A whirlwind is rising in his mind. He bites his nails until the Keratin comes off and the bloody epidermis remains. He screams so hard till his throat is sore. He lights a cigarette, the vapors exquisitely soothing. He inhales a lungful. He drags on it to the bud. Then another is lit, and another and another till half a carton is nothing but ashes and buds. A dog yelps in the neighborhood, incessant, daunting. “Shut the fuck up!” He yells.

His feet are dragged across the tiled floor, he stands facing daddy’s liquor cabinet. Its wood and glass doors are wrenched open. Locks ignominiously shattering like a torn brassiere strap. A collection of expensive booze looks so naked and exposed, inviting. He doesn’t choose. Something transparent is snatched. The captive liquid slides into a shining glass, helpless. “Here’s to you, life, may you screw me more!” he keens. He’s half way through the acidic elixir when the bell is rung. “Putha, it’s me aunty Muriel, amma wanted me to ask you whether you had your lunch”, a deceptively concerned voice drifts in through the intercom. “You are not answering the land line, that’s why I came”. His head throbbing, stumbling, dragging half the living room furniture with him he makes to the door. “Stupid bitch”, he mutters.

“I’m okay aunty, just eating my way through the second plate of rice actually. Thank you for inquiring. Now be a dear and bugger off”, he mumbles to the intercom. The other end goes silent for a minute. A cracked voice then, offended and disbelieving: “Wait until your mother comes home”. It’s quiet once more.

The living room smells like a bonfire. He throws a window open to let the smoke out. A smile now, and then a crackling crescendo of laughter. He slips on spilled liquor and plonks his posterior on the floor. More laughter. He takes a drunken walk up the stairs to his bedroom. As he enters the room, photographs on the bedside cupboard gloat. A teenage version of him mouths ‘pathetic’. A twisted kid-version of him has ‘failure’ written all over its condescending face. He turns his hazy gaze at his assortment of action figures. Wolverine: “this is the real shit man!” Storm is flashing her guns as if to say “you are old enough for some of this baby!” He hoots and falls on the mess of a bed. The room smells stale. He reaches under his pillow and takes his diary out to write DIE over a dozen pages.

He checks his mobile phone: 50 texts, 957 Whatsapp messages. He can barely make out the scribbling. “Hey dude, where the hell are you?”, “Hello machan, I’m having a party over the weekend, care to grace us with your presence?”, “Yo nigga, what’s cooking? How about a bit of poker at my place?” Same story different versions. He chucks the phone against the purple wall and regrets it. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

Shadows dance in the unlit bedroom; sardonic. The walls are closing in. He feels like a caged bird. He wants to dash himself against the pseudo-gilded cage. “Let it end, dear hell”. The frustration is palpable. A general uneasiness has turned into tangible bleakness. He suddenly turns over his stomach and vomits in gallons on the threaded carpet. He turns with a groan and sprawls on the bed with his vomit stained lips pressed against a pillow. He manages a sob; he tries hard to make himself cry. Try and one day you will fly. Now he’s crying without shame. Like infants do when they have no other way of communicating their fear, pain and hunger. Celebrities look down on him from the walls, their bodies in various postures; some smiling, some poker-faced, some crazed and stoned looking, but all expressing concern.

He is still crying.

The walls are closing in…..still.



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