Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings

Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings by Kuzhali Manickavel Read Free Book Online

Book: Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings by Kuzhali Manickavel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kuzhali Manickavel
    “Where’s my sugar tin?” I ask.
    “Your what?”
    “My sugar tin. You stole it, remember?”
    “What sugar tin?”
    I turn and follow Jameson so I can hitch a ride back.
    Something tangible needs to be done. Something with words and a date and an incident so that years later I can look back and say yes, I told him. Sat him down and said Senthil, drug addicts get raped in the ass and in the mouth. They get pubic lice. Nobody feeds them. They smell bad. But before I have a chance to, Senthil calls up and says he’s got a job with a call centre. They are really impressed with him because they think he is dynamic and energetic and they like the way he speaks English. Rumour has it that he will be promoted in a week or so.
    We are very proud of Senthil because call centers are easy money. Jameson throws him a party to celebrate and Senthil arrives wearing a long-sleeved shirt that remains buttoned at the wrist for the whole evening. He does however take his socks off and I notice that his big toenails are missing.
    “They made me this team leader kind of thing and it’s like being in charge of vampires, you know?” says Senthil. “Because we all work at night, right? Karna King of the Vampires.”
    “I don’t think Karna had anything to do with vampires,” I say.
    “I always think of that song that happens when Karna’s trying to die— Ullathil nallu ullam / Urangaadhenbadhu vallavan vidhithada / Karna varuvadhai yedhirkolladaa . 1 ”
    Senthil doesn’t sing very well but his Tamil pronunciation is flawless and beautiful like water flowing over rocks. I can sense he is saying something very important, something that could change his life.
    A few weeks later, Senthil goes to Mumbai on business and gets fired when he decides he doesn’t want to come back.
    Dreaming of Senthil is inevitable because he is something that intrudes and lingers like a thunderstorm or the tug of a beggar’s grubby fingers. When I dream of him, he is standing alone in an abandoned battle field and the sky is a deep, dirty red. He is leaning against a broken pink and yellow chariot, peering into a quiver of moldy arrows.
    “Have you died?” I ask.
    Senthil frowns and shakes his head.
    “No, I don’t think so,” he says. “They did make me king.”
    “Who did?”
    “They were here a minute ago. I’m pretty sure they said I was king now.”
    “What are you king of?”
    “Eggshells. Fingernail clippings. Broken pencils.”
    “They didn’t say anything about dolphins.”
    “They probably meant to.”
    “Probably. I feel like I’m probably king of the dolphins too.”
    Something black is trickling down the outside of the quiver of arrows. I can’t tell what it is and wonder if it’s really small insects walking in a slow, straight line.
    “These arrows burst into fireworks,” says Senthil. “Want to see?”
    He pulls out an arrow but before he can notch it into the bow it snaps and crumbles to the ground.
    “I had no hope for success,” I say.
    “It’s a line from the Mahabharata .”
    “Who says that?”
    “I don’t know. Someone.”
    “Not Karna. Karna doesn’t say that.”
    Senthil tries to notch in another arrow and it crumbles into his fingers like soot.
    “No,” I say as the black flecks skitter along the ground and disappear. “Karna doesn’t say that.”
    We wait for Senthil to call or mail or do something but nothing happens. Jameson and I begin to consolidate things we have heard about him: he was into event management and had met Deep Purple. He was working with Greenpeace. He was climbing the Himalayas. He was living in a slum and writing a novel. Someone had mentioned seeing Senthil in a railway station, sleeping under a bench but we never talked about that one. Instead we would rearrange the stories slightly or make up something completely new.
    Once while we were talking, Jameson took out his wallet and started pulling out his

Similar Books

Deadly Fall

Susan Calder

Fat Tuesday

Sandra Brown

Off the Crossbar

David Skuy

Honest Cravings

Erin Lark

A Little Learning

J. M. Gregson

The Secret Panel

Franklin W. Dixon

Brave Hearts

Carolyn Hart