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The Larvae

by Saikat Das

A man recalls a sadistic act of his with a guilty heart as he watches his son suffer. A poem by Saikat Das.

The whole night he turns
From one side to another
And then he moans at every hour

I put my hands on his belly,
Seems moist
Slowly I open his shirt buttons
And fix the stand fan
Facing him

But he moans

I try to wake him up
Light the lamp that burns the eyes
But in his sleep he turns, he moans

I sit in the bed
And hear him breathing
Surrounded by the mosquito net
And the drone of the stand fan

I move out to the balcony
The narrow passage
That overlooks the pond,
And look for my chair

But it’s not there

I keep gazing at the night
Three men in the pond
Roping in the green mess
That has covered its face

Slowly the dark water emerges
And it all floats up in my mind −

How a hornet had set up its nest
In our bathroom
A muddy thing that looks like a pot
And I had planned to undo it
When the hornet was gone

I wrapped it in plastic

And carried it to the terrace
And then I thought of
a plan −

I had bought days ago an acid bottle
To clean the basin
There’s still some left in it

I got it and slowly poured the liquid
Into that stubborn piece of mud
The acid slowly smoothed out
The whole thing

And then they came, the larvae
Hidden in the wet mud

Writhing in pain
And what a pleasure that was
To look at!

I poured the acid drop by drop
To see them to a painful death
Fumes of acid
Slowly melting into the arid air

The larvae almost liquefied to a pool…

As if staring at me
With a strange grin

And I left it there

The men are done with their work
And getting out of water
The deep, dark, inconsolable water

Arka, my boy of four years
Is moaning again

And I can’t trace
What hurts him

Slowly I move into the bed
And touch him

He’s burning now

Or is it my hands
Grown too cold?

Saikat Das (39), comes from Chinsurah, a Dutch settlement on the banks of river Hugli. A teacher in a sub-urban High School, he dreams of writing a novel but has always ended up writing poems that wink at him rather mischievously, taunting his bouts of passion that never quite make it to a novel. But he hasn’t given up.
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