I had always led a lonesome life. As a child, I recall, I had no friends or foes. I played with myself those games that ordinarily expected a happy gang of friends – stickball, satoliya, rummy and scrabble. I was on a lonely trip, a pilgrimage to atone for my supposed sin. But loneliness had been my companion from the day I was born, except a fleeting amorous interlude: a moment of love that turned the whole world against me – the people called me kafir. I saw the slurs hurled at me. Was it a surprise to see my name smeared? It wasn’t, as the insinuations were nothing new; wherever I had lived, I had sensed rumours about my birth, whispered by all.
I am an orphan and had never seen the man, who sowed his share of the seed that made me. And I could never recall the face of the woman, who added her share to the seed. Was there such a woman who carried the full seed, with me in it? I didn’t know as I never saw her: the woman who had watered and fed the seed her blood, and carried it around for whole nine months. I was an orphan; no one told me how my father looked, if ever there was one. And nobody saw my mother. The people didn’t know anything, for sure. Yet, I saw rumours as they floated wildly wherever I went. Some people believed that my father was a foot-soldier in Alexander’s army. A few were ready to swear upon their nine lives that I was the son of Clive’s Indian maid. Since my birth, I had hopped from town to town, city to city.
And everywhere I sensed stories whispered about my birth: tales that were brandished with faith by everyone. At the beginning the stories perplexed me, and I searched for answers. Was I the son of a Portuguese pirate? Was I the son of a Zulu warlord? Was I born to a fairy that had lured an ancient sage to burn his chastity in a night of passion? Was I the lost son of Cleopatra and her brother, one who fell in the Nile and was discovered by the shepherds one night, many years later, swimming in the same river? Was I the son of a prophet who was widely known to have died childless? Or am I the new prophet or a god for these chaotic times? Many people called me an untouchable; and a few said that I was of a mixed breed.
The more I heard, the more I grew mystified. And one day, a wise man said that I was conceived atop a rollercoaster; not from a man’s semen, but from a chant – whispered by the wind in a woman’s heart. And he said that I was born on a dusty road, when that woman went into labour on a sun-scorched day. That road, he told me, went everywhere and nowhere. I believed him. My life had turned out to be a rollercoaster ride, indeed, and I couldn’t have been conceived anyplace else. And the road was the only place where I could have taken birth. I spent my life on roads that went everywhere and nowhere. I lived on the roads and smelt the dust that was whipped up by the shoes – for me to smell.
I was an orphan, shunned by all except one – a girl. An orphan I was, who fell in love with a girl: a happy girl veiled by butterflies in some sad city. One day the girl died, yet she lives in my dreams. And in a dream she asked me to celebrate, and to atone. Perhaps she wanted me to garner courage, to save someone who was also innocent: as innocent as she was. And as helpless as she was, when her own people confronted her, and her lover too. ‘To rejoice is to atone’ was her message. I walked to follow her command. I travelled in search of a miracle, that’d cleanse my soul, once and for all.
(From: Confessions of a Cuckoldmaker )