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White Rabbit

Squeezing his way through the birth canal, a baby boy comes out. His mother dies in the process. He gets down from the bed and walks to the kitchen. He picks up two sharp knives and somersaults back to his dead mother. His father comes into the room and he stabs him in his crotch. As his father cries out in pain, he proceeds to chop off his dick.

‘Ah, not another vision’, Tabrez gets up from his couch and looks out his window. A pregnant woman laborer is dragging her feet under the scorching sun. She’s carrying a baby in her arms and two more toddlers follow her, close behind.

Tabrez pulls out a new canvas and starts to paint. He calls this one : Revenge of the newborn.

                                                     ***

An angry spring of water shoots up from a hard rock. It climbs high and above the next hill and comes down the other side in form of a gushing stream. The highland villages drown in its flood.

‘Uff’, Tabrez grabs the keys to his Creta and drives to the rainforest around Agumbe. Deep into the woods, close to a small waterfall where daylight doesn’t hold much power, he sets up his tripod and canvas and starts to paint. He calls this one : Fury of the water.

                                                       ***

Interviewer : Congratulations! Your last work sold for two lacs!

Tabrez : Thank you!

Interviewer : Tell me about it, Tiger mauls a man.

Tabrez : You can’t pet a tiger.

Interviewer : People call you King of macabre. Are you aware of it?

Tabrez : Yes.

Interviewer : Does it bother you?

Tabrez : Yes.

Interviewer : Do you want to correct their opinion?

Tabrez : No.

Interviewer : Where does your inspiration come from?

Tabrez : I do pot.

                                                             ***

Tabrez is rich and lonely. People buy his art but otherwise stay away from him. Everyone says his company is toxic. After a few successful years, he gives up painting and destroys all his tools. Media labels him a fading star and a sociopath. He lives alone in a big house in HSR. The only human contact he has, is with a Big Basket delivery guy who comes once in a week. Visions still come to him every two weeks. He doesn’t act on them. But after six months, those visions start to become more potent.

‘You may now kiss’, says a pastor to a newly wed couple. As they do, he pulls out a pistol from under his robes and shoots them both.

A few paragliders in Bir, screaming and enjoying the exhilaration of flying. An aerie of eagles attacks them and pokes at their eyes. All human flyers go blind by the time they land.

A heart-shaped box, lying on the bed of a shallow river. Soon, blood flows out from it and mixes with the water as the river turns red.

‘ENOUGH’, Tabrez kicks at his chair, grabs the key to his car and goes out in search of that box. Takes him two days to locate it. As he picks it up from Kabini, it pops open. It’s empty save for a small drawing book. He keeps it. On his way back home, he buys a kit of water colors.

‘King of macabre’, scoffs Tabrez as he sits by his window and paints a golden retriever puppy in that small book. He gets up to make himself some chai and the puppy follows him to the kitchen. He jumps up scared when it tugs at his trousers.

‘Oh, where did you come from’, Tabrez picks it up and strokes its head. The puppy licks his face. His thoughts go to the book and he rushes to it. He’s amazed to see that his painting bears an uncanny resemblance to the puppy in his hands.

He goes crazy as the puppy barks too much for its size. After a week, he puts up an ad outside his house. ‘A cute golden retriever up for adoption’. A young girl from down his lane takes it away.

One afternoon, he’s masturbating as usual. He’s taking Marion Cotillard from behind as she’s yelling and moaning at the top of her voice. He leaves his action in the middle and gets up to paint her in that book. He’s done in an hour as Marion taps on his shoulder. He takes her in his arms and fulfills his fantasy.

He is finally happy. No more awkward tinder dates. No more mechanical intimacy or lack of it, with countless prostitutes. Marion lets him do whatever he wants to do with her. ‘I live to serve you, honey’, she often says to him. He walks into the kitchen, she follows him and takes over cooking. She knows how to make an egg parantha, his favourite. Once done with the eating, she does the dishes even when he protests. In evenings, he goes to the terrace.  She accompanies him and holds his hand as they watch the sun go down. In mornings, he goes out for a walk, she follows and catches up with him. ‘I’m not letting you out of my sight’, she says to him. ‘Oh, those luscious lips’, he smiles at her. No one has ever desired him so.

A month goes by. His initial awe of her beauty starts to fade and his passion mellows down. Sex becomes mechanical.  ‘How can it be? It’s Marion Cotillard’. He’s been obsessed with her since he first saw her in a movie a decade ago. He doesn’t want to accept that he’s bored of her. And she just won’t leave him alone. Not that he is an outgoing person, but now he’s become housebound. Even when he needs to see a therapist for his back spasm, she won’t let him go. ‘Come, here’, she says to him and gives him a magical massage that cures him of that old ailment. He is thankful but apprehensive. Fearful of his own creation.

One rainy afternoon, Marion is enjoying a siesta on the hammock in the balcony. Tabrez looks at her from the window. To him, she’s like a sentry, forever on a watch. He can’t fool her eyes. He’s tried. He paces the living room pensively. He needs a getaway. Even if its in a virtual world. He starts browsing youtube on his mac and clicks on a video in the suggestion section and there, he finds his escape. ‘This Yami Gautam is gorgeous’, he thinks and gets up to paint her in that book.

‘Oh, she’s so pristine. I can very much spoil her just with my touch’, he thinks as Yami smiles at him from his bed. He kisses her toes and she giggles. She pushes him down on the bed and showers him with such sensual kisses he’s not known before. Soon he drifts off into a pleasant sleep.

‘CLANG! BANG! THUD! THUD!’

He wakes up to this ruckus. ‘What’s going on’, he walks to the hall. Marion has pinned Yami down. He witnesses with horror as she begins to stab Yami with a sharp knife. Stabby, stabby, stabby. Yami screams and looks at him. He stands there, mute like a mannequin. She doesn’t stop till Yami gives up and accepts death.

Marion is covered in her blood. ‘What’s the matter, honey, you look pale?’, she asks him. He doesn’t know how to respond. ‘I’m going to take a shower’, she says.

‘I can’t put up a dead body for adoption’, he thinks as he sits next to Yami. ‘Look at her, so pretty even in death’. He’s overcome with sorrow and tears well up in his eyes.

‘She should fit in this’, says Marion, holding up a black garbage bag. Before he can react, she folds Yami into a sphere, as if she is made of cotton and packs her up in the bag and seals it. ‘Let’s go for a drive, honey’, she says to Tabrez.

He is never been more afraid in his life than at this moment. He pretends to follow her command but manages to sneak that book in his jacket. They both head south to the Nilgiris. After six hours of driving, he swerves off the road onto a mud trail and drives up a hill. The car dies on him after a few minutes.

‘This is as good a spot as any’, says Marion. Tabrez looks around. Dense woods. Even the full moon is unable to pierce them. They pull the bag out of the boot and drag it across the forest bed.

‘A wild animal disemboweled a wayward girl’, says Marion as they dump Yami’s body under a tall and wide tree. Tabrez remembers his painting, Tiger mauls a man.

‘Let’s go, get some food’, she says. Tabrez gathers courage. He’s been planning this move all through the long drive. ‘It has to work. There is no other way’, he decides.

‘You can’t come back with me’.

‘Why not?’, asks Marion in her innocent voice.

‘Oh, God! Why did she have to be so damn hot’, he thinks.

‘Are you alright, honey?’, Marion starts walking towards him.

He pulls out that book in a hurry and tears off the page that bears her painting. Marion disappears like dust in the wind. He throws the book down and fumbles in his pockets for a lighter. He finds it and sets the book on fire and walks away. Suddenly, a pang of misery grips his heart. He doesn’t want to be a loner again. He runs back to the book’s funeral and tries to put out the fire. He succeeds in doing that but the book is half burnt.

He pricks his fingertip with a thorny twig and paints a rabbit in that book with his blood. In a flash he sees a white rabbit sprinting away from him and fading into the darkness.