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Wednesday June 29, 2022

The Dagger In The Night

A Tribute to Satyajit Ray’s Fritz

I remember dark skies and lightning all around me. I remember feeling pain as I was being sewn into existence, dull at first but growing with every second. A parchment put in my head ordered me kill anything that was a threat to my master, and as far as my master was concerned, that was everything. So, I killed… little boy who’s ball rolled into my master’s yard, the old traveller who wanted a glass of water, the lady next door who heard the howls of pain that often came from my master’s basement. And as each day passed my bloodlust grew, I committed countless murders on the orders of my master, and sometimes without…

I remember hearing voices downstairs, raised voices. I pulled out my dagger from behind the curtain, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting victims. A mental prod from my master warned me to stay away. The thing about these mental prods were that they hurt. I saw red…down came the dagger, again, and again, and again. A pool of blood, screaming victims, pleading for mercy, or was it my master who was pleading, begging me to stop.

I’d like to think that like most people in this world, I was not born evil, like most people in this world my life too, had a purpose. The purpose was given to me by one of you, I was what you made me, and then the purpose became me…

Hector would often tell me, while he hopped around his toy store, that I looked like his grandfather, a man named Fritz. He would tell me that the resemblance was uncanny.

Till date I don’t know how it happened, I was not supposed to be able to ignore a direct command from my master…perhaps I had become stronger than my master, perhaps subconsciously she did want me to kill them…kill them all, and that gave me some leverage to overpower her will…fulfil my purpose.

I remember her screams, “You killed me, you killed me, they’ll come now, with guns and burning logs and hunting dogs, you killed me”.

The witch burned that day, right before she died, she came to me, wanted me to stab her throat out, wanted to die on her own terms.

And so, the knife came down…one last time.

I felt a shiver down my spine, and just as an eerie silence settled over the broken brown house…my head exploded.

Pain…mind numbing pain, all-encompassing pain…I was conscious throughout my ordeal, I guess the witch made sure of that. Although my entire existence revolves around death, in fact an infant had to die to give me being, I don’t know how death feels, but I think I would prefer it over that pain. In death people seem so… peaceful.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak…couldn’t stab that rat who was tearing at my knees. With tremendous effort I rolled my head to one side and looked at the rat dead in his eyes. He could have torn me apart with those teeth if he wanted to. He was almost my size. But I did not care, with every second my life’s purpose was fading. Ashes of the parchment remained in my head, and I was going to strike one last time before the end. That rat had to die.

But I couldn’t move, try as I might, I still couldn’t move an inch, while the stupid beast continued to stare at me, suddenly the fact that I was being eaten alive by a rat in burnt broken house seemed hilarious to me, and for the first time in my life I wanted to laugh, laugh at the absurdity of the situation, laugh at my fate, laugh in the face of death. But I couldn’t it took too much effort, and I was dying…so I smiled, I smiled in the face of death and looked it straight in the eye. That’s when death turned tail and ran for its life.

Many years later I was found in that broken down, burnt brown house by a man named Liam. In all those years all I could do was constantly smile at the ever-decaying ceiling, and count the stars from a hole in the broken wall. There are a lot of stars…In all those years, I never finished counting.

Liam wanted a “hidey hole”, apparently, he was being sought after by some people called the “police” for stealing a chicken from a neighbour’s house.

Liam was loud, and was mostly in a bad mood, punching holes in my master’s old house, cursing at the top of his voice, unless of course, he had a bottle of something he sometimes called “The Ambrosia” and sometimes vodka.

I’d have liked to stab his throat out.

Liam stayed with me for a couple of weeks and when he left, he took me along. Short though it was, I hated every moment of my life when I was with Liam.

I’d have loved to stab his eyes out.

Liam sold me a week later to a man named Hector. Hector gave me a bath, sewed up my torn pieces, and gave me new clothes. I learnt something that day, even though I was, but, a glorified puppet, I still felt pain.

When the needle went into me, I wanted to cut Hector’s fingers off, chop away to my heart’s satisfaction. But I couldn’t. All I could do was just lie there and hope with all my might that Hector might chance to see what lay underneath my skin. I would have murdered anyone just to see the look on Hector’s face when he found out.

Hector would often tell me, while he hopped around his toy store, that I looked like his grandfather, a man named Fritz. He would tell me that the resemblance was uncanny. It was not before long that he started to have long conversations with me about the daily nuances of his life.

I wanted to stab him to make him shut up.

When a customer wanted to buy me off the shelf, he actually considered refusing. But then settled for what I assume to be quite an exorbitant price.

Hectors parting words to that man was, “He’s called Fritz. You must call him by his name. He won’t respond to any other”.

Within a few hours I was stuffed into a huge bag with useless accessories of this middle-aged dwarf. I spent 17 hours getting way too much familiar with this man’s undergarments than I’d ever wanted to.

Oh, the things I wanted to do to this unhygienic pig.

Just when I was beginning to think that this stinking hell hole was going to be my prison for eternity, I was dragged out by my throat and given to the fumbling hands of a juvenile.

Although this juvenile was definitely a male, (a rather scrawny one at that) he reminded me of the mothers that I had seen from the window of the house of that witch.

For some reason this was the first human I did not want to hurt, I did not want to stab him in his guts and make him bleed, although occasionally I did feel the urge to poke him in his eyes.

He was called Jayanto, my Jayanto.

But I couldn’t move, try as I might, I still couldn’t move an inch, while the stupid beast continued to stare at me, suddenly the fact that I was being eaten alive by a rat in burnt broken house seemed hilarious to me, and for the first time in my life I wanted to laugh

Before long (much like Hector) he started to have long conversations with me, about his dreams, aspirations, qualms…everything. And unlike with Hector I actually cared about what Jayanto had to say, and I’d try to give him my sweetest of smiles and twinkle my eyes as he spoke. I think he understood that I understood.

For the first time I knew how love felt.

A year after I met Jayanto, his family took him for a vacation. Needless to say, he took me with him. My Jayanto would not even go to sleep without me by his side.

I loved that boy; I would have taken on the world for that kid.

They were staying in a big house (they called it a bungalow). It came with a beautiful garden, Jayonto was telling me about this time he went to the zoo and something called a “tiger” scared him, while sipping on tea. He really insisted on having tea…Jayanto wanted to prove he was a big boy to me. He ended up spilling some tea over himself. As he went in to change, I heard a growling sound nearby.

I felt jaws clamp shut on my neck, and shake me vigorously. His eyes locked with mine…and at that moment I knew that he knew. I don’t know how I don’t know why, but just like that rat he knew. Another pair of jaws clamped shut over my legs.

I was being torn apart alive. I felt the pain.

Screaming…Jayanto’s screaming, dancing black spots…and then darkness.

I have been here, in a box, for 31 years. I the cotton shell around me has slowly vanished with time. 31 long years…

Jayanto betrayed me, I haven’t seen him since that day. A day hasn’t gone by when I didn’t think about him.

And then suddenly I smell him. Three foot under the ground, buried in a box, but I smell him.

Excitement, excitement like I had felt all those years ago with the dagger in my hand and the witch at my feet.

And then suddenly I could move…

Standing over Jayonto’s sleeping body with a dagger in my hand, itching to come down, down, down…

A pain, acute, sharp pain, coming from deep inside me…I loved that boy…

I’m running, running as fast as I can.

Back to the rabbit hole it is.

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