Actually, Jarnalis, I was trying not to show that I was laughing at you. After that, what else, I talked. Your tape crawled. Then you were happy, this is what you had come for. You were like all the others, come to suck our stories from us, so strangers in far off countries can marvel there's so much pain in the world. Like vultures are you jarnaliss. Somewhere a bad thing happens, tears like rain in the wind, and look, here you come, drawn by the smell of blood. You have turned us Khaufpuris into storytellers, but always of the same story. Ous raat, cette nuit, that night, always that fucking night.
You listened politely, pretending to follow, smiling now and again pour m'encourager, as Ma Franci would say. You were so fucking sure I was talking about that night. You were hoping the gibberish sounds coming from my mouth were the horrible stories you'd come to hear. Well, fuck that. No way was I going to tell those stories. I've repeated them so often my teeth are ground smooth by the endless passage of words.
With no Chunaram to tell you what I was saying, I could say anything. I could sing a filthy song:
I may be just a twisted runt
But I can sniff your mother's cunt
Hahaha, oh dear, your face, you were wondering, the song this boy is singing, with such a nasty tune, what is it, sounds like a lament, but pourquoi il rit? You scribbled something in your book. Let me guess. "Animal chanted a poem, probably a traditional song of mourning, just now he was crazy with grief."
Jarnalis, you were such a fool. The best thing about you was your shorts. Six pockets, I counted. Two at the side, two on the front, two on the arse. With shorts like those a person does not need a house. From one pocket you fetched out a pack of cigarettes and from another a shiny lighter, it made a grinding noise when you flipped it, and a flame sprang up. I coveted that lighter, but more than that I craved your shorts.
Thus and thus time passed, Chunaram returned reeking of apologies and strong liquor, some Inglis gitpit passed between you. He said, "I shall listen to the tape." The thing squeaked like a rat having its back broken and I heard my own voice earning fifty rupees.
Well, Chunaram was appalled. He started shouting, with great tappings of the brow and circlings of the temple. "You cretin! You are not right in your head. You have not said what's wanted."
"Did as bid."
"You must do it again. You must tell the real stories."
"Balls to you!" says I with wanking gestures. "Did I ask you to go and get drunk?"
"You miserable boy," yells Chunaram. "Who's going to pay for this foul-mouthed shit? Why didn't you just spout the usual?"
I've thought about this. "It is usual for me."
"Mother's cunt? Where do you get that from, you twisted little bastard? Next time I ask you to record a tape, keep your mouth shut."
After this, Jarnalis, I'm not expecting you back, but you show up next day with grinning Chunaram qui me dit que Jarnalis wants you to carry on telling your story.
"Don't ask me why," says he. "Yesterday what you said, I thought it was one of your fucking madness fits, I admit I was wrong it has done the trick now I'm thinking it's this jarnalis who's cracked." He shrugs and gives a thook onto the floor. So smug does he look that there and then I decide to teach the fucker a lesson.
"I'm done talking to tape mashins."
So then Chunaram's wheedling, pleading with me. "Think of the money. Jarnalis is writing a book about Khaufpur. Last night he had your tape translated. Today he comes saying he has never found such honesty as in that filth of yours. Really I think he is mad, but listen how I buttered the shaft, I told him that you are an orphan of that night, you grew up in a crazy franci situation, you used to live on the streets like a dog, you are a unique case. Jarnalis really wants your story, this could be a big business, don't fuck it up."
Copyright © 2007 by Indra Sinha
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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