There’d been so much chaos, you had to wonder if Lord Vishnu was aging, or if deities were getting killed off early. You dropped the sacks, rubbed the grooves cut into your shoulders, rubbed kajal from your stare, sorted ingredients. Words slipped their leash and ran wild in the dark kitchen. The walls were visibly spoiled by magic.

Men you loved crowded in, krr-krrd decks of cards with pupils like prayer wheels and demanded oe nakkali, bhang dinu, kailey. You were a closed lotus on the kitchen floor with your back to the room, hands busy and lit cigarette glued in place and wetting your eyes.

There was too much ghee, not enough bhang. Not enough for everyone to get high so you swore and bulked lassi with sabji masala and cardamom, blessed it, squatted with your feet round a sickle blade to shred mangos, pounded with a pestle until whey ran to your elbow. You cursed yourself for getting duped by a bhang-wallah.

The violence from that week had made you complacent and your naked foot slid into the concave of the bagging blade. Dust filmed over the worm of blood that sprinted for the gutter where the mango drupes paraded along the sooted wall. Someone slammed down a final, triumphant playing card.

Jagrit vhai was telling a story of the Gods – his favourite – the time a calf was born with two heads over in Nawalprayasi, and though it died quickly and efficiently his mama sent him over for worship. He queued up, choked in a cloud of engorged flies to bless its mutant corpse with a twice-kissed mandarin, asked it for rainfall.

You were pleased with your silence. Earth on the blood, blood in the ghee and everywhere, pink on the pestle and someone would drink it anyway, desperate to get high, fruit stones piled like bleeding corpses and you thought, wouldn’t it have been lovely to cut off the toe completely? To walk differently? Imagine interrupting the men you loved by calmly holding up such a work of art: your toe on your palm.

You reached for a rag while the bhang-lassi swelled in the basin. It’s the stuff that brings out the human in men, softness in men, the 4am side of men. It lets the night slip by undetected – a fast arrow between trees. Your leaking mind reminded you that when Vishnu dreamt up the universe, he then had to protect it. It takes so long, for wonderful things to start happening. Do you remember it? All that space there was between that kitchen and the rest of the world. You served up ten glasses of bhang-lassi, told yourself the whole impossible story.

 

Eleanor Walsh

Eleanor Walsh

Eleanor Walsh attended Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia where she studied English, and she later completed her MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University in the UK. She is now in Nepal on a doctoral research where she studies oral literature from low-caste communities in the Terai – a place where she draws much inspiration for her own poetry. The Nepalese villagers teach her how to harvest rice and often tell her to lighten up.

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