“Helm” stepped into the bath tub, turned on the water, as hot as his scalp and hairless body can tolerate without blistering. He was not disappointed by the football game, since he already knew that, as usual, the team that he was favoring would lose, but he got to spend sometime with his grandfather.
This grandfather of his, Hulm thinks, is a very interesting person; since the time his friend died, he spent all of his awake moments reading, one book after the other. He, after completing a book, would sign the first page of it, in order not to make the mistake of reading it again. Once, just teasing him, Hulm tore off the first page of a novel he already had read. Grandfather, his name was Fourthdimention by the way, read it again, got surprised at the same events, excited at the same corners, disinterested with the exact parts of the plot that he had been bored with before, and disliked the evolution of the story altogether. H commented on the flowery style of the author, and announced his decision not to read anything written by that writer from then on. Of course, he failed to remember that he had read the book already months before that, and made the same comments, and announced the same decisions. Hulm smiled as he remembered the expression on his grandfather’s face when he adopted his name; Fouthdimention. Just like that, with no explanations or expectations of a critique.
His late friend and he, Fouthdimention that is, had been inseparable. They would start up a conversation that no one else was remotely interested in, and continue their debates for hours on end. They would, in the midst of their talk forget which side they were on and the opinion that they believed in. Their opinions would switch back and fourth, one would defend his view, then, without a notice would continue defending the other’s opinion, with the same vigor. The conversation would end also, in the same way, suddenly abandoning the build up and the enthusiasm and they would get busy petting the cats, ironing, picking up the telephone and calling for a prescription or even clipping coupons.
They shared everything, even, without being aware, or that how it seemed, their dentures.
On the edge of the tub, just behind the shampoo bottles, there was the lizard. Perfectly albino, one could see through its skin the lungs and the guts. Nothing elegant about it, not even the perfectly turned up sharp tail or the perfectly spherical eyes mounted, as if by crazy glue, onto the edge of the pale pink face. A color challenged creature. Would definitely die, Hulm thought, in the sun. The only thing which would tan in it would be its spine if it had any. Ugly creature, which he had hated since years, but disappeared when the vine at their balcony was burnt. He was relieved then. But it seems that the mutilated creature would not let him escape.
The site of it brought back long forgotten memories. Memories of the hours he would spend watching the lizard stagnate on the wall, warming up at the lamplight, and just being. Nasty, useless, annoying and deadly quiet. It was and still is harmless, but he couldn’t figure out why it existed at all. What was the wisdom behind its existence, ugly and surely with a rotten taste that no predator would want.
He used to watch it so hard; thinking that anger emanating from his head will make it disappear, burn. Focus so hard on its scarce moves, deeply wishing someone else would become as annoyed, and do something to rid the world of it. May be getting rid of it for his sake, at least. But none would. They would continue doing their useless petty things and not noticing the lizard. And, not noticing him.
The lizard is still here. So is he. Everyone else continued doing their small things and the small things continued to be small, but enough to keep everyone else’s small world full.
His mother; Tigris, dissatisfied with her esteemed offspring had decided to disappear, told no one, never called back, she only rarely, sent a card, with no return address, and with a picture, completely uncharacteristic of a place, addressed to the family house and starting with ” to…”. Then signed: “Tigris”.
Ever unhappy Raheema, his sister, is always living inside herself, her eyes looking inwards, except for the brief times she watches some shows on the television. As soon as the show is over, the eyes flip back inwards, like the girl in the exorcist film. And her smile disappears. She was listening to a song yesterday; so unlike her.
Older brother Demoozi, was the closest person to him, or may be he just wished he was, had mentally disappeared. Became a cloud, dense fog to everyone, even to his poor friend Breeze. Breeze had accepted moving in with him, accepted watching the gate, living in the small room in the garden, with him. He thought that finally they will be together. Instead, Demoozi floated away, and since, Breeze is spending the days watching him and for him, not the gate.
It was a nutty family, even the cats were nutty it seemed. The only satisfied person was the grandfather; he has been always satisfied, it was not the age, or the accumulation of wisdom. Had it been that, it would have or should have helped his grandmother, who after changing so many friends, so often, that a single bra of hers would outlast three of them. She only settled for this last, almost mute, friend that she is with now because she was not able to go up and down the stairs anymore. Therefore, she decided to save herself the knee pains and ask one of her old hags to come in and live with her.
He finished drying up his skin, used a blow drier for his crevices and sat in front of his computer for cybertherapy. He actually favored that mode of therapy; no appointments, no hours, he talked when he felt like talking, not when he was supposed to talk. He still had difficulty to emotionally switch on, and then off as per the dictation of the ticking hour.