive an invite to an art exhibition. It is a digital techno designer shit. Loud psychedelic colours are bound in mahogany wood frames. Sleep-poor, cholesterol-rich  men wearing suits, and melanin-deficient, botox-stuffed women wrapped in silk are eyeing these pieces of postmodern art. The most expensive piece catches your attention. A torn page is adorned on the wall. A curve of female shape (that is the first ass you had worshipped—Monica Bellucci) bending backwards is bowing down under the weight of a giant fluorescent phallus hadriani. The stinky face looks androgynous—but you have seen it somewhere.

And you remember.

It’s your school sweetheart. Or no. Is it? She didn’t have a beard. It’s Shubnam. That queer bitch? They is selling your life, and earning from it.

The artist is nowhere to be found in the party. `

Someone comments—what is this junk? You look at the art—the phallus really looks like a smelly penis from a distance. You proudly reply—that’s my junk and move out into the crowded street.

That night you call Supriyo. You ask him about her. How’s my school sweetheart? He doesn’t want to speak about her. Kamon ache KM? He explodes. Tui sala sarthopor C, you self-centred bastard! She took me to hospital when I was being raped by maths tutor, BC. I had 5 stitches down there you fucking cunt.

I slit my wrist once—although I had only 1 stitch, you quip.

He cuts off the call.

Some days you feel like crying.

You do.

You cry.

The black dog fucking barks so loud.

You take your pipe out and it is here that i must must must …

pause…

because this is going to be an act of obliteration now, because you and i will submerge into the smoke from the pipe  now and suffocate this dog that has been barking throughout and you will have to move out now, yes you the reader, for this isn’t a story anymore now, for it is going to be an act of love now and you and i will get high now, yes you the loverboi, and crush this skull of this stupid black dog now and draw smoke into our lungs gradually, slowly and then all at once and you is an unwelcome intrusion into this act going further now, yes you the reader, unless you the loverboi and you the reader and i get high together now and pick up stones and go after the fucking black dog, shred it to pieces and pieces, drown it in smoke till its tongue comes out,  ah yes, oh yeasss and you will light it again -yes-yes-yes- you the loverboi and you the reader and the black dog gets bigger and i melt into madness …

 

About the writer:
Gogol (a pseudonym)  is a sustainability professional who works in global climate change mitigation projects.

Image: The Morphinist by János Vaszary (1867-1939). Oil on canvas. 58.4 x 47.2 inches. Circa 1930. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprints Buttonhook Press, HOT BUTTON PRESS Contemporary Issues, and HIGH BUTTON PRESS Contemporary Art, supports writers and artists worldwide.

Follow O:JA&L on Facebook.

OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) recommends the services of Duotrope.

 Duotrope®