A Story by JENY

a story about a different man


                  NAILING THE COFFIN

           I was very much proud of my eyes. Because it moved only in angles I wished. Never ever it wandered beyond my forebodings. But today why it is like this? My eyes slipped and glued on her face. She sat there rapt in her world. Totally unaware of my presence she sat with a childlike air around her. Her eyelids batted in quick succession. Her rich lips, she wiped them more than once with her wet tongue. As she was sitting a little ahead of me in the right row of seats in the bus, I could clearly see ups and downs of her body. And her features are rich and full. I assure you that my eyes hadn’t this habit of looking at fair sex like this. I am past 40 and if I had married at right time, I would have had a daughter of her age. I confess.

                 Her dress, her hand bag, her nail polish, jewelry everything revealed her wealthy living status. But that radiating complexion, her angelic beauty those are not bought by wealth. They are gifts of a divine mercy of which she herself may not be aware. Her beauty is not hers. It is a manifestation of only an iota of divine bliss. But my eyes kept on greedily licking on the beauty she was.

                      As the bus entered a narrow valley a little darkness spread inside it. On the both side of the village road there were thick acquacia trees that prevented direct sunlight. In that thin canopy of darkness I imagined a scene in my mind. In that, I pressed my lips against her full rosy cheek, holding her face in my arms. As I visualized so, a lightning passed through my very being. And I squiggled in its grip. At that instant she turned back and looked at me. I am sure that our eyes met. But she withdrew hers casually. My eyes greedily scanned the female she was. She got up, an old man, may be her father from the seat behind me too got up. As bus stopped both of them alighted. I felt that she would cast a glance in my direction and I was dying for it. But she cast her eyes down, with those dark long lashes, as she stepped down the bus. The stoic bus with a distraught me drenched in some deep unknown pain, sped like a monster. And a pain began to gnaw my thoughts and emotions from that moment onwards endlessly.

                     I am well aware of transient nature of life more than anybody. Being a coffin maker I knew in depth the other side of the visible world than anybody around me. The word “fleeting” has a special appeal to my intellect and my thoughts. My job as a coffin maker has elevated my mind, senses and my life itself above the trivial concerns of life. And my disposition as a human being is at par with that of an ascetic….yes I claim.  

                       Still, if you ask me why my mind juggled with the most trivial of all infatuations, I have no answer. From where, whence, her countenance dawns in my memory, I am not sure. In my mind how many times I kissed that unparalleled beauty I am not sure.

When my longing for her reached to an unbearable level I sneaked into my work room. There I sat with coffins. Hoping that thought about dead would calm my nerves. It will help me to defend my self from this fusillade of trivial infatuations. Thus for the first time I found myself in battle with my self.  

                        Coffins taught me many a lesson. Those lessons filled me with a gift of indifference for life. This working room of mine carried the smell of death which I inhaled from dawn to dusk. I liked the smell as it was real and unavoidable. Actually it is always there with everybody else. But only a coffin maker can smell it long before its arrival. Once you inhale it you start feeling that all other smells are artificial. And I am sure these smells can help me to come back from these carnal, trivial longings of my flesh.

                 I lay near a coffin that I made recently. Very close to it that my shoulders rubbed against its walls. I closed my eyes. I imagined myself inside the coffin. I saw myriad trivialities that kept the world running melting down, disappearing into nothingness. I and my mundane thoughts stood in front of me like huge errors. I smiled in ecstasy of union with truth. I am not sure how long I lay like that. I was awakened by a knock on the door. Sun has already disappeared behind hills. I carefully took the coffin and kept it in its position slanting against the wall.

                     It was a gentle man. His sober, heavy face revealed the purpose of his arrival. He must have come to purchase coffin.

“Come in” I said

“No thanks. I need it very soon. 5.2 feet long and 2.3 is the average feet width.” His grief stricken voice choked inside his throat.

He cleared his throat.


“I think this will do” I pointed towards the coffin I made while I was going through my ordeal of infatuation. With which I was lying before I heard him knocking. And it was very apt to the measurements he stated, not so costly too.

The man came inside, examined it quickly.

“Yes this will do.” He said. I noticed him wiping his eyes with his handkerchief.

I wanted to ask him more about the details of demise. But man’s face revealed that he needed to be left alone.

So I kept quiet. I began packing the coffin.

“Please attach this photo on the top cover of coffin with this flower” the man extended a plastic bag towards me.

Some customers ask to do so. The near and dear ones can see the face of died looking from the top of cover of closed coffin till the handfuls of earth they put into the pit hid it.


                 I opened the cover and took out the photograph. I stood there staring at it for a long time. The same ecstasy I was in before the arrival of man gripped me once again. I found myself motionless. I stood there as if in spell.  I could hear the man saying something. But words were incoherent to my mind. My mind was deaf to the world around me. Pupils of my eyes stood freezed in the direction of photo in my hands. World around me once again took the form of a huge error.


“Why do you look at the photo like this?” I heard the man shouting at the top of his voice as he shook my body violently.

“It is my daughter. She died in an accident” The man said in a breath. I woke up from torpor.

“Please pack the coffin. It is too late” Man said through tears.

With shivering hands, I fixed the photo of my girl of infatuation on the top cover of coffin. While fixing the fresh red rose flower upon it, the petals rubbed over her cheek. One or two dew drops from the petals fell on the face of her portrait. There they mixed with a drop of tear from my eyes too.

    Why my dear death your lessons are this much bitter. To verify the truth of my life for me, why did you bring the laboratory into my working place itself? You are a dedicated teacher indeed. Kudos my teacher- death. Long live my teacher-death!

You nailed down your lessons one by one upon the coffin of my life. Inside it I am mating with truth.She is my wife.


© 2010 JENY

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Interesting story, but I would look over this again. There are several phrases or sentences that are oddly worded, that could be made a bit smoother. Also, the end was quite confusing, and the dialog was oddly structured. However, I think that the characters were developed well, the plot was interesting, and your descriptions were spot-on. I would simply consider looking over some things to smooth it out. :)


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Added on June 30, 2010
Last Updated on June 30, 2010
Tags: philosophical



Kerala, Thrissur, India

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