On Freedom, Suicide and Other Things

3.

The clock stroke four and not long after, there commenced a minor hustle-bustle at the café. Gradually, other members of the society began to appear and then the café was engulfed with assertions, witticisms, complains, admirations and ridiculous reasoning’s. Though it was a daily routine, it appeared sprightlier than ever. The next day would always transcend the previous day when it came to the general clamour and mood of the members. It was always a majestic sight to those who knew who they were and what they were conversing about, the ludicrous jeering and sally tongues would amuse the bystanders and observers while the owner of the café would rather discreetly shy away from the company. He always thought that they were too intelligent and sharp tongued for him. Anyways, he was well entertained through the busy evening when the rush hour would cease as emaciated officials, nonchalant pedestrians, young folks, rebellious teenage girls and retired old bureaucrats would give the café a visit.

Though all this, Rita, who had conspired rather thoughtfully about her being acquainted with the society was more than amused. She was gleaming. She didn’t speak but listened to the raconteurs, rather attentively and admired their oddities with her shimmering teeth and juicy pink lips as it stretched beyond her rosy cheeks, evincing her adorable pointed nose and narrow nostrils. Throughout the evening, her countenance assumed a wide and taut smile. All she did was, ordered more coffee, smoothed her folds, spiffed her round shoulders and have a hearty laugh which would always turn out to be more voluble than she had planned. Time to time, she observed Mr. Floyd who turned out to be rather soft spoken today, almost a chivalrous knight of the former centuries, galvanised yet inhibited.

He had managed to acquire a seat at the nook, just adjacent to the back door. He didn’t speak much. She thought, maybe he was not in the mood or was also enjoying the conversations. It was true, the latter assumption that had passed her thought. He had suddenly decided to listen to his fellow brothers and clever ladies of the society.  For him, the society was a woman and to sway her away, he needed to keep his quiet sometimes yet at the same time make her feel that no love was lost. But suddenly, a paroxysm of silence had clutched him that he didn’t even hesitate a moment let it go. He wanted to be esteemed at the expense of Rita just some moments ago, but that was how he was, never dogged and patient. They sometimes chanced a fleeting glance at each other but it wasn’t awkward for him who it seemed was a veteran of this situation. He always seemed a way to loll with women though it wasn’t his basic intention. Women crave attention and they always seemed to procure his fleeting considerations which always made them uncomfortable and undecided.  For now, Rita was undergoing such undulations and she couldn’t decide if he wanted to have a tete-a-tete with her or he was just nonchalantly observing everything that met his eyes.

There was a sharp commotion among the members. They were talking about a rich man who had managed to squander all his property on a drunken revelry, his wife having committed suicide and his two children were working in a quarry, carving stones and dredging up the new found sorrows of life.  It was all over the newspaper and they seemed to get hung on the story.  There were two groups discussing on the topic at hand. One was talking about the matter pertaining to suicide of the wife, which consisted of the young members and women mostly while another group which had swerved from the topic were discussing about madness in general.

“……….she showed her character in the end. If she was a good wife then she would have had the courage to face the ensuing sorrows”, Sharma spoke ardently.

“But, goodness and courage are two different things, you are mistaken, my friend”, replied Thapa, promptly. It got the crowd going. “Yes! Yes! He is right”, they chimed in together. Thapa continued, “I don’t dare to talk about the character of that poor woman, but I tell you my friend, she was courageous and it was up to her to decide which bold path of courage to tread”. He looked at Sharma for any sign of rejoinder but seeing that there was not any yet, he said, “Don’t you think you have to yield an enormous amount of courage to commit suicide? Don’t you feel that the poor wife deserved to at least die in peace rather than live in shame for what she wasn’t guilty of ?”

“But at what cost? Her children are rotting in some suburban quarry, she should have thought about it. I understand the anger and grief that might have fallen at her but to give one’s precious life at the blunders of other is ….is….not just crime, it is much more severe than a crime. Mr. Sharma began to stammer. “It was a….a…… ….” But before he could complete his sentence Mr. Thapa got reinforcement in the form of Mrs. Chaudhary, “So, you think it’s a sin, to commit suicide”. She smirked and gave a long sigh. “I think it’s more than stupid for us people to judge such a woman without knowing her background. One should understand her personality before we jump into any derisive conclusion”. She threw a glance at Rita, the psychology student. But, Rita didn’t evince any expression. She continued, “But, that’s her. What I don’t understand is that why shouldn’t we be allowed to give up our life? I don’t understand it. Nowadays, we talk about freedom and equality and love and hate too easily, as if we are unaware of the weight of these words. And to be true, most of us are not. Why can’t we be free to just give up our life when we want? We are thought to be free on how we want to live our lives but then when it comes to death why aren’t we so liberated. Isn’t that the whole gist of freedom? To be free of societal volitions and prejudices”.

“Yes, you are truly right Mrs. Chaudhary, when it comes to these words; we have been using it indiscriminately. Nowadays, I am quintessentially confused on love and hate. Are these even different? We are all murderers in the end”, Thapa asserted, rather with some loftiness.

“Why do you say so?” replied Sharma, with his mouth full. He was voraciously gorging a pineapple pie as he scooped some sugar to his tea.

“The matter of fact is that…..well, lets say, when a lady aborts a child then she stands against humanity, everyone sees to it that she has indeed done a great sin, the greatest of them all, to derive a child the right to live but and it is us men who make her stand in the pulpit of shame and demand her life be fraught with guilt. Ha-ha but then, we are but men. Sometimes i am plainly ashamed. It isn’t the same case when we masturbate; we fancy it’s all too trivial to concede any sin. But if science is to be taken into consideration then at such mere fancy we end up murdering millions”.

Everyone was mortified. There was a stern silence. Nobody knew how to react to such a claim. Was he ridiculing or was he being truly deliberate. In any case it seemed like a valid argument. Yes, one could equate such claims with freedom and it could be considered ludicrous yet, they were all here for glory. “Yes, Mr. Floyd, care to share your insight?” said, Mrs. Chaudhary. Mr. Floyd who was sitting cross legged, leaning on his elbows and listening indolently to them gave a broad smile which depicted that he was content with leaving them up to themselves. He sat in this position for the next one hour or so till he left the place and he barely spoke.

 

(This chapter has been continued from The Masochist Men and Sycophantic Women)

To be continued….

The Kathmandu Patriot

He sat down sipping his coffee slowly. He liked coffee. Black coffee, no sugar, bitter and concentrated. It tasted like hell unleashed into your insipid body through a miniature cup. He sat there and drank it like it was the most delicious drink his mother could have made. It was made by someone from across the receptionist’s desk where the blinds in hues of red and green were opened through the middle and served.  Sitting next to him was Jean Paul Baalayar, assuming a gloomy and speculative countenance. He was smoking a cheap cigarette in his left hand while his head leaned against his right, the index finger noticeably pressing hard against his temple while one could detect the violent trembling of his arms, it seemed like he was shivering from the cold but it was a lazy late afternoon.

‘I don’t understand it. It’s killing me inside. I don’t like being judged’, whined Baalayar. His nosy voice made it more petulant.

‘It’s not for me to tell. But I tell you one thing. It’s about leaving their opinions out of your head. You don’t want to do the right thing and expect everyone to accept it. It’s part of us. Leave it alone’, said the man who was drinking coffee.

He was a fair looking person. He had a square face, snubbed nose, small goatee and his hair was done meticulously to the right and gave that mannish and poignant Italian air. The same demeanour that Italians have in the movies. Somewhere along the line between Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. He said that he was from South of Italy but had settled here in Kathmandu for some time. It was said that he had connections with people.   He never spoke much with people but he spoke fairly and wisely. That’s what many people in Kathmandu thought. It seemed like his stern appearance almost propped up his wisdom.  Living a life in Kathmandu as a foreigner was turning out to be very easy for him. Everyone was respectful towards him and everyone wanted to help him and talk with him. In turn, he was also very courteous towards others.  But, he knew well that it all amounted to the rumour that he had a load of green money. Anyways, he had fit right into the heart of greediness and self indulgence.

A waiter came and asked, ‘anything sir?’

‘Yes, I will have a creamy croissant and please fill in my coffee’, said the man as he elevated the china while his finger flitted and pointed towards it.

The waiter nodded, delivered a faint smile and went.  Baalayar observed a small mole on the waiter’s nose. He thought it was ugly and obscene. It was a small dint on his face but Baalayar who was indulged in self loathing noticed it. People with negativity tend to notice any ugliness in others anyways.

‘I wonder what would I do if I had such a mole on my face’, suddenly began Baalayar.

‘What would you do?’

‘Why, I’d do nothing. I think it looks just fine on that boy’. He smirked.

Baalayar upped his mouth and spiffed his clean shaven chin. ‘Yes, maybe’. He sighed.

Baalayar lit a cigarette and blew it through his beautiful Tinker bell nose. The thin, translucent, white smoke cleared promptly into the air.

He gaped for a while and said, ‘That kid made my heart heavy, you know. I haven’t reflected on my life at all. He’s just a six year old and he talks nonsense’.

‘I was also taken aback for a while but then you know kids these days, full of wisdom. It’s the way they are taught, I guess’, promptly replied, the man.  There was a poignant silence for a brief moment. Then swinging his head in disbelief, Baalayar said, ‘Maybe the kid is too smart. Some kids are natural. They pick up easy. But then where in this damned world does a six year old says I want to be a Chepang leader when I grow up? It’s not natural anywhere let alone in this country’.

The man threw a grin at Baalayar and nonchalantly replied, ‘Especially, when a country has been cursed by a Sati’, bantering. Both shared a good, old laugh.

Being historically marginalized, the Chepangs were socially and morally, the paupers of destiny. When the Maoist revolution had concluded, like other backward communities they could also have their say. It was a sour, politics and their auxiliaries, promising to uplift the society and yet not delivering. How could they when they had many mouths to feed. A political promise is always awe inspiring in its vigour and rhetorically crafted speeches. The two men had been to a school in rural Nepal run by a high school drop-out from the great nation of America, who thought it would be wise to teach children for free. He did it by making the parents contribute in labour instead of fees.  They dwelled in animal husbandry and agriculture within the premises of the school which was located on a foothill.  Baalayar and the man had visited it and since then Baalayar had been acting pathetically. He had an injured ego, like that of a fighting bull when it is defeated. He had been defeated by the unfaltering morals of the high school drop-out and the social consciousness of a six year old.  His whole life seemed a waste of ideals hauled by his narcissistic gains and hedonistic bearings. It was a fellow countryman steamrolling another by his persistence, originality and moralistic demeanours. Baalayar felt pathetic.

‘It seemed like paradise to me, what a beautiful place and what beautiful people!’ said the man. Now, savouring his croissant.

‘I don’t know if it was paradise but it sure wasn’t Kathmandu. Blood sucking, wretched and mean’, replied Baalayar, coldly in his strident voice. He was a exasperated and obnoxious patriot now, dwelling miserably in his own wound, his thoughts indulging at his lowly city life. He thought he could have done more for the country like the high school drop-out.  The man sensing Baalayar’s mental state, got up, asked for his leave, paid for his coffee and went away.

Baalayar then said to himself, ‘Looks like nobody wants to be with a person in self pity, let alone a patriotic sissy’.

A couple of days later, Baalayar was in a fashionable boîte, the crescendo ever growing, drinking a Heineken, shin digging with the man and fooling with a girl he had just met who was in stiletto heels, frolicking, advancing and promiscuous. It was a party organized for charity.

The high school dropout from America was already consigned to oblivion.

The Ambiguities That Men Create

“I always believed there was something out there, in this crazy world.  I used to be in great misery. Then, one day, suddenly and inexplicably, I ceased to believe such a nonsense.  A brief period of happiness engulfed my soul like a rapist in his paroxysm of malevolence, gratified.  But, the happiness swiftly passed away and into a darkest abyss of senselessness. Today, there exists both stream of rationale in my consciousness, the being and the nothingness. Still, I am in great misery”, Jean Paul Baalayar looked dejected. His tiny fingers pressed against his gleaming countenance, his hair unkempt and his lips parched and pallid.

“I am tired of your nonsense, you idiot of a cynic”, said his sister, nonchalantly.  “The more you think, more you make my life miserable and here you are talking about misery and sense, the essence of our existence and all the gibberish ideals our father used to talk into us when he used to be drunk.” She looked at him with her cold eyes and she assumed a grim countenance, her fingers touching her temple, she was caressing it. This diffused a strange warmth inside Baalayar, an uncanny feeling of love from a mere stroking of her fingers, but then suddenly, he heard a faint crack, he reiterated his head and before he could speak, she blotted out, “Only that he used to be drunk but you needn’t have a sip, like a devil to torture my life you were sent, what have I done to deserve this inferno, how can god be so callous and inspire such vanity among men?”

Baalayar was rather taken aback from her paroxysm. He did feel guilty for coming up about the forbidden subject but moreover, he felt pity towards his sister. He was just cold inside, he wasn’t the empathic or compassionate to people but he thought he was rational at least, he knew he didn’t have much ability to love or express it. He just entertained the idea of living inside his head while a lengthy monologue ensued throughout long nights.  Not even a speck of rationality was to be apprehended yet he maintained this habit. Each day his patience would elevate more and more until it became bearable for him to survive the this folly.  He now was completely at rest, perishing his inherent ardours in a-‘counterpane of stoic ennui’s and ludicrous interstellar ideals’ as his sister would have said.

“You have need of a wife who can produce you a couple of naughty children, then you and your wayward life will be confounded  for the good”, she added sharply. “Well, I guess that needs to be done sooner than later but I don’t want to have a wife like you”, he sighed and assumed a faint smile.

“No, you need a wife who can yield up to your unusual fervours, eh? Why don’t you find a real beauty and marry her, you know, the ones who participate in some Missy competition and don’t know anything about your Camus or Dylan, that would be a real treat huh?”, eloquently put the sister, “…and guess what, you can go on telling her all your nonsense and she won’t be angry at you because she would think of you as a piece of art, an intelligent philosopher, a maverick. You will get your attention and I will get my peace that way……..and the poor Barbie will finally get her Kenny”.

Baalayar gave a chuckle and said, “ Well, I bet there are lots of pretty and intelligent ladies in most Missy contests that you so much hate my ugly duckling. You should also try your chance at such contests, who knows you may win yourself a ‘Miss Beautiful at the Inside Only’ title”, he laughed, his smile stretched wide and his Greek nose seemed to point at the direction of his ridicule.  “Oh, my philosopher of a brother, I can’t help but notice that you have lost your sense of humour a long time ago”, gagged the sister.  “Well, isn’t that the whole allusion of existence?” said Baalayar suddenly with a hardened melancholy. “Get outta here, you runt, again……..again this is happening, I can’t believe these men, wretched creatures delving into pits they make for themselves and wonder when the lights went out………why wouldn’t the God harden Pharaoh’s heart then……..”.  She rushed out of his dark, small  and macabre room and slammed the door. Baalayar was ruminating and gaping already.

A Sister & The Grave

‘What is it that you dream about?’, she grew melancholic. Is it the moon and the stars, or is the languid and the epicurean masquerade to which we so much confine ourselves, said the sister. ‘A gleaming epitaph or a modest burial? Do you think about transcending the cosmic or incarcerating yourself in the commonality of our spirits. What is it? Dear brother, which is it?’ She ceased to speak, her venerable tongue. The night was deep. It was silent, almost uncanny while she could hear the distant clamour, a celebration. She didn’t know what was being celebrated but she grew content. Maybe a birth, a marriage proposal or a graduation, she didn’t care. All that concerned was something was celebrated and it was enough. She cherished the mere sound, the buzz, however blunt. To encumber oneself in the levity of common folks gave her great satisfaction. Empathic, not only in happiness but also in sorrow. She could truly feel them, the whole of their soul. At the outset she used to be disgusted, wailing in prayer, asking forgiveness to the lord but only the lord knew if he forgave or cursed , either way, she would be consternated at the sheer malevolence of our existence. With time, she grew tired of all intent. It lasted for a long time, the whole convalescence, from condemnation to appreciation. After it took its toll she woke up only to find the whole world comical. She had found her way out of the unyielding abyss of senselessness. Finally, she was free and here she lays ruminating her brother, his grave, neglected, a myriad of leaves piling up against the epitaph, nearly concealing the only remaining memory, echoes of the past and inaudible remorse for tomorrow. There was still hope for humanity but she was restless, impatient against the sloth and the divine.

It had been ten years since that fateful day, when her brother, naïve and buoyant, in his early twenties left the home to venture upon career as a policeman only to be murdered two years later. It remained a mystery to who had committed the murder but, it became lucid that nobody was responsible. The investigation ceased in a month and nobody cared. Justice remained available only to the rich and she couldn’t afford such a luxury.

Ten years later, she had overcome dejection, outlived suicide attempts, grown out of romance and joined the A__ convent. Now she was known as Sister H___. Why wouldn’t anyone convert if such conversions yielded economic and social incentives. From a low caste Hindu to a favourite disciple of Christ. At the onset, it was merely for survival, her basic instinct. It wasn’t even scrupulous enough to think twice, people living in privation can have that excuse. What moral dilemmas to consider when once cannot even be shown pity upon by thirty million gods. Here, we live in poverty, in desperation, no future to consider, where the rich get richer and poor are like domesticated animals, yet one is to act conscientiously. Woe to people who think that is even possible. Better to have a devil corrupt one’s soul than have million gods masquerade on morality. And thus, she was loved by Christ.

And here she is, stooping before the grave, gaping towards the inanimate trees and a bland breeze crosses her eyes. She takes a deep breath and comes to senses. A myriad of thought crosses her mind, she looks around, dark and cold. The dawn is a good night’s sleep away. She stares at the gravestone, it’s not her brother’s. A priest had performed the funeral rites and she could only but weep. The clamour has ceased. She primps her clothes, shivering in the cold, lies juxtaposed next to the grave against the cold surface of the ground. The grave of an old woman who probably died peacefully with her sons and grandchildren beside her, sleeps happily next to the sister.

From Darkness To Light

Once upon a time,  Jean Paul Baalayar, gallant, hopeful, and rueful had performed a miracle. Great men stand the test of time but not Baalayar, time consumed him like some big, mushy, sinister, frolicking forest, the wilderness into which Baalayar had suddenly delved into, a never ending epoch of listless struggle.  The hero of this tale now an ordinary common flock, landing straight into the heart of darkness, into the big dark, a mysterious jungle full of incredible trees, trunks, branches, boughs, festoons, sordid creatures created by the almighty but tarnished by human ingenuity, all commingling into a narrow creek flowing mysteriously uphill, towards the greater gloom.  Being hauled up by some obscure mythological creature, Baalayar, being unable to resist the strength, allured, servile yet in his sense like the rapacity of a scoundrel is towed. How much time does it take  for somebody to transform his whole soul from bad to the good or from good to the sinister, just a matter of perception and the whole world changes, worse, flies away from its own heritage towards the greener pastures. It takes a fraction of second for people to turn against each other; brother, mother, lover, obsessions or even patriotism, all takes a fraction of second to change, to digress and tread its way into the heart of darkness.

Two years ago, Baalayar had found a woman, a pretty face, a damsel, not in distress but in epiphany, like the way of an angel, her gracious gait, expensive smile, unwavering charm, audacious character, eccentric yet acceptable, men raved and women follow her,  boys day dreamed and girls were jealous, a persona unmatched to her time, the epoch, but all this escaped Baalayar for, he found a friend in her, a soul attuned for himself, savage when needy and amicable when complacent, their temperament, like a conflagration beguiled by destiny.  His first love. To have shunned from her would have been the better choice at the outset  but fate knew better. Sometime fate frolics with us just for a petty laugh, other times for worse but this time fate wanted a jab at Baalayar, a knockout at the thirteenth round.

She was the talk of every heart for she couldn’t possibly be the talk of the town, her ingenious manipulation, sensual flits and pardonable innocence could but only be adorable to the spectators,  a delightful sight.  People say the ways of women are mysterious and only meticulous observation of individual species can pertain desirable results. But Baalayar knew for sure that there wasn’t much difference between a man and woman. He said to her, “ You see, men are brute, we like to fight and kill, women are beasts, they caper cut and kill, it’s a nuisance”.  She liked to listen to him, most of the time for amusements but other times, in the pretence of incisive frolicking, just to see him get hurt, to play with his heart, to pierce his heart and twist it around, to see him suffer for the noble cause of ensuing romance; like a child cast into a lie only to surprise it with a toy. Baalayar was a child and a gentle kiss would be his toy.  ‘Love is like a strawberry shrub, if you don’t water it, it dies but hate is a cactus which survives, marooned’, she giggled, he squirted, inside.

She consumed him, his flesh, thoughts, love and even hatred. He felt apathy towards others, that feverish, contagious sensation, love, it had consumed him like what consumes a mad, the fragments of illusion, fretted by the creep of one’s thoughts, the unbearable obscurity, laughter in the face of arrogance, that innocence, he exuded such filth.  When the love you get is not pure, we wallow in such filth, like pigs on acid or something.  Why do we wallow, why are we in love with another person even when it hurts, when one knows, the future is  bleak, and the present, unbearable. What is it that captivates a human soul, that chains our freedom and deceives our heart when all we wanted was a speck of love, that benevolence yet we cling. Was it self-pity or ego, Baalayar never knew. He was busy wallowing in filth.  Maybe he was addicted, to pain, to the monstrosity of human minds, subconscious pleasures in heartache, that addiction, not depression but a specific kind of illness depicting hedonistic attributes at its core, abreast his love.

Guilt, a pure form of emotion. The kind of sadness it exudes is appalling, it reeks like a mixture of napalm and death. Soldiers fight a physical war, ricocheting bullets, fusillades, explosions, mortality, banal outcomes, but lovers, the romantics, they are a different kind of breed, they die, all of them die in the end, a gruesome death, they may appear living, breathing, smiling and frolicking but when morality in people die its useless to assume a living person, for, they die with it too. Revenge, the purest of emotion. It transcends barriers, religion, perceptions, insatiable consequence.  The thirst of revenge is unyielding, the ravenous desires can only grow but it cannot quench the thirst.

Baalayar was in war with guilt and revenge.  When fate did get knock him out in the thirteenth round, he was not just defeated but he was drained out, hopeless and bullied. Most of all, he was culpable to defeat. It was truly appalling, the guilt.  When you throw a bone to the dog, don’t expect it back.

When Baalayar expatriated himself, wrenching his wound, wanting more pain, exuding pleasures, he realized the magnitude of his situation.  He realized what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. He was strong now that he overcame the overwhelming need for pain, the hatred, revenge, he was strong but he was still vulnerable.  He didn’t die like others. He lived again, he felt the bland breeze, the glowing sunshine, he could break the snag in his path, the serried trees were fascinating again, ripples were mere encumbrance, life was again a cipher to be decoded,  he flickered and felt alive, overwhelmed with possibilities, nonchalant about future.  Well, it was just a matter of a second, the amount of time it takes a man to change, for better or worse. It was a miracle indeed. In other words, he was in love once again.

Idiocy, an insatiable need to act like one.