I woke up that morning, feeling sixty-five and I needed a walk. I needed to breathe in the fresh air. Now, I lived on the outskirts of the city and there was a Jacaranda Park very close to my house. The violet-blue flowers dancing to the rhythm of the morning breeze invigorated me and filled me with confidence. I sat on a stone bench for a while and lost myself to nostalgic reverie. I thought of the years spent following the rules and standing up for what was right; years spent being a conservative; years spent devoted to one woman, and I felt pride swelling up within me and teary-eyed, I returned to my cottage.
The carpenter Bill came home that day because the cupboards needed repairs. I looked at the size of the nails he used and wondered how painful crucifixion was. Those slender but powerful nails. I imagined them piercing skin and splitting bone and shivered at the thought. Fortunately, we didn’t carry out crucifixion in the city. In fact, we’d outlawed the death sentence, but we had Lot constantly criticizing us for doing so and campaigning for it. He really acted like a judge of sorts. Maybe it was sexual tension. He considered himself ‘righteous’ and preached at every quarter of the city. “The day of the Lord is near!” He barked, the spittle falling on faces.
I had a wedding to attend that day. My distant relative was marrying this beautiful woman called Maria. And so, I walked to town and saw Lot barking in a corner. “Sodomy! You’re guilty of sodomy!” He yelled vehemently. I ignored him and went to the town house. The ceremony was beautiful. The young man was a conservative like me, but not radical like Lot. It was beautiful seeing two people in love waltzing and enjoying themselves. The wine flowed, and I drank to my heart’s content. Soon, it was dusk and time to go home.
As I walked home, I saw two men descending the hill with Lot. They were headed to his house. The men looked angelic and there was a commotion outside Lot’s house. And so, I rushed there, hoping to resolve the dispute. Then I got a closer look at the men and dropped my pants. I rushed to the door and screamed with my walking stick in hand: “Bring the men out! So that I may know them intimately!” My loins were on fire and even Viagra didn’t compare to the tension I felt. I needed those men and it was strange because I was a straight, conservative man. What is happening to me? I thought but brushed the thought away. What about my wife? I thought but screamed at that thought. I needed those men. “Sirs, I beg you! My daughters are virgins. You can have them and do as you please,” Lot said, but all of us shouted, “No!” In unison. It was then that I realized that I wasn’t alone in my heat and would have to fight others with my walking stick if necessary. But I was ready. “You’re always judging us Lot. Now bring out those men!” I screamed.
But then the men did something, and I couldn’t see. I stumbled into the others gathered and they all screamed of blindness. I was terrified. Soon, I thought of my beautiful wife and I decided to go back home. I ran, slipping, stumbling and falling. I hurt myself and I was naked from the waist down! I don’t know how I got home but I pounded the door and shouted, “Jeanie! Jeanie! Open! It’s me!”
“What happened!” she cried and took me in, and my sight suddenly returned. “That bastard Lot!” I yelled, but she put a hand on my shoulder and then bandaged me and fetched me new clothes. We ate kebabs, and chicken biryani with some Kingfisher. But then the fire and brimstone struck.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)