Archive for taboo

Erased

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2012 by javedbabar

The city’s elders told Bobby that the way to escape from the drawing was to “Cut through the skin to the edge of the blood flow. There mark thyself.” When he asked them if they meant tattooing, they nodded but said nothing more.

What a strange notion, thought Bobby – drawing on yourself within a drawing. Did that mean that you became more a part of the drawing or less so?

There were no tattooists in the city. No one spoke of it. It was a forbidden art, forever taboo. Then why did the elders mention it to him? Maybe like corruption and murder, or a sweet tooth, it was allowable to some.

He brought needles and ink and asked Naomi to tattoo him. She was too squeamish to do it, and impossible to persuade, but said, “I don’t mind if you do it to me though.”

“You want me to tattoo you? Are you sure?”

“I’ve been to Diya’s house lots of times. We make henna patterns on our arms and hands. It’s lucky.”

Bobby showed her the needles again. One of them had to try it, but he would prefer it to be him. “But this is different. It will hurt you. Do you really want me to do it?” She nodded.

Naomi was remarkably tough. Maybe it was a result of her being in the drawing. She didn’t flinch. Bobby started with a single red flower, and then filled a meadow, which was in a beautiful valley, with a river running either side. There was a white mountain at one end of the valley and a dark one at the other, seeming equals yet opposites. The rivers were teeming with salmon and trout, and the forests were filled with coyotes, deer and bears.

“I feel like I’m home,” she said.

She wasn’t though, her physical location was the same, but she was somewhere else spiritually. She had become the archetypal goddess whose body is the world.

Within the drawing Naomi and Bobby were influential beings. People thought of them as manifestations of the Ancestors Aqu and Pani, so their deeds were observed and copied. Rather than singers, sportswomen, or salesmen, people emulated the Ancestors. They were the ultimate role models.

Whereas before, mutilation was seen as a sin, now it was embraced enthusiastically. Everybody was decorated with tattoos, including priests and leaders.

However Naomi’s tattoos soon began to fade. Maybe it was the effect of early sun-exposure, or her picking away scabs – Bobby told her not to, but she couldn’t resist – or simply Bobby’s lack of skill. When people saw that her tattoos were disappearing, they also began to get theirs removed. The tattoo industry largely disappeared.

They remained however on gladiators, slaves and soldiers – to prevent their escape and desertion. Prisoners were also marked for life here; there was no forgetting of crimes. Gangsters took pride in the markings they’d received in prison, and added to them, creating complex codes. A tear meant you were a killer. A trail of tears, a mass murderer. Livestock continued to be tattooed rather than branded, which was considered cruel.

There were also uses in the field of medicine. Tattoos allowed precise alignment of instruments during medical procedures. These cut through the skin to the edge of the blood flow, and then went deeper. Maybe that was the only way to escape the drawing.

Eternal Fire

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by javedbabar

His heart was inflamed by the woman. His blood was hot. His body engulfed.

They had not exchanged a word last night. She had come to him at dusk, they had made love, and she had lain with him for an hour before departing. Who was she? he wondered. Why had she come? It was surely for something more than sex. He’d heard of tribes who went overboard in their hospitality to strangers. Love thy neighbour, truly.

When was the last time he had been with a woman? He couldn’t remember. He recalled nothing before he awoke on the white mountain, a week ago; from there he had begun his journey through the valley, towards the dark mountain. He didn’t know why he was compelled to go there, but if living is dreaming, then this was the place he dwelt.

It was quiet at dawn, yet he sensed urgency outside. He pulled aside the door drape and stepped into the hard dirt courtyard. Outside the circle of thatched, mud-plastered huts stood the huge effigy of a thick-bodied wooden man.

The man from the mountain’s heart stopped. If his knees hadn’t buckled, he would surely have turned and run. People rushed towards him. He tried to get away, do something, anything, but his weakness, and their strength, made it impossible for him to do anything but be carried along with this crowd. He felt like a dying beetle swarmed by ants.

Strangely, nobody was hostile towards him. It seemed as if they all cared about his welfare. Who could he trust though? The bearded elder who had welcomed him to the village? The red-haired woman with whom he’d coupled last night? Certainly not the boy who had discovered and flushed him out by firing beans through a reed? Surely they were all in this together.

The elder called out, “Today is Samhala – the day after which our village is named. It is a holy day always, and today, even more so. A stranger has honoured us with his presence. He shall celebrate with us. He shall be carrier of the eternal flame.”

The crowed clapped and cheered. Cows and chickens joined in. Children danced around the stranger. The man from the mountain shuddered. Was this his destiny – to be a human torch?

The elder said, “See how he shivers! The divine spirit inhabits him!”

He went into a hut and returned with a flaming torch. “Look! I have touched this branch to the eternal fire. All wood comes from the Tree of Life. Fire is the eternal giver. Man is its spark!”

The elder walked towards the man from the mountain, whose knees buckled once more. Was this the meaning of the pulsing red star he’d seen above the dark mountain – his burning heart?

The elder said, “Here, stranger, sent to us by God. Light this humble offering made by our hands. Then take the eternal flame to the dark mountain for us. Take it in your heart. The dark mountain is a place taboo for us. Only holy strangers may go.”

The wooden effigy burnt fiercely, as did his heart again that night. His blood was hot. His body engulfed.

The red-haired woman came to him for four consecutive nights. On the fifth day, when he awoke, the people of Samhala were gathered outside to bid him farewell.

Seven Generations

Posted in Lucerne Village, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2012 by javedbabar

Nobody in the village had spoken to Breda for twenty four years. Seven generations ago, one of her ancestors had committed a crime, and since then all villagers had shunned her family.  The Nooranis were Quieted, which meant that they were not to be spoken to or spoken about, ever. It was as if they didn’t exist.

Life continued though, and they quietly went about their business in the Upper Valley. They were farmers and thus largely self-sufficient. They had all the food they needed – roots, fruits, meat and veggies –and could make do with or mend most objects. They were also able to trade with out-of-towners, who held no taboos, and engaged with them freely, but Lucerne’s citizens kept away from them entirely.

The only exception was shopping. They were allowed to buy what they needed from the grocery and hardware stores, but always in silence. Mt Alba and Mt Negra – the white and black peaks at opposite ends of the Valley – had been better companions to Breda growing up than anybody in Lucerne.

“Good day, love,” said the grocery store cashier. “How are you doing today?”

Breda dropped her cabbage. Somebody had spoken to her! How? Why? What for?

The cashier continued, “How was your weekend? Boy, it was hot on Sunday. Did you take a dip in the lake?”

Breda said, “Excuse me, are you talking to me?”

“Sure I am. I quit talking to myself years ago. I always chat to my customers. That’s the difference between this place and a box store. We give you personal service. Wasn’t it…”

Breda interrupted. “Do you know who I am? I’m a Noorani.”

“Yes, yes, I know that. Who doesn’t? But that’s neither here nor there now, isn’t it? The baby must be coming soon. When’s it due?”

Breda held onto the conveyor belt. So that was it! It was her baby! The child would be born of the eighth generation, and the taboo would be ended.

“Oh, I see you’ve got some nappies. You’ll be needing plenty of those! You might want to get a bigger pack next time. You’ll get through those in a flash. Do you want to change the pack? I’m sure the people behind you won’t mind much. They’ll understand the situation. Wait! You don’t want to walk up and down the aisle in your condition. Let me call one of the assistants…”

Breda was lost for words. This rush of engagement was overwhelming. It was like a desert becoming a lake. She was not ready to respond.

For Breda’s twenty four years of life, nobody in the village had spoken to her or her family. She had been made an outcast for crimes that had nothing to do with her at all. She didn’t even know what her great-great-great-great grandmother had done in the first place, and what was the chance of a fair trial for women in those days? Was there even any evidence? It was likely a baseless accusation for personal reasons, by a vicious neighbour, a zealous parishioner, or greedy rival.

Breda declined the cashier’s offer of getting a bigger pack of nappies. She bagged her own items and headed out of the store.

Two women passing greeted her effusively. “Oh Breda! Look at you now! When’s it due?” These were girls that she had studied with. They’d not spoken to her during her schooldays – never, ever – yet now asked after her mother and sisters. She didn’t know what to say to them, so grunted and headed to her truck.

A guy in a white half-sleeved shirt, on his lunch break from the bank, helped to load her groceries into the cab. He asked after her brother, to whom he had never spoken.

Breda started the truck and headed up the Lucerne Valley Road. As she rounded a bend near the river, she saw more people she knew that had never, ever spoken to her. They now waved cheerily and made signs to call them.

Breda considered swinging her truck towards them. Hitting them hard and sending their bodies flying into the river. These people had condemned her for things she hadn’t done; at least then they would have a reason to hate her and the next seven generations of her family. But then she thought, why not make this eight generation different?