A flask, the hand, water screams.
Metal on your skin, metal cold, metal burning. The flask in your right, a kettle in your left. Steam hisses, furious, when you tilt, the water dives.
Water, liquid fire, tumbles into the flask, a narrow opening, the fingers wrapped around the flask, threat so narrow. Light glints into the water, comes out scalding, pure. Metal glimmers and mists in the steam, the kettle from the stove, the flask.
Hold still, it threatens, steam pouring over the fingers, skin quakes.
The water will burn, the brain warns, and the skin quakes, premature. As if screaming now will save it pain in the future.
The skin does not know: the pain comes anyway, scream now or later.
. . .
It was bound to happen, we knew it, you knew it, we were bound to this end.
The hand shifts, imperceptible, then the water shifts, also imperceptible.
A second suspended.
Then: liquid heat explodes, all at once, scalding water splays over the flask, heat bursts, a single misstep.
When the water touches the screaming skin, a jerk, shout, the eyes close, the head turns, everything blurs then sharpens.
The body reacts to the danger, wanting to get away, needing to get away, foolish in its desperation, the hand jerking, water sloshes over the flask, spills over the skin.
The body doesn’t realize that moving only causes more pain. That sometimes, the only way to recover is to hold very still and let the pain dance across, feather light. To hold very still and not let the water slosh over the sides.
The body has only learnt to fight.
It does not know how to lose.
. . .
There is heat and cold now, the eyes insist the water is hot, you know it’s hot, you know it’s hot, the dance of the flame, the stove, the water on the stove, the eyes say it’s hot. But the skin screams cold, so the water is cold.
Who will you trust, the eyes or the skin?
Hot or cold, which one is it? Who is lying?
Does it matter now? Hot or cold, you’re burnt, I’m burnt. Cold burns as hot as fire, but which one is it? It doesn’t matter.
The brain has decided: silence, it says, silence, it thunders. The brain silences the body, but that doesn’t mean the body agrees, which one is it, who is lying?
. . .
Water drips off red skin, red hot, red cold, confused, steam hissing, searing.
No scream, no flinch, the jaw relaxes, the hand is steady, the face is calm, breathe, that’s it, tension disperses, falls apart, leaves. The face claims stoicness, the body claims strength, the self says: I do not hurt. The water does not burn.
The self lies. The self lies for pride. The self says: I am in control. The self says: I am in power.
The self knows, that ignorance is invincible.
The self lies to live.
But it forgets: pain need not heed to the plays of the self.
Pain refuses to pretend the self does not hurt. It refuses to pretend with me, that boiling water doesn’t burn.
The pain is objective. The pain knows, what we refuse to know.
Even when you do not scream, you hurt.
. . .
. . .
PS In June 2019, I will be moving to a new web address. I’m shifting to a personal domain and I’m so, so excited for you to see it! Buying my domain is giving me so much more freedom for new features, design, and I can’t wait for you to get started there.
But on the downside, all those of you who’ve subscribed to my blog here WILL NOT be notified of new posts anymore. I’d hate for you to miss out just because I’ve shifted addresses, but WordPress doesn’t offer anything to straighten this out.
So to make sure that the change is as seamless as possible, I’d be so grateful if you’d enter your email ID below so we can stay in touch. You can opt-out any time, no hard feelings. I hate spam and I’ll only be reaching out every two weeks or so for blog updates, I promise.
Thank you so much for all your support.