5 min read

Whose God is it anyway?

“I like that we say ‘oh man’ to express disappointment. Because men are, in fact, disappointing.” There was some truth to it.
Whose God is it anyway?

I spent much of my days indoors — feeding a pigeon that brought its entire clan over, gave birth to more pigeons and shat unceremoniously all over my balcony after groaning all night from what I would like to assume it is— pregnancy pain. I hadn’t bathed in days and my underarm smell comforted me. I lay curled up on the couch munching microwaveable Mexican popcorns I bought last week and some sesame balls my mother gave me the last time I visited her. There was a new episode of Riverdale going on, where Archie is shirtless again, making love to one of his piano teachers, Ms.Grundy.

Ooooh. Hawt stuff!

I scrolled down to the other episodes and play it. Cheryl Blossom flipped her hair and rather nonchalantly said “I like that we say ‘oh man’ to express disappointment. Because men are, in fact, disappointing.”

There was some truth to it. Some were full of excuses. Some had valid reasons. Others reminded me of my place.

‘Our religions will never match’
‘Would you ever consider conversion?’
‘What’s your lifestyle like?’
‘Oh. Kichu? What’s your full name?’

Ugh. Revulsion was stirring inside me, overtaking my painstakingly and lovingly nurtured self-loathing. I smelled my underarm again and looked into the popcorn packet. Revulsion was stirring inside me yet again, overtaking my painstakingly and lovingly nurtured self-loathing. A self-loathing that stemmed from being rejected over and over again, a self-loathing that grew bigger and bigger until it consumed me whole, day in and day out.

Because people are, in fact, disappointing.” Because religion is, in fact, disappointing,” I said to myself, in Cheryl’s tone, and picked up my blue commonplace book. I flipped the pages and landed on a sheet written in an unusual green pen. I use green when I am in the mood for poetry, I guess. Expecting it to be some hidden and important poem I had missed earlier, I read it aloud.

To make sense of every flurry and flutter — dither and hither
Engaged in dilly-dallies, outrageous trashy follies.

Seriously? dither and hither? What was I thinking? No wonder I had been rejected by nineteen publications. I smelled my armpit for comfort. All the popcorn and sesame balls roiled as if a blender beat eggs into a white cream, and carried them out through my throat into a giant pile of goopy puke on the white marble flooring. They shined back at me as if to say hello.

‘Outrageous trashy follies!!!’, I barked at the puke first and then looked at the TV. Cheryl Blossom responded appropriately right then. “You can’t discriminate against someone because they’re better looking than you.” Thanks Cheryl, the puke does seem to be better looking than me right now.

My phone rang incessantly, disturbing the television. I curled back up on the sofa, ignoring a smelly artwork on the floor, moping over my writing rejections, my inability to find a job, a boyfriend, or a girlfriend.

I ignored the ringing.


Fifteen minutes later, my phone chimed. I ignored it again. Ten minutes later, it chimed again. I knew these chimes. Emails from someone’s mention of my handle on Twitter, or a random Instagram DM from a creep. I held my head and curled my body into a tighter ball.

Ten minutes later, I opened my laptop. I needed a distraction. Sure enough, there were emails. But wait. Someone said ‘Dear Kichu’ in their salutation. That’s not a promotional email!

Dear Kichu,
Thank you for your submission to our literary magazine’s yearly contest. We’re delighted to let you know that your short story has made it to the shortlist in the ‘slow reading with tea and biscuits’ category. Our story editor would get in touch with you shortly to discuss further.
Thank you,
Submissions Manager
TM

I was deliriously happy. I held on to a tight-rope that was hope–for my writing.

I picked up my commonplace book and flipped through other pages. There was more poetry:

The chillness of spring winds call out to me,
expecting me to meld into the hazily tangled horizons
of an evening summer.
Mired in conundrum, I heed.
Flowers bloom, and callous walkers
crush the late blooming lavenders,
all while sauntering on the sidewalk.
The winds’ lilt moves me
like a leaf on autumn’s end.
I run around in circles and
the scent of the flowers follow me like dog’s tail.
I’m petrified wood — 
excavated from the heat of the earth,
my roots spreading into its core,
and my hair blossoming
like a forest full of wild flowers
in cherry red.

‘Ooh, petrified wood. That’s not bad at all, Kichu!’ I complimented myself.

I realised that it had been exactly six days, two hours and twenty five minutes since I bathed. I showered for about forty minutes, waxed hairy parts of my body, dried myself, brushed my hair and slipped into a soft cotton pyjama and shirt that exuded the faint fragrance of orange-stemmed white parijats fallen in heaps in our garden at home. I opened the curtains and let the evening glow of light fall into my kitchen. I wanted to call my therapist-friend tomorrow to let her know I felt better. I lit a rose incense stick and wished all the negativity away from my room and house. I was reminded of my mother’s odd ways of worshipping — jangling bells and showering her idols with rosewater and sandalwood paste, and my dad’s green and white checkered Janamaaz (the mat he used to pray five times a day). I specifically lit one near the Buddha above the TV, the one my therapist-friend gifted from her trip to Sri Lanka.


New email from Chiku:

Mom, dad and I are in the hospital.

The phone rang again. Afraid that I would be unavailable for my family yet again, I ran across the living room and lurched towards the TV to pick my phone up. I slipped and fell, landing face-first on the floor — bathed, decorated and caked up in my own slimy puke-fest from the afternoon. My open laptop on the sofa chimed. Another e-mail from Chiku.

Dad beat up by thugs again. Call back.

I looked up at the Buddha. He was standing in the clouded haze of my incense stick, holding up a chinmudra, as if he were telling me

‘Fuck off. Peace out.’

Really?

I looked at the statue, wondering what God would have to say about my unique mess. My mess, our collective mess.

Whose God is it this time?


New e-mail:

Dear Kichu,
We loved your submission to our magazine.
Congratulations on making it to the shortlist!
We were moved by your short story, the sharp turn of events it takes and the effort the protagonist puts in to achieve their goal. The language needed no tweaking. It kept me hooked until the end.
The core values of TM are empathy, kindness, and love. We focus on bringing unconventional but real stories. We don’t endorse violence or racism of any kind. For starters, the title ‘GALLUMPH IS A REAL WORD GOD DAMNIT!!!!’ doesn’t work. It sounds as if you’re shouting at someone, and that is, rude. It goes against our magazine’s tone and character. Also, I’m not sure GALLUMPH is used in everyday conversations.
There are some parts in your short story we would like to edit.
Let me know what you think, or if you have title suggestions.
Thank you,
Story Editor for Slow Reading with Tea and Biscuits category, TM

Compose E-mail:

Dear Submissions Manager and Story Editor,
GALLUMPH IS A REAL WORD GOD DAMNIT!!!!
- Kichu

SENT.


A bunch of us wanted to write 1000 word stories during this Coronavirus lockdown. We give each other prompts and a 24 hour deadline, with which we would have to come up with stories.

Prompt:

Ugh. Revulsion was stirring inside me, overtaking my painstakingly and lovingly nurtured self-loathing.

GALLUMPH IS A REAL WORD GOD DAMNIT!!!!

I looked up at the statue, wondering what God would have to say about my unique mess.

To make sense of every flurry and flutter — dither and hither
Engaged in dilly-dallies, outrageous trashy follies.


Photo by nurhan on Unsplash