A Murder of Cows
Das and Dev were this close to suffocating N not so much with the whiff of their over-sprayed Burberry as with their bizarre incessant queries concerning his whereabouts. For two too-well-developed South Indians, Das looked 50% Persian and 50% Dravidian and Dev, on the other hand, Arabian 100%. Genetically things might take a different turn but you can always know for sure. That’s what some labs are there for. But they’d take their ancestry reports, make paperballs of them and chuck it only seconds after they’d selectively read it. Check again, chuck again they will again and again in their bottomless trash can of perceived inaccuracy. Kula Shaker might not approve but they don’t care and choose to believe that Hindutva is just a harmless diminution of Hindu Tattvas, choosing in fact to be disrespectful of the many ways of life, by many means that is, within the body spiritual and in turn the body politic. Rumor has it that their kind listens to Rammstein, which is quite unlikely, and for all you care they could even be listening to Rebecca St. James. They choose to clothe themselves with Van Heusen shirts and Parx trousers, Jockey or Levi’s innerwears. In other words, clothed just like the well-off left-leaning hipster stags, that is, until that point in a conversation where they opened their mouths and let all the sinister beans spill out. So it was with dear N. N, Nameless that is, went speechless when he said to them he was a Rohingya and they went: Muslim, Muslim, gotcha, gotcha. Back at home N was legitimately, on paper that is, not a Rohingya; now once again he felt deeply his space being quasi-legitimately violated. “Now, sir,” N heard Dev say, “tell us why you’d want to murder our cows.”
Yesterday, in a quiet corner of Hosur, the city that his sister initially conveyed to him as being not as safe as Nagercoil or Kovai, N was telling T a bit too joyfully loud: “Know what a crowd of crows technically is, brother; I just learned yesterday that it’s called a murder of crows.” For which he got beat up black and blue by two bystanders, liberally screaming at him, hurling vandheri naaye and Bharat Ma ki, during the course of the battering. N threw quite a lot of heavy counterpunches at his batterers, but if they weren’t wedded with T’s weaker but relentless bouncer tactics N would’ve likely ended up in the mortuary side of the same hospital he was now recuperating in. What these perpetrators actually heard didn’t seem to matter much to them and what they thought they heard must have set off some dim sparks flying in their rather bright brains. This wasn’t an isolated incident. The church that T had recently founded in the city was burnt down just a few months ago by a saffron mob and not one arrest had been made since, let alone the perpetrators going on to get punished. In N’s case, it’s more than likely that the police would go to any painful length to make fictitious connections between him and the ISIS. “Take me straight to the hospital instead,” was what N said to T, in a quivery voice, hard of breathing, bracing his ribcage with bare twice-quivery hands. “Just a day or two in the hospital and I should be fine, brother.” Later, along with Venkat, T went ahead anyway and filed an FIR with N’s consent after Venkat persuaded him about it, and the next thing you know, the deceptively gentler Dev and Das show up. Justice is hard to come by when fascism of all stripes is pervasive from top to bottom in the body sociopolitic. Assuming he gets punched in the face and kicked in the belly, at least T, Jase that is, has a home to go back to in Thoothukudi District. As for N, he doesn’t even have a tent as yet to go back to in Rakhine State.
That isn’t to say the world is devoid of any and all opportunities and possibilities. N, Rafi that is, could perhaps convert to Christianity and settle down in the US if he so chooses, but then Rafi really wouldn’t do that because in the end isn’t Jesus, peace be upon him, going to show up and say he’s not the God we’re looking for after all, so what’s the point in becoming a Christian. Rafi would rather visit Harlem once as a self-respecting tourist, pay a visit to Hotel Theresa and get a whiff of the place where Comrade Castro had once stayed; then at the very heart of Havana, Rafi would open his used bookstore, much bigger than the one he now runs in Hosur, as big as the M.R. Book Centre that he used to frequent in Begumpet. Rafi shuts his eyes and recollects Denzel as Malcolm X, Mammootty as Ambedkar, SNL’s Djesus Uncrossed that he’d watched a few times with his cordial neighbor Venkat. Within a sharp painful blink, in Rafi’s mind’s eye, a Yavanika Sriram reciting Venkat’s vivid face becomes the face of Jesus, a Jesus at the edge of space and time who’s standing beside a formless, faceless Allah. Rafi then happens to remember C. S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces that he’d purchased dirt-cheap from Daryaganj Sunday Book Market and all at once some things seem to make some sense if only as an epiphany, if only for a moment. Then, not minding the dull ache in his ribs and eye sockets, Rafi gets out of his bed, feeling an urge to breathe in the filtered breeze through the rustling neem tree.
Through the wooden window that’s very much there, Rafi stands facing a landscape all too greenish to the horizon that isn’t so much there: the remnant ghost of a forest whose trees are being fell one precious trunk after another. It wasn’t supposed to be there, it appeared, for anyone’s point of view, and so were they, yet there they were, Dev and Das, one holding what looks like a gunny bag and another definitely a hacksaw, heckling at the earsplitting squeaks that the trees make. And out from the falling trees, with an expression of the I-knew-it sort in his face, Rafi witnesses: a murder of cows mooing scared, terrorized by the deforestation event, taking flight, diving straight into a fast-setting sun right beside a slow-rising crescent moon.
Ahimaz Rajessh has been published with unFold, formercactus, The Cabinet of Heed, Speculative 66, Big Echo: Critical SF, Liminality, The Airgonaut, Occulum, Surreal Poetics, Jersey Devil Press, Jellyfish Review, Cuento, 7×20 and Nanoism besides many other zines. His fiction and poetry have been nominated for Best of the Net, Pushcart and Best Small Fictions.
Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines