Mikhail wrote with the hope that Aanya would read his stories, and in the
idiosyncratic rhythms and melodies of the ludicrous characters he wove, she would imagine his slightly implacable accent reading the words out loud to her, in his accent, which was not quite Chariyan, and yet, clearly not influenced by the multitude of countries he had occupied, since leaving Kishmish. Yes, when he imagined reading to her, he had a very vivid image of her in a yellow dress, sitting in a field overlooking a creek that slowly trickled to meet a river, similar to the creek they had lazed around, during their college days.
But mostly, Mikhail tried not to think about Aanya, knowing that the sacrifice he made was supposed to protect her eventually.
The stories he wrote were always abstract, funny, engaging, usually about animal characters, lions and lizards who united against fleas, collecting them only to let them loose on other predators, of frogs winning prized lands back from erring humans. Mikhail told these tales with great fervor, weaving them together and churning them out as a possessed man haunted by his need to purge all the contents of his stomach, his mind, his heart, his liver. He felt that each part of his body was repelled by the activity of leaving Aanya, and in turns, each element of his senses responded and reacted in turn to tell their tale.
Every day for seven years, Mikhail was possessed by the need to give voice to these desires that had inspired his drifting, his desire to purge all the confusion he felt, the pain which he masked with transparent morality glaring from the pages, a didactic litany in his worst moments, a blueprint, a tablet, in his best days, a pedagogy which was carefully abstracted to reflect a duality he found difficult to believe, but which he knew would appeal to the notions of morality and ethics of his readers. Hence, only the possibility of bifurcations existed in the scripts he wrote, and through each tale, Mikhail paid homage to animal and bird motifs in the hope of reflecting the superiority of simplicity, of dominance and hierarchies that existed before language.
At first, Mikhail was alarmed with this productivity, which emerged from him unannounced, and shook him so hard that he typed several pages with his eyes completely closed, drifting in and out of narratives he had not even imagined would be possible during his years as an accountant in London, and yet at the end of each of the deadlines he was given by various newspapers and soon, by reporters looking for someone to venerate in the chaos of disarray, Mikhail delivered stories that were astute, and appealed to the emerging bourgeoisie who devoured them.
Mikhail felt like a child who eats fast and then hiccups daily, in an allergic reaction to the speed he has applied to his consumption habits. With the months, each of these stories would come from his fractured memories, somewhere between the deep recesses of his brains and the fields he would see, the coffee he would drink, the milk that made him sick after he drank it.
Mikhail was singularly successful in that there were not very many writers in Kishmish. He had found himself a niche market by tapping into a void which he had not realized had existed within him. With each word he wrote, with each stroke, he created a fingerprint of a ghost of a stranger time, a time when he had felt complete, and yet, the more he wrote, he realized that such a fabled time had never truly existed.
Finally, he allowed himself to reflect one day that whilst he had gained a vast audience of moralistic parents eager to teach the most marginalized and yet most “forward” progressive thinking imaginable to their children, his accomplishments would never be enjoyed by Aanya. Aanya did not know Chariyan, and her memories of Kishmish as a child were far removed, too fragmented, and they had all been scarred by her mother’s death.
No, he could not, for the very life of him, fathom why she would return to Kishmish, and as the years passed by, this was the very same curse which he saw as the impediment to his success. As he saw it, with each passing sunset, the time they had shared was a memory that was immediately colder, diffusing as the wind through the leaves of the coconut trees and the tropical jungle of Kishmish’s shores.
No, he never thought she would look for him there, and even if she did, there was only one way to bring her back, and it was by divulging the entire contents of what had happened the night her mother had been murdered.
It was in the fifteenth year of Aanya’s mother’s homicide that Mikhail was dissolved of the choice to bring Aanya back. He had always known the day might come, but had reckoned that he would be absolved of the need to do so. Indeed, this had been the very element of his sacrifice in Castiglioncello.
It was seven years since he had last seen her, seven years since the curse had gone into effect, and it was exactly two days after bringing Aanya back was conveyed by gunpoint and two rather nasty bruises to his head, by Guddu’s men.
Mikhail boarded the ship that would take him to Samoa, where he would take a flight to Amsterdam via Istanbul and Bangkok, in an attempt to convince Aanya to come back to a place where she should never have been in the first place, and the place, where he was growing to realize, she would perish if she returned. But his Chariyan ethics, and his honor, forbade Mikhail, physically tortured him from being able to break his allegiances to Guddu, and so Mikhail boarded the long series of interconnecting flights that Guddu’s men had arranged for him.
- Soothing Distractions | Pretty Young Things (Part 2) (wondersonder.wordpress.com)
- Pretty Young Things (Part 1)