It could not really be discerned whether it happened, and in what exact hour; who had seen it and who hadn’t. It was largely believed to have happened at night; some however, believed it to have happened during the day, either on the Inaccessible Moor or in the Remote Corner. As time collected or dissipated, someone had filed for an inquiry at the Dominion. They had a reputation for persuading inquiries with fuelled determined force, with minimum resources or evidence. There had most certainly been a death.
The Dominion noted that deaths in this manner of contrariness were recorded contradictorily. They did not happen often, but they happened often enough to be uncomfortably imprinted in living memory. It was with regard to this that the Contradictory Commission was appointed at every such inquiry that came from the Anonymous.
Objective Ser was appointed as chief investigator in this case. She has been ordered to be consistent in her method of recognizing evidence, connecting the dots, and telling stories, as the case was bordering on post-mortem.
I. We Witnessed, a testimony
What I perceived of my reality on that night of September, was similar to the manner in which my tea leaves had formed residue at the end of my tea cup. It had reminded me of the death of a Certain Star. I cannot rely too much on my living memory, for it is fickle as the result of an overdose of dependance. What I remember now could be from the latter, or from my eye witnessing one single event as though it was stringed along with others I had seen before. Around me, about me. It seemed like the music of madness had been strung along several galaxies and drew its closure at my doorstep. I substantiate my statement in the following series of scribbled notes as my memory eludes me.
For in favour of you, the Objective, these notes range high in detail and encapsulate objects to the point that they fail in realising the emotional distances within my prose. I had realised a few years earlier that something very human in me was fading away so I spent my evenings making copious notes on some things I felt in those days. Its value has however, eluded me a long time ago. I am here still, to foolishly present my words, losing a little on the whole of its meaning with every passing day.
II. Through the Map
There is necessarily a Map; a map of the mind, a map of the Stars, the map that takes you around the many dimensions of the Contradictory Commission’s headquarters, which is otherwise extremely confusing to the few who are aware of its presence. The map is the medium of discovery, the revealer of all forms, the guide to life and death, the trajectory beyond Objective Ser’s perceived truth. The bulk of notes from the witness testimony is here, it has come to her in the form of pieces of an abandoned puzzle. There is hope that the Death will reveal itself from within the pages of the written word, accompanying visuals, abject thoughts, and lucidly recorded observations. Ser reaches out with the red string to loosely connect the missing links of what was left behind from the primary occurrence. The Commission will ask for a report soon enough. There is no defined stretch of time which she can grasp from within the folds of the pages to situate herself, to outline what life belongs to her. There are answers to be provided to the universe awaiting a singular solid reason for the Death. Objective Ser should know that X never marked the spot, her life has been derived and proven through innumerable abstractions that do not always arrive at the exact same coordinates. In fact the discrepancies are so comically large that she is now beginning to think that her life rests in a spectrum large enough to accommodate her shoes, along with her gender.
III. Enter the Web
There are only a few hours or a few days left for the evidence to be presented before the Commission. The Internal Bubble has been communicating with Ser through slight intimidation and a sense of urgency. Ser stares longingly into the Magnificent. The Universe does not demand answers, but the Commission comprising of humans has differing views. Currently, it does not trust objects which do not ascribe to its own definition of a life cycle or organic growth. The Commission has proclaimed that it does not trust the experiences which have lived in the string of time before the growth of Reason and Functionality.
The evidence gathered from the Witness has not shed enough light as yet on the Death. Although death is not unwelcome, it is feared by the Commission. The body which cannot make sense of wisps of smoke or a handful of dust, has eventually learnt to fear the uncertainty of its existence rather than involve itself in the complexities of deeper mysteries. Smoke from the slim silver cigarette fills the deep, harsh pockets of my lungs. For a millisecond, I forget to maintain the supply of oxygen to my lungs. This is not an account of death, but a verbatim recollection of the human mind in trauma, pain, and in confusion of explaining life to the lifeless.
How will I conceive of a report that I know nothing of?
One Officer Gunner serving in the reserve police has testified before the Commission that he had been notified earlier in the day of an imminent outbreak of nebulous violence in his district.
Maybe I would have prepared the task forces to control the mobs, but it was as though the flow of time itself had been manipulated by the higher authorities, the build-up of tension leading to the Death was so meticulously distorted that no sequence of events could trace the suspension of such a magnificent riot.
No gender, no skin, no identity survived the violence; the mystery has only magnified since, Objective, and I can only retrospect. I am certain in my retrospection that I had felt no need to act on the riots of that night, for I had felt no responsibility, inanimate. It is my quest for freedom that led me to depose in front of the Commission. I have been informed that my life is under a threat since my deposition, and I have been relentlessly inquiring with my agency at the reserve police to understand what that means.
ISSUE 01: Inanimate
Contradictory Commission Report –
The commission has arrived with its 298th report today. The report is a collection of prose, poetry, photographs and illustrations, compiled from the months before the series of endless nights in October; the nights that the stars had turned to clouds and loomed over the Earth. Those inanimate, lifeless stars had indeed been born and had died as well and who knows if they will be born again, dead again. The curious events on the Earth that occurred simultaneously have been forgotten by the people; the time has diffused, the clocks have since been wound backwards in a bid to stall the post-mortem, and we have waited.
In a case of suspected murder, one relies heavily on the autopsy of the body to piece together the mystery. But one does not know what life there is to question and what life there isn’t.
And since the time we have formed the Commission to enquire into the matter, we have relentlessly worked to answer the question of whether there is Life at all.
Issue #01 opens a discussion on the lifeless, the unmoving entities that are deemed trivial but have come of age to endure the symbolic nature of our existence.
Words: Sanjana Reddy and Soumi Roychowdhury
Illustration: Nandita Ratan
Edits: Priyanka Sutaria