Sunday, 14 February 2010

In Lanka before sunrise- short story

In Lanka before Sunrise

    ‘Night School,’ I said, having noticed the two uptown types in the back row, ‘What good is it- now the State provides synaptic uploads for free?’
“Only to citizens.”
    “Only to subjects- not 'citizens', this isn't a Republic, thankfully- but, urm, I'm sorry your name really is too difficult to pronounce... if you will permit me to continue, the fact remains, with free implants and real time uploads and so on, what is the point of Night School? What is to be its new role in the emerging Technological...urm,’ 
should I say Lebenswelt? Too pretentious? Hey, this is just Night School! I hesitated.

   “We need Night School to get our certificates as Évolués. That’s the point It's the reason we're here.” 
My interrupter was the same big lug- a waste technician at the power plant, probably on a dodgy work permit- my guess, his supervisor had filled his head with promises of  permanent residency- yeah, like that was gonna happen! The whole raison d’etre for free synaptic uploads was to reduce our dependence on these immigrant gorillas.

    “Well.. that’s, of course, urm... an...urm... possible, possible.. urm...” Oh dear, I sounded like a drooling idiot. Normally, that wouldn’t matter- but those two uptown types in the back row had me worried. Why were they here? Just slumming? No- too clean cut. They looked... connected.

     “True, Night School started off as the poor man’s route to social and occupational mobility, but, with changing technology, it must now re-invent itself as ... the School of Night!”
“What?!”- the big lug looked set to hurl his desk at me.
   “Night,” I said quickly, “Night is the great mother from which our civilization evolved. Night is the School to which our civilization must return to learn anew the meaning of our stature as Évolués...”

    I glanced up. As I had hoped, the mention of his favourite word had tranquilised the gorilla. The meathead was now taking notes. I could proceed in safety. But pitch my words at the two uptowners in the back row. Why not? I might never have a second opportunity to talk to my own people- intelligent people, if their looks were anything to go by- in my own lecture hall. Carpe noctem- seize the night!

   “What is it that Night teaches? What is the true Nisha Sutra? Let us begin by saying what it is not. It is not its shadow- the wisdom of the forest dwelling Nishaads- nor the shadow of that shadow- the Upanishads- rather it is the cry of our immortal King- Ravana, named for his first and primordial cry of fright! Fright at what? Night. Night is the first teacher. Fear drives evolution. Our race- the Rakshasas- saw Raksha, security, originated in Fright. For those races which turned their back on evolution, on the other hand, Night which they apotheosise as Ratri, was what dispelled darkness, a beneficient Goddess. That same Goddess as is revealed in the dark trench their ploughs laboriously trace. To which, too, they give a Goddess’s name- Sita. But, that which made both fearful they forgot. Our immortal King did not make that mistake. Both labour and darkness he holds in loathing and fear more than loathing. Ours is a city of lights- it is a city of leisure. Both labour and night are banished here. We are the true ujali paraj- the race of light. The unevolved are the kali paraj- the race of darkness. We, driven by fear, we gambled and won! To them is left that inverse of the gamble- that opposite of the Master Slave dialectic- the dullard's duty of Krishi- mind darkening agriculture! Consider the difference between us and them! They light fires for their sacrifices during the day, but extinguish them by night! How foolish is that! Fire is to ward off the fears of the Night, it is wasted if used to but praise and give thanks to that living God whose crime against creation is the abolition of fear- the denial of evolution!”

    The two uptowners were now looking at me keenly. Beneath the cowls of their holo-cloaks I saw their sharp features flicker with intelligent appreciation.
 They scared me shitless. 
   Dad got his Évolué papers during the Brahma Wars when, frankly, such things were a lot easier.
I was cloned in a perfectly good facility- but, between you and me, it was offshore. I’m not a ‘birther’. These things make a difference you know.

    Fear was a drug I had been too long denied. I mean pure fear. Not the fear-methadone that keeps people of my class productive in this great Empire of Fear.
     Except, 'productive' is not, perhaps, the mot juste. True, I pay my protection money same as any other upstanding, that is cowering, subject. But, does the State not actually create the means for me to pay it off? I mean, I’m not like my Dad- who served during the Brahma Wars- but then I’m more evolved... Anyway, sorry to be pedantic, but let me change that sentence. Go back to ‘the fear-methadone that keeps people of my class’ and instead of ‘productive’ substitute ‘not transgressive, in this our great Empire of fear.’

My private musings had led me to punctuate my lecture with more urms and aahs than normal.
The two uptowners were getting up.
Great! They were leaving!
They were coming down towards me.
I fainted.
(Good genes, I guess. Like I said, Dad did yeomen service during the Brahma wars.)
“Get that monkey away from me!”
(Though my Doctorate is only in Comp. Lit, the fact remains- I was ranked second in the Screaming-Bee at my Middle School- a very good one I might add- albeit merely virtual.)
“Why? It can’t hurt you.”
The 2 uptowners displayed signs of gender dimorphism. This increased my fear.
“Stop screaming like that! What are you- Vat born?”
I abruptly stopped screaming.
“I was being ironic. Like ironic and savvy?”
   “Whatever. Look, we want you to talk to this monkey. Your PhD is in Comp. Lit right? See, this monkey has got amnesia. We found him wandering around the food court. Nice enough little fella. My girl-friend picked him up. Once she got him under her holo-cloak, he just hugged her like a baby.. Could you talk to him?”
“And if I don’t- you’ll eat me?”
   “Well, bits of you- yeah. Like, stuff you’d really miss. Unless of course, you can talk to this li’l darling. You know, my boy friend and me might register for natural birth. I’m thinking to, like, suckle our baby. It’s frightening- but somehow, once this little fellow snuggled against me- it just didn’t seem so scary anymore.”
Uptown girls- right? I mean whaddya gonna do?
“The monkey speaks.”
“Cool! What’s he saying? Like how much he loves his new Mommy?”
“Well... not precisely...”
      It was not the right answer. Her snarl told me a lot about which portions of me had excited her appetite.
“You see- somehow or the other- this monkey speaks Valmikian. It's like our own Ravanese. Indeed, Valmiki, too, started out as a robber. But whereas Ravanese is based on the infant's cry of fear at what Night's darkening Heaven's thundered, Valmikian is based on the poet's sorrowful cry at seeing, by the hunter's arrow, two love birds sundered.  Put simply, both are languages generated by their own mot theme... I mean, like mathematically constrained to always say the same thing while saying everything conceivable...”
“And what it’s saying is it loves its Mommy- right!”
   “Absolutely! No question. Well... a tiny see Valmikian is cosmological in scope, it can name every particular with the greatest degree of subtlety but only because it reveals the nature of Reality to its uttermost limit... but, no, no you are right- it is concerned wholly with ‘vatsalya’- love as between Mother and child. So, yes- your intuition was correct!”
“My monkey baby loves me! Sweetie, bite something nice off the Prof. for me to feed it!”
“I’m afraid you can’t do that.”
“Oi! What did you just say to my girl friend?! Did you say ‘can’t’!”
“Not ‘can’t’ can’t- of course you can- but what the monkey is saying is...”
“You already told us. It loves its Mommy. Don’t you sweetie?”
   “Well, of course he does-  but his Valmikian language has conditioned him- you know, Language speaks us in the same manner that Screams our lungs truly re-bring to breathe- to see the fearful, the tearful, the dire ire of vatsalya baffled- become its own breath blinded mirror, like the Autumn Moon, and all Love rendered but the polluted leftovers of its own sacrifice thus poisoning Evolution and causing Time itself to decay...”
“F**k you say?”
   “Guys- take it easy. This is complicated stuff. Look,  the essential nature of vatsalya, as a type of love, is to be parted from its object- but parted only so as to become Universal and thus true to its higher purpose. Thus, it must itself become Time- that which rends it from what it holds most dear.
    "We Rakshasas, on the other hand, have conquered Time- that was what the Brahma Wars were about- Fear drives all. The multiple arms and heads of Time have all been loped away- they are now the multiple arms and heads of our dread King- only Evolution is left but though an Evolution born of our fear, what drives it now is Universal fear of Us. Look, you must see where I'm going with this.”
“Bite off his arms- they’ll make a nice titbit for Baby.”
“Would, dear lady, my arms availed you- nothing now can feed it- nothing save alms to a Buddhist bhikku.”
“What’s a Buddhist?”
“You are.”
   “You are. At this moment, cradling that monkey- you have become Hariti, who gave up human flesh when the Buddha restored her babe to her. But be aware of this danger. Our immortal King saved you, saved us, from fear of God. He opened Evolution to us as our own fearless demesne. We- you dear lady, and your boy friend- are, in that sense, all the more vulnerable to Buddhism.. Your modality of Time is not Fear, nor the self emptying of kenosis- rather it is the eternity of the transitory moment- kshanikavada- you are already proto-Buddhists, your chariot a single spokeless wheel that is also a Strassenwalze- a road-roller- under which you can crush into the unresisting ground what is Other to you- for, truly,  there is neither Space nor Time- as a dimension extending to include interaction with others- no, at least not for you.”
“I like that bit about a- what did you call it?”
   Strassenwalze- a road-roller- crushing the Other into the road upon which your chariots might more fleetly fly.”
“Don’t sound so bad- but what was that other thing you said- Bikkie- a Buddhist Bikkie.’
Bhikku- a mendicant- a monk, one who lives by begging his bread.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
“Feed my arms to your monkey- the more of me you feed him, the more Buddhism devours you!”
“You dare to threaten us- jumped up little evoluee!”
“Scarcely I! I am not the danger! It is that little monkey you hold to your heart!”

“What... what is wrong with my baby?”
“He is Valmikian! Himself, the tragic trajectory of true Vatsalya!”
“What do you mean?- it’s my coochy cuddly baby- O yes it is!”
“He is not just a monkey- nobody is.”
“He is mine. I am his!”
“No parent, in a child, knows lasting bliss!”
“Listen, you immigrant- talk politely!”
“& it is to you, Sir, not black but whitely!”

“Beat him, Lover, tear his flesh!”
“Then never to your breast a babe will mesh!”

I felt actually quite good as the Raakshas tore off my arms.
My new appendages began budding almost immediately.
I was now a shoo in for tenure.
Uptown folk had devoured my arms.
Feels good right?! Especially the fear. I’d be moving in higher circles. Adrenalin rush!

What next happened was- unexpected? No, sadly not.
Actually, it’s what happens when you have immigrants who don’t know their place.
That great lug of a waste technician led the charge. They grabbed the uptown Rakshasas.
And released the monkey.

I did it.
My arms grow back real quick.
But the monkey didn’t know it.
That’s why I captured it so easily.
   I was tightening my hold around it- not exactly with the notion of throttling it, but simply squashing it into a nice piece of pâté for when the cops turned up....
How was I supposed to know?
In Lanka before Sunrise, the demon’s spell works amnesia.
But, hand-cuffs cancel mind-cuffs.
Physical constraint releases from Mental subservience.
That Monkey was Hanuman.
He burnt down our City.
He did it with his tail.
Guys- I didn’t know- Lanka was my Mother.
I learned Vatsalya after my Mom was burnt up.
Am I saved?


Sheila said...

I've read something like this by you before? Where?
My memory is the earlier version was miles better.

windwheel said...

Wow! Thanks for looking at this. You are absolutely right. I'm recycling myself- must be some sort of early onset senile thing.
The passage you're thinking off is from Deus Absconditus-.

windwheel said...

Sorry, forgot to add- type 'in Lanka before sunrise' and you get the section.
Many thanks once again for looking at this.