A short story by Rishabh Chaturvedi
Presented by Litizen.com: short story publisher
The eyes were allright. Just needed to put a needle in them. Pull back the eye lids, till it caused an involuntary wave in the scrotum. Yes, its always the scrotum, even when your parent tells you the giddy-widdy feeling at the time of the descent of the Ferris wheel is in the stomach. The pupil should look, well, alarmed. It should burst out of the socket, wanting to leave the white behind; to avoid the fate of the sharp point of the needle leaving a gash on it. Now just purple coloured veins hanging loose from the corner of the eye. That ll give it a touch, a nice touch.
This will raise bile. So real! They will put it up in the Louvre once I m long gone, Neil thought to himself. Neil eased back, making the the hollow 20 mm metal pipes of the backreast , ill-suited for the 100 pounds of lard on his back, squeak involuntarily. It was a tough one, this. But the end result was pretty close to the eyeball which floated freely in the jar filled with, what seemed to him, club soda. He d thank Shreya for it; for smuggling it out of the lab.
While he sat there, gasping for what could pass off as post-orgasmic breaths, he heard a scratching sound behind him, wood on wood. He hated this. Why did people have to disturb him all the time. He d clearly put a sign outside – Busy. “Neil…” His mother sounded so tentative. “Your father wants a word with you.” She did not step in though. His tantrums could be dangerous, for him that is. One time, they said, he had started foaming at his mouth. It was a fit attack. He’d overheard them say it had to do with a clot in his brain. Hmm, that was an idea now. Brain, clot, that would be interesting to paint. He’d have to ask for Shreya’s help again. Wonder what she d think of his request this time.
The clots were worsening, he’d heard. Enough blood did not reach the brain to oxygenate it, and this was the cause of his temperamental, occasionally hyper-violent, outbursts. He was not normal, that much was clear to Neil; they always discussed his condition in front oh him, like they did about the dilapidated shoe rack which needed to be hacked so it could be carried through the narrow doorway, in pieces. And they always discussed these two issues together.
He heard a creak. It was the third plank in the wooden flooring which had come loose. American teak, his father had once said with a pompous wave of his left hand as she showed his friend around the house. Why, for God’s sake, why, did his mother not always avoid that one? And then there were no more tentative foot falls to be heard. His mother stood rooted like a rabbit caught in headlights. Come on, mother. You don t need to be that scared of me! He almost found himself chuckling at the thought.
“Neil!” said his mother. It was a pathetic beseech. She put her shivering palm on his shoulder, trying but failing to turn him towards her. “Son, can you come down ….” She paused mid way. Her tongue seemed to have done a double back flips in her mouth, almost chocking the shrill scream which was forcing its way out. Or was that a tongue less mewl.
“What is that ? That eye!” she screamed not making much sense at all. Neil looked down at his drawing. Yes, it was so realistic. He had blown her away, finally.
“Jose! Jose…” she ran out screaming. Funny woman, thought Neil. And then he saw something else, as he turned his head to the left. He saw it for the first time. He hadn’t seen it before, how come he’d missed it. “Jose, get the fuck up here… Can you come out of the toilet… Jose, just come up.” His mother could have auditioned for the Wailers. Bob Marley was dead though. But what was this? Had he not returned it to Shreya. He compared it with the picture. Pretty close. There was a needle sticking out of them both.
“What? What is it?”
It was his dad. What is it, was all he always wondered. He hurried up the wooden steps, to his mother who still was sobbing: “Neil .. Neil …”
“What woman, just say it.” He could hear his father s thoughts. Shreya would be mad at him. He had to return it to her. But he though he had. Hadn’t he met her just yesterday. Wonder if they missed it in her bio-lab. Wasn’t it ironical, so many pair of eyes did not spot the missing eye.
“What!” Another dim witted reaction from his father, as he burst through the door. He recoiled, his eyes popping out and his mouth doing a perfect O – just like those beautiful women sucking the wrong thumb his servant had shown a five year old Neil on the computer; almost rocking him to sleep on his lap. Wow, though Neil. He could have drawn his fathers eyes right there, right now. Okay, so I ll hide the eye. It s not like they were seeing “eyes” for the first time. He was taught to look into people s eyes when they spoke. So he had a dead eye of a dead man. Who cared for fuck s sake?
“Neil… you … aarrghh!” His father had never before bellowed this way. Just once though he remembered, in the past; when his father had entered his room and the servant ran out butt naked. He’d heard his mother wail, as she was wailing now, and he’d heard viscous whiplashes. “Neil…” his father bellowed again, as he jumped on him. “Call the doctor, stop standing there you stupid woman… Call the doctor…”
Doctor! Why? They weren’t going to call the hospital to report the missing eye, were they?
“His eye… his eye…” wailed his mother.
Whose eye? My eye!
“Stupid fuck … spooned his eye out…” she continued.
What? What was this new delirious rant of her? And why was she hugging the door? “I didn’t do nothing. Shreya gave this to me”, screamed Neil.
“Your stupid bastard, what have you done? Call the doctor… call the ambulance… Don t just stand there…” He saw his mother scampering off, echoes of her sob resonating from the stone walls of the living room. Neil’s father started to pull him. “Shreya gave this to me … I swear she did…”
“Shut the fuck up”, screamed his father.
As his father dragged him into the living room, Neil was stunned by what he saw. There was Shreya. Hung on the wall. Wearing a white doctor’s overcoat; she was grainy and her monochrome form was in a thick black frame. There was a plaque below the picture which read, among other things like light; beloved daughter and shine; “1982-2010”. On a digital calendar above the fire mantle, he read, July 23, 2012. Neil frowned. Things didn’t seem right, and it wasn t just the left side of the room that he couldn’t see.