I repeat to myself sitting in the car speeding towards the airport.
It’s a damn clean job, I can tell dispassionately. Even objectively.
The worst parts removed.
All the rest is now clean, meaty, edible. You can almost taste the goodness and wholesomeness of this choice. The butcher gets all the credit. Halal meat. Take out what you don’t need anymore. Let it bleed. Nothing haram in this life anymore. It used to suit you to suck from marrow, from bones, from lies. But now it’s all an inconvenience. So now you cut, clean, throw it all away. No unnamed desires or designs to stem. It’s all flowing, easy, under control.
Then turn vegan because it suits you, and eat an avocado for breakfast with a sprinkle of salt, and drizzled mildly with pepper.
Meat is to be frowned upon.
Meat is inconvenience now.
I google what happens when you are knifed in your gut by someone. The responses are as expected. It’s strangely reassuring. There’s a feeling of absolute tranquility, an icy aura that clings to you. Your eyes overflow with tears. You might lose bladder and bowel control. You feel lightheaded and at the same time foggy. Then the hot blood pounds against you, and if you lose a lot of it, you bleed, lose consciousness, and if left untreated, you die.
With shaking hands I light a cigarette and with wobbly lips I kiss goodbye to all the life I have ever known, all the love I have given.
I stumble into the airport.
“Madam”, he holds my hand as I am about to pass out. “Come, let me help you.”
“Yes,” I sob. “Please help me. I have been knifed. I don’t know what to do. There’s so much blood all over.”
“Madam, please calm down. Let’s weigh your luggage. You know Hindi? Aap ro kyun rahi hain? Why are you crying?”
“Bad news. Ghar se. Mera Ghar…” I can’t bring myself to say that I lost my home, that I was knifed.
“Pardesi story, Madam. Hum sab ki yahin story. We all outsiders have this same story. That’s what we do. This is our life. It will be OK.”
I nod mutely. I know it won’t be. Nothing will ever be OK. I am dying and still my luggage is overweight.
“Your luggage is overweight. But I will handle it. You don’t take tension for this. Please drink water. Shall I sit with you? Your flight leaves in four hours. You have a lot of time. Shall I buy you something?”
“Thank you. No. Where are you from?”
“Pakistan, Madam. Please calm yourself. Drink water. Come sit here.”
He doesn’t notice the blood that’s soaking my black clothes. I sit obediently thinking why is it a stranger feels so much concern for me? Why am I not invisible to him? But elsewhere, I have been entirely invisible. Only springing to focus when I was to be cut open, sliced, eviscerated.
My coat is stained red, the colour of my lips, my hair, and the blood that’s just overflowing from where he knifed me.
But the flight is in four hours and I press my bag on to my stomach to stem the flow.
I am an escaped half-slaughtered lamb.
There’s just no escape, though.
I don’t even remember to ask the stranger’s name.
I sit and slowly let the blood soak everything.
I see only red.