Umbilical Power Cord

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a piece I wrote after stumbling upon a few articles in the web about trauma in people that result from childhood abuses (both physical and mental). Initially I thought it would be a short story told by a person who had suffered from abuse as a child, but then I found that the narrator (unnamed) had taken a magical realism approach towards telling his story . The setting is in South-East Asia.

He tells about the pain of pains of violence and dark sarcasms but all the while maintains an indifferent tone while telling his tales; eventually bits and scraps of history leaks into his narration, but of course, that cannot be helped.

Back in the early 90’s there was this thing in our house called ‘twinwaan’ - two-in-one, it meant. Two-in-one because, it not only could play cassettes, but could also play the radio. I however, like to call it three-in-one; because it came with a cord -a cable cord, which served as its power supply. ___________________________________________________________________________

Power supply. Thus this had a metaphorical or almost literal resemblance with the umbilical cord. Both fed food, and both gave birth. At least, both are essential in the giving of birth. Yes, the two-in-one cable cord too, like its non-biological twin brother, gave birth - or at least assisted the process; those who believe that a murderer’s accomplice is any less a murderer usually play tic-tac-toe with bearded domesticated, nanny-goats and they usually lose. Now the goats and their playmates are trying to keep me from telling you the insidious many ways in which the industrially manufactured power-chord shares uncanny I-give-birth-to-things syndrome with its counterparts that are produced through the intricately complex carbon chains of the biological [mother]nature. ___________________________________________________________________________

Why? How do you think of dissuading us with your paltry verbose gimmicks on plastic cords? You think you are a smartass who’ll make a fool of us with your petty tales? Why we had one too, those twinwaans, back in those days. Jaah! Go go you – jottoshob, gajakhuri. Now, I have no problem with any of what you said; tales, no matter their nature, are unwelcome these days and listeners/readers have a preconceived notion that chroniclers (too heavy a word for me?) are schemers with fabricated mendacities invented at the express purpose of wheedling some cash from them. As for the cash – yes, since it is a necessity (even that dumb, bearded, and domesticated, paper-chewing nanny goat can tell you the difference between a five-buck and a ten-buck; I have no idea, really, how they do it - I tell it by the colors and I am told that those poor creatures are color-blind – but I assure you that they can). But fabrications? – No way. What are lies? I learned, once, from a simple paperback comic-book, that artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover it. Now there are two things I shall tell you in reply to your inquiries and those following remarks. One, I have no liking at all for that certain substance [gaja(weed)] you accused me of using, and no respect for those who use it. Two, being called an artist would flatter me, but being called a politician would make my bile rise, and I do not like that very much either. Be warned, because, I was born more than once. Under the twin influence of both the cords – umbilical (just like you had been) and much later, the cable cord (nothing like you would ever know of). ___________________________________________________________________________

Now, the thing about that cord was, it was pretty long, removable, and cheap and could easily be twisted into a pigtail that served also as a wonderful do-it-yourself whip. Why such a thin conductor would need so thick a sheath of insulation is the business of engineers; I care little for such knowledge; but what I do know is that, the insulation is a complex of rubber and plastic, making the power cord, a real ‘power’ -cord (well just about enough power to give birth to little-perverted-I-like-to-talk-inside-your-head demons, who lived under the beds and of course inside the heads, of small children), which often became a DIY whip, sharpandstingingandall. ___________________________________________________________________________

A very effective instrument for inflicting pain.


A good swirl could tear a paperback half-way through. What it did to the back of a child is no hard thing to decipher; any good-for-nothing-but-theft, pestilence of a petty crook who’s been whipped by the fat municipality officers for stealing petticoats and blouses of fat women and their thin house-maids, could tell you that; what it did to his [child] mind (yes, mass production through fear’s copulation with fatty acids of a fat-mother’s-fats of unquenched lust (or the lack of it, or both), those impish-little-perverted-demons who talk talk talk when its dark dark dark as dark as those of the fairy tales, only no fairies this time for our lil sir only dark and more dark and dirty dirty dirty; squinty eyes that shine and glimmer, smile that twist the twisted minds of old twisted minded women) is something only I could tell you. I know all about cheap plastic two-in-one/three-in-one/as-many-imps-as-you-want-in-one power cords. ___________________________________________________________________________

It was my mother’s favorite, the cord. For many reasons of course - the cord could make the cassettes sing, all those 60’s and 70’s recordings that sang only and only romantic songs, sometimes happy tunes and sometimes melancholy ones, but luvvy-duvvy all the same; it is important to mention here that lust was, back then, still to make its way to the voices of the South-East Asian singers, thus making those music completely different in tone and texture from anything that is now recorded; nowadays even the instruments display a severe carnal craving . Thus was born a lonely, will-be-mother, half a generation younger than her husband, a husband who remained her husband for 23 and-god-knows-how-many-more-to-follow years but she never could really know him and neither did the husband know who his wife was or maybe they did not want-to-know or maybe they did not how-to-know or even maybe they did not know-that-they-needed-to-know, and she swayed between the solitudes of melancholy and upbeat of the music that issued from her meager collection of old school romantic records, and grew in herself a multipart sense of restlessness that result from such vile mixtures of love and loss and the non-existence of both. These are existential facts. We have to live with them; thus it can be concluded that they hold a considerable degree of importance; yet I am suggesting that these facts were born (partially at least) through the life supply of a cord! A mere plastic insulated power cord! (yet, do not for one second undermine the power of such cords – I’ll tell you why). She grew in herself that profound but confined-within zigzagzigzag zigzagzigzag agitation that would result years later in the perpetual arranging, shifting and rearranging of every household item every alternate day and the changing of her children’s schools every year. Let us name her the ‘Restless One’. ___________________________________________________________________________

Loneliness, unlike many other negative feelings of such sort, is not like furniture. You don’t get used to it after it has been there long enough. Many would disagree and say that you do, but really, you don’t. So, the records (petty sum of), the books, the maids (they would later become her friends and family, but I cannot allow the future to flow into the present or the past, even though I already have, but that’s another story and should wait its turn) and their half baked stories of half-led-lives and half-stolen-half-memories of their half-past-lives they left behind to pursue an illusion of a half-formed dream of a changed life in the city (I mention them again; why? Because even though the scenario changed now, the only way these people could even form an inkling of that half formed dream of a changed life in the city back then, was through the radio commercials – Dhaka, the Coca-cola city. So what? So, the radio, so the radio), still left more room for the Restless One. There came the radio. The radio that played one channel only, Bangladesh Betar, originally Radio Bangladesh -a shadow of Shadhin-Bangla Betar Kendro which in turn was a rebel-media born on the brink of, or rather, through of the Declaration of Independence of Bangladesh. Declaration of Independence, I repeat. ___________________________________________________________________________

Thus, like the umbilical cord does to the yet-born baby, the cabled cord pumped life into the radio; assisting the birth of a country, of half formed dreams that would later intertwine with the life of its other baby, the Restless One, the one that found other ways of assisting this cord in its relentless journey of giving (or assisting, whocareswhat) births. ___________________________________________________________________________

An almost paradoxical interlocution of the past, present and even the future. Unavoidable. Now, back to my other birth. The one through the rubber-plastic complex; I had listed a list of reasons why the Restless One should like that cord, but of course she did so unwittingly; we often fail to even recognize, let alone appreciate, the biggest and the most influential of things; thus she knew very little, how and how much that cord meant. Consciously, she liked it because it could be used on me. But to go back, we must only leap ahead in time, because the story of how the Restless One found other-ways-of-giving-birth-through-other-cords will be incomprehensible if her birth through the same cord had not been narrated. Nothing happens in a day. History of my mother and her other mothers both real and metaphorical (yes, husbands can be metaphorical mothers too sometimes, because they give birth to mothers of their children by being what they never wished to be) is written in the scars on my face. ___________________________________________________________________________

Copulation of fear and fat? But, you ask me, fear we understand, why fat? And the little little things? Bad things you said you will tell us. Koi? Well, these days, even kids could tell you that body fats are merely stored energy; energy if otherwise expended, would not result in little-imps, little-limps, little-boy’s-little-penis-sore-and-giving-gimps, little-boy’s-not-so-little-screams and other cruel-little-boys-making-limericks-thus-Wee-Willie-Winkie-never-wins. As smart readers like yourselves have already guessed, other little boys of the building (where we lived) would make wonderful couplets and quatrains out of the ammu amake ar mairoo naa (mommy please don’t hit me anymore), that I used to shriekscreechscream, and dressed and iced those poetries with other animated and imaginary, caricatured lines where I would beg not to be drowned in a bucket or be hung from the ceiling fan; in some lyrics (these came from the unlucky and otherwise shy ones whose identities were suddenly at crisis to themselves, because their voices had turned into a strange croak and shrouds of hair had began to peek out from both, the most prosaic and also the most unspeakable parts of their bodies and because they suddenly knew the ‘nastynaughty’ secret of their parents’ shamelessness to produce them how could they o my my they didn’t, oh no no, oh my my how could they, they thought) I would beg Restless One not to insert un-insert-ably huge items through my rear end; art and imagination ran aplenty among these kids – art because, believe me or not, the resulting unused-energy(from lack of games because of lack of places to play those unplayed games)-turned-gatheringlazing-turned-humor-turned-cruelty-turned-limericks lacked neither melody nor tempo and even their being inchoate in ways of music made them all the more tiptop and clipppetyclop and hiphop and flippetyflop with the ticktock drumbeats issued from the beatings of their tongues on the bottoms of their mouths; and imagination because o-my-god I don’t want to mention what items they suggested that I should beg not to be inserted through that unspeakable end of the human body, which the Muslims prefer to hold higher than their heads, five x varies-from-person-to-person times a day, when they appear before their solitary God. The reader’s curiosity is the storyteller’s bread but I wouldn’t exploit that – the kid’s imaginations would score high, but baba, they were kids afterall - televisions, washing-machines, cricket-bats, ping pong balls and other such harmless items were all they wished not to be sent up me. ___________________________________________________________________________

The places on my body, where the man-made cord left its birth marks, will tell you histories – the birth of a nation (a bastard nation, I might add with mournful respect because 40 years after its birth, it is still dubious about its father; I love my country; it breaks me to call it bastard, but those fat bellied politicians make my bile rise because all they ever did was fight about who-of-the-two actually inserted his manthing into history’s genitals to give birth to this nation) full of half formed people, intermingling of half dreams with the fantastic non-existent romance of Restless One; it will tell you littleboy’s littledarkdreams where perverted imps come to play littledarkgames, and of course, minor births of minor little-poetsandmusicians . And other colors of other peoples’ other faces. ___________________________________________________________________________

The cord gives birth in many more ways than you can conceive of. ___________________________________________________________________________

Umbilical Power Cord © Copyright Md. Rakibul Islam 2010

Submitted: June 21, 2010

© Copyright 2022 rainpurpl3. All rights reserved.

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