V.J.James’ Anticlock (DC Books, Third edition 2019) is a masterpiece of literature. A novel of compassion, beauty, and wisdom. Through the story of Henry the coffin maker, we travel through the vistas of crushing pain, and evolve during the journey.
It is a powerful testimony of vernacular writing…we need to get such books across the boundaries of language and reach an international audience.
At 336 pages, the author weaves a tale which can soothe, delight and hurt in equal measures. Beauty and serenity in your grasp. Do not miss it.
At an exorbitant price,Satan Loppo purchased the front row of the cemetery for his family’s stone graves. He bargained for prominence both in the cemetery and the church. After accumulating the coffers of sins, he and his heirs shall sleep there.
I often wonder about whom the Lord shall prefer on his right side on Judgment Day: the souls of the wealthy who slept in stone graves or those of the meek and poor who were received by the earth?
Dear Lord, who bestowed Hell fire for the Rich man and Redemption for the beggar Lazarus: whatever be the laws of your divine justice, please let my poor Appan and Beatrice be on your right! Let my innocent children stand next to them.
My fate is something I am not sure of.
If I go to the Lord’s presence with the stain of having violated the Fifth Commandment, the Lord will have no other option but to condemn me to stand on his left. He shall sentence this sinner to Hell fire. Even then His eyes would be overflowing with tears and His body would be sweating blood.
“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”
Lord, I am waiting still, not having opened my body. Appan will surely arrive one day to unlock the inner secret of the alluring box. On that day, dear Lord, bless me with the vision of your dwelling place.
Glory to my father, the maker of coffins.
Seeing me stand there brooding, Pundit asked me to take a seat.
Then I noticed that Pundit was closely examining the internal organs of a clock on his worktable. It looked as if the heart had been removed from a body! Some clock wheels, tiny springs, metal pieces and their attachments were scattered on the table.
Seeing my doubting look, Pundit quipped, ‘The heart and liver of an old clock…! I am trying to see if the heart might beat again. Just for curiosity’s sake!’
His voice had no ailments attributable to a hundred and two-year-old man. I sat quietly without replying.
‘These are the internal organs of a grand father clock!’ Pundit continued.
‘As ancient as that?’
Pundit laughed on hearing my silly question.
‘Anything above six feet, such a clock is called a grand father clock. Anything between four feet and six would be referred as a grand mother clock. There is also a grand daughter clock. Its height will be less than four feet. I am trying to give life to this grandfather. I am not sure if it will work. The brains are a total mess. Clocks are like humans. Once the brain is affected, it loses the sense of time. Still I feel a stubbornness…’
Seeing me look intently at the clock, Pundit resumed his speech.
‘It is as intricate and complicated as the interior of a human body. One cannot help admiring the white men, the Sayyips of yore! I am trying to do some transplants with whatever I have!’
I grinned. The interactions of laconic people are bound to be short. Else, I should attempt to prolong the conversation.
I liked the simile which Pundit used: every human being was like a clock! Each clock was a dead body hanging on a nail. It had slipped away from the noose of time when the heart stopped beating. The way they ticked together was a cadence which resonated at intervals: Body, be not proud! Life be not proud!
I tried to read the labels.
SETH THOMAS, USA.
I managed to unravel the yellowing English letters on the clock nearby.
‘That one is older than me,’ Pundit said, ‘the other one was purchased by my grandfather from Madras. He bought it from Khalid Yusuf Brothers. It has a history attached to it! It made me the Keeper of Time! It has a mechanical arrangement which indicates 31 days. Every night sharp at twelve, it will change. It is not as easy as the digital clock. My uncle inherited the clock purchased by my grandfather. His sons discarded it as scrap when it became faulty. Since it was associated with my grandfather’s precious memory, I assumed ownership. The small needle was stuck between 9 and 10, while the big one was at 7 when it came to me. A moment in time- which could never be recovered- frozen in memory. I wished to retrieve my grandfather’s memories from it, since I loved him very much. I became a Time Doctor by rectifying that clock! Did you see its numbers? I, II, III, IV: in that Roman letter pattern, instead of IV, it is inscribed IIII. There are more oldies here: Japanese Seikosha, American Ansonia and such…’
(Translated from Malayalam)