Everything makes sense some of the time
Shonpapri the barber was dead, dying and living. He did not notice much around him on most days, so he could be excused for never realising this truth. He cut hair like he tied his shoes- forming knots.
On this particular day in this particular universe, Gunda the village elder came over to have his ponytail removed. Gunda had decided to take up the challenge of being an obnoxious elder even without a ponytail. It was the most difficult thing he had done since stealing his son’s tiffin the previous day.
The haircut came and went, but Gunda did not. Shonpapri decided to shave the gentleman, and proceeded to shampoo him soon after. It was only after a facial and a thrown in back massage that he realised that Gunda had in fact died a while back. Briefly shocked, but recovering quickly, he was taking the money owed to him from Gunda’s wallet when eight year old Bedana walked in. She leapt onto the seat next to Gunda.
“Isn’t it a lovely day?”
“I’m afraid I don’t see much of the outside while I’m here.”
“But you see a lot, don’t you?”
“I’ve seen some things today, yes. Don’t play with the scissors.”
“I bet you have quite a few stories to tell, don’t you?”
“I do indeed, young lady. Don’t play with the knife.”
“I have a story too, you know.”
“It’s a big, round, hairball of a story. It’s got a large heart, and strong knees, and nimble fingers that can tie a knot on a sleeping kitten’s tail.”
“That sounds lovely, but I wish you wouldn’t swing the knife around wildly as you speak.”
“My daddy says it’s the roughest, toughest, meanest, keenest, loudest, proudest story he’s ever heard.”
“Who is your daddy, Bedana? I never did ask you. Strange that you’ve been coming here alone ever since you were two.”
“Gunda the village elder.”
Shonpapri’s eyes went red. This was because Bedana accidentally slashed his forehead while playing with the knife. He wiped himself, and stole a quick glance towards Gunda. He truly looked like a different individual without the ponytail.
“Give me my haircut, Shonpapri.”
“Of course, of course. Snip snap.”
Shonpapri began to cut Bedana’s hair. A bead of sweat trickled down his forehead and dangled from the end of his nose, swaying back and forth like a confused intern at an ad agency.
‘What’s on your mind, Shonpapri?”
“Oh, not much. I was just wondering if you had noticed the dead man on the chair next to you.”
“You mean the one who appears to have died while you were massaging him.”
“I am pretty good at those massages. Nudge nudge.”
“Or pretty bad.”
“You’re such a realist, Bedana.”
“Reality doesn’t exist, Shonpapri. Didn’t your mother ever teach you about the ten dimensions?”
“Well, there’s time, which doesn’t exist. There’s length, breadth, and height, collectively known as space, which exists because nothing else does. They combine to form our perception of reality, a practical joke so long and convoluted it forgot its own punch line.”
“Well, I’m still laughing.”
“You don’t even want to know about all the other dimensions.”
“If only my mother taught me, Bedana.”
“Would your life be any better then, Shonpapri?”
“If it doesn’t exist, definitely so.”
“If it doesn’t exist, definitely so.”
“I think it does and it doesn’t.”
“I believe you.”
“You should and you shouldn’t."
“I will and I can’t.”
“I will and I can’t.”
“What the hell is going on here?”
Gunda awoke to find his ponytail missing, and furiously punched himself, thinking he was someone else. Shonpapri was so relieved he had a heart attack.
“Do you want to hear my story again, daddy? Shonpapri doesn’t seem to be interested.”
“There once was a chicken called Shinjini. Shinjini had three eyes. Two of them were normal, like all cross-eyed chickens have, but the third one was built the other way around, and looked inside of herself. So if she closed her two normal eyes, the third one would open on it’s own, and she would see her heart tango with her brain and her liver make a pass at her alimentary canal.”
“Would someone call the police?”
“What happened next, sweetheart?”
“No matter how many times it happened, it still disoriented her to see the sleep in her dreams and the guts in her feelings and and the mind on her thoughts and the true motives behind all of her actions.”
“How troubling, love.”
“Farewell, cruel world. I’ll never forget thee.”
“It is indeed. One day Shinjini while walking across Tibet met a lady monk called Red. Her shaved head made her eyes dazzle in a way that made Shinjini want to cuddle up next to her and be saved from self-discovery. Red was tired of girls and boys looking to her for salvation but the chicken’s predicament had her interest piqued. Red had meditated hard and long and looked inside of herself in such a euphoric orgasmic tick-tock-my-mind-just-unlocked sort of way that she was now able to look at the outside world and see the simultaneous past, present and future, layered on top of each other like a Bengali man’s clothes for a wintertime picnic. The transcendental realisations that followed had caused Red to abandon material pleasures while physically existing in the ten-dimensional universe. She lived miserably thereafter and this made her happier than she had ever been before.”
“Shonpapri was a great man. Friend to all, lover to none.”
Gunda looked around to find that a few days had passed and he was at Shonpapri’s funeral.
“How did we get here?”
“The illusory nature of time shocked the tired Shinjini, and in a great moment of awe, she managed to open all three eyes together, observing herself outside in and inside out.”
“If only he could have lived longer. Or maybe died earlier. We wouldn’t have missed the match either way.”
“Not happy with learning so much without being taught anything, Shinjini wanted Red to impart more wisdom in a formal manner.
‘Tell me, O Red!’, Shinjini began dramatically, ‘What is it I should do?’
‘I don’t know, Shinjini’, Red replied dryly, ‘Your eyes have been opened. What else can I help you with?’
‘I don’t feel very wise, O Red! I feel much the same!’
“Gosh! Is that Shonpapri’s father in the distance?”
“‘Save me! Save me from this monstrosity!’, Shinjini screamed, jumping on Red’s face and scratching it furiously.
‘Oh, the horror! The terror!’, Shinjini screamed at herself while scratching even harder.”
“Didn’t he die eight years ago?”
“At the end of the furious onslaught, Shinjini looked to the heavens for forgiveness.
‘What have I done?’, she asked herself rhetorically.
‘Absolutely nothing’, Red answered anyway, and it was true, for her face was unharmed.”
“I remember the funeral. It was terribly boring.”
“Shinjini looked at Red’s unscratched face and somersaulted over her. They lay on the ground, staring at each other for fifteen minutes. Red didn’t speak as she already knew all that Shinjini had said or was going to say throughout all the moments of their collective conscious existence. Shinjini on the other hand didn’t know what to say.”
“Or was that his uncle?”
“Red got up with the grace of a cat and looked into Shinjini’s eyes, all three of them, and said in a tone that was both magnanimous and sinister, ‘It’s not going to get any better for you.’ She then disappeared into thin air, knocking the boots off the confused chicken’s claws.”
“That’s quite sad, isn’t it?”
Gunda and Bedana watched Shonpapri’s body burning into ash. Shonpapri’s father scratched himself while his mother yawned. His only friend qualified for the next level of Candy Crush.
“I just hope it doesn’t get any worse.”