He was a small man , nondescript  with huge eyes and large hands. He said ” There are insects crawling beneath my skin , they are burrowing into me . They cause a fetid smell . As you can see , I have applied hydrochloric acid on my skin but they don’t die.” I surmised it was delusional parasitosis. But the acid burns of his skin appalled me. He was washing himself with acid, it was a bit unusual to hear the word “stink” associated with insects. Examining his wounds gently ,”How did you procure this acid ?” He said ” I manufacture acids, detergents, cleaners , liquid soaps. A cottage industry” I was wondering if he was obsessed with cleanliness. He looked at my dupatta from Gurjari ( A Gujarati handicrafts and textiles shop with mirror work)”Good taste , you have I was into textiles years ago”  “Was there a loss ? Is that why you are in to cleaners ?” He cleared his throat , ” I lost everything” ….I looked , it was deeper than these burns. ” It was a loss bigger than money …whatever it was ” I just said it….intuitively. He was shocked. ” I was out of the country doing business, earthquake of Bhuj 2001 , my entire village was gone, my two sons, wife, parents, house, everything. There were just rotting bodies. Nothing remained. I have not told this to anyone in ten years. I came away to begin again. I am not a coward to die” Acid , detergents were unable to burn those memories , wash away the flash backs.”All I have is this stink… and these insects”

3 thoughts on “SURVIVOR GUILT -TWO

  1. Yes. It was such a violent way to cleanse the wounds….Macbeth ? Yes. And Raskolnikov of Dostoyevsky . Acts of omission also impose a guilt as strong as acts of commission. Thank you for your comments.


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