An account of a true story… 

It was still early morning and I tagged behind Daddy as we took a slow trudge towards the Burma market after alighting an ‘umoinner’ at the city stadium stop. What actually brought us here was the relatively lower prices for beef and we’d figured out buying the five kilos we needed here would save a coin, as compared to buying back at the estate for sixty shillings extra per kilo. We’d just stepped in through one of the dinghy gates when we met one mouth-gaping hell of an unprecedented case; a faceless man.

Faceless is the word I choose to say this, faceless for the fact that his was a very weird case, faceless because the man in question just lacked a face…..

Around the hairless patch that took centre-stage on the unstable mass that he had for a head, stood a couple locks of the dirtiest description of unkempt hair -at the sight of which you could feel the movements of lice colonies creeping your imaginations.

Rashes of a certain shade of white ramified the entirety of his forehead, half covered by up to a millimetre of a mixture of dust and sweat; dirt. You should begin to understand my inclination to the absence of a face on him when I get to tell about his shrunken upper eyelids, reduced to a stripe of blood-deprived flesh and ‘thunder-striken’ eyelashes, when I get to say of his pupils that were a cloudy blue-green patched on the reddest of eyeballs I’d ever come across, when i actually spill that his lower eyelids were sunken just as potato sacks and inside them lied a pool of tears in a stagnated form; not dripping out. A small clique of insects, maybe three or four, buzzed around his eyes, battling his swatting fingers for a sip of the tears. I could say, ‘gross’ would only manage a ten percent in trying to describe what his eyes looked like.

Well, after all that I bet you don’t even want to know what his nose had for a look. Sweat not, for he half-literally had nothing for a facial breathing organ. You know what a skull looks like…..theres normally a hole in the place of what used to be a nose. Well copy that and paste it right at the centre of our subject’s ‘face’. The flesh that should have been his nose was seriously being eaten away by something more than a disease, lets say a plague, it’ll sound more accurate that way. What remained of his nose was a pair of nostrils supported by bits of weak skin. Whatever he had for a nose hung there precariously threatening to do a ‘Michael Jackson’ anytime. Okay, enough of that.

His were a pair of sore-ridden lips bearing the darkest shade of black and sporting grand-canyon-like cracks, the inner side of which was the brightest of pink colours mixed with a pale red for the withered capillaries that lay there. At some point it gave me the creeps to even think that my eyes were still glued on this quagmirical existence. What he had for beards looked like spokes from a very hard brush, something close to what scrubs a lavatory floor.

His cheeks seemed to be experiencing a continuous suction on the inside. There was also a great amount of brown hairs spread all over the thin flesh he had for cheeks. To say the least, his ears told a similar tale with his nose; eaten away, wasted, faded.

Then whoosh, the being was already past me, leaving only a split-second for me to see that the only pieces of cloth on his body were a tired boxer short with the most exasperated of fabric there could ever exist within imaginable confines, and a vest that had seemingly changed faith; I say that to try and explain that a concentrated brown colour now reigned all over a vest that was once a spotless white. In a jiffy, the guy had disappeared between the thin lanes separating the market stalls and it took a tapping on the shoulder from my dad to bring me back to my senses and to actually realise that my feet, or better still, our feet , had all this time been transfixed at the same point and our necks turned towards the faceless marvel. At this, we continued moving. I should have said this was my first time at Burma market and it hadn’t crossed my mind that the welcome would be so blood-chilling. I’d encountered what to date I still call, a faceless man.


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