On Obsession

She tried to picture the quiet of her meditation hall, timeless, without a beat, without a count, with only the steady progression of forms, the position and reposition of the body, every action of muscle corresponding to an action of breath. One began with palms flat against each other, fingers facing up, held against the sternum, pressing into the bone like a knife-edge lightly held in place; knees and back held straight, unmoving but relaxed, still but not rigid; feet together, facing forward, eyes as well. Ekam.

“It's next stop.” Spin's voice rang low and clear in her ears, despite the muting effect of the dull murmur that enveloped the immediate environment like a blanket. Around her, the dank smell of commuter traffic filled her nose, bearing its own personal stamp along with all the typical elements: in addition to the sweat and the smell of once-fresh cotton and linen and nylon were the faint whiffs of tired, once-strong spices, fried meat and vegetables, oil and horseradish and chili. The remnants of lunch. The shifting crowd began to rearrange itself with practiced steps, as some spilled out of the overfull container of bodies and some forced their way in. The person on her right took seven steps, minor shuffling rearrangements of position. Seven people brushed against her as they moved around. It looked like rain. She could see people exiting putting up umbrellas and hoods, quickening their pace. Inside the train car as well, hoods went up in anticipation of disembarking. She counted seven in her field of vision.

She took a deep breath as the train doors closed. Seven seconds after the third person disembarked. Or seven and a half. Which meant that it was seven seconds since the interval between persons three and four. Seven seconds since three and a half?

The palms were then opened, facing downward as the arms extended in front of her, held to continue the line of the arm; and then the arms were raised, slowly, above her head, until they continued the line of the torso; and then taken back further as, without a pause, the torso tilted back from the hips to arc the body into a single line of action, curved like an unstrung bow, as her chest filled with air to curve it further. Dve.

The train's movement was gliding and untextured, more like flying than land travel in its smooth feel. The arms of the passengers around her were nevertheless stretched upwards to hold onto the provided handles, a matter of comfort or habit more than any real need, she supposed. The odd forest of human limbs above her head crisscrossed and broke up the windows into irregular panes, in her view. One window to her left was split into seven by the limbs blocking it.

She turned her head to find Eane watching her, dark eyes flatly assessing through wispy black bangs, and took another deep breath, this time slow and even enough not to be obvious.

The torso and then the arms were then unwound from their position, the bow defying its own laws of tension as it straightened with ease; and the arms were swung forward deliberately, looking as though they extended in length when the back curved to hang them farther down, until the forehead met the unbent knees and the palms were flat against the ground next to her feet, the whole body folded in two, locked to itself like the edges of a silk fan, air released from her chest and stomach in a steady flow to note the compression and mark the change. Trini.

Telephone poles whipped by; she flicked her eyes to the window again quickly, and counted seven before she turned away. She pinched the bridge of her nose, head falling forward for a second. She lifted it immediately when she saw three and a half pairs of shoes in her visible range, and looked back at Eane, willing herself to calmness.

The hips dropped and the right leg extended far back, so that the left knee bent to tuck into the armpit neatly. The head was lifted to look up, neck arching to create the curve that extended through to her right foot. Again a breath was taken in. Chatvari.

“We're here.” Spin's voice was brisk now, and she automatically moved to follow its directive, following the dance steps neatly to exit the monorail car. The station was above ground, the sky ominous but rain still holding off.

The left leg was taken back to rest parallel to the right, ramrod straight, and using the soles of the feet as a fulcrum, the entire body was turned on the hinge of the hips so that the arms and torso aligned once more and the hips, held in the air, resembled the peak of a mountain. Air was deliberately exhaled, downwards to mark the support drawn. Pancha.

Fourteen people were wearing yellow on the platform. Seven heads stood slightly taller than the rest. Seven turnstiles stood in a row, gleaming silver. Stainless steel, minimum ten point five percent chromium. Seven times fifteen, a hundred and five. Above her head were thirty-two spanners holding up the roof. Sixteen times two. Sixteen minus two was fourteen. Numbly she felt a hand pull her through the station, out to an exit, onto the sidewalk where cars whizzed by. Twelve cars passed the spot she stood at for three seconds before she was propelled further along. Twelve divided by three was four. Three plus four was seven. Two of the cars had been red. Twelve plus two was fourteen. Hysterical bubbles of laughter rose to her throat, but her mouth was paralyzed and wouldn't open. Instead, the low sound began coming from her throat, through her nose, nearly inaudible, but deep and rolling, arrhythmic in its delirium.

The knees were collapsed onto the floor,the body folded onto the lower legs, arms outstretched still, forehead to the ground, a position of total supplication, breath indrawn. Sata.


She began to shake.

Date: <2016-05-10 Tue> [2014-08-10 Sun]

Author: Sahiti Chedalavada

Created: 2020-12-14 Mon 02:14