The marathon continues.

It never got any easier. He only got better at dealing with it afterwards. Sonny took a deep breath in and put the point of his knife to the stranger’s cheek. Perhaps the man would wake up; some did, others didn’t. It ultimately made no difference. The message was clear either way. As plain as the nose on their faces. They would never bother him again.

None ever retaliated or reported him to the authorities, just like his brother had told him all those years past. The best defence is offence. Sometimes Sonny’d cross paths with one of them by the markets. They were always men. And their gaze would immediately fall to their feet. Sonny would pretend not to see them, ashamed of his still-visible handiwork. And they would go about their days without bothering the other.

Sonny penetrated the skin and pulled down the face in a slow wide arc, his other hand pushing the stranger’s face down and away from him. The man twitched underneath him and moved. He didn’t wake. Sonny adjusted his position to accommodate the movements, riding the chest and shoulder with his knees.

He twisted the knife and arced back to make a giant S, that bled into the man’s eye. S for Sonny.

Their eyelashes always fluttered before they opened their eyes. Sonny waited uneasily, patiently. He felt most nervous at this point. What if he’d flubbed the dosage and they just bench-pressed him clean off? The man took a long moment to register his situation: gagged and immobilized, with a blade to the face.

‘Evening.’

He made throaty sounds with his voice and his nostrils flared frantically. Sonny swapped his hands over, keeping the man’s jaw firmly faced away from himself. He lined the knife with the stranger’s eyeline.

‘You settle down and behave if you want to see to morning.’

He could feel the man’s heart beating away under his right knee. His hard breathing blew gloopy strands of red blood across the floor. But the man didn’t resist.

‘You, sir, have only yourself to blame for this predicament. You prey on the feeble and weak. Do I look weak?’ Sonny turned the man’s face to him with the flat of the knife. ‘Look at me.’

The man shook his head and tears welled in the congealing pooling of blood about his right eye.

‘I swore to my brother that I’d never be prey again. That I would choose to never be a victim ever again. And that means sending a message to predators. Would-be predators.’ Sonny slowly undid the gag on the man’s mouth.

‘I ought to take an ear or nose right now.’ Sonny stood up and pulled the man up with him. ‘There will not be a next time.’ The man was clearly in shock, dusting his patterned shirt off even as fresh blood dripped down his face. ‘Say it.’

‘There will not be a next time.’

‘Good. Now fuck off.’

Sonny waited until the stranger fucked off before tucking away his blade. He got as far as a lamp-post before he had to throw up on a tree.

It never got any easier.

Screenshot of Netflix's Punisher season 1 finale, subtitled: "When you looked at your ugly, mangled face, you're gonna remember what you did."
on that note, Punisher season 2, let’s go
Go watch Into The Spider-Verse right now

Nothing’s gotten me more pumped to work on my own work this year than this movie.

I mean right fucking now

Take your kids. Take your nephews and nieces. Take your siblings. Take your grandkids, idgaf. Take your Tinder dates if you have to.

And just like that, this jumps straight into my top ten for the year. Easy.

Seeing these bad sumbitches on Friday. Consider me hyped.

fun

he had a good run at ~81, real age;
the sort of run that gets you through four nationalities

how do you process second-hand emotions?

they lowered him down to us in a white cloth
i’ve yet to empty my shoes and pocket of his burial sand
too clever, i took off my socks before putting my shoes back on
but sand is finer than sock thread

in fragments i guess
indian, then pakistani and bangladeshi, briton last and perhaps foremost

we grandchildren sat in the dark with candles lit
to mask the smell of the incense, not in tribute per se
some laughs, some memories… some fights streamed on a laptop
we’re okay thanks, the elders are feeling it more i suppose
it sounds too rehearsed because by now it is
one face from the past took his tea mug to remember him by
everyone regales stories of his rounds,
chewits and cap guns,
soft cauliflower curries, mushed aubergine, mountains of salt
saucers of goor-laden milky tea, slurped
like the sauce left after his rice
walking stick, hat, glasses, ta’weez
all shared experiences and details
the imaam eulogises him as one of the first imaams of the masjid
’he once prayed for us, now let us pray for him’
the previous imaam splutters through a half-sob in bangla

by the end he was so dry he would bite at the sticks of wet cotton
his nose drooped and his bones revealed themselves
truth be told he was a ghost to me long before he passed and long before he was bedridden
we were two blood relations who occasionally inhabited the same space
his refusal to put in a hearing device, my refusal to yell entire sentences
it’s pathetic how little we knew each other
and yet i dutifully planted a branch by his head atop his mound of soil
my mother fainted from heat stroke when he passed, how pertinent is that?
my aunts cried
my grandmother played the stoic, shed her tears in secret
my older cousin accuses her of heartlessness; that’s exactly how she’d want to be thought of
my uncle and younger cousin found things to be mad about
i used to hang from his neck as he prayed and he’d humour me
i remember seeing the same play out again with my brother as i’d pray beside his hip

‘if you knew the pangs of death, you’d abandon everything and run for the shelter of a tree’
he said
they massaged his inflamed gut, head and legs
we held his skeleton fingers like a child

‘i’m going to die tomorrow’ he said
and then he did.


written November 2016