Losing My Wings

Yagharek Longs to Fly

It begins with his imagination. The Garuda closes his eyes and “imagines it with absolute exactitude. A flight. To kick out with the legs and feel my wings grab the air and throw it easily earthward, scooping great chunks away from me, like paddles. The hard slog into a thermal where the feathers plump and prime, spread out, drifting, easing, gliding up around in a spiral over this enormity below me.” (707).This flight is not just a flight of fancy, for the Garuda, or bird man, Yagharek, in China Mieville‘s Perdido Street Station, once did fly, as all Garudas do. He lost the capacity of flight though when his wings were sawed off as punishment for his rape of another Garuda.  Perhaps it is the physical recall, or the memories of the flesh, that makes flight still seem so immediate to Yagharek. He thinks: “I feel the wind force my fingers apart. I am buffeted invitingly. I feel the twitching as my ragged flanges of wingbone stretch.” Yet, these are the twitches of phantom limbs for where Yagharek once had wings, now “two long trenches of flesh” “twisted and red with tissue that looked like it was boiled” mark the spots on his back where the wings once rested.The wings are gone, yet Yagharek hovers briefly in a moment of confused affinities as the memory of flight creates a sympathetic attachment to creatures that still live in the air.

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