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….