Category Archives: flaws

DEVATHAVI

(Part Four, the final chapter)

PART FOUR
The port of Devanagara.
Not the most exceptional part of the Principality of Rohana, with its small seaward-facing towns and the scent of salt rich in the senses of the bhikkus. Simple people, from fishermen with their lean oarsmen’s muscles to wealthy captains of mighty trading vessels, mingled with the crowd of Buddhist devotees. The rain was coming down hard on Devanagara.
The streets were a quagmire where there was mud, and a slippery hazard where there were paving-stones.
The trail of saffron-hued monks took each step with the slow dignity of gods among men, their devotees and temple workers shielding them with their parasols. The wind chill bit angrily at them and their robes wrapped ever-tighter around their bodies.
The young monk too had his share of trouble.
Mud sloshed under his feet, and the cacophony of toads in the drains stung his ears, some of them hopping around him, their cold eyes smiling ominously at the hordes of flies. He hiked up the trailing edge of his robe to avoid mud splashing against it. The vile little creatures seemed to be judging him; but when the slender form of a rat snake slipped by his heart was in his mouth. A tumbling vortex of feeling gushed out from the dark shores of his mind as he watched the reptile swimming through the deep puddles, searching for a dry haven down a gutter. Its shiny form glistened in his mind as the world around him grew dark…
The memory stormed through him…
He felt his young body becoming supple and slick with oil a mere two years after he’d lain with her. The room was dark but for the set of candles that glowed on the bedside table. A pile of jasmine and water lillies was heaped around them, the flame carrying the wondrous aroma in currents through the boudoir. Her slender hands worked tenderly across his soft body as the coconut oil seeped into his soft young skin. He trembled, fighting back hot tears as his sin bored into him.
Wandering off.
That would be his excuse.
But he was fifteen! Would be be so irresponsible at that age? What would truly be his excuse to have his goddess by him? He wanted to be a man.
Her kisses awakened what little strength his organ bore as he gripped the sides of his bed. His mind too was awakening as he took in her bronzed, majestic beauty. The silky tongue traced over him as she whispered into his ear.
“You’ve probably guessed at my race, haven’t you?” Her blade-sharp canines and inscisors, filed down to almost leopard-like points, nipped at his earlobe. “Our culture struggles against the grip of greater faiths which suffocate our lands, and that is why we are different. We break away from the all-seeing eyes of so many saints and gods who possess us. Let me show you, my little monk. The Naga race is extinct, but we still live on us long as our gods do. We”-she grinned lustfully-“are gods tonight, and here is our heaven.” The monk’s heart pounded against his chest, screaming in terror at the dancer’s vicious, hungry gaze. She straddled him with her strong, lithe legs as she towered over him.
“Lord Kamadeva is among us now!” she cried, ripping away her bodice. “My sweet, sweet darling, I will be the one you will never forget! You there”-she turned, barking at her tearful, trembling companion who stood by the door-“open the damn door. I want my Kali inside. And if you cry again I’ll slap you till you bleed. Same goes for you, boy. Now”-her tone became softer as she silenced his lips with a kiss-“are you ready?”
“Are you mad?” shrieked the other young woman, a pretty, petite girl of around twenty-three. “Both of you! This is a sin that neither of you will live with! Oh my lord, forgive me for this, but do you not have an oath of celibacy to follow? This must not happen tonight, I will not let it happen! This is a sin!” she struggled to keep the floodgates of her eyes closed, to keep the tears within her and cry in private. Her mind was stuffed with the horrors of the Six Hells, of flames rising sky-high, and pretas with immense bellies sticking obscenely out into their rotten world, slavering with hunger. Visions of Mara, King of Hell, danced past her as she watched her associate running her lips over he boy’s struggling body.
“In your damned faith maybe!” roared the Naga dancer, “but not in mine! Bring Kali inside now! And was it ever my sin? I could see this boy’s imagination flashing through his eyes when first we met two years ago. His hopes for me as he saw me, oh they were worthy  of a dog in heat.” She was salivating with excitement.
“So bring in Kali now.”
The other girl told a silent prayer, opened the door and ran outisde, shutting it firmly behind her.
She screamed once in terror, and then a Buddhist prayer rose from her as she crouched on the doorstep.
The monk’s lover shot him a predatory glance that chilled his blood, then turned her attention to the floor.
“My Kali wants to meet you now,” she smiled sweetly as she dismounted him and dropepd onto he floor. He closed his eyes as he shivered through the cold mist of horror that swirled around him. Her moans of pleasure grew in tempo, but most terrifying was the low hiss that accompanied her voice. A long rope was being passed over his body, rubbing excitedly past his thighs and circling around him. The rush of heat that flooded his body seemed to warm the chilled rope that wrapped around him.
He felt his legs growing sticky as fought stubbornly against the arousal.
The hiss-a rasping voice that felt like a blade being dragged over gravel- grew almost into a roar as he saw, with the corner of his eye, the candlelight reflected in an glassy black spot on the rope.
A rope which was rougher than a regular fiber-woven product…
So thick it was, that he could count its hard scales as it reared up above him…
The boy screamed and the vast cobra almost growled in a combination of anger and excitement as it showed off its hood. It was vast, more dragon than serpent as its great weight crushed against his chest. Its toothy jaws were open in defence.
The dreamy dancer willed the reptile to move up her body. “My Kali…” Her words felt trance-like. “Her mother is from the far-off country of Ramanna. My family raised my beautiful Kali from birth. In Ramanna, serpents grow larger and stronger than they do here in Lanka. They are powerful beasts, but even she is not the greatest of her race! But still”-she lowered the king cobra onto the bed as she doused herself in oil-“we Nagas worship them. Kali is a goddess among snakes.”  The light of the candle lit the left side of the dancer perfectly. The dark points of her nipples, the taut muscles of her stomach and the cleft of her sex were illuminated like mountains at sunset; thus she seemed to him like a spectre as she lowered herself onto the boy once more.
He kicked and struggled, whacking her in the hips and the belly as she allowed him inside her. She held so tightly onto his body that he wailed in a mix of pain and pleasure.
Everything around him was a red blur. His world was dominated by her lethal beauty, the wonder of her perfume and the suppleness of her oiled skin. The senses that he had hoped to sharpen as a bhikku-the forces in his mind which told him what was good and what was not-were dulled as his eyes grew blind with tears. He allowed his young body to be rocked by waves of perfect pleasure, while sixteen feet of serpent slithered around them, seeking the warmth that the fire of their lovemaking produced…
He almost fell face-forward into the mud.
“We’re nearly there,” hissed a middle-aged companion, catching him by the crook of the arm, “so don’t make a disgrace of yourself, please! This devotee is very important. He’s a merchant, a Tamil, who has just embraced the Dhamma. We need to show him what we truly are made of, and that won’t be possible if one of us looks even slightly dirty or undignified! So”-he grabbed the young monk bodily-“stop making a scene and waving your arms about, you’ll attract the wrong kind of attention!” Excusing himself, the older priest pulled the young man out of the once-orderly line. A senior bhikku or two glowered at him, but he indicated that the boy was ill and wanted some treatment.
“What are you doing?”
“She…she’s here!”
“Who is?”
The beautiful ghost danced past him, swaying her nude hips to excite his senses. He groped at her as she passed by.
“There!” he shouted. “My goddess has come! Let go of me, you old fool!” He struggled so much his robed nearly slipped out of his companion’s grasp. “She…my beautiful…she wants me…”
A much younger, slimmer monk drew up near them. “What’s going on here, sir? That’s my good friend!”
“Get away! He’s sick! Seems that he can see some goddess or woman or something in the line. Yes, there are women here, but you’ve been to enough ceremonies and alms-givings as it is. Control your thoughts and carry on. Mara is playing with you, don’t let him in,” the middle-aged monk told him sternly. “If he’s your friend, boy, here! I’ll leave him with you. It’s dangerous to do this sort of thing in front of people. Lord Buddha himself knows what kind of gossip these poisonous tongues will spread.” He handed the tempted man over to his younger friend.
The teenager whispered, “We can’t do this over here! I thought we went over this once.”
His hand busily worked at his friend’s shoulder as he looked around.
Already, some older men and women were crowding around the two young monks.
“Look here, you can take a rest after the ceremony if you feel ill, but try to look sharp during, please!” However, his voice was filled with uncertainty as he politely sent the throng of gossip-mongers away. One man though, was particularly hard to see off.
Creased hands held onto a gnarled stick as he steadied himself. He saw the teen monk’s older friend lying crumpled on the ground.
The monk’s face was a wide-eyes mask of horror, one arm reaching out for something invisible.  
“Come on, don’t phase out on me now!” shouted the teenager as he tried to shake his companion out of his vision. Her body filled his world, growing to him as huge as the cosmic mountain of Meru. The young boy was nearly in tears as the old man neared him. The man’s son held onto him.
“He sees a goddess, does he?” The hoarse, scraping voice breathed warmly into the boy’s ear. “He is merely hallucinating. I think you too have dreamed of beautiful women on many a night, haven’t you? It’s alright”-he smiled kindly when the boy gasped at the truth of his words-“I know you live a hard life. Not everyone can emulate the preachers of old. No, this world is too full of sin for that.  If you can control your human nature, you are a true monk, Reverend Sir. He, however…he is sick. The sickness grows inside his heart and mind, not in his body.”
The teenager looked at his friend, who was enveloped in the throes of madness.
“My angel, we were always meant to be together,” he called out mournfully as he rolled through the mud. Her perfume danced on the wet winds and every raindrop felt like her heavenly kiss. The gentle warbling music of her laughter became like white noise as his robe fell away. With a yell, his friend reached for him, but a spring of disgust and horror welled up inside his young heart.
Women and girls joked and jeered at the nude bhikku. He reached for his thighs as she bore down on him, allowing him into her gently.
She purred, “Love me, love me,” as the voice of reason slipped away from his grasp.
“Fight, damn you!” The teen reached out and made another grab at his friend, but tried to avoid slipping in the mud.
“All those years ago, we met, my goddess. I was so foolish! I resisted your power, but now we’re together! No other woman but you could love me for what I am. I resisted this, but no more now.” His goddess laughed beautifully as he kissed her.
So in her embrace did he drift away from the golden wonder of reality, and into the terrifying darkness of mad oblivion and all-consuming power of Lord Mara. The huge crowd beheld his shameful situation as she grew more real before him…
Shaken, the teenager looked up for a second. A cold-eyed woman, probably between her thirties and forties, was watching him. Her long hair, while predominantly black, was beginning to grow more silvery, although she still was beautiful.
Yet her beauty felt more like that of a proud, elegant and regal woman who had been highly successful during her lifetime.
Her white sari was wrapped tightly around her body, but she wore no bodice and her breasts were visible, pushing out against it. Her perfect, smooth stomach was left open to the elements, but the rain did not bother her much, even if the edge of her sari was lifted by the wind. Quickly, she smiled coolly at him. There was even a small snake of some sort-a young rat snake or water snake maybe-motionless by her right foot. Slightly disturbed though he felt, he smiled back briefly, then turned away from her.  Then he remembered that he’d noticed something unusual.
His mind still held the image of her twisted gold necklace with a many-headed serpent as a pendant…
And the sharp points of her canine teeth…

DEVATHAVI

(Part three)

His lips trembled and his body shook with his prayers as he allowed himself to drink deep of the dark poison and travel ten years ago. He slipped through the tunnels of time as he shut his terrified eyes off from the swirling black vortex that buffeted him about. The walls of the tunnel opened out onto a great hall, lit dimly. The square was ringed by pillas with lotus-like capitals borne by  dwarf vamanaswith twisted faces. White-clothed scores of people sat in the alms-hall, listening intently as the sermon went on, the monks with folding fans held against their chests as they preached.
He felt the thunder of their prayers rumbling through his bones, and the aroma of burning incense stung his nostrils.
The hairs on his forearms stood up as he scanned the crowd.
He saw a boy, hair cut close to his scalp, girlish and beautiful, those same full lips, those same large deep pitch-dark eyes and that same small nose, seated with the other monks atop the decorated mandapa, the white stage on which they sat during the ceremony. The boy’s gaze shifted nervously as he gazed around the hall, slender fingers trying their best to hold onto the cinnamon-colored fan and trying his best to concentrate on the prayers.
Thirteen years alive.
Thirteen years a monk.
This was his first time, the unfathomable darkness behind those innocent eyes becoming greater as he spotted a figure that stuck close to the shadows. He felt hungry eyes boring into him and stalking him through the ceremony, yet he could not be sure if it was merely his imagination or an actual monster from ancient myths was lusting for his blood. The vast pillars cast a hauting gloom over the alms-hall. The vamanas grinned perversely at him as they bore the weight of the pillar capitals on their stunted backs. Mayura Rakshasa, that terribkle deep blue demon whose face hung at the doorway lolled his tongue in a pathetic display of lust and pleasure upon gazing through the young monk’s robe. The rest of the ceremony he spent in fear…then she came to him…when the even deeper blackness of midnight fell over the world that bygone day in the holy month of Poson.
He trailed for a while at the back after visiting the latrine and walked back to the empty hall. He must rejoin the other monks, to avoid the snarling stone faces above him. These guardians of this rich devotee’s house wished for a night with him and terror began to strangle him as he walked towards the door. His tender young body shone through his robe in the bright light of the only lamp that was actually lit in the hall. Her eyes too saw this innocent fawn in her territory as she stalked him from the concealing depths of the shadows.
“Come here boy.”
The voice seemed rather comforting at first but he felt the rasping serpentine edge to it-a knife being drawn across his back. He looked around wildly, searching for his strange new companion as he felt a new form of tension rise up inside him. Such wonderful perfume it was! It swirled over him like a storm from heaven itself, but the eye of the storm was even more beautiful, and it was made of flesh.
Two people that brought out feelings of lust in the hearts of onlookers now faced one another.
The young woman who revealed herself to him was ravishing.
Her body was the most natural he had ever seen. Firm, large breasts and the dark mounts of her nipples swelled with pride beneath her very short blouse, and a heavy gold chain rested on her neck; a ruby pendant sat gleefully at her cleavage.  He saw the bright firelight revealing long, muscular legs like a young doe’s through her semi-transparent silken skirts, and rounded hips that could sway to almost any beat of the drum or any twang of a string.
She walked deliberately around him, alowing his eyes to closely follow her light footsteps, graceful  and deft as a tigress.
Narrow eyes, made long and sharp by black eyeliner, ran down his body, undressing him effortlessly despite layers of thick saffron cloth.
“Well, boy? Come here, don’t be shy now,” she coaxed him. Her canine teeth were unusually long and sharp-filed down when she was younger, so it seemed. Perhaps then her lipstick was not made of ochre paste but dried human blood…she did lick her lips when she looked at him again.
“Are you alone, little monk?”
He shook his head shyly in agreement. His bones shivered as he waited for the vicioius serpent facing him to strike. He felt her hungry gaze pushing him towards the pillar as she stepped lightly towards him. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, so transfixed was he by the beautifully dark kohl eyeliner, the lengthy, lean legs and the heaving of her great breasts which screamed for freedom against her tight blue blouse. At the wall, he cowered immediately as the recognizable voices of  two other monks penetrated the hall. 
“Where are you?” they asked.
“Do you think he’s alright? He said he wanted to go to the toilet. We should have waited for the poor boy,” replied the other. “I don’t like leaving him alone.”
“Don’t worry, there’s nobody else around here. See?” His shadow gestured around the hall. The dancer and he reluctant lover were bathed in blackness, invisible from the prying eyes of mortals. She kept him silent, her own breath bated as the trill of cicadas and the thunderous booms of frogs filled the garden outside.
“Let’s go. He’ll come, don’t worry. Plus there are many servants around here and the boy is smart enough to ask for directions.”  
The first monk, who sounded like the older of the two, took the reluctant younger one by the arm and led him out.
The little monk tried to scream, but his energy had deserted him as her iron grip held his little arm, pushing him over and clapping his mouth shut.
He kicked at her shin and tried to push her away, but all he could feel were her now-naked breasts pushing against him as his robe fell away in the dark shadow of the pillar. She kissed his neck as he squirmed under the strong dancer’s grasp and the suffocating aroma of her perfume. The hardness and wetness against his leg terrified his young mind to no end as he struggled, but her deft hands and lips relaxed and pleasured him. He lifted his hands to touch her bosom, eyes half-blinded with hot tears, her lips crushing his. He felt the muscles of her mouth relaxing into a smile as his male desires took hold of his chaste heart and mind.
The beauty of his dark lady overtook his senses and he moaned in boyish pleasure for the first time at the stabbing pain in his member.
The hall was a blur of bloody red with only the young woman bathed in light, straddling his thighs as she proceeded to kiss him once more…
It was her! His goddess…
“Ten years, and still…but why do I want you so much more now, now that I can never see you again? You’re probably old now but I still would love to have you sleeping beside me”-he looked bleakly at the cave floor-“you damned demon! Fie, beast from hell! Oh…”
He crumpled down agains the wall again. Would his master know of a solution? He was, after all, an experienced man who had studied the depths of the Abidhamma itself, and the closest thing to a father that any of the young monks in this hermitage had. But the young monk was in a terrible state. His robe was dusty, and the space between his legs was uncomfortably wet from his memory. His breath came out in short gasps and his hands trembled, blood rushing to his face.
The unnatural craving was, for a while, dead.
But was it not an unnatural craving that had made him?
His parents, one whom he killed when he tumbled out of her; the other who probably still lived in his tumbledown old shack outside Godavaya Harbour, drowning in toddy and still resenting his son. Their consummation had brought them closer and one night, his own seed had sprouted. From womb to tomb, everyone bore that union of two energies within their mortal bodies. 
Everyone was born of that craving.  He knew then that his dark angel would be back to pleasure him with memories of their nights together. The thought made him sit bolt upright-perhaps lying down was not the best way to stay clear of impure thoughts.
The Buddha had mentioned to his disciples the Vinaya,  the mroal code by which they must live, he mused. A code that allowed both freedom and strict discipline. Just as his faith did-but only until people started turning it into something strange, rushing off to pray during their final hours after living a life of sin. That crafty serpent by the name of Mahayana had been engorging itself with true believers of the older school and now pressure was mounting upon the hermitages.
The Kingdom of Lanka was the final bastion of the true faith.
He could not leave now.
He mused on the new idea that once one had reached the first stage of Enlightenment-in theory, at least-there would truly be no going back. But what had he to go back to? He was bound  by that chain he called his robe. It dragged against the ground, grating against the stone until his ears bled out. “Rahulo Jatho, bandhanang jathang, indeed!” he grumbled as he held up the folds of his thick robe. “What an afternoon this was.” 
But just as the mighty Gautama Buddha had shaken loose all fetters and serpents from hell, he must shake off his own chains. He had to leave Cittalapabbata…the meories of passion were replaced by her radiant face and the sweet music of her voice as a river of blood rushed through him, carrying upon it the heat of pleasure…

DEVATHAVI

PART TWO
It was time to return to his own cave retreat once more.
To be out of the powerful rays of the sun was the best thing he could ask for. However there was still a scorching flame welling up within.
“And how come youdon’t want to leave me? Why are youhere? Does this mean I was never meant to go on the Buddha’s path?” he mused, gazing at the ceiling. A beautiful jewel wasp had built her nest in a small cavity in the right-hand corner. The tiny head of one of her offspring peeked through the hole, possibly crying to its mother for food.
He laughed slightly.
A wasp.
Crying.
Crying and mewling in some hallowed insectoid language that only the most ancient of beings could properly comprehend. He thought of all the demons he had been taught about, the ones that the Lord had tamed through the power of his sublime philosophy. Then his mind wandered onto the worlds of the gods and goddesses. Another laugh rocked through his body and he looked down at himself. Perhaps this was his reason for being here…he was not meant for this life of penance. He was a god himself, was he not?
Tall, lean and sandy in hue, his smooth young body glistened in the stray shaft of light that peered perversely into the cave. The sword-like blade of light cut into the seemingly indestructible ceiling and eyed the beautiful, nude young man keenly. He allowed his feet to spin out of focus, swirling through and invisible vortex in which only he could travel. His deep black irises, soft lips and slightly feminine chin invited Surya’s untouchable beams to touch and caress his body. He pushed his own hands down his naked form, lingering at the deep dimple of his navel and down to the slender valleys of his thighs and groin. As he rubbed down he felt a rush of heat travelling back and forth across his body like a river.
“Maybe I am beautiful now so that…I can fall in love…with someone just as beautiful so we can be together, be gods united in flesh.”
 His voice wavered between the realms of dream and reality as the veil between the two worlds grew thinner.
Looking up at the beam of light he wrapped his body in the cloak of orgasm as his organ cried in pain and pleasure.
Small flakes of dust rose into the air when he knelt down, the weight of his dreams bearing down upon his back as he reached for the cave floor.
Each flake was perfect and untouchable as they glowed in the heavenly light streaking into the dark cavity. They danced as daintily as butterflies at a waterhole as they crossed into the arms of the gods above them.  He spotted her again, her angelic face floating down the beam. Gazing upwards in excitement, palms clutching the floor, the monk’s eyes grew lustful and then soft as his body shivered with each tender touch of her soft palms.
He lost himself as she spoke to him.
“Little boy. My sweet little boy. You are yet young, my dear, so don’t be frightened to try once more. Let me show you…” The hook of reality fished out the state of dream as he was flung onto the hard shores of reality, gasping for breath. But the world refused to turn. It shimmered instead, flowing and shifting before his incredulous eyes. Rock turned to water as the music of the damsel’s speech filled the cell.
“NO!”
With a scream he shot back up, the lithe muscles of his calves tensed as he stood.
What had he been doing? Had he forgotten his reason for being there?
In a flash he sheathed the freedom that seemed so attractive to him, as her laughter died away to an airy whisper. As he adjusted the vast length of saffron cloth across his right shoulder he closed his eyes, teeth gritted firmly in his jaws as he close his legs, avoiding the salty wetness clinging to the insides of his thighs. Yet his organ was still hungry for the heavenly apsara who still danced around the cave. He had brought his little journal with him, along with his stylus and inkwell.
He wrote quickly in Sanskrit:
“I am here to attain perfection. My memories shall never come back. I shall journey the path of the great Lord Gautama Buddha and I will not sway, I will…I will not…sway…” His stylus trembled as he penned the words down. A trickle of sweat flowed down his cheek to join the crinkly, dry palm leaf pages of his book.
He too felt the sweat welling up within the grottos of his upper eyelids as the heat of the sun invaded the interior of the cell. The world outside was bathed in the most blinding light he’d ever seen. It was high noon in the Cittalapabbata hermitage and even the crows that perched in the rocks around him panted, glossy black throats vibrating soundlessly. He crouched in his tight shroud of darkness, with another shroud constricting him like a deep vermillion python. This serpent of cloth bound him and every bhikku to these dark holes while the a wondrous glow bathed the rest of the earth.
The robe, for a few minutes, threatened to roll of his legs and push him back into the lair of the temptress, but he angrily pulled it up from his shoulder. Cursing under his breath he looked at his book. “I killed my mother at birth. That’s why it happened…that’s why…they all said that I was unlucky!” He gritted his teeth as he reminded himself of it. “Then came my…my life here began.” Picking up his stylus, he chewed on its end thoughtfully, then wrote:
“My father dumped me on the hermitage. That’s why I could never experience life as it really should be. So many years, I…I…”
He was so young.
He was now a monk, was he not? Twenty-three years alive, twenty-three years a monk. There was that black abyss within his heart and mind which still seemed to be clawing out through his body to attack every truth he knew and everything that he thought was for his benefit. The darkness had a form, and she was dancing through the air within the cave.
His eyes locked away from the light outside.
Hard sighs rumbled through his chest as he began his chant.
“May I be washed of this strumpet’s memories now. May the powers of good restore me to what I was earlier.  Mara, Lord of Evil, your daughter is strong, but I will sway no more towards her. May my tear and prayers float her away as wood floats down a river…I…I will sway no more…no more…”

A CELEBRATION OF PLATH

There are many who seem to think of the darkness within them, and all around, as being something of comfort that they can live with. Sometimes they embrace the depths of this darkness so much that it is a part of them. It follows them around like a terrifying shadow which then leads to manic depression and strange episodes which prompt others to believe that these people are losing their minds.
Yet it is no real loss of  the senses. It is merely a newer window into a form of creative genius that most dare not tap into. For when they do, they do not tame and properly reconcile with  their personal demons, this rare chance to finally see the light gives rise to the most disturbing works of literature ever produced.
Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932-September 11, 1963) was a woman who thrived within her blackened shell. She wrote guided by her dark passenger’s hand and thus questioned much of what was possible to say within the poetic circle. This was not the horror of the supernatural that Poe was in love with but a new kind of terrifying subject had found its way into her world. This was the creation of a swirling vortex of the deep, dramatic and disturbing. Death, cruelty and even a form of anti-Nazism found their way into her writings.
Her images may be of the heart, sometimes of God, but they are in no way pleasant.

Today the WFR team brings to you a poet who is considered by most to be the patron saint of self-dramatization and self-pity.

DADDY

       You do not do, you do not do   Any more, black shoeIn which I have lived like a foot   For thirty years, poor and white,   Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.   
You died before I had time——
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,   
Ghastly statue with one gray toe   
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic   
Where it pours bean green over blue   
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.   
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town   
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.   
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.   
So I never could tell where you   
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.   
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.   
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.   
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna   
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck   
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.   
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.   
Every woman adores a Fascist,   
The boot in the face, the brute   
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,   
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot   
But no less a devil for that, no not   
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.   
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,   
And they stuck me together with glue.   
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.   
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I’m finally through.
The black telephone’s off at the root,   
The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——
The vampire who said he was you   
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart   
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.   
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.


It is thus extremely clear from this narrative work that Plath was deeply resentful of her father for being a Nazi supporter. He was, after all, German, named Otto Plath. He was also over two decades older than her mother Aurelia, which might have meant something to Plath herself. Clearly the narrative, which is full of short, abrupt sentences tells us that she is driving her point into us hard, and dramatically to boot.
The word “black” shows up a number of times. It is obviously a show of personal darkness, and the darkness inside her because of her father. She blames him openly for her suicide attempts. She had done many of these during her episodes of depression. By calling herself a “Jew” she is using a word for the term hatred since she hates him, and it makes him hate her as well.

MIRROR

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful —
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Poets do not regularly tackle the subject of aging and the agony that comes out of it, but in this short poetic work, Plath once again is giving us an insight into her mind. She tells us in the first line of the poem that she is “exact”. This and a continuing series of sentences and words that tell us about the “four-cornered” nature of the mirror seem to say that she has been feeling restricted and that is thus driving her insane. No artistic person likes to be restricted, or else they feel paralyzed. Plath however clearly says that a mirror is always truthful. She is growing old and that is all the mirror can tell her.
Yet her views do change within the lost time between the two verses. The word “lake” tells us that she now has a broader mirror, which has stretched out, possibly due to seeing the reality of things. Attempting to deny aging, despite what the mirror told her, was something that she might have tried earlier but not anymore. She had come to realize the all-consuming nature of old age. 
Plath also writes in the first person, and as the reflective surface itself. What really lies behind the mirror? Authors the world over have attempted to answer this question. But what is clear is that when the mirror is personified we see what Plath herself sees inside her soul when she looks into the mirror. 

THE ARRIVAL OF THE BEE-BOX

I ordered this, clean wood box
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget
Or a square baby
Were there not such a din in it.
The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight
And I can’t keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can’t see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.
I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark,
With the swarmy feeling of African hands
Minute and shrunk for export,
Black on black, angrily clambering.
How can I let them out?
It is the noise that appalls me most of all,
The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob,
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!
I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.
I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me
If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,
And the petticoats of the cherry.
They might ignore me immediately
In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey
So why should they turn on me?
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.
The box is only temporary.
In our final poem, we have Plath dealing with the concept of death itself. She tells the reader that it is a “wooden box” at first and then we have the image of a coffin. We also have the aural image of thousands of droning, angry bees. Of course nobody would be foolish enough to deal with a box full of bees. A large number, when irritated, can kill you. Therefore bees is a metaphor for death. The box is another means of restraint. Death is kept in restraint until the coup de grace,  the final blow when it attacks you and overtakes you completely. Plath is telling us that she has mixed emotions about dying, about whether or not to open the box. She cannot bear to hear the bees inside the wooden box. The same way she contemplates suicide. However she does say that “The box is only temporary.” 
Does this indicate that she believes in the afterlife, that death is a temporary phase? One cannot yet be sure but perhaps it is. In any case it is one of her most disturbing poems. 

NOVELLA

(Another of these…about Ishwari herself now…..)

“So tell me why you dare to cower before the one who turned your spine into an iron rod.”

“Parashakti please! You were never meant to stay back here, I thought you didn’t have to come back here anymore.” Ishwari was weeping bitterly, but she couldn’t look at the abominable apparition that darkened the room. “Mother, you shouldn’t be here, it’s not natural! You’re scaring your grandchild!”
“And it was you who burdened her with something so powerful as a curse!”

Parashakti snarled at her daughter, and reached down to Ishwari’s ankles. The living woman drew back again in terror as her mother started taking on a solid form, something that she knew could touch her. Only her touch made her skin crawl. She locked her eyes, not even daring to scream, and ringing metallic clangs filled the bedroom, an orchestra that chilled the blood to the lowest degree.
Ishwari shut her eyes, but she still saw her mother bending down and tighten the manacle she made specifically for them. She saw Parashakti’s body becoming so solid that the day of her death was clearer now.
Ishwari could even smell the ominous sweetness of camphor, coconut oil and kerosene in the room. Her mother’s screams of madness had turned into roars as she cursed at her disease as it took over her body with terrifying speed. The cries pierced Ishwari’s heart like a knife as she ran out of her mother’s bedroom, and onto the street.
Now there was nowhere to turn, nobody to turn to either. But the flames shot up through the bedroom window, the stately, albeit still maddened woman clutching her burning, oil-stained sari against her body and racing out of their house. “What are you doing? What is this?” shouted the sixteen-year-old in protest as the crawling, clawing bundle of burning humanity tried to reach for her. But she only kept feeding her flames with more oil that she had stored in a tiny bottle.

“I…trained you….to be powerful!…Ishwari…Ishwari Ramakrishna…if you cry I will hunt you down and…kill you….” The disjointed voice was swallowing her up, and it was indeed her mother’s. But this burning monster couldn’t be talking through her murderous yells.
She had been backed into the alley near their house, and some of the beggars there tried to extend their hands to her. But the flaming, tottering monster who had fallen down in a heap at her daughter’s feet was practically Kali incarnate. They were unable to even move in without fearing death at any minute.
“Mother…Para…Parashakti….you,” she tried her best to bite back tears as she hid her face in her blanket, “you…you were the richest devadasi of them all! Why did you have to do this and leave me alone? You are the one who wanted to turn me into a sex-crazed demon like yourself! But this? And in front of me? Why?”
“I wanted you to be strong!! BE STRONG! I live within you!” screamed the devilish voice once more, although it was obvious that the scarred and charred carcass was not the one who was saying it. “We had our nights together, I showed you how it was to dominate any man you met! Look how they’re looking at you now,” the monster kept stabbing her daughter with her words. The alley became as dark as hell to Ishwari.

Soldiers who had been on their nightly city patrol were rushing to the aid of some of the servants who were struggling to make it out of the inferno…

One or two offered to carry Ishwari, but she could only feel their hands as sweaty clamps trying to break into her again and make her shriek in pain…the same way Parashakti watched with cold eyes as her daughter bled out in torrents under the power of the drunk nattuvanar. He had roared maliciously like a raging tiger as he pinned her down and gored her with his manhood, the tearing pain shooting from her legs to her chest as he bore his great weight on her young breasts. Then came the climax.
Sharp teeth and nails caught hold of the drunkard’s neck and he screamed as she used all her strength to attack him, ripping his skin as a vortex of anger, sorrow and pain swelled in her.
“Well done,” was all Parashakti had said, pulling the bleeding man off her horrifically broken daughter, “now you can be stronger than any man you chose to be with. Clean up that blood you young fool, clean it up! Never let him inside you, never let him cross the line when it comes to sex. Women are prayed to, as mothers we are goddesses, we undergo hardship to bring about life, and we continue to suffer as the men around us keep gathering wives like cattle, only to mate with us and enslave us. They might have several men and women in their lives, all to treat as playthings. So remember that…”
“ENOUGH!”
Her scream was ten times more powerful now than it was then.

“MOTHER STOP IT PLEASE!” Yashodha was crying as only frightened children could cry, burying her head in the protective folds of the sheet.

Ishwari’s moans of agony tore above the cries of her poor daughter.

She still shut her eyes and her tears flowed freely down her cheeks. “I strengthened you! Never fall in love if you are to be on top, to be a strong woman! We must always be powerful and beautiful, carry our heads high and beat down whoever male idiots who cross us, let no man be above you, in life or in bed. You’re just an ordinary woman, small before everything more powerful than yourself. Will you jump on a bloody pyre when the father of your brat dies?” Parashakti snapped coldly. “Abandon that other woman of yours! The women of our family were never meant to find true love, and that heartless northern witch will never love you back. She will be the reason for your undoing, Ishwari. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. Why else would we be tied by an iron chain? Every feeling of love you have towards her strengthens it and every time you resent…”
Her daughter lifted her head slowly. “Resent? Resent? I…That’s an understatement, I…I want you to burn in hell!” Ishwari growled. “You were always a monster to me, my sisters and I all hated you, but they were lucky! I had to suffer, I was a girl and the youngest, a double curse upon me.” She straightened her back. “Let me and my daughter find real love! I don’t care if I have to die, but the woman I want shall be mine, and when I’ve lain with her I’ll spit on your grave.”

NOVELLA

( Because I can think of nothing else to post!)

Minakshi stopped stirring the food in the pot for a second. She saw the steadily lifting mist, although the city still seemed dark to her, the Temple’s titanic tower like a black behemoth ambling slowly towards her house, only to be concealed from her view once more.
Shutting her eyes she told her maid, “Subadhra, send a message to my brother Vasudev. I want to meet him. And tell him to bring my son with him.”  And she lapsed into silence, with the middle-aged Subadhra flinging her broom aside and rushing off out of the kitchen.

Ishwari was restless. She had been lapsing between sleeping and waking for so long that she was now bathed in sweat, choli and sari sticking to her skin. Fanning a sheaf of dried banana leaves in front of her and her little daughter, she once more lay on the bed with a gasp. The girl was still half-asleep but she stirred anyway, the small size of the room and the throbbing amalgam of feelings welled up in her mother’s heart, crushing the child inside.
“Mother?” /the three-year old questioned innocently as Ishwari fanned the two of them faster. “Are you alright? Please tell me…” Her mother just kept fanning her, but then sat bolt upright, almost pushing the girl off the bed. “How in the world could I be alright…? I….” Looking at the child with a crazed gaze, she crushed the fan in her hand, reducing the dried leaf to nothing. But her expression then softened a degree when she saw her daughter’s wide-eyed look of fear.
“I’m sorry,” she continued, “but I haven’t been myself lately! I don’t know what’s coming over me! It’s like…I met that Minakshi today and she told me her husband walked off. I should be happy to hear that, and yet I feel like it’s crushing me to death, child! Why?” She grabbed the girl firmly, almost shaking her and making her scream.
“Why not? I could have any woman or man I desired, but the one I want the most, is still so far away from me! What’s wrong with you Minakshi, that you must stay forever far away? What makes you tick? What makes you shy away?”
She dashed to her dresser, with her kohl, oils, jewelry and makeup and turned her mirror towards her. Flinging the cosmetics onto her she then looked at herself in the polished surface of the mirror. “Why? Am I not beautiful enough my darling child? Am I not beautiful enough…for her…? Minakshi, Minakshi, what should I be to make you mine at last? It’s like I’m not good enough for you and yet somehow I must be, I’m, I’m supposed to be!” Thrusting the coconut oil away, she just let her hair droop as she lowered her head onto the dresser.
Ishwari was right. She had almost always been an extraordinary beauty, more than her peers. Her Brahman superiors has told her and so had her teachers. Shiny cinnamon skin, firm but soft, and a winsome dancer’s body with a slim waist and inviting hips, almost any sari or any other piece of the South Indian sari costume looked perfect on her. Men had desired her as a young girl and not just as an adult woman. It was only to be expected of course.

And she’d entertained them all.

“Yashodha,” she finally told her daughter, “my child, tell me why she and only she was my enemy!”

“Mother you’re scaring me!”

“That’s what I told her, damn it! She always pushed me down, beat me till I bled, half murdered me when I disagreed with her, she, my mother, she just never let me catch a break at all! Now she’s dead, I…I don’t expect you to know this Yashodha; whatever I, your mother, am going through, just become stronger and never hate me.” Her voice became dreamy as Yashodha nodded meekly, her own large eyes falling on a familiar scene. “It’s almost a reflection, isn’t it?” questioned Ishwari through gritted teeth, leaning against the wall, head in her hands as she sank onto the floor. “ISN’T IT MOTHER? I was the one on the bed, and you…you…”
How long she stared at the ceiling she did not know, but when she saw a hand stretching towards her she saw what it was. “I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming.” She shut her eyes so hard that they teared up, squeezing the salty liquid down her cheeks.
“If you are dreaming, then why am I still in this house?” The voice stung her directly, and she, through her blurry sight saw a huge manacle around her ankle, and holding the manacle was a handsome, stately woman with a sharp nose and hair flowing down her back. She was of dark complexion, slightly darker than Ishwari, but just as beautiful. However her beauty had a fierceness to it, like she was a cruel goddess who thirsted for blood, not just a woman. The sparkle in her eyes was twice as terrifying as an out of control flame up close. She consumed Ishwari just through looking at the other woman.

“Really Ishwari, we both made ourselves powerful through completely dominating all our men during sex, so much that they wanted punishment to be their pleasure. And is this the kind of image you present to your mother? THAT? My dearest….my dearest daughter, please tell me, how is it that this chain seems to become more powerful whenever you…”

Ishwari struggled to hold back her tears.

“SILENCE PARASHAKTI! I don’t want to have anything to do with you and your damned demonic punishments. The years under your roof were torture enough. Why did you build this accursed thing in the first place?”
“Tsk, tsk. I only came to see my daughter and my granddaughter, that’s all. Anyway let’s begin now…” Her voice became dangerously reptilian, taking on the sound of steel scraping against gravel.

And Ishwari felt that she was the gravel.

RAKSHASA Part 4

(I’m back again with my reinterpreted Sri Lankan ‘demon’, a suffering man, who despite his terrible plight, is still powerful enough to resist almost all physical attacks)

He kept watching from the tangled undergrowth, stalking the herdsman persistently. The old man was frail and bony, with a slightly protruding belly, all of which showed him that his victim was facing some kind of disease. And this disease had made the poor herder partially malnourished. Even his stick looked like it was facing famine of some sort, being worn and stubby at the end.
However, he pushed on, loudly raising his voice as he sang.

The predator drew in closer, the tangle of branches and overhanging foliage still masking him from the buffaloes and their master.
Thoughtfully, he groped around for something large and powerful, a rock perhaps. His meat had run out, and now was the chance to get some. His stomach began to growl in anger as he cursed under his breath. Hunger was the greatest driving force of all in the hellish wilds of Malayadesha and the neighboring hillside jungles.
And he’d been taught that it alone would keep him alert and fit throughout his life, long or short.
Slowly watching his prey move by, he listened hard. The chorus of crickets and frogs was overwhelming to his ears, just like it had been all those years ago…

“The hunt is like meditation,” she tells the boy at her side as she slips easily through the jungle, “not that I was some pretentious saint who would sit starving for months, but it’s the easiest way to tell you what it is.” The boy with her is obviously her son. 
He is scarred by some strange, unknown disease. He is horrifying, his face a dark, puckered and scarred mass, but his physique is powerful, less on the defined side but still muscular like a wrestler. Obviously he never cared about the athletic beauty of the fisher boy, toned through pulling in huge nets and rowing against treacherous rapids. Nor the rice farmer’s slim son, on the gaunt side but still a head-turner, sun-burnt skin gleaming on his near-naked body. 
Fourteen though he is, this is someone who would prefer to use his elephantine bulk and tremendous mass to take on his prey with his bare hands than to have young women fawn over a sleek and trim form that is useful for running but not always for fighting.

This boy has no time for girls, neither does he see any up close. So he imagines some of the women whom he gets a glimpse of on some of his hunts, lying with him on some nights, allowing him inside them. But wait. Now is not the time for pleasure. That will have to wait. Right now he fixes his gaze on his mother, who hisses, “Now tell me, what is it we are after?”
“Cattle. Five cattle with at least two men, walking off to a waterhole. The tracks and their voices tell us they are able-bodied, strong men who can defend their herd. There is one lame cow. She has a bad right hind leg, so we should be able to fell her if we strike her there.” He seems to smile in satisfaction, and his mother kisses his deformed face gently, her eyes softening for an instant. 
She sighs, “I have taught you all too well. One day you might hunt me and kill me too if you can”-her sly, apparently false smile changes- “and I believe you can. But right now, let’s focus on lunch.” Eagerly, she undoes her scant cloth, and pulls out a massive knife from a small leather pouch tied to her hip. 

Now the boy wants to imagine this superpredator in action. 

She is lithe and powerful despite her thinness, and she is more an animal than a woman. A leopardess without spots, she is liquid death in the depths of the forest. And he knows that she is brutal, relentless. The thrill of the chase, the splash of blood against her breasts, the snapping of her vicious teeth and the feeling of soft flesh raked away beneath uncut nails. 
The woman looks at the trail once more. 
She curses silently in Sanskrit as she looks at the vegetation. Someone has trampled it carelessly. A cow has also taken a toilet stop. Eager to carry on, she beckons him. “Dung,” she tells him as she scoops some of the warm, fresh mass into her hands, “is a good way to track. But you know that, don’t you my dear?” Her smile sets him on the alert. He was uneasy, like she would whip her knife against his neck and slice his jugular.

“I…know,” he mumbles…and they carry on the hunt. His hopes are fixed on the kill, of tasting fresh meat once more…


“You taught me well enough,” he hissed as he passed above the cattle on a rise of rock, “but I just prefer a cleaner kill to you bloody slash-and-disembowel. His wooden club, practically the trunk of a small tree, was ready. He looked around once or twice, tensing his muscles as he determined his angle of attack. The buffaloes and the herdsman had no clue that he was there.
But the youngest bull was setting him off a bit. That damned beast seemed so self-assured that the monstrous man could practically feel the confidence in its heart as its muddied horns strained to gleam in the fast-fading moonlight.
Smell.
Damned animals had it good.

“No mistakes.”

The herd was just below him.

He pounced. Quickly, the herder reacted in the only way that he knew. The attack was so swift that the poor old man tried to strike with his stick, but ended up whacking one of his animals in the face.
Startled, he looked in fear as the buffalo grunted, then growled under its breath, threatening to charge. But he had hardly any idea what was happening to one of his most valued herd members. The young bull was being pounded mercilessly, blows raining on its head, into its eyes and nose. Once or twice it attempted to rise up against its attacker.
The buffalo’s screams of pain were like some primal cry from the depths of hell, carrying off into the night as it struggled to overcome its brutal opponent. This club was tougher than the killer had thought.

This was his life.
He laughed with glee as the animal’s mouth bled and he grabbed its horns, twisting its head and neck around. Those arms bore unnatural power, as he remembered. And this was what they were for.