Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hyphenating Identities

The first time she saw me I was sitting on a bench notebook and coal in my hand trying to put into words the desecrated, half nature that enveloped me and there I was not having lunched fifteen minutes past lunchtime not having thought past and if I’ve thought not having put A and B together past the expression how dashing.

Coming to think of it I had it viscerally wrong from the get-go beginning the description in the affirmative when the neighborhood was anything but dashing and indeed in retrospect an amalgam of things.

I remember she had two legs, wore something in olive drab, stood one foot introverted and asked me for change.

She took with one hand the two tens I managed to gather from my pocket and I took from her other hand one hundred.

She sighed, baffled at first as my hand reached back to my pocket and back then the hell did I know about the concept of money, then she smiled and waving at the bus before leaving said something about catching me back again, and I can’t believe for love's sake it’s been two wholesome years.

You know what they say when the magic wears thin, you don’t get to wear the same smile twice, and I know all that’s bull. You wouldn’t know if I’d lied but how would you know unless you’ve lived, not once, twice.

I’m telling you this tied to the sofa and I’m not very certain it was I or she. She makes me swallow the pill, from one hand drops the printed pages in the space between my legs, scratches her thigh, bridles, picks her nose, gathers the pages, tells me there’s no middle way with me, that I keep the house either overly tidy or overly untidy and how she wants neither, that I run uncalled for errands, that she’s going to call my mother. I wouldn’t know to tell her I married her because I missed my mother, and all this doesn’t matter because I pop the next pill I will be untied, adrift to sleep. I had ADD, bipolar and OCD, I still do, and like I get used to anything and everything I grew used to her. Soon I will grow used to the pills and it doesn’t matter. What matters is in a few days all this will be three days behind us, we’ll wine and dine by natural light, and even that doesn’t matter. What I'm getting to is.

The next time I saw her she was lying her back to the bench wearing the contacts that I thought turned light into night stargazing in daylight listening to the conjoined Parapagus Tripus Dibrachius and betwixt and between us (she – a found immigrant-daughter, I – a lost indigenous-son) the one extant lingua franca was a tangible hyphenated identidy.

She had nostrils ears and eyes, wore chrome yellow and I asked her not very predictably for change.

I plucked from her fingers two hundreds as she took my one thousand.

She smiled and I wasn’t sure she wanted me to leave or stay.

She asked me if I was somnolent and I said I’m not, that if I may be so bold we had a movie to catch and dinner to dine but then it happened after years I slept four uneventful hours warm and sound on her shoulder, missed the movie but ate crab and something even more delectable for dinner.



  1. Nishkam, I'm grateful to hear parts of it faintly reminds you of RK Narayan's style. Thank you for the appreciation.

  2. very impressive piece.i love the attention to detail and the way you are generous with adjectives! the style here faintly reminds me of R.K Narayan, particularly the way you juggle from the mundane to the profound effortlessly!


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