(photo by Joseph Pascale)
Joseph Pascale on DB9’s “The Bull’s Eye” by Inderjeet Mani
In this next entry taking a look at past Drunken Boat literature that deserves another read, I find myself in DB9, reading “The Bull’s Eye” by Inderjeet Mani, a story that begins in India, travels to Switzerland, and ends in Barcelona, Spain.
The narrative focuses on Rahul, who was born to humble parents in Kailashpuram, India. He is determined to improve his station in life, and a chance meeting with a woman from the Peace Corps gives him the opening he needs, landing him a job with the UN in New York, which turns into a prestigious position at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
Yet throughout the events of Rahul’s life, there is an ominous condition staring at him through the eyes of a bull. When he was a child, he had a frightening encounter with a bull that the doctors later classified as an epileptic episode. The doctors give him medicine to ward off seizures and tell him to stay away from animals, and even images of animals.
“He tried to follow the advice, but the bull was hard to avoid, its familiar snout and eyes intruding into his presence in waking moments as well as dreams.”
To make matters worse, the doctors in Switzerland warn Rahul that he may be building up a tolerance to the drug. Scenes of the bull are mixed in with the narrative, leaving the reader to wonder if it is a symbol of Rahul’s mysterious disease, or perhaps a metaphor for Rahul himself. The bull is also from humble beginnings and was picked on by the other bulls in his youth, but now it is becoming one of the prized fighting bulls.
On top of this, Rahul’s relationships with his wife and children are crumbling, and he’s left feeling like his entire life is a lie; that the promotions he worked so hard for at his job ultimately gave him no satisfaction. However, the reader is left wondering if these are the true reasons he flees to Barcelona, or if it has something to do with the vision of the god Shiva and his Bull that overtake Rahul when falls into the lake. The bull is Shiva’s mount and attendant, named Nandi, which means, “causing gladness.” Perhaps the bull is less ominous than its association with Rahul’s disease would lead the reader to believe.
“Barcelona had been an awakening… He loved it, the crazy Gaudis, the dirge-like music, the sun, the palms, the sitting in the cafes listening to the excited chatter of Spanish girls at the arms of darkly romantic men. He drank in the blue of the sea and the bronzed faces of old people, the bare-breasted old ladies washing themselves in the open shower at the beach.”
With a new life and a new love, Rahul seems on top of the world. But he’s arrived in Barcelona during the twilight years of Catalan bullfighting, and it’s only a matter of time before the reckoning between his disease and the bull.
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