Arshid Malik

Each time I feel your bite (the burning)

It fills me with suffering and plight (the fading)

I’ve crawled for days to make this stop (the selflessness)

Now look in my eyes and see what you’ve brought (the realization)

My stomach turns and the world gets so bleak (the suffering)

No wonder I’m crawling, Never felt so weak (the frailness)

I followed your tracks, led me right to your nest (the hope)

The shadows they keep me from you; doing your best (the subtlety)

I’ve seen what you are and I’m hidden from view (the mirror)

My body withers, your venom is due (the death) – James Barnes

I am a Kashmiri and a snake, a very poisonous one, once bit me. I am a Kashmiri and I was in Kashmir when this snake bit me. I had rarely heard of poisonous snakes inhabiting the Valley and most of what I had heard was mythical, I guess. But, the day I was bit there was no telling what became of my beliefs. I was devastated but I did not die. People told me, people who knew me, that I would die in a day or two but that never happened and I am very much alive till this very day and I guess it has been several decades now. Yes, while I did not die, I grew venomous. Venom, some very strong venom, flows through my veins instead of blood. I swear there is venom flowing through my veins and I do not care whether you believe me or not. I am a venomous person and perhaps that is what the snake that bit me was destined to do – turn my blood to venom. Since I am human and bear all humanistic characteristics, I cannot bite people and kill them, even though I feel like it most of the time. There is a certain sect of people I want to bite but I am never sure where to find them. I try, but all in vain.

Now this venom in my veins is critical to my existence. It turns my troubles inside out. It gives me sleepless and dreamless nights. It makes me angry and sad at the same time. It makes faces at me when I am not looking. It creeps up my spine when I am relaxing and brings me down when I want some action. This venom! What more should I say, yet there is so much that I want to say, to all of you out there reading this worthless piece on venom and my existence around it. When I am in shade, my body temperature rises and when I am in the sun, I get chills. This venom, I say! The venom I say!

Sometimes when I go for a walk on the bund, I love watching the waters of the Jehlum flow gracefully, glistening in the delighting sunlight. When the grace of the Jehlum gets too much to the heart, I pick a quiet spot and sit there watching the waters flow. And suddenly the scene turns gory and my veins start dilating in a very superficial way. Soon enough the venom flowing inside my body jumps across and mingles with the waters of the river. I start getting shivers and my sleeves roll themselves up as if urging my body to donate my venomous blood to the waters of the Jehlum. The Jehlum then turns a deep crimson as if the blood of a hundred thousand men is flowing with it. Then, as the sun rises higher, the waters give up the crimson hue and the colours fade away and turn to me, threatening me of another bloodshed, lest there be a sacrifice. As is my usual habit, I fish into my pocket and take out the razor and make deep cuts on my arms and the venomous blood starts flowing a thousand tributaries to join the mayhem of Jehlum and cajole it to a graceful, glistening flow. The waters flow and my arms bleed, till there is no more venomous blood. I stop writing, fold up my notebook and start walking again. The waters look beautiful and the strange smile of a foreigner brings me back to my motherland.

I have tried a thousand times to look away from the mirror but the images never escape me and I always notice the dilated veins on my face, throat and chest, bulging forward, as if to burst there and then and let the venom out in one go and melt away the mirror along with the images. The venom always has its way. It always does. And I stand there watching my body turn beastly in a very beautiful way. Death has always been the beautiful ending of every life there is.

“Put the razor down, I love you more than anything.”

What more could you say?

The truth?

But I love these innocent lies, I love the things that break me inside

I love the pain

I love the hate

But the fake has always been my heartbreak

The venom’s drove me sick

It’s drove me insane

But who really notices me?

All I’ve ever done is run from myself

The enemy’s taking over

The evil’s I think are coming true

I’m that evil I’ve been trying so hard to banish.

But can you demolish you?

I can’t destroy myself

Just let the razor kiss the innocent skin

Let it leave it’s mark

Let me drown

Because I know how to save myself

I choose not to

Let the venom sink in

Loose control

Let the evil voices command your soul…

…She gave up

And gave in

She let the venom break her down

No heart is left there now.

-This Venom, Riska


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