Scarzone

Scarzone

Hibah Shabkhez

When you touch the edge of something hot—a frying-pan, a clothes-iron—you gasp and flinch away, before the knowledge, before the shock and the hurt and the searing of flesh. Locked in the thumping of your heart then, there is the secret triumph of assault successfully withstood, the inexpressible comfort of knowing it could not and cannot hurt you because you did and can again make it stop. But the drenching heat of liquid cannot be flung off, only sponged and coaxed away from the skin. And so they say doodh ka jala, chhaachh bhi phook phook kar peeta hai. It doesn’t take all men, you see, it takes only one; and just so, it takes only one vile lie to break a language’s heart.

When first you write a lie, a real lie and not simply a truth incognito, whether it be falsehood or treacherous half-truth, language recoils from you in pain, vowing never to trust you with words again. But if you must go on writing lies, for money or grundy-respect, seize the language and let it feel the sting and the trickling fear of the skin parting company with the flesh, over and over and over again, as you hold it unscreaming under the current. You must let body and mind and heart and soul be quite maimed then, until there is no difference left for any of them between truth and lie, between the coldness of lassi and the heat of milk-tides rising from the saucepan. Thereafter you may plunder with impunity all of language and force it to house your lies. And if you will never again find words to tell a truth in, it will not matter, for you will have no truths left to tell.

Hibah Shabkhez

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