by Dashrath Parmar
All of a sudden, I felt as if a thorn was pricking my eye or as if someone was digging a pit with a sharp crowbar…
I stirred a little. I opened my eyes to the horrendous sight of a vulture perched on my chest, with its massive wings spread out, its beak stuck into my right eye….
I shrieked in terror, but the vulture continued to pick at my eye unperturbedly. Using all my force, I tried with both my hands to take it off my chest, but I failed. It had firmly fixed its talons in the gaps between my ribs. All my efforts were in vain.
I began to shout with more intensity, but no one responded. Where had my family members gone? Where were my loved ones? Look how this vulture tortures me!
Blood streamed down my eye into tributaries. One ran down my ear. The warmth…! Another reached down to my lips and into my mouth. The warm salty touch… taste…!
Gradually, my pillow, my quilt, was drenched…. If I bled further, the blood would seep through the quilt on to the floor…
With renewed strength I tried to push the vulture away, but it too resisted with doubled force and began to drink my blood with gulping sounds…
I looked outside with one eye, but its open, monstrous wings obstructed my sight. I lay in wait helplessly, for my eye to be scraped out. There would be no trace of the eye after a while, only a deep, valley-like opening….
Pain crept through every vein of my body. I sprang up from the cot when I could bear it no longer. The cot shook as I got up, it tilted to one side, the vulture lost its grip over my ribs, it fell and I fled.
The door was open. I tripped over the threshold and tumbled. However, I broke into a run again. I ran across the courtyard and came to a stop under the neem tree. There was a deadly silence in the vas, not a soul in sight, except a dog who sat chewing a bone… its mouth smeared with blood. [….]
The blood from my eye just refused to clot; I could hear it falling on the ground as I stood beneath the neem tree…… tip….tap…..tip……tap…… I felt something dangling from my eye-cavity… Oh! It was a lump of flesh! Could it be a severed ligament perhaps some vein or nerve leading to the brain or…
I put the lump back carefully back into the hollow. My hands were covered with blood, my clothes drenched red. I was tempted to kill the vulture with the kitchen knife. Would the taste of its blood be like mine?
I looked at my house from where I stood. The vulture was following the trail of my blood, licking the blood drops as it advanced towards me. For a moment I thought […..]
At the Fuldevi Temple:
I looked all round for a rag to stuff the hollow of my eye with. Perhaps, then the bleeding would cease….
Mataji’s idol caught my sight at that moment and I eyed the bright red chundadi wrapped around the idol, in the faint light of the lamp. Yes. I thought, this is it. The stone idol could do without any covering! […]
What would I ask her (Mataji)? Money… wealth… or a seven-storied mansion, as the greedy merchant had, where on the seventh floor, the son of his seventh son could sleep in a cradle of gold. No, no. I checked myself. Money and wealth would not serve my purpose. I decided I would ask for a ‘a gleaming, pointed, sharp trishul…..!
I rehearsed my request: “Hey ma! If you really want to grant me a boon, give me a trishul, your trishul! You have slain demons with it, I will use it to slay the vulture who is after my life…. and all its heirs… and redeem my…..”
Source: Tongues of Fire: a selection of Gujarati Dalit short stories. Translated and edited by Darshana Trivedi and Rupalee Burke. Dalit Sahitya Publication Series: Book IV.