Archive for pain

Touchy-Feely

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama was very fond of Zadam, the strange man with an upside-down head and senses reversed. Since he had met him last week, crossing the railway tracks, they had visited the coffee shop and community centre together, and met up in other places too. It was difficult to know where to go with Zadam. Wherever they went, people stared.

It was the first time that most people had seen someone with mouth and eyes reversed on his head. They didn’t even know about his ability to smell what things would become, his ability to see all sides of a situation, and his ability to hear answers rather than questions. He was an odd-bod indeed.

How about visiting the museum together; was that a good idea? Shama’s ex-wife, Dimpy, was director there, but it was a part-time position, only one or two days a week. He could go on a day when she wasn’t working.

After the split he had followed her to Lucerne in the misguided hope of reconciliation. They had never made up, and she wouldn’t let him see their daughter either. He didn’t have money to hire a lawyer right now, so would fight when he could afford to. He didn’t want to think about it; it hurt too much.

They entered the museum grounds, a few small buildings scattered around a courtyard. There wasn’t a “main museum”, but rather a collection of historic cabins filled with antiques. The cabins had been donated to, or purchased by, the museum, dismantled, transported and rebuilt.

When they entered the Roseman Cabin, Shama said to Zadam, “Please don’t touch anything. It is not allowed.”

“No touching, no touching,” said Zadam. “I don’t need to do touching. I can feel what things are like already.”

So this is another one of his qualities, thought Shama. Great! But he kept an eye on Zadam as they wandered around the cabins, looking at hand-tinted photographs, tin chamber pots, bunk-beds, and horsehair-stuffed sofas.

One cabin had been set up as a village classroom, with a large slate board and a dozen small desks. On the board was written: “Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.”

“I know about him,” said Zadam, suddenly excited. He danced the beginning of a jig. His large green coat crumpled and filled like a hot air balloon being prepared for launch. I had better get him out of the museum, thought Shama, before he breaks something, but Zadam was bursting to say something, which would only be possible once he stopped moving. “He was the stupidest man ever!”

“Who?”

“Aristotle! He said we have five senses. He said we have sight, and hearing, and taste, and smell, and touch.” He restarted the jig, and couldn’t speak for a while. “What about balance, and temperature, and posture, and pain, and time? He only knew about half of them! What about the rest? I studied them all in the hospital. I have them all! You have them all! We have them all!”

They continued looking around the cabins. They saw a baby’s crib, a tin bath, a tea urn, and then a rosewood pipe. Zadam began dancing again, and chanting, and crying. “They are all dead!” he said. “The people are dead. The things are dead. We will be dead.”

“Not for a long time,” said Shama.

“But I can feel it already.”

Swirling

Posted in Lucerne Village, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by javedbabar

Suzi saw him every morning. The Bakerman arrived at four a.m. looking dreadful. What did he do at nights – stay out drinking and dancing till the small hours? Maybe he was O.K. with less sleep, but Suzi wasn’t. For her to arise before four, she must be in bed by eight p.m. She needed her beauty sleep. What if one day he asked her out on a date? He was only likely to do that if she looked the part. There was the issue of how she would stay awake during the date, but if things progressed well there would be no sleeping; he would clutch and squeeze her till dawn – or opening time if sooner. She could sleep after that.

She watched him unlock the door and switch off the alarm. Once he wasn’t quick enough and it began bleating and flashing, and it looked like he was in a club dancing to a trance tune, the strobing blue light making it seem he was appearing and disappearing. He was her magic Bakerman.

He switched on the lights and the master power switch. Once a light bulb blew, shattering like a phosphoric bomb. What did they make them with now – mercury? It must have spread poison. Or maybe it was just glass fragments. It was a serious thing to happen in a bakery – glass in bread. He closed for the day and hired a specialist cleaner to remove the hidden shards.

He dragged out sacks of flour and measured portions. There was Whole Grain, oat flour, spelt flour, rice flour, rye, and good old fashioned, unrefined, bleached white flour. He used these flours for his breads, bagels, brioches, muffins, tarts, and rolls. He was an old fashioned baker using only bowls and rollers, and of course his hands to knead and punch. She imagined him beating her flesh like bread, not hard, just playfully. Enough to sting her.

Transformation required pain. A minimum of compromise and self-sacrifice and, if you were serious, rituals that caused irreversible harm. Circumcision, scarification, head-shaping, and ear-stretching. Even tattooing, marking you as different and changed forever.

His first round of baking was done by six. Truckers came in as soon as he opened the doors. Sometimes they were waiting already. Beef wanted two muffins and a double-double Americano. Taylor switched between sandwiches and bagels. Nancy loved his brioches, but would settle for tarts. It was a wonder that she kept her figure, being a full time trucker and daily pastry consumer.

Suzi went in at seven daily for a cappuccino and spelt or rice flour muffin. Something relatively healthy. She went again at twelve for a sandwich and smoothie. Her favourites were the turkey breast door stop and strawberry banana fruity. Her third visit daily was at four for tea and cake – Assam and whatever he’d made that day.

The Bakerman was nice to her initially – all welcomes and smiles. But one day she’d mentioned that she was attending a party and asked if he’d like to come along. Well to be precise, she’d asked him to “be her date”. She recalled his look of horror. It was as if the thought was so ridiculous that it had never occurred to him. He recovered quickly but too late for her to remain under any illusions. He clearly found her disgusting.

Suzi never went to the Bakery again. She went cold turkey. This didn’t stop her watching him though. His daily comings and goings. She felt most sad in the afternoons.

She missed his rainbow cake, with red, green, blue and gold, all swirling together. Rainbows were created by sun and rain. His smile and her tears.

She missed his marble cake. The brown and white whorls moving within and around each other. They were yin and yang. He and she.

Most of all she missed his Vanilla sponge cake. A simple flavour spread throughout it, combined with the flour forever.

To say she didn’t go to the Bakery wasn’t entirely true. She just held a different schedule. His keys had been easy to copy, and she’d figured out his codes by watching, so every Sunday she broke in at midnight. It was just to smell him. The breads and bagels he’d made the day before. She pushed her face into them. Smelled their cruel perfume. Once she didn’t reset the alarm properly, which he triggered when he entered. Once she’d removed a fuse to disarm the alarm, causing a bulb to explode. Sometimes she tested ingredients to ensure that they were worthy to touch his hands.

Today she had a special ingredient to add to his sourdough. Cyanide would put him behind bars for sure. At least there he would welcome her visits. Transformation requires pain.