The Meat GodIn the beginning of the end was that desire Swarming, exuberant, wriggling: like newborn maggots
In the beginning of the end was that desire. Swarming, exuberant, wriggling: like newborn maggots. One not among the many coined by that bearded, rummy Austrian psychoanalyst. Here was that teeming desire-the desire to eat meat—the genesis of which left him burning and seething. A craving he knew so well, it was coming back again, whirling through the infernal darkness of the night, twirling round and round through the half-deserted streets. It was sharp and painful, and over the years, like fits of incurable migraine, it had become profound—hard to deal with.
Spinning inside his empty stomach, biting its thin walls, the desire rose up to his throat, and made a bulge. Unable to breathe, he lapsed into a spell of endless coughing. His stomach churned, the desire of eating meat grew larger and larger with successive spirals, and it started beating harder on him inside. The stem of his spinal cord quivered, the hair on back of his neck stood up, and he jerked his body as if to shake off that clinging desire. A constant hammering inside his stomach, a dull thud, thud, thud of fleshless emaciated hand, and the bitterness rose up to his mouth, corroding his yellowing teeth. With an animal impulse to clench his fists and bang his head against the damp walls, his body gave a start. Like a fallen archangel seeking revenge, face flushed with coughing, stomach thinning with every bite, he got up, walked to the door-and stopped.
“It was different when Bipana was here,” he murmured.
Bipana was his wife, a charming creature with an endearing and bright face, who at the end of the fourth year of their marriage had ran away with his assistant, a brutish hulk of a man, the ugliest ogre in the whole village. From that day, he was determined to be strong, to be somewhat a callous man, and make a living through his hard work. So, he butchered more and more animals, sold them without stopping or taking a rest, and took the solemn vow of not eating meat again. Five years passed like soft evening breeze, and thanks to his hard work, he had put aside enough to build a tiled hut with shiny kamero in the village.
But the desire was back again. He wished he could grab that desire, squeeze it, yes once and for all, throw it out on the gravelled road, step on it with his mighty feet, if that doesn’t work, bring the cleaver and mince it into million little pieces, or even better let the vehicles run over it, one after another, let them flatten it till its remnant life absconded its soul and lay motionless, cold, staring back horribly, with its dark, dilated eyes of death.
Lying back on the creaking bed, he thought about that desire once again. Why was it coming back-after all these years? He turned around and ran his fingers over the wall, letting the coolness of it penetrate through his skin. Five years, he sighed.
He now felt the dampness of his room creep into his bones. His home, a hut with a tiled roof, was so cold, so dank that the walls were covered with green moss at places and flimsy layers of greyish matter at others, and his mere breath left a transparent film atop the blanket as he slept. He had finished building the house in time for the coming winter, and moved in before the kamero on the walls was dry. Every night he scrunched down under the blanket, escaping the cold air knifing into the room. What’s more, there was this desire again, whirling inside his empty stomach.
“When we’re so different in every way,” Bipana had said, “It’s odd to live together.”
“Harey, it’s also odd not to live together,” he had said, rather drily; and Bipana had laughed in disbelief. She always laughed at his dim-witted jokes.
She was a tallish woman, big-boned and fair, and she appeared slightly boyish. This was because of the way she used to do her hair and dress up. She took pleasure in wearing a Mohawk cut, and walking out of the house in lean trousers and sweat-shirts. But he was small, fat, dark, brittle, with large watchful eyes, and a fuzzy haircut. More than that, he was always pleased with himself—the one quality that Bipana had secretly despised.
They were all minor differences. The bigger one was that she was a strict vegetarian while he was a voracious meat-eater. She couldn’t even stand the smell of meat while his whole body, even the cells within, reeked of it. During the first few months of marriage, she complained about everything: how he smelled like a goat, how he didn’t even bother to take a bath before he got into bed, how he snored in sleep that reminded her of a wild bull. He listened her grumble, but never said a word. He often wondered why she had agreed to marry a man like him.
Now, he woke up with a start. A sharp smell of raw meat and formaldehyde was coming from the other room, mingling with the aroma of damp kamero from the walls.
Once again, he felt the same sensation, the same desire to eat meat—swelling like an interior supernova inside him. It was unbearable now; its vicious flames flickering towards the depths of his belly. He tried to calm himself. He tried to stop the burning sensation inside his chest, but there was no way he could do this today.
“Enough!” he hissed, and walked out.
As soon as he entered the shop, he was glad to be there. A dozen chicken, bare-skinned and cold, welcomed him first, followed by the thick, fleshly femurs of goats, and a large hindquarter of a pig. This was what was left from selling. He was thankful that he didn’t sell all the meat, even though in the afternoon he was complaining about the low sales.
“Sala, I’ll be damned if I just stand here watching all the meat without doing anything,” he said to himself, watching the meat surreptitiously.
Alert and business-like, he rolled up his sleeves, walked up to the meat counter, took the first chicken out, and with a swift swing of the cleaver, hacked it into two. A bit of blood spurted out, tinged his hands, and tempted his senses. He bent down, closed his eyes, and took a lungful of smell. There was a momentary disillusionment—time and space collapsed—followed by another bout of reverie. He was transported back to the time when he was a kid. It was October, the month of festivals. He remembered the taste of the first chicken he had, and how it had melted in his mouth.
Opening his eyes, he straightened himself up. Now he knew what he was going to do; he was going to live his life. Without any bondage and abstinence.
Tearing the right leg of the chicken, he brought it up to his mouth, took the first bite after five years of self-restraint. The meat was too fleshy, too greasy—the juices flooded inside his mouth. He couldn’t resist the temptation. Without chewing for the second time, he swallowed it. It went down his throat in a swift, easy motion, as if the raw meat was nothing more than a mouthful of cotton candy. He took another bite, swallowed it, and in a couple of minutes, he licked the bones bare.
He heard the beating of the rain—increasing as ever—as it came hammering down on the tiled roof. In came the sweet smell of rain, the new air. The dampness of the room was unbearable. With rain, more dampness seeped into the room and into him, and his bones. He knew what he should do in order to get himself warm.
He took out another chicken. Without even bothering to cut it into two, he dug his teeth into the ribs, tore out its thick flesh, and swallowed it in a blink of an eye. As he kept chewing at the raw meat, the distant memories of his wife—yesterday so dear, today so cruel—came swirling to his mind with all the intimate details: soft spoken secrets, the light touch of her hands on his bare back, the smell of freshly washed hair, half-smiles, happy or sad intonations. Haunted and tortured by her memories, he ate with a newfound zeal. But no matter the eating, his whole body started aching for her—he now had a deep desire to touch her, to feel her eyes against his, her lips against his, her loins against his. He felt lonely and utterly solitary. Tears started to well up in the corner of his eyes.
He asked himself a question that ravaged the scattered fragments of a life sewn together by his endless hours of work, work, work. What on the earth did he get by remaining so devoted, so faithful to her—the bitch of a wife who parted her legs for a few choice words, a few drinks, and sometimes even a few wads of crisp bank notes? She broke his heart, his spirit for countless times; and his muteness, his blind love did not satiate her. She was a wolfish woman with an enormous appetite. A hunger not of belly, but of the meeting of her thighs.
Through the teary film, he looked at the deep night outside, listened to the pitiful yet persistent pattering of the rain, and kept thinking about her, and why she had left him for a tatterdemalion, the most unworthy specimen of humankind.Then the meat began to speak to him exactly in the voice of his wife, the only voice he had known so intimately, so warmly,“I’ve waited for you so long! Come, don’t delay anymore. Eat me, and let me go down into your revered belly. There we will together meet our fate.”
Without waiting anymore, he took out all the remaining chicken. With his bare hands, he tore them open, gnawed at them, crunched the bones, slurped the marrows, and spitted out what remained after so much gnashing—the beaten, almost pulverised, bones. The more he spitted out the bones, the more ecstatic he became. Tears streaked his cheeks; he gave out a loud screech of happiness. It was the kind of unearthly, the most unharmonious, sound anyone had ever heard of.
“Let’s be true to one another, and we will together seek the ultimate truth,” he cried in joy.
“Yes! Devour me, once and for all. Feast on life. For so many years, many undeserving mouths have eaten me, and I have lost my life inside the walls of ungrateful bellies. It is high time I met my true beloved, my only ‘Meat God’, my only messiah, who will save me from damnation and fetch me the coveted salvation,” the meat hissed in the soft susurration of the night breeze soughing through the wilderness—the exact rendition of his wife’s voice.
Heeding to the call of the meat, he took out the femur of yesterday’s goat. Without wasting another second, he grated on it with his teeth. Chomp, chomp, chomp! And the goat was gone to the place where it was fated to be. He raised his bloody hands, looked up, and laughed a hysterical laugh. A streak of lightning flashed brilliantly across the sky, and in the reflection of which, he was seen not as a mere mortal, but as a ‘Meat God’.
The rain pattered hard. He reached for the pig. The thick, greasy meat was all he could desire. With every bite, with every swallowing, he knew that he was more blissful, more serene and more delightful. He had attained what yogis couldn’t do with years and years of meditation. He had his moment of eureka, his sole instant of enlightenment. “This is it. This absolutely is it,” he said with a faint voice hardly above a whisper, and smiled. v
- The writer tweets @bibek_writes