|| The Song of A Figurine ||
The narrow lane was dark and empty. Sombre houses with shuttered windows loomed large close up. As my wife and I hurried down it, from behind us a woman came running and streaked past us on silent feet.
We were returning home after a walk. The hour being close to dinner time, the roads were empty, particularly this one. The moon had hidden behind the clouds, and at the moment there was just the faint glow of starlight. In that surreal aura, the streaking woman went past us like a flash of black lightning. Yet, the phosphorescent darkness sharply silhouetted her contour. Black as gleaming ebony, she was completely bare, except for a minutest matt black girdle. In the starlight, parts of the outline of her body, sculpted as the carved figurines of the grand temple of Konark, glistened like bits of faintly glowing filaments. The fullness of her body was slow in movement, and drooped from the fatigue of being on the run. Before I could exchange an inquiring look with my wife, the figurine-like woman had disappeared around the bend beyond which the lane joined the main street. We lived on the main street past the first block on the right.
Immediately, all sound seemed to die down. In the eerie silence that followed, after a while I heard the heavy fall of running feet coming from behind us. In a moment, a huge man with clean shaven head, wearing only a loincloth, came running. He panted heavily. Something in his unwavering and determined pace told me he was pursuing Figurine. As though, through the darkness that was slowly congealing with the cooling air of the evening, the faint musk smell of a perspiring hunted doe led her hunter on her trail.
We hurried on. As we turned from the lane into the main street, the moon came out from the clouds. Ahead of us at the crossing on the broad main street, we saw Figurine. She stood in the middle of the street, now almost empty of traffic. She stood swaying and gyrating her upper body wildly, like a possessed soul. As her chest swayed, her breasts surged. They rose, fell and swung. Some demon that seemed to possess her head shook it sideways, and her curled hair flew up and down. A small silent circle of street urchins had gathered around her. I saw Hulk reach that circle, tear it apart with strong hands and grab Figurine by her shoulders. In his clutch she let out a long piercing cry, and started struggling in his grip. But, he held her firmly. The scene, potent with violence, was most chilling. My wife grabbed my arm, and begged of me to hurry home. But, my curiosity had been roused by the strange persuasive manner of Hulk, as if he supplicated and pleaded with Figurine to come with him. But Figurine just struggled and wailed. Her wailing sounded mournful, yet sonorously melodic.
I heard a hubbub rising from my left. Turning my head, I saw the ground before of the jail swathed in bright light. Several men stood in formation, their guns held muzzle up. A sergeant sat on a horse raring to go. And, beyond them stood a group of burly men clad only in the loincloth of wrestlers. Even at this distance, their muscles seemed to ripple under a patina of oil and sweat.
Near me, Hulk had overpowered Figurine. Holding her by the waist, he was half-dragging and half-carrying her. At the same time, he seemed to be trying to soothe her with persuasive words and some gesture of his free hand. She resisted him and wriggled to free herself. But Hulk carried her along, moving up the main street in the direction of the jail, where the men stood waiting in silence, watching the struggle. As Hulk passed the station, the sergeant barked an order. One of the wrestlers detached himself from the group and ran into the path of Hulk, trying to block him. But Hulk was too strong for the wrestler, pushed him aside and strode on. The wrestler moved aside and kicked Hulk on the shin. Hulk fumbled, and momentarily lost his balance. Figurine broke free of his grip and made to run away. Hulk lunged at her, and they both fell down. The wrestler immediately pounced on Hulk. Two more wrestlers came running and joined the melee, trying to pin down Hulk. He wriggled silently, flailing his limbs like a drowning man. Figurine ran away, and came running down the street. Hulk managed to extricate himself from the onslaught of the wrestlers and ran after her.
We hastened our steps and reached the rear entrance of our house. Pushing my wife inside, I entered and turned to bolt the door. Then curiosity got the better of me. I cracked open the door and peered outside. The street looked empty for some time. Then I saw Hulk running, pursued by the wrestlers, and finally the sergeant galloping on his horse. As the sound of the chase faded away, I bolted the door, and we moved into the house.
My wife spoke at last, and said, “Did you notice how the brute was pleading with the woman?” I asked in utter astonishment, “Do you think he was pleading with her?” She said, “Yes, of course! To me it looked much like a beast pleading with a beauty to be tamed and taken as a slave.”
After a while, we heard a strangely moving mournful melody drifting up from far away. My wife and I ran up the stairs and went on the terrace. The sound came from the direction of the jail. The lights were still burning bright on the grounds. The sergeant sat astride his horse. The wrestlers stood in front of him holding Hulk, who knelt on the ground with his head hanging over his chest. His body seemed to be lifeless. The men with the guns stood in a semicircle around the sergeant, the wrestlers and Hulk. Figurine stood in front of them, facing them, performing solicitously. In the harsh light, her glistening body writhed in suppressed pain, as her almost bare torso flexed in the waxing and waning gyrations of a serpentine hood. And she crooned some tune, half human, half beast-like, an unspeakable tragedy overpowering her full throat. That tune, like a thousand swords, sliced the night’s stillness, and seemed to also dismember her soul bit by bit.
As I watched, the alert men in uniform gradually fell silent as if mesmerized. The wrestlers relaxed and let go of their stranglehold on Hulk. Hulk collapsed on the ground.
After some time Hulk lifted his head. He crawled to Figurine. Still singing, she hesitated and then stooped over Hulk and clutched his shoulders as if to lift him up. And, her song ruptured into a heart-rending wail.
That wail woke me up with a start. I lay staring in the darkness, the melodious yet forlorn tune of the figurine in my dream still ringing in my ears. But, its tune began to slowly fade away. Another lilting tune began to take place in the emptiness of my mind – the longing tune of a song that I had been listening to before going to bed.
© mikupa / 15 September 2015