letters from c.

i have been extraordinarily lucky, having evaded, thus far, death and its many variants. life, as EM Forster wrote, is easy to chronicle but bewildering to practise. and yet, we are told, practise makes perfect. ever the ardent practitioner, c.

Tag: humor

commuting in foreign lands

my taxi is hurtling through the traffic jam,—driving between the lines is optional here—daring the illegally-operated buses to slam into and kill us, which, apparently, is not that rare.  life is nonchalant about death here.  the radio is blaring in a language i don’t understand, but from the tone i know it’s hyperbole, which means it’s talk radio, uniformly stupid everywhere on earth.  ah, another physical constant to add to the pantheon of greek alphabet-denoted quantities– the stupidity constant, describing inanities broadcast over radio waves: Sr.  there would be other subscripts, of course, for constant S, as quantifiably stupid things abound in our lifetime.  constant S would presumably be the most voluminous constant in the universe, with entire encyclopedias devoted to describing its many forms and incarnations.  but it would be ironically stupid to devote time to studying stupid things, and that must be why no one has bothered.

we stop at a traffic light (only because there are cars blocking the intersection, not because a red light is any impediment), and immediately children press their faces and hands against the window, gesturing for money.  i have not been here long enough to stare stoically away; i cannot help but look into their young faces and wish that i could whisk them off to a basketball game, or sponsor them all to go to harvard.  my taxista, inured to this daily pathos, nudges abruptly forward, loosening the car from the tangle of skinny arms that had enveloped it.  the children surround the car behind; i watch him watching them doing so in the mirror.  finally the intersection clears, and we are off again in formula one racing mode, clipping motorcyclists and riding in the black cone of pollution emanating from aforementioned buses.  an ambulance siren has been growing louder for some time now, it seems to be stuck at fortissimo.  i turn around and see that it is right behind us.  instead of getting out of the way, traffic moves more frantically forward.  we race the ambulance and its emergency package the rest of the trip, until we turn off the highway.

after shouted instructions in several languages, none of which is the right one, i arrive at my destination, heralded by the slamming of brakes and the hurtling of my briefcase into the front seat.  that was my morning commute, the prelude to the rest of the day.

absolute zero

what has happened to my brain is this: it has reached absolute zero, the molecules have stopped moving. i have reached a state that has thus far only been theoretically possible; i should get a nobel prize for this, for being brain dead. in northern maine in the winter it is so cold that a lake a mile wide freezes over 2 feet deep and one can build a cabin on it and cut a hole and go ice fishing. that, perhaps, has happened to my brain. lilliputians are fishing for bounty, for dinner, for pensées of any stripe, but they will go home to their tiny abodes empty-handed, wondering where all the thoughts have gone.

‘anything?’

‘no, none of her usual run-on sentences, not even a prepositional phrase’

‘no adverbs, even? she’s usually good for some of those, even late in the day’

‘no, not even a lingering, repetitive song refrain; we shall starve’

my frozen brain has detached from the rest of my body, like a helium balloon that has slipped the grasp of its owner, and is floating away, utterly carefree. i try to wave it back, gesturing for it to come down to earth. my brain, nonchalant, ignores me. unfettered now, and thawing, it jauntily revels in wild, preposterous, illogical, circular, elliptical, insinuating thoughts. ‘damned grey matter’, my reptilian brain stem manages to mutter, but a lingering lilliputian hears it and snags it, triumphantly, for dinner.

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