It’s very true, Malli would say to Prabha while making the soup that’s not meant for human consumption, that roaches almost never die and, say, when a senile-infantile Uncle Sam and tens of his equally inane allies drop WMDs in an unsuspecting, self-sufficient farmer’s backyard, the souls of that land’s countless dead would possess the roaches that just happened to survive in the vicinity so that those possessed roaches would possess the power in turn to possess some humans living beyond the scorched and blighted earth and make them want to mate and propagate.
Subha never once doubted that roaches of every size and shape have colonized every fiber of his body but he had an inexplicable urge to want to mate with a Tamil woman and make Tamil babies because a few years ago, having determined to have State Shinto by his side to fight against the barbaric British Empire, he didn’t raise so much as a finger when under his nose the barbaric State Shinto allowed a hundred thousand Tamils to perish in dire conditions building the Death Railway. Perhaps he felt guilty about that irrevocably horrific incident, but what Subha never cared in his desperation to make babies is that one cannot make Tamil babies just like that out of thin air with nary a feeling or care for the Tamil people, a feeling that must be situated deep within one’s marrow, that both parties must have that unreserved conviction in every single fiber of their body spontaneously, not imposed upon by roaches, that sexually active and healthy genitals alone are insufficient in this regard, that only those who are consciously Tamils, whether or not one is Tamil by birth, can bear and rear Tamil babies and most importantly by all means you can make all kinds of babies all you want but someone that calls himself or herself an Indian primarily, and for that very reason allies with that selectively collective-assimilating, ethnicity-devouring hegemonic monstrosity, can neither bear nor rear Tamil babies.
Disfigured with burns, lacking an arm, sat on his bed behind the transparent grey drapes, often with some antennae obtruding like overgrown hairs from his earholes, from a distance, Subha would look to Malli like a vandalized idol that’s been stolen that would soon be in possession of secular, moderate-Hindutvite, self-proclaimed post-colonial intellectuals. Dear Subha, Valli said to him on a Friday, I don’t mean to be rude but this could be due to impotency…I mean this could be me…we could get help from sister Malli…she’d know all about the natural remedies. I’ll make sure that she and her husband will not drill you with questions if you think that would be a concern.
On 18 May 2009 in Mullivaikkal, a defenseless Prabha witnessed Buddhas dropping Russian cluster bombs on civilians in no-fire zones, and as he realized it’s not Buddha but fascist-chauvinist Mahavamsa monstrosities flying those Pakistani planes guided by Indian radars mercilessly massacring his people, he found himself transported, right before the White Flag Incident, by a deafening blast and a blinding light, body and soul to a Taoist temple in Taipei, to 18 August 1945, whence he met Malli and since he has aided her with bare hands in breaking the necks of Uncle Sam’s werewolves, who arrived at nights time and again to intimidate the US defectors living incognito in the vicinity, aiding her also with making spiceless werewolf soup in which the cheery roaches that sneaked out in batches came to dive in for hours together until it got awfully lukewarm for them to swim and time was up for them to get back to their human home.
By the time Subha realized that all the remedies and conjugals have failed miserably, it’s been twelve months since the horrific February 28 Massacre in Taiwan, meanwhile elsewhere India has attained independence and for Prabha, while Ceylon has become an independent island, it was either 21st century or stay put in 20th, waiting restively for the time-travel instructor to arrive from Andaman or Mexico with the keys and manuscripts to unfurl the miniature seven-storey vimanam he’d acquired and held in his possession. Subha had a different plan. He walked Valli to the tree at the corner of the house, sat underneath it, pointed at his forehead and instructed her to make a gesture with her finger. She stood there confused for a second and then stared at Malli who came to her and whispered something in her ears. So Valli, with a but-why expression in her eyes, pointed her forefinger at Subha and said: DUMEEL. The onomatopoeia, as if magically, unexpectedly triggered the exodus of the roaches inhabiting his body, flying out in hundreds through his ears and the flutter lasted for so long everyone under that roof thought the upstream shower of death-defiant roaches would never end. Valli stepped back, fell to her knees and stared up at her sister Malli who seemed to avoid eye contact with her as if she had lots of explaining to do. But not just Valli, who else would believe a story of one beloved army-hero corpse animated by a swarm of forsaken slave-laborer souls in the form of roaches. Valli, Malli once said to her, you’re maybe offering yourself wholesale body and soul to a god that doesn’t belong in your orbit or your world and what if he wittingly or unwittingly … what if he ends up annihilating your world, to which Valli retorted, grabbing Malli by her wrists so tight it couldn’t be shaken off and she had to resort to just wincing, you know what, Malli, actually I’m afraid I just might end up unwittingly annihilating your mustard-sized universe. Then for over a month Valli wouldn’t let her sister step inside the house, until that week when Prabha reported his frequent night terrors became intermittent and Subah began reporting frequent excruciating phantom-limb sensations along with intermittent crawling sensations across his spine.
After the flutter and shower, a wasted Subha stared at Malli, who’d said to Valli a while ago that the uterus, that is the belly, can seem to grow big enough in your dream to fill a home and be a baby universe capable of containing a billion babies at once except that in reality it cannot, first her unusually rotund second-trimester belly, then her inscrutable eyes and then he looked at Prabha with a smile that was comradely but pained, and then as he finished saying: They doused me with gasoline, I tell you, then they lit me up and they pushed me down from a great height, what must have been a prince of roaches emerged from his mouth and took flight to the cracks in the wall, then his eyes met Valli’s and, that was that, he did not blink ever again. Just as Subha’s elements began to dematerialize, rare flowers that bloom once in a century or so began to blossom in the tree that was at the verge of impaling the roof of the house with its double-edged branches.
Ahimaz Rajessh has been published with Big Echo: Critical SF, formercactus, MoonPark Review, Jellyfish Review, unFold, The Cabinet of Heed, Speculative 66, Liminality, The Airgonaut, Occulum, Surreal Poetics and Jersey Devil Press besides many other zines. He lives in an Indian-occupied Tamil Nadu.