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- by javed jahangir
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That stuff is poison and you bloody know it.
Fuck yourself. But my throat is burning, needs lubrication, so it comes out nervous, a meek cough.
The waiter shows up, all mustache and dirty fingernails. Sniffs his fingers. We send him back.
I re-examine the bottle of soy sauce – swirling bits in dark amber, like ink. Flying Horse or Double Phoenix Happiness. They’ve got honest-to-God Chinese opera playing in the back room. 
Of all the gin joints in the world and all that jazz, but that’s old news. The half-a-razor blade is still wrapped in wax paper in my pocket, between two hundred-taka notes. The notes have become plump with moisture. Good thing I’ve got the long sleeves. 
Still, some blood would be nice. 
Soap operas are nice. Sometimes.  
Ajino Mot-a, I say, but she’s not listening. I lower the bottle, unscrew the lid loose.
Shala idiot. I am not talking about his tapes. Or his DVDs. Her eyes are like old plastic bags caught in the drain. 
The tables are plastic covered and empty, like someone has died. But someone always dies in the afternoon. I think Proust said that. 
You’ve never made time, you know that? Now Kaku wishes he was someone else. Different.
Yes, well. There were rules.
What bloody rules?

Instead, I notice the sliver of rust on my fork. Maybe it is dried-up soy sauce, but I am in the now, my fleshy fingers turning and twisting, cutting ruts deeper into the meat of my fingers. The rust flakes off, embeds a shard under my nail. A clot of love. Better than a fistful of love. 
I saw him outside the photocopy shop. He was making copies. Hundreds of them. He looked like the sky was opening up for him. 
You are such a bloody idiot. 
I slip-slide on my seat, the plastic smoothened by a hundred assholes that are tougher than mine – battle-hardened, liberated passageways; carefree and marching to bold hymns. The chair begins to creak, leaking out coconut husk. It’s like that time I watched a dog get run over by a Bangladeshi 5-ton truck. It was like I could see the whole thing in slow motion, yellow toothpaste right there on the fucking Mymensingh road. Blew my mind. 
The waiter is Bangali but his moustache is positively Fu Manchu. It’s this place. 
Madam? Out comes the napkin. He is unfolding the tight starched crease expertly, unraveling the only nice thing in the whole fucking place. Maybe the world. The man’s a veritable ninja. 
Litu dabs at her eyes delicately. Don’t want a mascara run, do we? No, not now. 
In the fullness of time… I start to say, wondering about when proclamations cannot be forgone conclusions. 
She lights another 555.

was published in November 2018
    Flash Fiction
    Short Story
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