Monthly Story, March 2022
Updated: Jun 22, 2022
Rasa → Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow. Śāntam: Peace or tranquillity. Deity: Vishnu. Colour: perpetual white
Archetype → Humorist
Johnny spotted his body hanging in the open cosmos—a fleck of matter suspended in a sea of consciousness. He had left its boundaries, blissfully afloat. He shone gloriously with all the blades of broken glass scattered on the beach,
which merged with the glittering silicone of the crystal sandy white,
which merged with the shimmer of quartz dotting the granite,
which merged with the mad dance of the Colombo sun on the water,
which merged him with everything, almighty. Stretching his hand out to the sea, he blessed it.
The gush of heroin ran through Johnny like April lightning across the equatorial sky—soundless but loud enough to mute everything in an acute numbness. He stood there staring at the newly constructed Marine Drive: the coastal road rolled out into the distance, charging into the next town. About fifteen feet from where Johnny stood was where his tiny house used to stand getting stolen by the ocean advancing steadily. When Johnny’s father was alive, he fished in the sea. His mother sold that fish, and Johnny grew up just watching them.
Two years ago, when the police gave official notice of relocating Johnny’s family to a new housing scheme and demolishing their makeshift house as part of the new urban developments, Johnny's mother wept. Johnny had never seen her like that—not even when the Navy divers brought back his father’s body from the sea. It was as if she had really lost everything.
“They’re moving us six kilometres away from the sea, you fool,” she had shouted at him.
But back then, Johnny had thought moving was great; They were getting a real house in a flat; Not a makeshift hut on no man’s land between the rail and the sea. He saw that old Johnny blowing in the salty wind—like a ravaged kite, cut loose to free-float along Marine Drive and get lost in the dust. Johnny gulped an oddly cubic feeling down his throat; It poked all the way down to his gut.
Maybe you can only truly have one home.
The sun was starting to set on the city. As if the strangeness of the proportions between time and the rate of change wasn’t enough, everything also started throbbing in a sharp, orange absurdity. Suddenly, the six pm train rushed by to the nearby station. Johnny watched the metal monster. Its tailwind enveloped him in a makeshift capsule immortal from time and space. For a second, he lost sight of how or why anything was the way it was. Everything floated free from reason, in an absurd choreography. Johnny held back the urge to laugh.
As the sunset matured into a deep red, commuters emerged from the station in ones and twos. The silhouettes of their large bags and bent bodies warped to ridiculous proportions by the setting sun dangling dangerously low to the sea. They walked, half dazed, half frantic, like waterhen birds striding along the beach looking to catch something to eat—all in an oblique dance to survive.
Another train trumpeted stupidly, about to leave the station. Johnny could no longer hold back the laughter.
He knelt down and
started laughing his heart out.
He pointed his hands out at the bewildered commuters on the slow-rolling train
and laughed, tears rolling down his face.
Some commuters laughed, pointing Johnny out to their friends. Some tried to hold back the twitching of their lips and failed. A few started filming with their phones. “You’re all so ridiculous!” he shouted through the fits of laughter to the people on the train. One young man seemed to hear what Johnny said and flashed a smile that momentarily reconnected Johnny to that place where he was one with everything. He stretched out a palm to the young man in blessing.