Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Blame Game

Without adding any comment, I post here a letter that was published in today’s “Gulf Daily News”, the national newspaper of Bahrain, under the heading “The Blame Game”:

“Muslims aren’t happy in Gaza.
They’re not happy in Egypt.
They’re not happy in Libya.
They’re not happy in Morocco.
They’re not happy in Iran.
They’re not happy in Iraq.
They’re not happy in Yemen.
They’re not happy in Afghanistan.
They’re not happy in Pakistan.
They’re not happy in Syria.
So where are they happy?
They’re happy in England.
They’re happy in France.
They’re happy in Italy.
They’re happy in Germany.
They’re happy in Sweden.
They’re happy in the US.
They’re happy in Australia.
They’re happy in Switzerland.
They’re happy in Norway.
And whom do they blame?
Not Islam.
Not their leadership.
Not themselves.
They blame the countries they are happy in.
Karan Diwan”


posted by Kirk at 8:53 am  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

For Sara

Two. V

Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee
– Psalms 79:11

The walls were damp. The floor was damp. The pitifully thin mattress on the shelf that served as his bed was damp. Even the air was damp. And stifling, suffocating, incessantly hot. The only time in his life that his head had been shorn, Latimer was glad of it. The focal point of the cell was a small square window roughly eight feet up on one of its walls. North to south, three proud bars guarded what would otherwise be a means of escape. Someone cemented those in place… he thought darkly, surveying one of the rare features of his spartan surroundings. …While sharing some idle chat with his workmates, no doubt…
And now some judge had put Latimer the wrong side of them.
Here in his private hell the evaporated piss of a thousand past inmates still clung to the walls in such concentration that he felt it coating his skin. It lined his nostrils with a film of atomised feculence, so that the stench never left him. Every mouthful of gruel, every sip of water seemed to taste of the sickly sweet scuz. Added to this discomfort, his loss of liberty, the boredom and the solitude was the fact that the arrow of time seemed, ironically, to fly slower in here. So that when there’d been things to do on the outside there had never seemed enough time. Now that he was prevented from doing anything for long stretches of the day, he had too much of it. Looking up above the barred skylight he thought it cruel that the distance from floor to ceiling – a good fifteen feet, he guessed – should be so great when the limited floorspace he shared with his cellmate, mute and withdrawn, forced their close and uneasy proximity. But then everything in the S.A.R. was built around the vertical axis, he knew.
Barely seven days into his sentence Latimer had come to detest the conditions, which left him permanently fatigued. Six months… Six fucking months of this… he now reflected, staring absently at the figure in the opposite corner. In no mood for frivolity, he rejected the impulse to grin as the wretch came slowly into sharper focus. Sitting with his back against the wall, the crazed hobo was evidently preparing for another performance of the baffling ritual Latimer had come to accept as normal.

A week before, having overcome his first experience of the cell door’s incarcerating peal, Latimer had opened his eyes to witness the freak show for the first time. “Confucius” – as, with certain irony, he’d christened his cellmate – was harmless, he now knew. Beneath those threadbare prison-issue togs lay the scrawny frame of an undernourished outcast, while under his thickly matted hair – which even the prison barber had apparently refused to touch – lived the mind of a shyly withdrawn child. Latimer had kept himself awake for most of that first night, however. There’d been no point reflecting why the guards had allowed the dishevelled simpleton to keep a sharpened instrument about him, or ponder the significance of the procedure he carried out with unceasing repetition. The situation, as Latimer repeatedly warned himself, was simple: he was locked in a cell with a doolally tramp who happened to be armed with a knife. It wasn’t out of fear that he’d taken the precaution of staying awake, more a practical step in the face of likely attack. It had always taken more than a solitary foe to frighten Latimer and this pitiable outcast was not about to change that. But he’d noted the weapon appeared solid and sharp and so was determined to keep his wits about him. Now, several days later, he was relaxed in the knowledge that Confucius’ sole interest in life was to entertain himself in his own peculiar way.

Irregular in size, the six or seven ball bearings he’d push up inside his foreskin were all sufficiently small for it to have taken Latimer some time to realise what they were. Once lodged there Confucius would pause, trancelike, running his fingers over the bumps they created as if to affirm the veracity of their alignment. After satisfying himself that everything was in order he’d run the blunt edge of his homemade weapon along the shaft of his penis, applying sufficient pressure as he neared the bulbous node at its head to force the shiny spheres out, one by one, skittering them across the floor. Typically, a pause for contemplation would follow, when he’d stare at the result of his work as if looking for portents in the latest constellation his penile projectiles had conjured. Whatever the purpose of these reflections, once this final act of the routine was over Confucius would drag himself across the cell like a worm-infested dog to start the process all over again.

While Latimer was not remotely afraid of his cell-mate, the smell of the man was starting to bother him. In the week since his imprisonment Latimer hadn’t once seen his cohabitant come into contact with water. The stifling conditions did nothing to mitigate the stench that would waft across from his direction, commingling with the cell’s other prominent aroma. Five months, three weeks, six days… Five months, three weeks, five days… Latimer counted down his time. The hobo’s cock would always be out to play, taking a constant bruising. Does he ever fucking sleep? Latimer would reflect, on waking from a nap to find his cellmate at it yet again. Sometimes, bored and in need of conversation, he’d pipe up, “Oi! Confucius! You oughta work in a call centre! Y’know, twenty-four seven! Non-fucking-stop! It’d suit ya!” Or: “Confucius! Put it away mate, eh? Come on, give it a rest, y’sick fuck!”
Not once did Latimer’s appeals elicit a response. Startled by the abruptness of such intrusions, Confucius would freeze like a quieted cicada and slowly raise his eyes to the ceiling, his breathing regulated like that of a master yogi. It seemed always to Latimer that his stare was not, in fact, pinpointed on the cell’s uppermost periphery but through it and across the aether to someplace far away.

posted by Kirk at 5:03 pm