This is the original draft of Rai's journey, as written in 2005. The final words which made it into the novel are a simplified version of this. As I read, I wonder if I do not prefer the original version, more dreamy and complex though it maybe, seems this is the true me?
|Borobudur temple complex|
His mother named him Darich, after Keane Richards of the Rutting Drones, setting the tone of his life. As their groupie, she followed them around the galaxy. Designated navigator, showpiece eye candy, sometimes stand in stage performer, carrier of equipment, pleasure partner, and on occasion when the driver was too inebriated, even steering their spacecraft. Their savior she is, in more ways than she can ever imagine.
On this occasion the Drones, are on their way to perform for Shaitan. It is the once in a lifetime gig that all bands dream about. At the court of the emperor of the universe. The reward for a successful performance would be a planet to call their own. Tiny 13, the smallest celestial body in Shaitan’s kingdom; An empire which had now grown to gigantic proportions, stretching from
Shaitan is the new Alexander.
A self-crowned king of all he surveys.
The self- proclaimed messiah, changing lives for the better around the galaxy.
The Drones are in thrall. Deluded by the fantasy of a life lived in automation. They are no aware of being manipulated by Shaitan. His mind control is absolute. Weaving dreams of ecstasy from thin air. Giving them what they want to see and feel. Emotions aided by some very powerful wizards who realize dreams out of thin air. Things lost in the fire, but not missed.
She is the highlight of their act.
A naked human female swinging on a trapeze high above the crowds
In addition, as they watch on, at the height of frenzy, at the climax of pleasure, she loses her balance and falls into the crowd.
Straight into Shaitan’s lap
He catches her. She holds onto him tightly. And, stays to become legendary for their multilayered, multifaceted, quite vigorous, love making.
What she does not realize is how much of a one-way street, end of road place this is becoming for her. She wakes up one morning pregnant.
A rare mistake made in the heat of passion. All her covering torn off, shorn, cast off. Every single intimate space within her is invaded.
A possibility never remotely considered blooms to life.
She makes the decision without any conscious realization.
She is about to walk into Shaitan’s chambers to tell him what she realizes may not be the best of news, but then overhears a conversation of the guards plotting the best most pleasure filled way to kill her.
For what has not caught her attention earlier but which now becomes evident to her consciousness is a starburst of flowers, a coursing delight of his loins, a payment for the sins of destiny type realization that Shaitan always kills his consorts.
For the pleasure and the pain
As she stands there, hearing the guards talk, one says, “I thought everyone knew about the curse of Shiva.”
The second guard shakes his head intrigued and replies “No. I didn’t know about it either”
Taking a more comfortable stance so as to give his entire attention to the retelling of the story, the first says “Legend is that, angry at Shatian’s impudence in claiming that he was as powerful as Shiva, the God had cursed him …Your own son will kill you one day… he said.”
“Really?” says the second surprised “Cursed by Shiva the supreme, himself. And yet all these years Shaitan has lived and loved and thrived no less.”
“Yes” says the first “because in response to Shiva’s outburst, Shaitan simply bows his head and acquiesces.”
“A reaction, I would definitely not have connected to Shaitan, whose temper is second to perhaps only Shiva himself,” says the other much surprised now, and giving his full attention to the first.
Pleased at the reaction he has evoked, the first guard continues, “Yes, no tantrums from Shaitan, he doesn’t lose his cool, this one.”
“Wow!” exclaims the second. “That is an impressive display of coolness”
The first guard nods in agreement “You bet! In addition, Shiva too is very surprised too by his calm acceptance. He asks Shaitan if he isn’t worried by what this will mean for him.”
“And?” asked the second intrigued
“And Shaitan, replies that life finds a way, it always does.” Said the first
“Isn’t it quite rare of him to be so philosophical, and this time on the right occasion too” says the second guard.
The first guard says expressively “Ah, but he is smart our king. He obviously knows what reaction this would get from Shiva.”
“Oh! Really! What happens then?” asks the second.
“Well, of course Shiva’s generous heart flows over. And he rushes to make amends for is earlier fiery outburst” grins the first.
“This is really impressive. You know my esteem for our dark lord just went up quite a few notches. I could have never predicted this from what I have seen of him,” says the second.
The first nods, “Impressed by his calm acceptance and lack of real fear at the impending tragedy, Shiva throws him a lifeline. He tells Shaitan that there is one way to avoid the earlier curse” the guard pauses for effect.
“Well? Go on” says the second impatiently
Says the first “He tells Shaitan, that the only way to avoid the earlier curse was to make sure that he never has any children. “
He continues “And this is of course still in his hands. Shaitan realizes very quickly that this way he really could overcome the curse and its consequences. So in reply, Shaitan simply bows again to the almighty.”
“And then?” queries the second guard, very curious now as to where this is all headed
“Well he goes right back to his marauding ways. He resumes his bid to rule the galaxy, and continues on his expedition. Except, he is perhaps, chastened by this encounter.”
“Ah!” says the second “So there really is no change whatsoever to his marauding ways?”
“Only he takes a vow - which by the way he seems to have just broken with the foreseen consequences of coupling – of not letting any of his many lovers live.”
“A black widow in reverse” concludes the second.
Hearing a slight shuffle at the far end of the corridor, they look up from their conversation, coming to rapid attention. They run towards it to check if there is someone there and then, realization dawns on them. They run full tilt to her chambers, but she is gone.
Not before overhearing their conversation the shock of which has her rooted to her spot not far away. Darich’s mother realizes the enormity of the situation. It all makes sense to her suddenly.
Shaitan mates and kills tipping over the scales of his sins with the maker.
No messy endings no nothing.
Nothing but spilt seed.
Nothing, which he wastes time crying over.
As plain as the truest of loves.
The whitest purest feeling awakened, by the most unbridled of passions, all concentrated in a few seconds of time.
She now understands why their lovemaking is so intense, such that he seems to die a little death with each climax. She has been surprised by how he always gives her the full force of his affection, his undivided concentration, his many multifaceted hues of attention, all distilled into the most potent of energies, of seeds which he will not want to bear fruit but which has indeed found a resting ground, to spring new life in her womb.
She escapes with her newly conceived fetus, hoping desperately that Shaitan never finds her. However, track her down he does. To make sure there are no consequences of their encounter.
He finds her at Fivepoints, in
. Where she has managed to survive on various odd jobs.
Teaching the art of divination to cosmic backpackers, celestial drama to
children of alien races, and on occasion even filling in for the local
shapeshifter. She is the channel, their interface who communes with the spirits
of the other dimensions. New York
Finally, she chances upon a much easier way to make money. And, realizes it is quite easy to survive after all. All she has to do is use her body. Fall back on the oldest profession in the world. For these are the days when good old fashioned sex with a human female is impossible to come by, the female of the human species having dwindled down, to but a handful in the galaxy. She is among the most nubile in the land. Able to command a premium, even choose whom she can consort with. It is their privilege and her pleasure.
|Borobudur, a futuristic impression|
It is into these rather auspicious circumstances that Darich is born. He arrives wailing into this world. With his first conscious breath, he promptly insists that he will only respond to the name of Rai.
It is he claims, and quite rightly that this is a shorter much more musical version of Darich. A name, which does not have the connotations of the former, much uglier life that his mother has led. His sensitive soul intuitively guesses this while in the womb.
For a few years there in Fivepoints, Rai knows a sliver of happiness, a semblance of contentment, some flash in the pan joy kind of moments.
It is transient.
Shaitan finds and kills her.
Swipes off her head, with one stroke of his broad titanium sword.
In broad daylight. In the open. In the middle of the most crowded thoroughfare of the metropolis. He kills the boy she is with. Not knowing, not caring if it is his child or not, but assuming that the boy has something to do with their union.
The story of his life flashes across Rai’s mind, as he sits dreaming a little, dozing a little, in the sunshine at Yen’s Coffee shop. A new shop very recently opened. It has only four tables and chairs. Very tiny, so you could just about claim to fit into them. It is right outside the nameless
(as Rai calls it), opposite the
new age shop which is doing pretty well. What with many myriad-shaped female of
the species from around the galaxy, coming in to get their inner souls fixed. Chinese Temple
Just then, the old graying plutonian woman seated next to Rai, with the make up stretched across her face makes mincing noises as Yen serves her the tofu dish. It trembles as Yen places it in front of her.
“Oh my” says the old woman, fanning herself with the red tipped fingers “Too much. Too much. I wanted just a little.”
“Well eat up bitch,” thinks Rai disgustedly. There seem to be too many of these old hags around, with acid peeled faces, white tights and yellow, nicotine stained, red nails. Hanging onto equally aged companions of various shapes and sizes, dressed in their incredulous idea of what passed for traditional holiday attire. Light blue cardigans, ironed jeans and old-fashioned cameras with unbearably large lenses.
Smiling sickeningly, as they pass by the quaint picture, of the Chinese temple and the coffee shop playing Cantonese love songs.
This is Fivepoints.
All that remained of the erstwhile
Once a teeming metropolis. Now the antique island of the world. Where the years
sit light. Here the future is at rest with the past. Manhattan
The last outpost of civilization on the milky way.
It is one of the few settlements to survive Shaitan’s rampage. The old way of life is preserved here on Fivepoints. For the pleasure of inter galactic tourists who visit from everywhere. They come in search of truth. To learn, to know and feel, what it was like. To be in the emotion of that what was many thousands of years ago, when grace and dignity were still alive. When a man could love a woman, woo her, and have babies the old-fashioned way.
Inevitably for Rai, the more basic raw emotions he can sense in the place, remind him of his mother.
He is taken right back to the days just before she is tracked down by Shaitan. To the time when she is reduced to a shell of her former self. An empty receptacle, wandering the streets of the city in search of her phantom lover.
She may have left Shaitan. However, Shaitan would never really leave her. Why she would continue to think of Shaitan in such a flattering light is still a mystery to Rai. Like the many other unsolved questions about her which continue to haunt him until today. Will he ever feel kinder towards her? He has yet to find reason for that.
Her obsession with her former lover, the father of her child is so complete that it is almost as if, she has attracted Shaitan back to her. To give her the ultimate gift of peace and happiness. Of freedom from life and death. A safe passage to the other world. And for her a wormhole to happiness.
As these thoughts run through his head, Rai follows the woman seated at the next table to him at the café , dig into the white, jelly like tofu. The tofu slithers around on his plate and she chases it around with her spoon until she finally captures it, and managing to place the slimy piece onto her spoon, eats it with relish and a satisfaction of the chase.
Somehow the entire incident reminds Rai of his current obsession, Flaccid. This of course is the real reason behind him leaving the solace of his apartment.
The ghost of thought which has driven him from his sanctuary to the grungier, more real, more today, part of the town.
To forget or not to forget, that is his dilemma.
Flaccid. The one picked up at the hippest most happening same-sex hangout at Fivepoints.
The phantom of love unrequited, who Rai chanced upon at the bar situated right behind the only surviving coffee shop in the city, now reduced to a shell of its former self, yet still serving up steaming cups of the brew that is becoming fast, a rare commodity.
Already it is only the better off who can only afford the brew. While the rest of the plebeians, can only stare at the steaming concoction, with mute wanting; finally giving into the withdrawal of not having any adrenaline-inducing component in their daily life. They have to find other ways to work up their adrenal glands, to find a way to cope with the stress of the everyday.
Next to this is the more affordable communication-café, with backpacking students on their one-year–to-see-the-galaxy routine, surfing the mind waves with their invisible antennae, trying to look occupied. All the while on the look out for the most attractive, same sex personality walking through the door. Hell even the opposite sex will do.
Rai stumbles across the bar by accident. The potent combination of the loud celestial jazz fusion pouring out superimposed with the charms of Pierre, the muscular bouncer at the door draw him in irresistibly.
He walks in confidently even jauntily; it is the first step over the threshold of his new life. Rai orders a martini. Then even before the olive is picked out of the drink, Flaccid has walked into his life.
Rai is sixteen, when he dumps Dorothy and turns to the embrace of the tattooed accountant, he meets in the country of Malaytia.
He remembers Malaytia wistfully. A once beautiful, green, bountiful part of the galaxy, now razed to the ground by Shaitan’s avenging fire. Only recently has it been re-settled by a group of intra-terrestrials: part of a scientific experiment to prove that life could survive the most arduous conditions on earth.
Having fled there after his mother’s murder, he spends the next sixteen years in the shadow of the desert. Gently at first and then much more rudely, it is an awakening of the senses, of discovering the root of his feeling of being rootless.
A certainty that no wet dream can match the magic in the muscular, tattoo covered, hair sprinkled forearms of his lover. When he let Gerald take him in his arms on the shores of once green Pulau Rawa, the midst of the South-China desert, and allows himself, to be shown the honest sweaty emotion of healthy male lust.
Then follows many years of guiding tours around the region. Of navigating through the demons of past lives, the slaves of desires, the spirits of the slaughtered in Siam Reap, the ancient undiscovered skies above the ruins in Borobudur, the living dead of Ho Chi Minh, the rice field mutes of Laos.
Finally, Rai is back, full circle. Back to living in Fivepoints. This is the ultimate extreme city, which consumes him. It lives through him, driving him to steal his deepest, most surreal expectations, from destiny. Manifest his true desires.
His métier, his love, his trust.
That, infinite feeling of something monumental, about to happen.
That stillness of the heart when your gut refuses to believe the messages your skin is sending out. It is here in Fivepoints, that he finds it. This nowhere place, once the centre of civilization, today reduced to a former shell of itself.
A place where he can be himself – no inhibition, nothing, weighing him down.
It took him less than a week to find home in Fivepoints. An island which is now home to the remaining1000 survivors of the tsunami; those who had rejected
but could not leave. Manhattan
Rai lived for the Saturday night rave parties held at the beach. Before the tsunami this beach had been a square its new moon raves attracting residents from all parts of the galaxy. All of them non-conformists who believed in the future.
This was when Fivepoints was still attached to the mainland of
. Today, water lapped at the feet of the once
proud, wrecked out shell of the memorial arch, which served as the gateway to
the beach. Manhattan
Yet it made a great backdrop for the moonlit weekend celebrations. Surreal by moonlight with the techno beats bouncing off the structure and the laser beams lighting it up.
Rai often fantasizes about building a stage out to sea with the arch in the background for music played by bands, from different parts of the galaxy. And he would be a famous inter-galactic manager.
Finally, it is the growing knot in his gut, from lack of sex, which even jerking off could not relieve. It is a gnawing hollow feeling, which drives him out of his cocoon and into the rarified atmosphere of the outer world.
Walking into the bar, he orders his Martini. To the sound of trip-hop, just as he picks out the first olive, Flaccid walks up to him, picks the drink from his hand and takes a long, drawn out sip looking at Rai over the rim of his martini glass.
Rai watches; his olive forgotten; as without breaking eye contact and without speaking a word Flaccid puts his arms around him and they kiss. Eyes open wide. They look into each other’s futures.
That is how it is all night long. Swallowed up, Rai can look no further; think no more, see no one else, except sense the magic that those lips weave. He can little remember touching any other part of Flaccid’s body or being touched anywhere by his lover.
When Rai looks back again at this time, all he could see, hear and smell are those lips and that tongue. The ghost of Lick Sagger.
When finally, his desire reaches its fullness, ripeness and lushness, he finally decides to be practical and seek out the orgasm.
He makes the only direct move in their relationship.
He reaches down between his lover’s legs.
To find the nub of their relationship, the chip-on-the-shoulder, the ghost of the ex-wife, the evidence of that which is to lead to their break up, the flaccid member.
Quoi ca ressemble la fin du désir? What is it like to reach the end of desires?
The poster on the wall from Yen’s coffee shop, which he has stared at much of the previous day, bounces stupidly through the various corners of his mind and settles firmly in his solar plexus.
Flaccid abruptly pulls back then, leaving Rai in the agony of the arousal, to look on helplessly as he pulls on his bikini shorts, then his trousers, and his T-shirt with a rough finality.
On that day at Yen’s coffee shop, Rai is still in the misery of his not pre-nor-post stuck in the middle coitus.
In the agony of the unfinished orgasm, in the post rush-of-blood-to-the head following arousal, the low of the adrenaline high settling heavily in his toes from straining to lift that additional weight at the gym, the sugar dip after the chocolate bar has passed through the blood stream.
In that, abject state Rai sits down to doodle over every remembered touch, feel and caress.
Each heart beat. Each individual mind connected, soul stirring moment.
His mind burns with the skid marks of the hasty departure of a man who wears awful bikini briefs and sports a bad haircut.
How Rai wonders, is he going to find him among the mildewed dregs of coffee shops, incense filled temples, painters’ exhibitions, antique fairs, flea markets, and karaoke bars? They spread around him, overwhelm him with their noise, and suck him in. Into the vortex of a man, he knows of only as Flaccid.
It is time. Time then, to go back to the basics, to stare down the shrink, to cajole the decision to be in his favor. Perhaps tease the satanic past into revealing Flaccid’s whereabouts.
“Or else” he thinks in that particular dramatic fashion unique to his thinking, “cease, desist, snip and move on?”
He is left suspended in the agony of the decision.
Mind-numbing, bone-crunching, mother-of-all-decisions.
The kind which cannot be made and yet once made will change the course of the future and of the past.
He picks himself up.
“Goodbye Yen,” he waves to the familiar slim beautiful martian behind the counter and walks towards the highest point of the five points which the place is named after. He ccrosses the bridge across the narrow canal which runs through the tall towers of the few remaining old-fashioned skyscrapers, a straggling reminder of the past. He proceeds past the central market teeming with all manners of life and momentos for sale from across dimensions. Across the art exhibition, in its final stages, in the clearing after the market.
He takes the final turnoff for the peak and boards the antique, still functioning cable car up, up towards the heavens. He perches at one end of the row of seats, nervously fingering his eyelashes, reveling in the sick sorrow bubbling up from his core and thoughtfully almost playfully considers his partially eaten mango of a future.
Getting off, he walks towards the end of the world, the peak of his life. As he reaches his destination, his calm stance finally melts, dissolving slowly in the flood of tears pouring down his cheeks.
Rai stands on the small shelf like space, jutting out from the peak overlooking the city, looking towards the future he never had. Then braces himself, his feet spread out wide pushing down against the earth, against the rocky surface of his life, ready to take off.
He shuts his eyes, takes a deep purifying breath and then just as he is about to let go, a stone from the catapult, tears from heaven pouring down uninterrupted, he hears a soft voice.
He shakes his head, once again taking a deep breath, he tries to focus on not the past nor the future, but the ever present feeling of touch me, feel me, kiss me give me what I love and then hears it again.
“Darich? ..... Rai!” this time the voice was more insistent “It’s not yet time Rai.”
He opens his eyes and sees an apparition in white robes, floating gently, and wisps of hair from a long white beard blowing gently in the breeze, face serene. Their eyes are on level with each other and Rai looks down towards his feet, and realizes that he is suspended miles from firm land. Finally, their eyes are level with each other.
““Who are you? Where am I?” gulped Rai
“I am Mimir. And I am hear to grant your destiny” the apparition smiles.
Rai continues to gaze stupefied, the base of his spine prickling, his feet tingling, the hair on his forearms rising up, the shackles of burden he has carried for so long seeming to crack, whisper, finally melt and break away.
“You do have one, you know”
“I do?” asks Rai wonderingly, a cynical part of him denying what he had just seen and yet some core of him wanting, needing permission to carry on.
“Yes a future larger than life, bigger than everything you have ever imagined. In a place where a lot more is possible.”
Rai hesitates, taking a fleeting look at the lights below.
“Change. Transformation. It is coming to you now Rai. Everything you ever asked, indeed prayed for. Grab it now, for your time has come”
“How would you know?”
“I am here to take you on your chosen path” Mimir smiles again. “Come with me” he holds out his hand.
Rai takes a final look at the city spread in front of him. Then reaching into his pocket takes out the old-fashioned pocket watch that Flaccid had left behind. He lets it fall from his hand. And his eyes strain to follow it through the darkness as it traces a path of white light in its wake. Then averting his eyes from the end that it is surely meeting even as he is watching, Rai looks at Mimir. And places his palm in Mimir’s outstretched hand.
“I am ready,” he says finally. And Mimir transports him through the wormhole, the tunnel which spans time, across the seven colours of the rainbow, where his destiny awaits. His future. At Arkana. In the
. academy of
Just as Tiina and Yudi are taking a walk in the grounds of the academy. They look up from their conversation to see the white light up in the skies. A familiar light symbolizing that Mimir is bringing in a new person.
They wait for Mimir and Rai.
Mimir leads a shaken Rai who is not yet sure about what has actually happened. He cannot help but smile back at Tiina and Yudi’s welcoming wide smiles. They run up to him and embrace him. He is accepted. Rai feels that he is among those alike. He can understand them.
Isn’t it time for the world to finally tilt back on its axis, for the energy to find its source, for the tea bag to impart its essence to water, for the three to be together?