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Untouchable

About Anirban Ray

A high school teacher from Kolkata, West Bengal, trying to explore realms of English Free Verse, Rhymed Poetry and Prose.

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Prologue : The mangled corpse that lay on the road in a pool of blood looked a lot like him, the boy thought. The car that had caused this had swerved and hit a tree, smashing the entire front end, horn blaring nonstop from the impact. The owner struggled out of the car, holding his bleeding forehead, and stumbled his way towards the corpse. He tried to turn the body over, and the boy could see the face … it WAS him! But how could it be? He was absolutely okay, except … except for the fact that he was floating in the air. He looked at his hands, and could not see them.

 

Part 1

 

“Where are my hands?” he was alarmed. “I can feel them, but I can’t see them, why?” The car’s headlight had turned upwards, and the beam shone right through his body. He was frantic, because he looked down and could not see his torso, his limbs or anything else, except the straight yellow beam. Gradually it dawned upon him — he was an apparition, no more human. It was HIS body lying down there beside the sidewalk.

The car owner had dialled 911 and explained how a jaywalker had jumped in front of his car and …

“Lies! You swerved first and hit me!” The boy tried to say, but his voice was missing too. Two squad cars and an ambulance rushed to the scene in a few minutes, their red, blue and amber lights and sirens filling up the night sky of this erstwhile desolate road. The men in uniforms had snapped rubber gloves on, as had the coroner, and were examining the corpse, taking pictures from different angles. The car owner had been given some first aid and was talking to the officers, while the corpse was duly tagged, details taken from the purse found with the corpse. It was put into a body bag, then onto a stretcher and thrust into the back of the ambulance with an indifference that comes with handling corpses for too long.

 

“Off they go to put me in the freezer” the boy thought. All of it seemed rather pointless to him, because he was dead. And he was only seventeen. He tried to sigh, but couldn’t do it either. One needed to breathe out slowly in order to sigh, and he did not need to breathe at all. He floated downwards and tried to get into one of those squad cars, but could not reach out for the door handle, as he had no hands.

 

“What the hell can I do now without my hands, my feet and my body?” He grumbled within himself. He tried to move forward, and passed right through the door into the rear seat of the black and white Ford Crown Victoria, with a shield and the ‘To Serve and To Protect’ emblazoned on its side. The squad cars started shortly afterwards, speeding towards the morgue while escorting the ambulance, their 4.6L V8 motors and the sirens howling, tearing up the silent winter night. The boy watched the silhouettes of the trees and the dark landscapes whizz past the rear window. They reached the town morgue within fifteen minutes.

 

Part 2

 

The ‘body’ was carried out and the entourage went inside through the wide swing doors. The boy was curious and followed them. The doors had closed, but he went through them to the other side. “This is fun!” he thought, and then remembered that it was HE who was dead … nothing funny about it. A bald coroner was waiting beside a stainless steel table, on which the ‘body’ had been placed, and the cops were discussing something with him. Several trays held an assortment of gleaming cutting knives, electric saws, sharp chisels, a hammer and other weird stuff. The boy wanted to vomit from the very thought of seeing ‘himself’ dissected like a lab rat, but of course there was no way he could puke. So he turned away and flitted out of the cold walls of the building – back out in the open.

The boy floated upwards – above the tree line, above the buildings. He could now see the entire town. It resembled a dark carpet strewn with specks of lights. He had no parents; he had been brought up in an orphanage. A thought came to him, and he floated eastwards, towards a certain part of the town. Stopping in front of an apartment building, he looked briefly at the dimly lit room on the second floor, and floated towards it. The panes were up, but then, getting in and out was no longer an issue. He looked at the young girl scribbling away on a school notebook – Nora, his beloved Nora. He floated closer to her.

 

She was doing her history assignment, he noticed. He felt ashamed because he had not done his, and then realized he would not be able to do any assignment ever again. He looked at Nora, left hand supporting her chin while the right hand wrote away furiously, her back facing the ceiling. The sheets were all rumpled and unmade. It irritated him. He always liked beds to be arranged and done neatly, a habit that stuck from the orphanage days. But he wouldn’t be able to make the bed for her anymore, so he focused on Nora’s face, looking strangely beautiful, partially illuminated by the bedside lamp under which she was studying. Her hair, black and streaked with red here and there, had been pulled back and tied into a ponytail, revealing her ear and slender neck.

 

The boy wanted to touch her badly, to feel those magnificent curves under his fingers, to caress, to snuggle. It never happened. He watched her longingly, floating from one angle of the room to the other, to soak in Nora’s beauty in every possible way. She was not aware of his death yet, and she probably would not be, unless of course the cops or the local newspaper somehow came to know that they were dating each other for a couple of years.

A mild drizzle had started outside. It would get colder soon. Nora got up from her messy bed, walked right through the boy over to the window and shut the glass pane to prevent the stray droplets from getting in. Helplessly, he tried to feel her as she went through him. There was no feeling at all. He wanted to cry, cry out loud, he wanted tears streaming down his cheeks. He was a helpless entity who could go through walls and closed doors, but couldn’t do whatever he wanted to do. Floating outside, he wanted to feel the raindrops on his non-existent skin – another impossibility. He floated around aimlessly, hoping to come back some other time, to watch his beautiful Nora for hours together.

The mangled corpse that lay on the road in a pool of blood looked a lot like him, the boy thought. The car that had caused this had swerved and hit a tree, smashing the entire front end, horn blaring nonstop from the impact. The owner struggled out of the car, holding his bleeding forehead, and stumbled his way towards the corpse. He tried to turn the body over, and the boy could see the face … it WAS him! But how could it be? He was absolutely okay, except … except for the fact that he was floating in the air. He looked at his hands, and could not see them.

“Where are my hands?” he was alarmed. “I can feel them, but I can’t see them, why?” The car’s headlight had turned upwards, and the beam shone right through his body. He was frantic, because he looked down and could not see his torso, his limbs or anything else, except the straight yellow beam. Gradually it dawned upon him — he was an apparition, no more human. It was HIS body lying down there beside the sidewalk.

The car owner had dialled 911 and explained how a jaywalker had jumped in front of his car and …

“Lies! You swerved first and hit me!” The boy tried to say, but his voice was missing too. Two squad cars and an ambulance rushed to the scene in a few minutes, their red, blue and amber lights and sirens filling up the night sky of this erstwhile desolate road. The men in uniforms had snapped rubber gloves on, as had the coroner, and were examining the corpse, taking pictures from different angles. The car owner had been given some first aid and was talking to the officers, while the corpse was duly tagged, details taken from the purse found with the corpse. It was put into a body bag, then onto a stretcher and thrust into the back of the ambulance with an indifference that comes with handling corpses for too long.

“Off they go to put me in the freezer” the boy thought. All of it seemed rather pointless to him, because he was dead. And he was only seventeen. He tried to sigh, but couldn’t do it either. One needed to breathe out slowly in order to sigh, and he did not need to breathe at all. He floated downwards and tried to get into one of those squad cars, but could not reach out for the door handle, as he had no hands.

“What the hell can I do now without my hands, my feet and my body?” He grumbled within himself. He tried to move forward, and passed right through the door into the rear seat of the black and white Ford Crown Victoria, with a shield and the ‘To Serve and To Protect’ emblazoned on its side. The squad cars started shortly afterwards, speeding towards the morgue while escorting the ambulance, their 4.6L V8 motors and the sirens howling, tearing up the silent winter night. The boy watched the silhouettes of the trees and the dark landscapes whizz past the rear window. They reached the town morgue within fifteen minutes.

To Be Continued in Part 2…

The ‘body’ was carried out and the entourage went inside through the wide swing doors. The boy was curious and followed them. The doors had closed, but he went through them to the other side. “This is fun!” he thought, and then remembered that it was HE who was dead … nothing funny about it. A bald coroner was waiting beside a stainless steel table, on which the ‘body’ had been placed, and the cops were discussing something with him. Several trays held an assortment of gleaming cutting knives, electric saws, sharp chisels, a hammer and other weird stuff. The boy wanted to vomit from the very thought of seeing ‘himself’ dissected like a lab rat, but of course there was no way he could puke. So he turned away and flitted out of the cold walls of the building – back out in the open.

The boy floated upwards – above the tree line, above the buildings. He could now see the entire town. It resembled a dark carpet strewn with specks of lights. He had no parents; he had been brought up in an orphanage. A thought came to him, and he floated eastwards, towards a certain part of the town. Stopping in front of an apartment building, he looked briefly at the dimly lit room on the second floor, and floated towards it. The panes were up, but then, getting in and out was no longer an issue. He looked at the young girl scribbling away on a school notebook – Nora, his beloved Nora. He floated closer to her.

She was doing her history assignment, he noticed. He felt ashamed because he had not done his, and then realized he would not be able to do any assignment ever again. He looked at Nora, left hand supporting her chin while the right hand wrote away furiously, her back facing the ceiling. The sheets were all rumpled and unmade. It irritated him. He always liked beds to be arranged and done neatly, a habit that stuck from the orphanage days. But he wouldn’t be able to make the bed for her anymore, so he focused on Nora’s face, looking strangely beautiful, partially illuminated by the bedside lamp under which she was studying. Her hair, black and streaked with red here and there, had been pulled back and tied into a ponytail, revealing her ear and slender neck.

The boy wanted to touch her badly, to feel those magnificent curves under his fingers, to caress, to snuggle. It never happened. He watched her longingly, floating from one angle of the room to the other, to soak in Nora’s beauty in every possible way. She was not aware of his death yet, and she probably would not be, unless of course the cops or the local newspaper somehow came to know that they were dating each other for a couple of years.

A mild drizzle had started outside. It would get colder soon. Nora got up from her messy bed, walked right through the boy over to the window and shut the glass pane to prevent the stray droplets from getting in. Helplessly, he tried to feel her as she went through him. There was no feeling at all. He wanted to cry, cry out loud, he wanted tears streaming down his cheeks. He was a helpless entity who could go through walls and closed doors, but couldn’t do whatever he wanted to do. Floating outside, he wanted to feel the raindrops on his non-existent skin – another impossibility. He floated around aimlessly, hoping to come back some other time, to watch his beautiful Nora for hours together.

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1 Response Comment

  • Aparna Mondal16/08/2019 at 8:45 AM

    Quite an interesting read. Waiting to know how a dead person feels after leaving his mortal body. Waiting for the subsequent episodes!

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