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     Volume 11 |Issue 24| June 15, 2012 |


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Deathly Desires

Aasha Mehreen Amin

The following conversation may not be appropriate for under-aged readers or those who have a weak heart.
Morse? (Dead?)
Shotti morse na hat pa nortase? (Is he really dead or are the hands and legs moving?)
Dead body koita, ami dekhbo. (How many dead bodies, I want to see for myself).

After ascertaining the deaths, a long sigh of relief and contentment.

If you are thinking this is the crude dialogue between a gangster and his cronies bumping off a few unwanted individuals – disloyal gang members, members of the competition or just stupid eyewitnesses who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time – you're wrong.

This incriminating exchange was heard by a neighbour who had come, finding the front door open, to give some mangoes from her tree and now was breaking into a cold sweat, petrified by the thought of what kind of goons she was living next to, that too a woman speaking with such coldblooded nonchalance after ordering the massacre of some hapless souls… The dropping of a treacherous mango from the basket the poor neighbour was carrying evoked pin drop silence. The lady of the house rushed into the foyer to find her neighbour in a frozen trance, trying her best to muster a fake smile while praying to the Lord for deliverance.

Just then one of the home workers, a young woman, hair disheveled and carrying a heavy broom in one hand and a sandal in the other, came in and announced with a smug grin: “Khalamma bishtar moto dead body ase..” (Ma'am there are about twenty corpses).

The absence of blood on the killer's hands and the tools of murder made the neighbor rethink her macabre ruminations.

True, bloodcurdling screams had been heard from time to time from that house but nothing happened afterwards – no ambulance, no police, not even any shouting for help. Not being the nosy types, the neighbours decided it was best to leave them alone.

Yet murder it was, though of a different kind. The lady of the house had promised no less than fifty takas for each assassination, though the dead bodies would have to be produced as evidence.

Finally the neighbour with utmost relief, got it and in fact commiserated. It was the death of an army of cockroaches plaguing the house with their sudden appearances at night, creeping out from under the fridge when a teenage family member with a pathological fear of anything that moved, was getting a midnight snack, taking flying lessons during dinner and terrorising the lady of the house during her much awaited shower - like the killer in Hitchkock's Psycho.

Later, while devouring the succulent mangoes, the two women laughed and laughed, almost choking on the gorgeous tropical fruit, spilling the juice all over their cotton saris, as they recalled the chain of events.

The reason for telling this bizarre and to some, inane, tale is to demonstrate the passion with which hatred can manifest itself. Hate, is a strong word and quite often unnecessarily used without acknowledging that it is an emotion that is intense, consistent, endures for a lifetime, sometimes being transferred to the next generation no matter what arguments of reason and practicality are given.

When it comes to cockroach haters, it doesn't matter that empirical evidence has shown that they may be a little dirty and carry nasty pathogens but they can't really cause major damage to beings who are a hundred times their size. But what they can do is instill fear and this has nothing to do with silly horror films about giant roaches. Their brown greasy coats, ugly face and skin-crawling tentacles, hairy legs and nauseating yellowish underbellies can make hearts stop and human blood to freeze in trepidation. The worst part is that they sense fear and cowardice and are sadistically drawn. The brave few who have tried to confront them (when it's 2 a.m. even the most devoted knight in shining armour will not come to the rescue) with aerosol and heavy masculine shoe, have often faced the worst. Those devilish creeps have chased their screeching human foes all over the rooms, giving heart attacks to the sleeping, before forcing them to go back to bed, defeated, devastated and biting their nails for the rest of the night in fear of a possible revisit.

They say these creatures will live through a nuclear holocaust. No wonder some of us see their true, diabolical nature. This is why sometimes it is important to see the dead bodies for yourself, to ascertain victory and peace.



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