Butchers and Marigolds

Saturday afternoons attract chock full of people to the bazaar. Gutters of grey-green sludge line the narrow lanes of shops selling trinkets, tires, rice, shoes, and other sundries. You try not to slip into a drain, dodge some motorists, cover your nose with a scarf and calm your mind despite the jarring noise threatening to turn you into a butcher like the one you have just passed. As you see the sharp edge of his blade snap through the buffalo’s spine, you understand why the butcher slaughters with such delight. It is his way to spit out what he takes in the whole day. The impossible admixture of sounds and smells at the bazaar.

You wade through the swarm of people, automobiles, and animals and find a clean spot to display your wares. Nobody looks at what you have to offer. There are too many things to buy here, you see. You slip under the radar, and somewhere you are thankful for it. But you must eat, and to eat, you must hawk your wares. A woman selling flowers next to you on the pavement yells at the passers-by. ‘A bunch for thirty!’ ‘A bunch for thirty!’ A faceless man stops and sticks his nose into a band of fragrant jasmine, and inhales deeply. He pulls back, and you see that his eyes have glazed over. He wants to forget, forget his life, forget the world. Sensing an opportunity, you run your fingers through some marigolds and smile at the customer. He examines your wares and turns away, disappointed. The sun dips behind the clock tower, and your heart sinks. It’s the end of the day, and no sale yet.

You walk back to where you came from but stop near the butcher’s shop on the way. You stand a while and see the man with a blood-stained vest hack through a carcass. You imagine yourself in his place, wielding the cleaver, slashing through the day’s vexations. He notices your staring and smiles a knowing smile. You step onto the crowded street and make your way towards him. Maybe he’ll let you use his knife.

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

CategoriesFlash Fiction
A.S Narayanan

A.S Narayanan is a lawyer with a Master’s in Public Policy. Previously a lecturer, she has also been part of research teams for environmental policy projects, such as the UNDP Global Access and Benefit Sharing Project. Apart from literature and writing short fiction, she loves classical music and regional cinema.