Today, for our final Vampire Month guest, we have Neelima Vinod who has written a short fiction piece covering how she came to be inspired by a particular South Asian version of the Vampire myth – the Yakshi.
I shall turn it over to her now:
Thank you David for having me here!
I like to go out sometimes and sit beside the pond. There I watch the black fish nibble at my feet and the coconut trees reflect themselves. It is at times like these that I compose a poem or contemplate a character that made its way out of a book into my heart. I’m usually left alone at times like these but today I hear a woman hum as she comes toward me and sits with me by the lichened steps.
“Can I join you?” she says. She is playful and I a woman, unafraid of another.
“Desperate?” I ask her because I know at once who she is. She is alarmingly beautiful, a siren from Greek myth or an apsara. I think her eyes are made of precious stones and her hair of the ocean. She is what we call in these parts, a yakshi. “No men to pick on these days?”
She looks away from me, perhaps at the faraway worlds she is supposed to inhabit. Perhaps she looks at the humid landscape before her as I do. It is hard to say.
“What do you think?” she asks me. “You should know as you have heard about the tree spirit that I am falling on men and enveloping them. Not many have survived after I’ve entered their lives.”
She is as beautiful as folklore makes her out to be.When I grew up, there were witches and wizards; there were elves, goblins and gnomes. Being from the subcontinent, my world is populated by additional figures of interest-apsaras(dancing goddesses), asuras( demons) and devas(gods). Then there is folklore- where the yakshi comes in.
“Tell me about them.” I ask her quietly, as the green pond spreads through the horizon of my eyes and the blue sky above refuses to bleed in the heat.
“The men?”she asks. If she were a contemporary woman, she would have blown out smoke from a cigarette as she spoke. Her movements are so of the now but she looks centuries ago, in her white sari and gold chains. I nod.
“So many. Some of them had never been loved, imagine that, grown men who have only dreamt of being touched. Some of them were rogues who did not know what touch meant, their fingers were meant to tear, but the world is made of so many kinds.”
“Why do you tell me all this?” I ask. “Perhaps I must rush back to my quiet sanctuary and disappear into a book. Maybe all this heat is getting to me.
“You asked me, didn’t you? I’m defined as so many things. Noone seems to get it right. Yes I’m a bit of a vampire.” She bears her pearly white fangs at me. Then as though she showed me a trifle, she lifts the hem of her sari and shows me her feet a foot above the ground.” Yes I hover” and then as she turns around, I stop her.
Her eyes are hollow when she speaks. “They say I lure them from the palm tree.”
“I follow their smell and feel their skin. They leave a trail. They think they are safe and can just be. Unlike” she looks at me with her searching eyes, “women like you who have to think twice about wherever you’re at.”
“I know all about your sort, sometimes spirit, sometimes venomous. You kill. ” I say pretending not to like her motives, ignoring her conspiratorial friendship.
“They kill me many times before I kill them.” she says. “ Though they do not live to tell the tale.” She wraps the edge of her sari around her fingers. We say nothing and the world around us disappears for the night.
When she is gone like a shimmering sunset ended, she leaves me alone with far too many questions about how lust has been demonized in the subcontinent. How the consequences of it could lead to a smashed skull and a heap of bones and hair, or simply put how it could lead to being ostracized forever.
I walk back to my sanity. There are some poems to write and maybe a story about a yakshi.
Bio: Neelima writes fiction and blogs poetry @ neelthemuse.wordpress.com. She’s written a book with a paranormal twist which will be coming out soon.