This is the second short story that's been written for the next Bhayanak Maut album.
It's untitled, as of now.
Feel free to comment and share.
You’ve been looking forward to this Master Art Class.
One of the world’s most renowned artists is here, in the classroom, as a guest speaker.
You like the way he walks energetically across the open space that’s in front of the class. He’s wearing a silk shirt, black and full-sleeved. His jeans are a vibrant shade of blue. His shoes are made of shiny black leather. Thick soles. No laces.
You like the way his hands continuously clasp and unclasp in front of him. The rings on his hands are hard not to notice. They’re chunky, thick Silver, with flashes of Gold and Sapphire Blue that shine like fireflies when his hands move.
You like the way he takes the effort to make eye contact with everyone in the class. His face is clean shaven. His hair is silver. His eyes are a mesmerizing shade of silvery green.
He’s a prolific painter, architect, sculptor, artist, photographer and filmmaker.
He’s a thinker, an author, an art collector and an entrepreneur.
He’s a creator. And you’ve always wanted to be just like him.
His voice is rich, soothing and demands your attention. He’s been speaking for over 30 minutes now. You’ve soaked in every single word that he’s shared with the class today.
“You cannot create something unless you’ve destroyed something else.
You all realize that, don’t you?”
You like the way he’s been questioning everyone. His tone is anything but condescending.
You look down at your notebook.
DESTROY. You write that down.
DESTRUCTION. Right under the previous word.
DE – STRUCT. Somehow, it makes sense.
You’ve made this notebook yourself.
150 perfectly cut, A5-sized sheets of Thai White Mulberry.
Hand-pressed. 120gsm. Acid-free. Spiral bound.
It’s the 34th such notebook that you’ve created.
You know this because you’ve individually numbered them.
“Be it tangible or intangible, something must be destroyed for you to create something else.”
CON-STRUCT. You smile as you write this.
CREATION. Something inside your head moves at a million miles an hour.
CREATION | DESTRUCTION. You write these words right next to each other.
“I’ve had the privilege of interacting with quite a few people who honestly believed that that there was some form of destruction involved in their creations. They were wrong.”
You look up now. He’s stopped pacing the front of the room. He’s now standing right in the centre, with one hand in his pant pocket, and the other held against his chin with the index finger placed against his lips.
He’s allowing that sentence to soak in.
His upper body moves from left to right as he scans the room for a reaction.
You notice that he’s never, even once, looked down at the floor since he started talking.
DESTRUCTION | CREATION. You re-order the words.
“You see, In order to really destroy something, you have to know it;
You have to understand it.
He pauses here and clasps his hands. You look up and stare at him, completely aware of everything that he’s saying; your mind though, is searching for some meaning in the words that you’ve just re-ordered in your notebook.
“Everything wants to be something else. Have you ever thought of that? Have you sensed that desire?
You smile. He looks straight at you, catches your smile and smiles back. He says the next sentence while looking at you straight in the eye.
“Furthermore, your act of destruction should ensure that the original form and the new form somehow still co-exist.
His gaze shifts to someone who’s sitting behind you.
“You see, every single element that is involved in this process of change has a purpose. The purpose of this process, of course, is to create tension in the minds of those who observe the change.
He pauses here.
“ In your mind though, you will feel absolute power; and the complete absence of fear.
He smiles and nods at the Head of the Art Department who is sitting on the first bench at the right-hand corner of the classroom.
The Head nods back. The guest speaker opens his arms, his palms facing the ceiling and looks at the class with one smooth movement from left to right.
“Thank you very much, class. I’m happy that I spent this Monday morning with you.
The Head gets up from the bench, and leads the class in a standing ovation. He’s a fantastic person, the Head of the Art Department. He’s knowledgeable, witty, warm and extremely patient with all his students.
He walks towards the center of the class and shakes hands with the guest speaker. The Head then asks everyone to sit. He thanks the guest speaker for taking the time to be here today.
Suddenly, you notice how the Head’s mannerisms are mirroring the guest speaker’s mannerisms. ‘Strange’ is the word that comes to your head.
The Head then turns around and walks to the large black board that runs across the length of the wall. With a piece of chalk, in neat, block letters, he writes THE LAST ASSIGNMENT on the board.
He informs the class that everyone’s final projects are due in 3 weeks.
He looks around the class and says that this is the opportunity for all students, across all departments, to showcase their best work yet, because this man (he points to the guest speaker) will be grading them.
A gasp escapes your lips. Someone in the class whistles loudly. Someone from the back of the class starts to clap. A few more people join in. Soon, there’s another standing ovation.
You stay seated in your bench. Your body is shaking.
The Head raises his hands and asks everyone to calm down.
There are thoughts in your head that you just cannot control. Like always, you let them run around, while still paying attention to what’s happening in the front of the class. The Head gestures to the guest speaker and says that it’s only fair to have him speak to the class about the last assignment of the year.
“I’m truly honoured and delighted to have been asked to grade your final assignments. It really means a lot to me – this institute being my alma mater – and I’m looking forward to spending time with each one of you during your personal assessments.
He walks to the board and with a chalk he writes DESTRUCTION | CREATION under what the Head has already written on the board. You hear a murmur of voices from behind you.
“Now, listen up. For your last assignments, across all departments, I’d like to see your interpretation of destruction and creation – It could be a moment in time or a feeling that you want to be immersed in; it could even be some sort of vision or an intense participatory environment; I want to see how you capture this relation between the two.
Your Head of Department and I are both keen on seeing how well you’re able to showcase the mastery of your skills. Grading will be tough and honest. I’m looking at every single detail – the choice of your raw materials, how much you use, how you use it, what you expose it to, why use it the way you do – everything will be questioned.
Remember, as creators you’ll have to question yourselves about every single element that you use to create your canvas.
I look forward to seeing you all in 3 weeks.
10 minutes later, the classroom is empty, except for you. You’re reliving the entire morning - Every single word and action is being re-played in your head.
You look at the blackboard. Your mind is playing with the words you see there.
DESTRUCTION | CREATION.
DESTRUCT | CREATE.
DESTRUCTION AND CREATION.
You’re still looking at the black board.
CREATION AND DESTRUCTION.
CREATION IN DESTRUCTION.
DESTRUCTION IN CREATION.
THE LAST ASSIGNMENT.
And then, you see it. Well, at least fragments of it.
It’s not going to be easy, but you know that you’ll be able to pull it off.
Like always, the details will matter.
You close your eyes to complete the thought.
You open your eyes. It’s now 20 days since you began work on the last assignment and it’s almost complete.
You’re sitting naked on a chair, in your studio, and you’ve just lit a cigarette.
You’re trying to get your bowels to move.
10 minutes later, a cramp begins to form in your lower abdomen.
You get up and walk towards the dead woman who is lying on the floor. You squat over her hollowed-out stomach and position yourself so that you can smoothly deliver her 5-month-old foetus back into the womb.
A foetus is not easy to digest. Especially when it’s uncooked.
Eating the creature was not an issue. But keeping it down and passing it was difficult. Today will be the last time that you’ll have to pass one.
You finish taking a shit. It’s perfect. Just like you want it to be.
You stand up, turn around and take a look at the almost complete canvas that’s on the other side of the studio.
Your interpretation of DESTRUCTION | CREATION looks beautiful.
You take the dead woman and lift her up gently.
You carry her towards your canvas, slowly, not wanting to disturb the foetus that’s back in her womb.
You place her gently on a wooden chair that you modified with a high backrest. You pick up the nail gun that’s placed on the floor next to the chair and fire a volley of 6-inch nails into her thighs and then into her chest.
She will be still now.
You shoot a couple of nails through her mouth, into the backrest, to ensure that her head stays still.
Her foetus, now reborn and still fresh in her womb has now started to attract the flies that have invaded your studio.
You turn her chair around to join the 12 other chairs that are part of the canvas. You squat next to her knees and have a look to see if all the chairs are placed symmetrically. They are.
Each of the 13 chairs now has a woman nailed to it.
Each woman has had their once-pregnant stomach hollowed out and carefully refilled with the foetus after it has passed through your bowels.
What excites you the most is the sound and movement of the thousands of flies in your studio. They add life to your canvas.
You take your time and walk around each of the 13 chairs. All of the women, except for the one seated in the middle, have gorgeous black hair. The one in the middle is different. She’s the only one who turns you on. Her flaming red hair along with her full-body tattoos and body piercings make her the perfect centerpiece for your canvas.
You grab the long table that you finished building yesterday and drag it into place in front of the 13 chairs. You’ve already made markings on the floor to know exactly where you should place the table’s legs.
You close your eyes once again. You remember the last conversation you had with the Head in his office after the Master Art Class when you were introduced to the guest speaker. He smiled and asked you what your major was. ‘Visual Arts’ was your reply. He said he looked forward to spending time with you at your assessment.
You open your eyes, stand in front of your canvas and take a deep breath.
'Create | Destroy | Create: The Last Usurper' is now complete.
You know you’re getting an ‘A’ in this assignment.