Archive for upside-downy

Head Half-Full

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2012 by javedbabar

Zadam had predicted Armageddon. The whole village was now scared and shunned him.

For a while he had been the most popular person in Lucerne. Citizens lauded his demolishing of politicians’ bullshit at the town hall meeting, and liked the way their pets frolicked around him, as if he were a forest god. But after his humming, spinning, sparking display in the park, and his prophecies of global doom, they avoided him.

This didn’t seem to bother Zadam. As a deformed man with upside-down head, he was used to social rejection. His only real friend in the village, Shama, still dropped by and encouraged him to go out.

“Why should I?” Zadam asked him.

“Because it is nice to go walking – you get fresh air and exercise. I know there are people who make you feel uncomfortable. Just ignore them. While I am with you, they won’t come close.”

For the first time since he had met him, Shama saw a tear appear in Zadam’s eye. Because his eyes were near his chin, the tear appeared, rolled down, and disappeared quickly. “What is wrong?” asked Shama.

“Nothing at all,” he said and turned away. Then he turned back. “I am nothing at all to most people. I am someone creepy and disgusting. That’s why I hide in this hood.” He stopped speaking and looked down.

Zadam was a grown man. Shama didn’t know what to do. Should he hug him? Would that be too invasive?

Shama did what came naturally. He wiped the next tear, and held Zadam in his arms. He kissed him on the forehead, like a kid brother. It seemed a little strange because his forehead was placed where you would expect his mouth to be.

Zadam began venturing out again “by his own,” but whenever Shama saw him he was not alone. People walked beside him, quizzing him about his apocalyptic prophecy that the world was unbalanced and about to break, or following him quietly, reverentially. They felt sorry for him, and scared, and wanted to show they supported him.

A local holy man, Ozwald Malchizedek, also known as OM, declared that Zadam was divinely inspired. He said, “There was the first man, Adam, and now the last man, Zadam. These are clear signs for believers.”

He tried to be seen walking ahead of Zadam, but Zadam was unpredictable and stopped and started without warning. Eventually OM began following a few paces behind, telling people that Zadam was the herald for a forthcoming Master, not saying, but implying, himself.

Shama saw Zadam across the railway tracks, like when they had first met. The red lights began flashing, bells ringing, and barriers falling. These stimuli were picked up by sensors, converted into signals, collated by receptors, and interpreted by cells. What to make of this sensory overload? It indicated there was a train approaching.

Similarly, how should Shama react to Zadam’s warnings of global disaster? He asked him after the train had passed, on the railway tracks.

He said, “It is up to you. It is all going to happen one day, today, Saturday, who knows? But I am a head half-full kind of guy. We can have lots of fun before then.”

Zadam pulled out a whistle from his coat pocket and blew it from the mouth at the centre of his forehead. He led the crowd following him along the railway tracks.

Multi-Sensory

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama was curious about the word sensitive. Was it a combination of sense, meaning the ability to perceive, and –itive, denoting a characteristic? Someone inclined to be ruled by their senses and doing what felt right, rather than someone who ignored these subtle messages and always stuck to rules?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t all good, at least for Zadam. This strange man with reversed facial features, a nose where it should be, but upside down, and mouth and eyes reversed, was just too sensitive.

He picked up people’s finer feelings, often hidden – their beauty, love and kindness – but also their grosser feelings, buried deeper – their anger, stress and hate.

Their outing together to the museum had been a disaster. An old man’s pipe had caused Zadam to dwell on death, and after that he didn’t want to go out again.

Shama said, “Come on, Zadam, let’s meet up today. We can go for a coffee, or to the park. What do you say?”

He said, “I don’t say anything. I want to stay at home by my own. I have to, to keep my ten senses safe, and the other ones.”

What did he mean by his ten senses? Did he mean the five identified by Aristotle, plus five others suggested by science but not added to the official list? Or did he mean the five main senses, and their inversions?

Zadam sometimes called himself “Upside-Downy” because he could see, taste, hear, smell and touch things in a way that others couldn’t. He could perceive the stimulus, or outcome, of senses in a way negating their immediate message. Rather than a sensual experience, he knew origins and results.

Furthermore, what were the others ones?

Zadam took a while to feel comfortable with the outside world again. Shama supposed it was shock or a form of agoraphobia.

Time spent in the park seemed to work wonders. Zadam sat beneath a tree, like a modern-day Buddha, except with a mouth where his third eye should be. People kept their distance, but animals didn’t. At first butterflies and squirrels, and then cats and dogs, came and nestled around him. He played with them all day.

Eventually people stopped by too, but Zadam preferred animals. One day he mentioned his “infinite senses”. Shama asked “Which ones?”

“The animal ones. They know things first. Birds sense fires, fish sense earthquakes, deer sense volcanic eruptions. They can tell from air pressure, current direction, polarized light, and mechanical strain on things.” Zadam rocked back and forth.

He is getting fired up about this, thought Shama. Maybe he is picking up on the dark clouds rolling in, and humidity building. A storm is predicted for tonight.

Zadam began humming loudly. His sound seemed to bounce off trees in the park, nearby buildings, and around the valley.

Zadam began to spin around. It was like breakdancing, but smoother. It was hard to say how he did it.

Sparks flew from this body; Shama shielded his eyes.

Squirrels ran and butterflies flew, but dogs and cats stayed, and more came running. He was surrounded by a hundred at least.

Zadam began chanting. Words about the whole world becoming unbalanced by overpopulation, wealth inequality, fossil fuel depletion, water shortage, pollution, food inflation, climate change, media brainwash, unquenchable thirst for things, terrorism and nuclear war. He said he could sense these things. He was the upside-down hub of a world spinning and about to break.

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.”

Ear-Wiggy

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2012 by javedbabar

I have always felt alone in Lucerne, thought Shama. It is my own doing mainly. I have kept to myself. I wanted to get away from the city, all those people making noise and trouble, and I haven’t wanted to re-engage with people, even in this small place.

But I don’t feel alone now. I guess it had to be someone special, an outsider like me. Who is more of an exile than Zadam? He is a disfigured being hidden within a green, hooded coat. His facial features are reversed. A man ignored, who ignores. Like me, he seems weak but is strong.

Shama was protective of Zadam. He thought of him as a kid brother who needed help to make his way in the world. He also provided a way for his self-appointed “big brother” to escape self-imposed exile. The flipside of integrating Zadam into everyday life was that Shama too must engage with the local community.

He thought it would be good for them to attend a local election meeting. They could smell the hot potatoes, spot elephants in the room, complain about white elephants, and enjoy hearing politicians getting abused, which was always quality entertainment.

Shama and Zadam came in late and sat at the back of the hall. Some people stared but then turned away. Whether they became ashamed of their rudeness in a temple of political correctness, or they didn’t want to miss anything going on up front, was unclear.

The mayor was a local business man. He owned the airport, the bottle shop and the grocery store, leading to claims that he used his assets to unbalance the local economy. How he did this was never explained, but there was a history of accusations. His style at gatherings was called B&B, a mixture of bullying and boring people into acquiescence, and in private there was further B&B: bribery and beating. He was a political player par excellence.

The mayor was asked questions about the very high levels of village taxation, its unbalanced budgets and non-existent plans, impossible building regulations, vicious personal arguments and crippling legal disputes. Some of these questions received stock answers, but most received no answers at all.

Zadam began talking to himself.

“Please be quiet,” said Shama. “You are disturbing people.”

Zadam said, “He can’t answer. He can’t answer.”

“Shhhh!”

“I know the answer. I know the answer.”

Zadam’s upside-down head caused his senses to be reversed. He could see both points of view of every situation, smell what things would become, and also hear true answers, rather than the false, unclear or irrelevant ones that most people spouted out, and usually preferred to hear. He liked that film where the general said, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Zadam couldn’t stop talking and people around him became annoyed. Shama asked him again to be quiet, but instead he got louder and eventually stood up, chanting.

The mayor tried B&B but it didn’t work. The chairman of the meeting also failed to silence the heckler. Eventually they just let him speak. No one was willing to publicly mishandle a disabled person.

Zadam said, “Why should I be quiet? You are not saying anything. You say you don’t know the answers. I know the answers.” He told the audience everything. He told them about the mayor’s personal 5% cut of taxation, crooked accountants, deliberate lack of planning so project funds could be hidden, the corrupt Building Control Officer, veiled threats, and lies told in court.

Following the meeting, the mayor and incumbent councillors withdrew their names from the ballot for the forthcoming elections. There was a motion for Zadam to stand for election but he declined, saying that the only poll he liked was a “pollipop”.

This confused people enough to not pursue the motion.

Looky-Wooky

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama made appointments with Zadam but things never worked out. The strange, disfigured man who called himself “Upside-downy” also had a reversed view of time.

It was unclear whether he swapped a.m. for p.m., seconds for minutes, or dates for hours, or some combination of them all. The result was that Shama waited around, became annoyed and went home. His calls to Zadam never went through. Those numbers were probably mixed up too.

Shama bumped into him crossing railway tracks. Zadam was chanting to himself again, saying, “Upside-downy; Upside down me; Everything is and everything isn’t; As it should be and as it shouldn’t; Upside-downy…”

Shama stopped right in front of him and said, “Hello there, stranger.”

Zadam replied in his usual backwards manner, “Goodbye.”

“That’s three appointments you haven’t kept this week. Is it worth making another one?”

Zadam’s mouth rose. This is what happens when it is set near the top, rather than the bottom, of your face. For once he was stuck for words. After a moment he said, “I would like to go for coffee, yes.”

He sometimes sees things so clearly, thought Shama. He anticipates whole conversations and relates them backwards, and can smell what things will become, but he misses so many things. His world is darkened by a hood pulled tightly around his deformed head. He is cut off. Shama felt that he should befriend him further to expand his existence.

They arrived at the coffee shop and took an empty table on the patio. Mt Alba shone white, seeming like an enormous pyramid that could only have been built by aliens. Maybe it was a symbol placed there in hope that we would one day understand. Despite it towering over the village, people remained unaware of its message, so clear, pointing upwards.

Shama brought two coffees to the table. Zadam raised his cup over his eyes and nose, to his lips. Some people stared.

“Does that bother you?” said Shama. “People staring at you?”

“They’ve never seen me before, so I don’t mind. Let them stare.”

Raising his mug, Zadam seemed cross-eyed, which somehow didn’t seem odd. It was the least strange thing about him. He said, “People have expectations. One view of things. But then they see other ways, and after a while they get used to them.”

Was Zadam speaking normally? Were his sentences now progressive rather than reversed? Or was it Shama’s mind compensating somehow?

Zadam continued, “It is silly to have only one view of things. Birds sing sweetly but also shit on your head. Electricity gives light but is made by burning fossil fuel. Cars take you places but also kill people. Rods and cones. Pods and bones. My mother and father, teachers, myself and God, are all good and bad. We see with rods and cones. Lights and colours. Sods and tones. Everything can be seen two ways. This way and that way.”

He was suddenly annoyed by something. He stood up and shouted at the coffee drinkers on the patio, “What are you all looking at?”

Smelly-Welly

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama saw Zadam regularly walking around town, and after a while he no longer noticed his strange appearance. After all, Zadam had a head with all the right features, just in the wrong places on his face.

His mouth was where his forehead should be, his nose was in the right place but reversed, and his eyes were at the bottom. That’s why he kept his green coat’s hood pulled both up and down, creating a dark hollow. People only caught hints of features and were suspicious rather than afraid.

Shama also got somewhat used to backwards talking. He could follow Zadam’s train of thoughts if he concentrated, but he often lost track. He found it easier to stick to questions and answers rather than partake of long exchanges.

Shama saw him in the produce section of the grocery store, examining blood peaches. He was picking out ripe ones, heavy and juicy, smelling them and saying, “Phoo!” and putting them back. He selected unripe ones, hard and scentless, and licked his lips, saying “Yum!”

“Hello Zadam,” said Shama. “What are you doing?”

“I am smelling good fruits.” He handed Shama a peach that could replace a cricket ball without anyone knowing. It smelled like one too.

“But this has no scent at all.”

“My senses are reversed,” said Zadam, dropping the red skull-cruncher into his basket. “I smell things early and I know what they will become like later.”

“Is that just with fruits?” asked Shama, catching a blood peach hard enough to draw blood.

“No, I can do it with everything.”

Zadam’s olfactory receptors worked in overdrive. They bound to particular molecular features, exciting more or less strongly, the combination of excited signals from different receptors flipping and flopping, integrating and reverting, a thousand times over, creating his upside-down sensation of smell.

Shama didn’t like grocery shopping. Something about it really bugged him. It wasn’t just the high prices at the village store, almost double those in the city – but who’s going to drive two hundred clicks each way just to get their milk? It was also the vast amount of processing and packaging, wasting precious energy and resources.

He felt that he should be producing his own food. He had a dream of becoming a farmer. That wasn’t going to happen in the city, but it could happen here in Lucerne if he…

He noticed Zadam smelling potatoes, dropping a few in his basket and moving onto cheese, which provided some amusing reactions, and then meat and fish.

“What about packaged food?” he asked Zadam. “Can you tell anything about that?”

“I don’t eat it, but I can try.”

He picked up a packet of French onion soup, took a deep sniff and smiled. It went into his basket. He sniffed a tin of spam, which went straight back onto the shelf. He smelled a chilled lasagne, which he thought about, but then made an upside-down, screwed-up face and returned it to the chiller. He tried frozen food but said it was “too hard” to smell. He smelled some fashionable Superfoods and said, “Poo!”

Shama said, “Phoo?”

“No, poo! Your body will not absorb them. They come out in your poo!”

He saw a baby. The mother was reluctant to let this disfigured person hold her child, but then she softened and said it was OK.

Zadam picked up the child and took a deep sniff. He said, “Aahhh!”

Upside-Downy

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama first saw him from the corner of his eye across the railway tracks. His peripheral vision was good; he had honed it for years in the rough areas where he’d lived, sometimes on the street. He immediately spotted people that didn’t fit, making him wonder what they were doing there.

Who was that tall, thin man in a green, hooded coat, looking part-yob, part-mod, and part-military, stalking more than walking towards the tracks? He bore no relation to Lucerne. Why was he here?

Shama was heading away from the village centre, and the green-coated man was heading towards it. Their paths would cross upon the railway tracks.

Before they reached them, red lights began flashing and bells ringing, warning of an approaching train. The striped barrier came down between them.

The green-coated man waited directly across the tracks from Shama, with his hood pulled low. Shama couldn’t see much of his face but he seemed to be talking.

There was no one around him. Maybe he had an earpiece for his cell phone. His lips were moving rapidly, rhythmically. Was he talking to himself?

When the freight train came, Shama’s eyes shook. It was partly due to the rush of hot air, and the train’s shuddering, but he had also seen something that didn’t make sense, or maybe he had imagined it.

The rush of air had caused the man’s hood to lift up, showing all of his face. The mouth Shama had seen was near the top of his head, rather than the bottom. It was speaking, chanting, ranting, from where his forehead should be, with his nose and eyes beneath it. His face was upside-down.

When the train passed and the barrier lifted, Shama and the man walked towards each other. The man’s hood was back in place but Shama couldn’t help staring at his face.

He was confused and horrified. Who was this man? What was he doing here? Was he a disfigured accident victim or was he disabled from birth? Had his mother taken drugs when pregnant, or his father worked in a power station? As he walked by, Shama heard him saying:

“Upside-Downy,

Upside-down me,

Everything is and everything isn’t,

As it should be and as it shouldn’t.

Upside-Downy…”

Shama turned to look at him, but the man continued walking into town. Stalking.

The next time Shama saw the man, he said hello. The man ignored him and continued chanting and stalking. He must be deranged, thought Shama. If your head looked like that on the outside, imagine how mixed up it was within.

Shama believed in doing the right thing, regardless of outcome. So he continued saying hello to the upside-down man every time they passed.

One day the man replied, saying, “Goodbye.”

Shama was taken aback but managed to say, “I’m Shama.”

The man engaged in a strange – was it reversed? – conversation. He said, “See you again; nice to talk to you; I’ve seen you in town; I am not the first man, but the last man you would want as your son; it was Adam but I changed it; my name is Zadam; hello.”

His speech was confusing to follow but Shama got it. He had dealt with crazies in the city before. One winter he had almost frozen on the street, and became a little deaf. It helped him to lip-read when people were speaking. That was easy to do with Upside-Downy.