Friday, 1 December 2017

Distinctly Shiva

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2016

Christi Barrett, from a very early age, clearly knew why she had never trusted anyone, except herself. This was because she had, again, early in life, realised that she had been chosen entirely at random to see all of Life’s secrets, in her dreams, thereby allowing Life to finally adjust to Itself. It was the quietest of convictions, but Christi also became certain that she could trust no-one, and thus not reveal her unique, secret, and prescient visions upon Life. Christi, naturally, became accustomed to the fact that she was a powerful figure, never doubting the insights she was given, and always receiving proof of her prescience. She was completely comfortable and self-confident in successfully completing primary school, high school, and senior high school, and was doing well in her studies for a science degree, with only one friend throughout all those schooling years. She was never bothered by her isolation, although choosing enough for her mammal blood. But still, mostly no-one ever really knew her. Her parents had eventually given up, hoping for a dramatic turn to Christi’s superiority complex. You never know.
     Christi’s complex suddenly dropped her out of uni. She then vanished. Her parents received a postcard a few days later, though, saying she was all right. She had, she wrote, dropped out of uni to learn everything from a very primal point of view, and to prove her own high worth to others. She was going to do so by first travelling all around Aus, bound by nothing or no-one, and then she’d see. She briefly mentioned that she’d get housing in homeless hostels, but called them ‘travellers’ hostels’, softening the blow of their daughter’s homelessness. Christi now sends them only Christmas cards every year, and that is all they have heard from her in several years.
     This year, though, 2012, on the first day of the London Olympics, Christi - the day before having arrived at a Sydney hostel, Penelope House - was wondering if she would soon be writing home with weddings bells, loudly and long declaring her love for one Mr Shiva Banerjee. He was similarly haughty, and very handsome. He was an actor, but who passed over minor roles, holding out for a major lead role; he never got any acting work. Often to his dismay, Mr Shiva Banerjee also looked very much, or glowed very much, like Shiva, the ideal svelte version of Shiva if he chose to walk commonly amongst us, with a long, dark, ponytail, and a spring in his step. He was always brightly, and interestingly, dressed, and also seemed to be always very pleased with an important secret. He had very recently been hired to work in the kitchen of Penelope House, but Christi first met him elsewhere.
     Christi first saw Shiva (as she instinctively called him) at the café cart at Martin Place train station. She was going back home to Penelope House, Kings Cross, after another successful day of begging for the hostel’s day’s rent (she had been temporarily cut off from her regular unemployment welfare) in the city. Her peripheral vision picked his glow out when he ordered his coffee (a large flat white), meeting his sweet eyes while she sipped her own just received coffee.
     There was no question to Christi that here, in Shiva, was the first person she could trust, that he, being obviously a god, was worthy of her higher appreciation. No, there was no question at all, Shiva was here exclusively for her heartwarm clasp, and responding was completely natural. No question on that score, either.
     He left after he received his coffee but Christi found herself immobile, not breathing, wanting but unable to approach him. The he continued on his bouncing way, eventually lost to sight.
     When she could again move she felt desolate, feeling on the cusp of betrayal. She simply had to find him again. Well, maybe if she turned up to that café cart every day at the same time she’ll bump into him. It seemed like a reasonable plan to her. She continued home, hopeful.
     You can easily imagine, then, considering Christi’s unreasoning passion for this god that had slipped from her dire need, Christi’s stunned reaction to seeing him helping to ladle out the food at that night’s dinner in the shelter. Again, she became immobile at his sight, finding it difficult to breathe. She had to be pushed ahead in the queue.
     When he was ladling out her potatoes she revised her plan. It was simple, just wait near the kitchen door for a few days and then just step up to him to ask him to marry her. She was quite serious.
     She got her chance the next day.
     ‘Hi!’ she said to him. He was just locking the kitchen door. He looked over his shoulder.
     ‘Hello,’ he replied.
     ‘You probably get this a lot, but . . .’ He was turning to face her, pocketing the keys.
     ‘I look like Shiva.’
     ‘Yeah.’
     ‘Yes, I get that a lot. My parents eventually named me that, after a month, because I never cried. I was always quiet. Happy. Engaged. I seemed to be such a master of everything that I must obviously be supreme to all. Thus, Shiva.’
     ‘Would you like to have a coffee with me? My treat.’
     ‘I have a wife.’
     ‘Oh. Naturally.’
     ‘Naturally. Excuse me, I have to go home to her now, and the girl.’
     ‘Naturally.’ Shiva left.
     Shiva left only for a little while though, for Christi quickly realised that since Shiva was a god he could hear her thoughts. She would pray endlessly now to Shiva, imploring him to return her love, showing her endless devotion. Shiva was bound to respond, also gallantly maintaining his first wife, being a Supreme Being. This was the only answer that her love would allow, and that would allow her to live.
     But being so close to this Being, literally having Him feed her, and her regular prayers to Him, but also His being so very far, soon caused conflict within her, an idle restlessness. She headed off to Adelaide.
     And Shiva came along with her, contentedly hiking along in her prayers and imagination. He made lively company, even though Christi knew that He was completely imagined. Still, it really was a good comfort.
     This comfort showed its derelict side a week into her residency at Elizabeth House, another homeless hostel, Hillcrest, inner Adelaide: she awoke after a dream, during a brief nap in front of the hostel’s large TV, which made her clearly see everything, that she was living on pure imagination. Shiva was not with her, he was with his wife and daughter. Shiva was not hanging on her every thought, desperate for all that she could give. Shiva had, no doubt, forgotten about Christi. Naturally. Christi would just have to get used to that immutable fact.
     But life without Shiva really was meaningless, no matter how much of a brave face she put on the conundrum. So she asked around for a razor she could buy and soon had her tool. It was after dinner so the dormitory was open. She went to the bed her day’s begging had paid for and lay peacefully down. There was already a few others around, an old woman in blue pyjamas sitting on the edge of her bed, and two disparate young women, sitting cross-legged on their own beds and idly gazing out the windows. She felt safe. She felt acutely the disposable razor, choosing to imagine Shiva while she slashed up her left arm. She was still looking out of the hostel’s windows while she passed into unconsciousness.
*

Christi was rescued by Jesus Christ, in the form of one of His ministers. This minister, Father David, was sometimes known to give a fiver or so to the more senior of the hostel’s guests, for ‘something bracing.’ He didn’t do it often, but he was here now with that purpose. Passing by Christ’s bed to give Mrs Reilly, in her blue pyjamas, a new five dollar note he heard a distinctive ‘drip, drip, drip.’ He turned to his right and saw Christi’s pool of blood. Instinctively he invoked the Lord and set about saving her. He tied off the cut with his handkerchief and dialled Emergency. Then he entrusted her life to the Lord for the next five minutes.
     Christi died twice on the way to hospital, the paramedic having to work double-time on her. When she came back the second time she muttered only the one word, ‘sorry’, and then passed into unconsciousness. This time it lasted for almost a day. She awoke to the feel of a palm against her forehead, and then saw Father David bending over her, counting off on some beads.
     ‘Father?’
     He opened his eyes upon her.
     ‘Hallelujah!’ he breathed. He looked tired, very tired.
     ‘What happened?’
     ‘It looks like you attempted suicide,’ he said. They were in the hostel’s infirmary. It was a large infirmary, expecting a large clientele.
     ‘Suicide? Me?’
     ‘Yes, child. God has redeemed you.’ It was the word God that recalled Shiva to her, and how she had used a common razor to erase the memory of a beautiful god. And she was still here, with nothing to live for.
     ‘Father,’ asked Christi, sitting slowly up in bed, ‘do you think God can come among us?’
     ‘I don’t see why not.’
     ‘Would you believe me if I said I’ve seen him? I know who he is.’ Father David remained poker faced.
     ‘Indeed,’ he replied.
     ‘And I’m madly in love with him, so, so, so madly, but he’s married. I want him, Father! Can I somehow have him? Somehow?’
     ‘Is he happily married?’
     ‘Yes. I think so.’
     ‘Alas, child . . .’

     But Christi did not listen to the priest, deciding that Shiva would always be with her in thought, listening to her prayers, if only as a friend. By keeping up the prayers Christi felt sure that Shiva would eventually return her love, that their friendship would naturally blossom into romance, no matter how many years, or decades, it took. She still remains thus pleasantly deluded, and has set about her fantasy in a very clear manner. She soon learned to schedule at least one hour per day in praying to Shiva, prayers that she had written out the night before. She only ever trusted this one person, and that only because he was God.

~~~

If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go to http://amzn.to/1NfodtN). Other ebook and paperback options are available at  http://bit.ly/1UsyvKD Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018. You can follow its journey at www.aberrantselected.blogspot.com

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