They call me Lilli Man. They call me other names too. Lilli Butcher, for example. Ever since I started the farm they began baptising me ‘Lilliputian.’

Everything was going fine… Until the day the policeman came.

The allegation was pure hogwash. He said I had been accused of sexually abusing the Lilliputians. I reminded him I was the one who first began this business, popularised Lilli foods across the country.

Yes, me.

Now Lilli foods have mushroomed everywhere, left and right, wherever you look in Dhaka and other cities. Children love Lilli wings, Lilli legs. Men like Lilli fries. Women, Lilli roasts. Lilli soup for people in poor health. The overall favourite is Lilli Seekh Kebab. You will see long queues on the evening streets, crowds waiting to feed their hungry bellies. They watch greedily while Lillis are seared on roadside grills smoking with hot embers. The process is certainly mouthwatering. You skewer them and slather them in spices. Then the spiced up Lillis are grilled whole. Often beside them, Lilli butt barbecue, which is a much loved lollipop. Tastes like aromatic kasturi. Musk pod.

In the early days, familiarising people with Lilli foods was not easy. I had to convince them eating Lillis was highly nutritious. In the media, debates arose, wars were fought. One group said Lilliputians were our ancestors. The height of the present Lilliputians is one foot taller than Gulliver described in his travelogue. This suggests Lilliputians will continue to grow, and in thousands of years they may evolve into humans. It can’t be, replied the other group. God made humans the best creations of all. Also, they pointed out, since the discovery of Lilliputians nearly a century has passed and they haven’t grown a fraction.

I believe in God, therefore I went with the latter.

So these Lilliputians, about 18-inches in size, resemble us more than any other animal. In stores, there is a book called The Origin of Humans or The History of Lilliputians. I haven’t read it. As I haven’t Darwin’s The Origin of Species, though I feel sorry for the fella who never believed Gulliver’s Travels. Less than half a century after his death, the tiny creatures were discovered in an otherwise uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean. Researchers think Lilliputians originated in the heart of Africa but began to shy away from the increasing intrusion of the Big Man.

Years after their discovery, a number of lousy Lilli rights activists developed. Stood against the killing of the little beings. Good Lord, people! Pay no attention to them. From the time the world was born, one animal has been jumping on another for food. Why not humans on Lilliputians?

Ultimately the government snubbed the Lilli rights activists. In a country where people are poorer than dogs and institutionalised corruption does more damage than annual floods, Lilliputians were seen as a good source of protein. What’s more, setting up Lilli farms could open the way to huge foreign earnings.

It was booming crocodile farms in Asia that gave me the idea. Initially, I started the Lilli farm only for export — especially to the country of Achin where they eat anything. I knew sooner or later my countrymen would fall for Lilli meat, too. They can’t live on Bay of Bengal air. They need food — fresh flesh. Take broiler chicken, for instance. Thirty years back, when it was first sold in bazaars, people turned their nose up at it. Now they love it. I was right, by and by. Within a decade I succeeded in commercialising Lilli foods.

Now Lilliputians are in every cupboard and cabinet. No longer found in the jungles or forests, they’ve been domesticated, caged. They live with humans. In almost every house. Some keep them as pets. Some rear them for eating. And over time, the tiny creatures have replaced chicken.

The word ‘Lilli’ has spread like plague around the globe. To introduce any product, just inject ‘Lilli’ before or after the item, and the brand will be a hit for sure. Lilli beer, Lilli brassier, Lilli blazer, and whatnot.

Lilli farming is a money-making business. The profits soar faster than a rocket can fly. Like cows, every part of Lilliputians are saleable. Lilli teeth and bones are revered for jewellery settings and scrimshaw. Their skin is tanned and sold to fashion houses in Paris and Milan. Lilli nunus are in high demand, too. Achin people are rumoured to eat them raw. To boost libido, of course. They pay no mind to the saying ‘you are what you eat.’ I am hoping, in the near future, to get orders for Lilli poop — for fertiliser — as well.

It is uncanny that the little beings are so similar to humans. They spend a good deal of time courting, and whenever they get a chance, they make love. So on the farm, males and females are kept separate. Castrating Lilliputians is a common practice. The meat tastes great if it’s done shortly after birth. Besides, it keeps the males from thinking only about sex. And they behave better.

Separating newborns from mothers seems — even to me — to be a barbaric act. But I am in business. I have to meet market demands. Baby Lilli flesh is soft as butter and pricey as hell. The mother, on the other hand, gets milked after the delivery. Mini sucker machines suck her breasts every three hours. In time the Lilliputian udders grow so big the mother can barely move from the weight. They are great producers. Studies show Lilli milk is rich in vitamins, good for asthma, and so forth. A few companies are even starting to offer Lilli cheese and butter.

The police comes to my Lilliput farm the week after the militant attack on Café Dhaka. The inspector informs me he will confiscate all my farm creatures, have them medically examined to determine if I have used the little beings for carnal pleasure.

Is this a reasonable accusation? I demand. Do you think it’s physically possible?

The inspector laughs with the force of a Tsunami. Then I realise why. Being a lawman, his eyes have grown bigger, seen more cruelty and brutality, more of the nastiness and savagery of human behaviour. Yes, we all know it happens. Whispers buzz around every corner — the violence on the little beings. It just doesn’t make the news. According to one study, sites showing Lilliputian X-rated materials are the most visited on the internet. In some western countries there are even Lilli strip clubs where the trained creatures perform different lovemaking asanas. Practically all the positions stated in Vatsayna’s classic book. As a result, the deaths of Lilliputians from abuse are regular. It just doesn’t make headlines.

Inspector… I try to look unbroken under the policeman’s gaze. What’s really going on?

The inspector laughs again — it sounds like a cow snorting — then he chews his cud for a moment. He reminds me of the seriousness of the allegation. But, he assures me, he knows a way out. He says the number: one million.

The number cracks my head open. Stunned, I stare at him. Should I refuse to pay? Months ago, a member of the local ruling party asked for a fat donation. I ignored the request. Is this the consequence? I have never been involved in politics. Nor has my father. But my grandpa, who notably snores in the grave, had been a supporter of the opposition.

That’s a lot of money, Inspector. I’ll go bankrupt.

I try not to nettle him. This is a time of militant killings. Police can catch anyone they like. Take him to an open field, then, boom-boom. And you are dead as a dodo. The media will report the death. No questions asked. Who cares to investigate whether you are a jihadist or not?

I love life more than money. So I offer him half a million.

No way. The money will go into many pockets. Including the local MP’s, the inspector tells me, politely but firmly.

Finally we agree on the number: 725,000.

It hurts when people call me Lilli Butcher. They absolutely know nothing of the world. Take the Lilli festival in Achin. Achins are crazy about it. At the fest, they boil the little beings alive, then hang them on display ready to serve on order. Baked, roasted, grilled, stewed, you name it. For amusement there is an overnight Lilli circus which ends with a wicked Lilli wrestling match. The surviving Lilliputians then go up for auction, to be sold live or cooked for the winning bidder.

And today, instead of mice, scientists run all their tests on these little creatures. Plus they are being used in American fighter aircraft. Lilli pilots are recruited with promises of good food, abundant sex, and the finest luxuries if they make it back after dropping their bombs.

Narabali, human sacrifice, is banned in India. So sacrificing Lilliputians to the goddesses has become a welcome alternative. Quite modish. Yet, on the other side of the same coin, there is a Lilli temple in India, where Lilliputians move freely, like the monkeys and rats in some other temples. Lilliputians there are worshiped, fed and taken good care of.

The University of Oxford claims to own the wisest Lilliputian on earth. It is called Lilli Solomon, can speak three languages, recite Shakespeare and sing Beatles songs. And China now offers scholarly Lilli beings to the world. Training a Lilliputian is time consuming, costly, involves endless research and experiments. The Chinese have a bellyful of investors to help shoulder the cost of this. And they are making golden eggs out of Lilliputians. They have even started to sell trained Lilli beings who can talk, read and obey commands.

Chinese farmers have also announced that next year they are going to make trained Lilli maids available. And, as pygmy Lilli rearing is getting trendy, there are now farms devoted to creating new breeds, too. You choose what traits you want — curly hair, thin lips, nutty skin, whatever. The farms will deliver your made-to-order Lilli a year after you place your order.

For rich folks in my country, I import English-speaking Lilliputians from China. White-coloured, of course, since people here are allergic to black and brown skin. You know, in a country like ours where anglophilia persists, they want English-style Lilliputians. It doesn’t even matter if their vocabulary is limited to just a few phrases.

I visit the bank the day after the policeman comes to my farm. I need a loan, I say. I wish to set up a Lilli Research Institute so I can supply trained Lilliputians to the market like Chinese farms do. No more Lilli meat business for me. I have stomached enough heckling. Time to strip the word ‘Butcher’ from my name.

I decide to borrow 100 million. The manager of the bank, who knows my fortune well, says to make it double. He tells me not to worry and hints at how I can safely default later. But 30% of the total amount borrowed will be deducted as commission. I make the deal. That’s how people get rich here — small fish turn into big fish. He says some don’t even bother to pay back loans at all, and make a second home in Malaysia or migrate to America.

Just one silly requirement you have to follow, he explains. As per Central Bank instructions.

What’s that?

Make sure you donate a small amount to the Lilli Rights Campaign.

Lousy Lilli rights activists! I feel like crushing them between my thumbnails, like monkeys do with lice. Thank God, no one gives a fig about those rats. Several times, they brought the ‘pigging out on Lilliputians’ issue to the bishop of Heavican City. Each time he dismissed them, pronouncing ‘everything is for the best’ or ‘all is well.’ Those lousy Lilli rights activists, good as dead, better keep their mouths shut and let the world live in peace.

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Rahad Abir
Rahad Abir was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His works have appeared in Aerodrome, Toad Suck Review, Blue Lyra Review, The Penmen Review, New Asian Writing and Wilderness House Literary Review. His short story ‘‘I am in London’’ was included in the UK anthology Brick Lane Tales. He is the recipient of the 2017-18 Charles Pick Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. Currently he is finishing a novel.