Two years later, Baby Kochamma returned from Rochester with a diploma in Ornamental Gardening, but more in love with Father Mulligan than ever. There was no trace of the slim, attractive girl that she had been. In her years at Rochester, Baby Kochamma had grown extremely large. In fact, let it be said, obese. Even timid little Chellappen Tailor at Chungam Bridge insisted on charging bush-shirt rates for her sari blouses. To keep her from brooding, her father gave Baby Kochamma charge of the front garden of the Ayemenem House, where she raised a fierce, bitter garden that people came all the way from Kottayam to see. It was a circular, sloping patch of ground, with a steep gravel driveway looping around it. Baby Kochamma turned it into a lush maze of dwarf hedges, rocks and gargoyles. The flower she loved the most was the anthurium. Anthurium andraeanum. She had a collection of them, the ‘Ruhrum’, the ‘Honeymoon’ and a host of Japanese varieties. Their single succulent spathes ranged from shades of mottled black to blood red and glistening orange. Their prominent, stippled spadices always yellow. In the centre of Baby Kochamma’s garden, surrounded by beds of canna phlox, a marble cherub peed and endless silver arc into a shallow pool in which a single blue lotus bloomed. At each corner of the pool lolled a pink plaster-of-Paris gnome with rosy cheeks and a peaked red cap. Baby Kochamma spent her afternoons in her garden. In sari and gumboots. She wielded an enormous pair of hedge shears in her bright orange gardening gloves. Like a lion-tamer she tamed twisting vines and nurtured bristling cacti. She limited bonsai plants and papered rare orchids. She waged war on the weather. She tried to grow edelweiss and Chinese guava. Every night she creamed her feet with real cream and pushed back the cuticles on her toe-nails. Recently, after enduring more than half a century of relentless, pernickety attention, the ornamental garden had been abandoned. Left to its own devices, it had grown knotted and wild, like a circus whose animals had forgotten their tricks. The week that people call communist patcha (because if flourished in Kerala like communism) smothered the more exotic plants. Only the vines kept growing, like toe-nails on a corpse. They reached through the nostrils of the pink plaster gnomes and blossomed in their hollow heads, giving them an expression half surprised, half sneeze-coming. The reason for this sudden, unceremonious dumping was a new love. Baby Kochamma had installed a dish antenna on the roof of the Ayemenem house. She presided over the World in her drawing room on satellite TV. The impossible excitement that this engendered in Baby Kochamma wasn’t hard to understand. It wasn’t something that happened gradually. It happened overnight. Blondes, wars, famines, football, sex, music, coups d’etat - they all arrived on the same train. They unpacked together. They stayed at the same hotel. And in Ayemenem, where once the loudest sound had been a musical bus horn, now whole wars, famines, picturesque massacres and Bill Clinton could be summoned up like servants. And so, while her ornamental garden wilted and died, Baby Kochamma followed American NBA league games, one-day cricket and all the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. On weekdays she watched The Bold and The Beautiful and Santa Barbara, where brittle blondes with lipstick and hairstyles rigid with spray seduced androids and defended their sexual empires. Baby Kochamma loved their shiny clothes and the smart, bitchy repartee. During the day disconnected snatches of it came back to her and made her chuckle… All day they sat in the drawing room, Baby Kochamma on the long-armed planter’s chair or the chaise longue (depending on the condition of her feet), Kochu Maria next to her on the floor (channel surfing when she could), locked together in a noisy Television silence. One’s hair snow white, the other’s dyed coal black. They entered all the contests, availed themselves of all the discounts that were advertised and had, on two occasions won a T-shirt and a Thermos flask that Baby Kochamma kept locked away in her cupboard.
could keep going, but this is already rediculously long.
“The party approaching were clad in such fool’s regalia and withal bore themselves with such aplomb that the paler riders were hard put to keep their composure. The leader was a man named Caballo en Pelo and this old mogul wore a belted wool overcoat that would have served a far colder climate and beneath it a woman’s blouse of embroidered silk and a pair of pantaloons of gray cassinette. He was small and wiry and he had lost an eye to the Maricopas and he presented the Americans with a strange priapic leer that may have at one time been a smile. At his right rode a lesser chieftain maned Pascual in a frogged coat out at the elbows and who wore in is nose a bone hung with small pendants. The third man was Pablo and he was clad in a scarlet coat with tarnished braiding and tarnished epaulets of silver sire. He was barefooted and bare of leg and he wore on his face a pair of round green goggles. In this attire they arranged themselves before the Americans and nodded austerely.
Brown spat on the ground in disgust and Glanton shook his head.
Aint you a crazy lookin bunch of niggers, he said.”—Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian
“The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.
The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exists without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.”—
The judge had taken to riding ahead with one of the Delawares and he carried his rifle loaded with the small hard seeds of the nopal fruit and in the evening he would dress expertly the colorful birds he’d shot, rubbing the skins with gunpowder and stuffing them with balls of dried grass and packing them away in his wallets. He pressed the leaves of trees and plants into his book and he stalked tiptoe the mountain butterflies with his shirt outheld in both hands, speaking to them in a low whisper, no curious study himself. Toadvine sat watching him as he made his notations in the ledger, holding the book toward the fire for the light, and he asked him what was his purpose in all this.
The judge’s quill ceased its scratching. He looked at Toadvine. Then he continued to write again.
Toadvine spat into the fire.
The judge wrote on and then he folded the ledger shut and laid it to one side and pressed his hands together and passed them down over his nose and mouth and placed them palm down on his knees.
Whatever exists, he said. Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.
He looked about at the dark forest in which they were bivouacked. He nodded toward the specimens he’d collected. These anonymous creatures, he said, may seem little or nothing in the world. Yet the smallest crumb can devour us. Any smallest thing beneath yon rock out of men’s knowing. Only nature can enslave man and only when the existence of each last entity is routed out and made to stand naked before him will he be properly suzerain of the earth.
What’s a suzerain?
A keeper. A keeper or overlord.
Why not say keeper then?
Because he is a special kind of keeper. A suzerain rules even where there are other rulers. His authority countermands local judgements.
The judge placed his hands on the ground. He looked at his inquisitor. This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.
Toadvine sat with his boots crossed before the fire. No man can acquaint himself with everything on this earth, he said.
The judge tilted his great head. The man who believes that the secrets of the word are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.
I dont see what that has to do with catchin birds.
The freedom of birds is an insult to me. I’d have them all in zoos.
“Someone had reported the judge naked atop the walls, immense and pale in the revelations of lightning, striding the perimeter up there and declaiming in the old epic mode. Glanton watched the fire silently and the men composed themselves in their blankets in the drier places about the floor and soon they were asleep.
In the morning the rain had ceased. The water stood in pools in the courtyard and the snakebit horse lay dead with its shapeless head stretched in the mud and the other animals had gathered in the northeast corner under the tower and stood facing the wall. The peaks to the north were white with snow in the new risen sun and when Toadvine stepped out into the day the sun was just touching the upper walls of the compound and the judge was standing in the gently steaming quiet picking his teeth with a thorn as if he had just eaten.
Morning, said the judge.
Morning, said Toadvine.
Looks fair to clear.
It done has cleared, said Toadvine.
The judge turned his head and looked toward the pristine cobalt keep of the visible day. An eagle was crossing the gorge with the sun very white on its head and tailfeathers.
So it has, said the judge. So it has.”—Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian)