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Dwelling with Death

"I wanted to hide forever from the world"

Published onNov 23, 2022
Dwelling with Death

~Photo by Aron Visuals:

After my father died I became jealous of every unorphaned child who held the calloused arm of her dad in one hand and tucked the other in her mouth like a lollipop in familiar footpaths and leisurely streets and smiled at me, mocking my blank face. I wanted to hide forever from the world. I effaced ants and fireflies for no reason as such. I wrote poems for my father, mixing tears with ink in lonely sleepless nights. I looked up at the night sky at three and searched for him amidst the smoldering stars. I desperately wanted him to inhabit my dreams. I wanted to hold on to the last image of his body, the touch of his cold hand, the stare of his blank eyes, the spectacle of his surrender in an unblemished white linen. Dwelling with death1 is identical to death. After a couple of wet years, something within me has hardened. I don't panic anymore when I see a flowered body riding on perspiring shoulders. I don't shudder at the sight of burning corpses. Perhaps I have realized how empty and naked life is. A journey from nowhere to nowhere, nothing to nothing. And I wish to be a pebble instead in my afterlife to fill a geologist with pride of discovery or a river with ripples and an urchin with a wide smile. 

Debasish Mishra is a Senior Research Fellow at National Institute of Science Education and Research, HBNI, India, who has earlier worked with United Bank of India and Central University of Odisha. He is the recipient of the Bharat Award for Literature in 2019 and the Reuel International Upcoming Poet Prize in 2017. His recent work has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Penumbra, The Headlight Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, California Quarterly, and elsewhere. His first book Lost in Obscurity and Other Stories has been recently published by Book Street Publications, India.

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