Title: The Tattooist
Author: Shashi Kadapa
Summary: A tattooist receives a customer with a request for a tattoo as per a of Shakchunni, a vicious demon. As he starts, the woman transforms into the tattoo …
Word Count: 988.
It was past the closing time of my tattoo studio. The new moon sky shrouded the streets, the crawling fog cladding them in significant shadows. Times were bad, it was Kaliyug, the age of vice when evil pervaded the city, law and order was gone, none was safe, and only brute force thrived.
She came inside my shack, in a shimmering red, translucent saree, and placed a hand drawn sketch on the table. It looked like some goddess, or maybe a Shakchunni, an unmarried female ghost, a shape transformer, who haunted the land in search of a male, to satiate her lust.
“Can you do this?”
I stared mesmerized at the sketch. It showed a figure with a thin reed like neck flowering into a bloated head, the tongue thrust out to lap blood. Garlands of skulls hung jostled on her neck like trophies, reminding me of a game hunter, with dead birds strung on a string around his neck.
The neck gave way to thrusting breasts, the nipples standing proud, like a silk worm bursting from its cocoon. The stomach was flat, and then expanded to a bouncing bottom, which struggled against the trim jute skirt she wore. The multiple hands held a trishul, mace, sword, and a conch.
This appeared to be Shakchunni, a vile demoness, killed on her bridal night, and who hunted for rapacious males. I had stories of the evil spirit, who copulated and blew her conch when she climaxed and then beheaded the victim.
This female was tight, dark, petite, and busty. She bent over my desk, letting the saree droop and uncover her chest, like the fresh wind driving away the mist and revealing the dark, promising rain clouds on the horizon.
She got me like a Hilsa fish, freshly caught, fried in dough, curried, with rice and gravy. The mounds of her chest, moved like sinuous valleys of the Himalayas in throes of pleasure.
“Yes I can, but it will cost you.” I stammered.
“Will this do?”
She plunked down a wad of 100 rupee notes. It was sufficient to pay the rent, my food, and my expenses for a month.
Greedily, I grabbed the bundle and dropped it into the desk drawer.
“Where do you want it?”
She gestured at her slim back as she casually undraped her saree, unbuttoned her blouse, stripping down to her petticoat and lay face down on the table. I swabbed the area with alcohol and prepared a stencil by scanning her sketch. I noticed that while the initial sketch was blue and black, it now had color outlines.
I placed the stencil on her back. It was about 10 inches in length and 5 across. I turned back to mix the colors and was surprised when I saw that the stencil now covered her whole back, from the nape of her neck, stretching across her shoulders, to her buttocks.
This was eerie. “My scanning machine and the stencil paper were not that big! What was going on?”
My thoughts were interrupted as she turned over partly to look at me. The eyes burned and glowed, like embers from an outdoor tandoor, smoldering and dragging me in.
Hastily I moved over and started the tattoo machine. As I began to draw the outline, a strange force took my hand, drawing impossible patterns that created a weave of sinews and scales, rough fur and smooth skin over her torso.
Exhausted, I fell back on my chair, my arms and finger aching. She lifted her head then, gazing at me with wide, bloodshot eyes, the tongue hanging out. It was gone in an instant, making me wonder if I had really seen it.
“Oh come on, only a few more minutes and it will be over.” She purred.
Mesmerized, I mixed colors, creating impossible hues. Her torso now glistened with the outlines, sparkling in unearthly hues, appearing like a peacock, then like a scaly snake, then assuming the soft form of a woman.
Deep inside, I felt like I was creating a demoness, giving her form and shape. I was a creator, an artist, a father, and this was to be my offspring. Her body shivered and trembled, going into spasms, reminding me of a woman in child birth pangs.
An invisible hand seized me and moved the tattoo machine over her flesh, biting the flesh, coloring it, waiting for me to swab the droplets of blood. In a matter of minutes, the work was done. Her petticoat had come off and I rested my forearms on the warm flesh. Surprisingly, the titillation was missing. It was my creation. I was the creator and the artist.
I moved back and turned to drink some water and looked through the window at the Hooghly River flowing in spate. The waves lapped strongly at the jetty, and a cold salty smell of the fog filled the room. I heard a rustle and a snarling sound behind and turned.
The tattoo had now grown and she was it. Yes, there she stood, the demoness, towering a good two feet above me. She stared at me, her tongue coming out long and red, dripping drops of blood, her breasts swung pendulously, striking the skulls strung across her chest.
She swung off the table, her thighs and crotch covered by a thin jute skirt that struggled to contain her. I thought that I was dead. Then she spoke, in a guttural, rasping voice.
It took me a couple of seconds to realize that she was saying in Bengali
“Father, Bless me.”
To this vile demoness, I was a father, who had given her birth, freeing her from a mortal body, allowing her to come out in her natural splendor.
Involuntarily I raised my palms and said “ ” ‘remain blessed daughter’.
My daughter, a demoness, stepped out of the studio to start her hunt, and cleanse the vile beings of Kaliyug.