Something Rotten – Homage to Langston Hughes’ “Harlem”

Nor did I know that this void would eventually develop into a black hole, engulfing and devouring the insides of my stomach. Insatiable.


“What happens to a dream deferred?” the man in my dream asked.

I woke up on the platform of a station. From a dream, a trance. I was starving. I guess. I could not tell anymore. I always had this void in me. A void that needs to be filled. By what, I do not know. Nor did I know that this void would eventually develop into a black hole, engulfing and devouring the insides of my stomach. Insatiable.

On multiple occasions, I tried to quench this hunger. I once walked through a desert and sought for enlightenment from a Majnun. He gave me a raisin, dried up raisin. He said that I was like this raisin, dried up and withering away. He said that its thirst would nullify my hunger. But did it work? I guess not.

I met with an old lady, a shaman of some sort. She told me that the remedy to all my troubles is to suck on her oozing sore and that this leap of faith would cure me. And did I do it? Well, more importantly, was her spirits able to save me?

In a sewer not too far from the shaman lady, I met with a few drunkards with swollen abdomens. They fished a bucket of rotten fish from the sewer and told me to eat them all without hesitation. They said that the overexposure will heal my starvation. And did I listen to their advice? Perhaps reason left me long ago…

A social worker once came to me and told me that all this void was just in my head and that nothing about this ‘void’ that I kept referring to was real. She told me that what I truly desired was the cough drop in her hand. Sweet, sugary and crusty. She ensured me that if I tried it, it would make me forget about my hunger. She was the reason why I dislike people who appear nice. Cause they always lie.

The wind on the train platform seemed different today. The breeze caresses my face, my boney shoulders, my bulging abdomen and its contents. I have been sleeping on this platform for far too long to not notice who brought this soothing wind upon me. A guy in a white hoodie. The white hoodie shines with great splendor and reverence. Though the hoodie seemed light, it seemed to be carrying a certain amount of weight as it sags on its owner’s shoulder.

As if in almost pure primal instinct, I grabbed onto his hoodie, tore a corner off and stuffed it into my mouth. Though it does not taste like anything, it gave me extreme euphoria. I closed my eyes, and for the first time in a while, I felt peace. I opened my eyes in search of the person. Yet, the person was nowhere to be seen. My only antidote was nowhere to be seen.

Another train arrives and another series of passengers alight from the train, each desperately trying to pierce my heart with their soulless gaze, though my heart has long stopped. Or I thought.

A churning feeling starts to form in the hollowness of where my heart once was. Did the man in the white hoodie save me? Did it work? Or is it killing me, accelerating my death?

A man dressed in full black approached me. My body was immediately stiff. He unfolded a black bag and started dressing me up in it. And soon I was wrapped around darkness. He did it in immense haste that I seemed as if he was trying to contain something worse. Something that is worse than what I already am. He tied up the bag and placed me beside the other bags. For the first time, I felt that I was no longer alone.

But what does this all mean? What am I turning into?

The man whispered…

Will this one explode?

Or will he turn out fine?

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