SUEDEHEAD

Max woke from a night of uneasy dreams to find his head had metamorphosed into a giant root vegetable.

He’d really gone and done it this time.

‘Why do you comb hair?’ He thought he heard himself ask.

The face in the mirror would look bemused, if it weren’t a turnip.

He couldn’t think who might know, so he rang himself. Check the voice inside his head was still him. It was not.

Max started to spin, the chord of the telephone tying him up in silly knots.

‘You’re making this lard for me,’ complained the voice inside the rutabaga.

‘Sorry,’ Max tore himself away from the mirror and sneaked into his room. A cow slept noisily in the corner, cartons and cartons of milk and milk products all around her. Nothing to see here but dairy.

He sat down and began to draw. A handsome man, happy, looking fresh and ever so slick, not a trace of sickness. Next to the picture Max drew an arrow and scrawled: ‘Me. In my dream!’

‘Dear Me,’ he wrote, forcing a cough into a laugh. ‘Just one letter away from the truth.’

It was a good lie.

By Shihab S Joi
Hat-doff: Steven Morrissey/Stephen Street

BENGALI IN PLATFORMS

From Rampura bazaar to the concrete jungle of Motijheel, whether a man is shirt and tied or begging for paisa, everyone looks you in the eye. A stranger to being stared at I am not.

It is different here. Until today, nobody looked at me in any way that I might enjoy. Down upon me, through me, never up to me. Oh I do miss the looks of adoration that bloom so readily on Baba and Ma’s faces. I try not to miss Bhaiya. His letter still crisp in my pocket teases me saying Ma has been telling everyone that I am friends with Queen Elizabeth, that next time I come home I will be wearing a crown!

Had this been yesterday, stood here at Piccadilly Station trying to blend in with the back wall, I might have wondered: would they still be so proud if they knew I was not a playback singer on the rise, soon to perform at the Pyramid & Par Hall with perhaps KC & The Sunshine Band, that I had lied about such things, as one would surely expect of a lowly shelf stacker in Barton Moss, lurking in the shadows, catching nobody’s eye?

I told Bhaiya about Biddu. Brown as mud on leather yet writing songs for Tina Charles! One day, he will write me my very own Kung-Fu Fighting. Bhaiya believes this absolutely.

As do I. Look at me! Dazzling in white, silver-studded glasses like Elton John, stars on my feet and lemon soles so very high. The women at Tiffany’s will mistake me for John Travolta I should think! I can almost smell the love in the air, the winds of change.

I feel his eyes on me from across the platform. A strange looking fellow. His hair is neither skin nor suede, more like a dollop of brown ice cream on a deathly pale cone. Thick spectacles. Yellow flowers by his side. Gay I think. I cannot read what it says on his t-shirt but I see the word MURDER. He looks like he has problems.

I like to think he feels like he belongs to something too.

By Shihab S Joi
Hat-doff:
Steven Morrissey/ Stephen Street