To my Beloved

I should have watermarked this, but to what avail? Nothing but a short correspondence to my significant other, albeit full of syntactical errors here and there. To my Beloved

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Meditations

Task: Write a story revolving around a Writer, a Mechanic’s Workshop, a Trashcan and Curiosity.


A writer waits on his car at the workshop and stares at a waste bin curiously.

He wonders about the temporariness of time, time that passes away creates two consequences depending on how one looks at it: passage of time creates the past, and passage of time creates waste. The writer now wonders if there is any correlation between the past and the waste or are they two invariably independent arbitrary aspects of the universe. Furthermore, he wonders if what has happened, has happened and what will happen, will happen? He envisages a world without time, but when he deliberates over the word ‘world’, he traces back his thoughts because he looks at the surrounding world in reference to himself and without him, is the ‘world’ the same ‘world’ which he had first thought of? He now realizes that he has thought of two profound questions in a matter of moments and he still hasn’t been able to find the answer to either of them.

He now wishes to back track his thought process and decides to analyze each question individually, lay out the facts, present his arguments, and decide upon a single unanimous answer in each case; the only problem is that he forgets what triggered his question in the first place. He looks around him haphazardly, seeking the object that first inspired his mind to formulate questions. His eyes fall on the iron tools before him and for a split second he imagines he can smell their rust thereby activating his olfactory senses. He then looks to his left and sees a silhouette of a man bent over a metal surface which he quickly deduces to be the bonnet of his car, thereby animating his sense of sight. To revive his auditory sense, he glares at the silhouette’s arm which seems to be repeatedly striking the metal surface in a controlled fashion thereby producing a dull clanking sound. He then sticks his tongue out and tastes the acerbic metal on the tip of his tongue. He forgets to stimulate his sense of touch but when he unconsciously takes out his right hand from his pockets and lays it down on his side on the cold, metallic bench, he lets his lips crease into a slight smile.

TOUCH

His mind begins to wander to distant places, to the time he first touched the negative terminal of the battery with the tip of his tongue after which his mother had thrown a tantrum because the lamp wouldn’t work and it had never crossed her mind to check for the cells in the lamp and just like that she had thrown it away and the writer being a reticent child had dared not tell her that he had taken out the one cell to check if what his classmates had said about the glowing skin if you lick the ends of a battery was true or not; and twelve years later when the writer had turned nineteen and his ailing mother had at last permitted him to visit the town circus, he had paid exactly seven pennies to be admitted into a colorful tent which boasted itself as a showcase for one incredible opportunity to let your eyes feast upon the world’s one and only super human who glowed, whose skin shone like the sun overhead, who even at night would be awake because the light he produced had burnt his eyes from the inside, and fried his brain and he had lost all concept of sleep but he still lived and ate, and read, and looked at the spectators marveling at their opaque skin and wondering why he was captured by these strange, dull beings when he was clearly a deity who deserved freedom. And thirty years later, the writer had written his first short story on the strange man who was never heard from again, indeed the entire town circus seemed to have vanished into thin air because the very next day his mother denied having permitted him to go out of the house at all and again threw a fit accusing her only son of planning to abandon her, and a week later his friends assured him that they had not heard of any Volaticius Circum Circus in town, nor had they seen any banners or heard any banjos playing at seven at night every day for five days straight, but when the writer had retired to his shabby little room upstairs, and had emptied his wallet to find the seven pennies, he could find only three, and he was certain that he had a total of ten pennies a week and half ago.

The writer’s first short story was published in a local newspaper called the “Local News and Views” which often burst with petty advertisements of someone selling a hair-curling rod, or someone looking to purchase a second-hand hammer, or someone looking to hire an apprentice, or a teacher or a baby sitter or some foreign company looking for miners to work in a cave for a measly six pence an hour but with an added bonus of free, exotic food such as fresh tuna and bi-monthly trips to far-off cities. The last page of the newspaper was always dedicated to obituaries and births and here, in a measly narrow column on the left hand side, the short story was printed in an almost illegible type font with the writer’s name printed out in huge block letters on top which led to some altercations at the newspaper office, directed at the writer because his “damned story” had eaten up the space reserved for Mr. Hinilist’s pompous, celebratory wish for his son who had been admitted into the army and in the next issue the editor made a formal apology to Honorable Mr. Hinilist and his family for the “grave and unforgiveable” error and dedicated the entire first page to his son, congratulating him of bestowing upon the town the honor of having “one of our own” in the “sacred” line of work.

SIGHT

The writer now begins to be conscious of his surroundings and surmises that the sun must be directly overhead because the shadow of the worker to his left is no longer elongated to a side, but rather spotted under him. The writer wipes the beads of sweat from his forehead with his shirt sleeve when his eyes fall upon the trash can a few feet away from him and his mind starts whirring around. He contemplates on the fleeting transitoriness of life but then concludes that not only does life come to a finite end, but so do all objects in reference to his existence like his wife’s spectacles which lost their objective of being worn and being looked out of, of supplementing poor eyesight, of resting on her ears with their long, metallic arms, of being suspended on her chest when she conversed and of being re-worn when she read, and of being kept on the side table next to her books and a blue vase when she slept, and of being wiped clean with a piece of grey cloth and of being touched by her frail, wrinkled fingers a hundred times a day.

The writer’s mind again takes a stroll on memory lane, to the time he married his sweetheart of four years, and despite his mother’s constant admonitions, he had gone ahead with the small ceremony and brought her back to his now adequately ventilated, upstairs bedroom, where he had made passionate love to her and the morning after and two weeks later, had started and finished a novella based on two characters who metamorphose into stars, titled “The Death of a Star”, and after the two starts explode and expel all elements into the vast cosmos, two particles of gold and silver land on the earth and are embedded into two separate rings made for unfortunate lovers who meet their tragic end when the heavenly bodies, in fury and anguish over the human condition, crash into earth. The writer had stashed the pages under the bed when his beloved wife had announced that she was expecting and four months later she was pronounced barren when a rogue soldier, who had returned from the battle field in a disarray had decided to gain a lover from the past, had forced himself upon her during the writer’s absence one early morning, and had accidently stabbed her in the pit of her stomach, after which age dawned upon her expeditiously for the subsequent forty years till the day she peacefully passed away lying on the right side of the bed, next to the writer.

SOUND

The writer is brought back to the present by a loud, persistent clanging sound that echoes from his left. He senses the monotony of the sounds as they reverberate through the bench on which he sits, albeit uncomfortably, when his eyes fall upon the trash can again and he feels a strong impulse to rummage through the contents of the bin before him. He wonders why the trash can is inside the workshop and not outside, nearer to the workers where they can access it easily, or maybe this trash can is specifically for the customers who sit on the bench, who remain on the inside of the workshop and yet somehow, during the simple act of sitting and waiting, produce a waste that needs to be discarded immediately, like a tissue paper used to blow nose on, or a wrapping paper whose contents are eaten during the wait, or the useless receipts one finds in the wallet that have served their purpose long ago, and are no longer needed and now just hoard the entire wallet space and one only gets time to clean the gluttonous wallet during intervals such as these where all other activity is paused as the car makes one wait on itself.

Here the writer goes back to the time he had purchased the automobile, and the mechanic had offered to mend the silencer for free, but the writer was eager to show his beloved their first material acquirement and had politely turned down the offer to which the mechanic had said “suit yourself sir, my offer shall stand forever” and without giving second thought to the mechanic’s seemingly absurd claim, he had jumped in and driven the coughing lump of metal towards his birth place where his indisposed wife awaited him. Three weeks later he composed a few poems dedicated to the promise of betrothal and solitariness and wrote a few more short stories which were all sent to a publisher in the adjacent town upon his wife’s insistence, and which were published during a period of three months after her death in the form of one whole book which sold less than a hundred copies in another fifteen years. The writer received his first critique in the local town magazine “La Nova Politico” soon after, whereby he was accused of employing unrealistic imagery to “convey his own narrow and insipid view of life”.

TASTE

The writer returns back to earth and he regrets not having brought with him a book to read which could have supplemented his present thoughts. He muses over the book and all that he had read so far. He deduces that the book is written expertly by Sapio Percepentia who was the world’s leading authority on metaphysics in 300 BC. Although the writer disagrees with many of Sapio’ views, including his lengthy expositions on the taste of sentiments and experiences, it had playfully triggered his imagination when Sapio had proposed a future wherein mankind shall be able to discern and experience various life events by relishing on their individual flavors which will be harnessed using energy and perception of the spirit itself. The writer amuses himself by recalling what Sapio had written regarding Death tasting like “barren sand, that which induces a raspy breath, hath been molded in form by the Creator Himself“, and Birth tasting like “seraphic honey, that which Nature and Man conspireth as one to yield and extract“, and Hatred tasting like “bitter venom spewed in eyes that mixeth with tears and rotten carcass“; indeed Sapio had attributed flavors to all that he found around him and within him, to the meandering river, and the birth of star, to the full moon, and to the act of reading, and taking a promenade bare feet on a dewy grassland, and standing on pebbles scattered on the pavement, and sitting –

The writer again sticks his tongue out and tastes the caustic metal in the air around him. He blesses Sapio’s intelligence and then wishes on the souls of those who translated his works over centuries, peace and tranquility, and those who mediated the means for the writer enabling him to purchase the book, he offers them silent gratitude in his heart. He then smiles and closes his eyes.

SMELL

I am the least vital sense a being such as yourself, needs…or this is what I’ve lead you to believe for I make an appearance as myself as the curtain draws on our solitary protagonist. But I am not present here to assert my importance, rather my role as a momentary narrator has been bestowed upon me by Time. I shall not keep you in perpetual mystery and will reveal to you a necessary detail which must be made known now otherwise the monologue of which I find myself quite undeserving shall be rendered utterly futile. Death, my close bosom friend, has taken our Writer. Whilst the Writer was engrossed in delving the senses my colleagues so respectfully represent, he had perchance forgotten to take notice of my ever growing presence in his surroundings. As you may recall, I had manifested myself as the whiff of rust to our writer, which he had heeded, much to my pleasure. He had then attributed me to the metallic tools in the workshop, which, I acquiesce to. Yes, my origins were the tools but then as time had pronounced upon me eons ago, I began symbolizing an end, the end not only to the arbitrary functioning of the mechanics tools which would be ultimately consumed by rust, but of an end to Life and more specifically, the end to the Writer’s Life. I say “symbolized” for Death has no smell, I am not associated with the tangible, nor the intangible, yet I exist. I shall make no false pronouncements that the Writer had smelled death after he had closed his eyes shut (such proclamations do amuse me) – it was rather my very absence that made Death, my comrade, collect the Writer’s soul in an ephemeral moment which I shall now endeavor to briefly elaborate on.

As the Writer sat on the bench, Life seated itself on his left, and when Death approached, he was greeted by the old companion warmly who welcomed him to make himself comfortable on the other side of the Writer. Death emanated a silent placidity and saw the Writer smiling as he unknowingly converged with the cold metal with his hand. Life assured Death that their mutual friend knew nothing of the future and that Life had taken the liberty to manifest itself in the Writer’s memories as the past and the present for one last time, after which Life stood up and shook hands with Death and took leave of him. Death comforted Life and assured him that their mutual friend shall be taken good care of and Life departed. Death approached the Writer cautiously, as to not frighten him, and then embraced him warmly on the cold, metallic bench, in a distant automobile workshop, a few feet away from the wastebasket.

Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino

Absolute gems from “Mr. Palomar” by Italo Calvino

  • “…because half-respected conventions spread insecurity and incoherence of behavior

    The chapters could be condensed to form an abstract short story.

    rather than freedom and frankness.”

  • “Is what we have in common precisely what is given to each of us as something exclusively his?”
  • “For millions of centuries the sun’s rays rested on the water before there were eyes capable of perceiving them.”
  • “No book can teach what can be learned only in childhood if you lend an alert ear and eye”
  • “Is “the lawn” what we see or do we see one grass plus one grass plus one grass…?”
  • The “universe, collection of celestial bodies, nebulas, fine dust, fields of force, intersections of fields, collections of collections…”
  • “Is this the exact geometry of the sidereal spaces, which Mr Palomar has so often felt the need to turn to, in order to detach himself from the Earth, that place of superfluous complications and confused approximations? When he finds himself really in the presence of the starred sky, everything seems to escape him. Even that aspect to which he thought himself most sensitive, the smallness of our world compared to the vast distances, does not emerge directly. The firmament is something that is up there, you can see that it exists, but from it you can derive no idea of dimensions or distance”
  • “When he finds himself really in the presence of the starred sky, everything seems to escape him. Even that aspect to which he thought himself most sensitive, the smallness of our world compared to the vast distances, does not emerge directly. The firmament is something that is up there, you can see that it exists, but from it you can derive no idea of dimensions or distance.”
  • “He looks around: a few paces from him a little crowd has gathered, observing his movements like the convulsions of a madman.”
  • “This is how birds think, or at least this is how Mr Palomar thinks, imagining himself a bird. “It is only after you have come to know the surface of things,” he concludes, “that you venture to seek what is underneath. But the surface is inexhaustible.”
  • “Nothing like the calligraphic agility of lizards’ tails”
  • “The cheese shop appears to Palomar the way an encyclopedia looks to an autodidact; he could memorize all the names, venture a classification according to the forms – cake of soap, cylinder, dome, ball – according to the consistency – dry, buttery, creamy, veined, firm – according to the alien materials involved in the crust or in the heart – raisins, pepper, walnuts, sesame seeds, herbs, molds – but this would not bring him a step closer to true knowledge, which lies in the experience of the flavors, composed of memory and imagination at once. Only on the basis of that could he establish a scale of preferences and tastes and curiosities and exclusions.”
  • “…which at least in part should be called human-bovine (coinciding in part with the human-ovine and in smaller part with the human-porcine, depending on the alternatives of a complicated geography of religious prohibitions)”
  • “Beyond the glass of every cage there is the world as it was before man, or after, to show that the world of man is not eternal and is not unique.”
  • “The thought of a time outside our experience is intolerable.”
  • “A stone, a figure, a sign, a word that reach us isolated from its context is only that stone, figure, sign or word: we can try to define them, to describe them as they are, and no more than that; whether, beside the face they show us, they also have a hidden face, it is not for us to know. The refusal to comprehend more than what the stones show us is perhaps the only way to evince respect for their secret; trying to guess is a presumption, a betrayal of that true, lost meaning.”
  • “The world is also there, and for the occasion has been split into a looking world and a world looked at.”
  • “A thing is happy to be looked at by other things only when it is convinced that it signifies itself and nothing else, amid things that signify themselves and nothing else.”
  • “Mr Palomar suffers greatly because of his difficulty in establishing relations with his fellow-man. He envies those people who have the gift of always finding the right thing to say, the right greeting for everyone, people who are at ease with anyone they happen to encounter and put others at their ease; who move easily among people and immediately understand when they must defend themselves and keep their distance or when they can win trust and affection; who give their best in their relations with others and make others want to give their best; who know at once how to evaluate a person with regard to themselves and on an absolute scale.”
  • “Then he tries to make his thoughts retain simultaneously the nearest things and the farthest: when he lights his pipe he is intent on the flame of the match that at his next puff should allow itself to be drawn to the bottom of the bowl, initiating the slow transformation of shreds of tobacco into embers; but this attention must not make him forget even for a moment the explosion of a supernova taking place in the great Magellanic Cloud at this same instant, that is to say a few million years ago. The idea that everything in the universe is connected and corresponds never leaves him: a variation in the luminosity in the Nebula of Cancer or the condensation of a globular mass in Andromeda cannot help but have some influence on the functioning of his record-player or on the freshness of the watercress leaves in his bowl of salad.”
  • “This: contemplating the stars he has become accustomed to considering himself an anonymous and incorporeal dot, almost forgetting that he exists; to deal now with human beings he cannot help involving himself, and he no longer knows where his self is to be found.”
  • “But for all this, even before he starts observing the others, one should know well who he is himself. Knowledge of one’s fellow has this special aspect: it passes necessarily through knowledge of oneself”
  • “Palomar, who does not love himself, has always taken care not to encounter himself face to face; this is why he preferred to take refuge among the galaxies; now he understands that he should have begun by finding an inner peace. The universe can perhaps go tranquilly about its business; he surely cannot. The road left open to him is this: he will devote himself from now on to the knowing of himself, he will explore his own inner geography, he will draw the diagram of the moods of his spirit, he will derive from it formulas and theories, he will train his telescope on the orbits traced by the course of his life rather than on those of the constellations. “We can know nothing about what is outside us, if we overlook ourselves,” he thinks now, “the universe is the mirror in which we can contemplate only what we have learned to know in ourselves.”
  • “Before, by “world” he meant the world plus himself; now it is a question of himself plus the world minus him.”
  • “Anyone who has lived in suffering is always made of that suffering; if they try to take it away from him, he is no longer himself.”
  • “These views can be divided into two broad categories: the biological mechanism, which allows leaving descendants that part of the self known as the genetic heritage; and the historical mechanism, which grants a continuance in the memory and language of those who go on living and inherit that portion, large or small, of experience that even the most inept man gathers and stores up”
  • “He decides that he will set himself to describing every instant of his life, and until he has described them all he will no longer think of being dead. At that moment he dies.”

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe

Following are some of my most favourite lines from “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

  • “…that misunderstandings and neglect occasion more mischief in the world than even
    The Werther from my imagination

    The Werther from my imagination

    malice and wickedness”

  • “Was not our intercourse a perpetual web of the finest emotions, of the keenest wit, the varieties of which, even in their very eccentricity, bore the stamp of genius?”
  • “When any distress or terror surprises us in the midst of our amusements, it naturally makes a deeper impression than at other times, either because the contrast makes us more keenly susceptible, or rather perhaps because our senses are then more open to impressions, and the shock is consequently stronger”
  • “So does the restless traveller pant for his native soil, and find in his own cottage, in the arms of his wife, in the affections of his children, and in the labour necessary for their support, that happiness which he had sought in vain through the wide world.”
  • “We should deal with children as God deals with us, we are happiest under the influence of innocent delusions.”
  • “Wilhelm, what is the world to our hearts without love?”
  • “I shall see her today!” And then I have no further wish to form: all, all is included in that one thought.”
  • “The world runs on from one folly to another; and the man who, solely from regard to the opinion of others, and without any wish or necessity of his own, toils after gold, honour, or any other phantom, is no better than a fool.”
  • “Nothing puts me so completely out of patience as the utterance of a wretched commonplace when I am talking from my inmost heart.”
  • “We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things; and, once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavour to efface them.”
  • “It is as if a curtain had been drawn from before my eyes, and, instead of prospects of eternal life, the abyss of an ever open grave yawned before me.”
  • “Now and then the fable of the horse recurs to me. Weary of liberty, he suffered himself to be saddled and bridled, and was ridden to death for his pains.”
  • “She was worthy of being known to you.” I thought I should have fainted: never had I received praise so flattering”
  • “…is the greatest and most genuine of pleasures to observe a great mind in sympathy with our own.”
  • “He is the most punctilious blockhead under heaven.”
  • “The silly creatures cannot see that it is not place which constitutes real greatness, since the man who occupies the first place but seldom plays the principal part. How many kings are governed by their ministers — how many ministers by their secretaries? Who, in such cases, is really the chief? He, as it seems to me, who can see through the others, and possesses strength or skill enough to make their power or passions subservient to the execution of his own designs.”
  • “Adieu!— Is Albert with you? and what is he to you? God forgive the question.”

    Werther, Lotte and Albert

    Werther, Lotte and Albert

  • “All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is exclusively my own.”
  • “Once more I am a wanderer, a pilgrim, through the world. But what else are you!”
  • “She ought not to excite my imagination with such displays of heavenly innocence and happiness, nor awaken my heart from its slumbers, in which it dreams of the worthlessness of life! And why not? Because she knows how much I love her.”
  • “I become more certain, that the existence of any being whatever is of very little consequence.”
  • “Yes, such is the frailty of man, that even there, where he has the greatest consciousness of his own being, where he makes the strongest and most forcible impression, even in the memory, in the heart, of his beloved, there also he must perish, — vanish, — and that quickly”
  • “I am alone the cause of my own woe, am I not? Truly, my own bosom contains the source of all my sorrow, as it previously contained the source of all my pleasure.”
  • “I cannot pray, “Leave her to me!” and yet she often seems to belong to me. I cannot pray, “Give her to me!” for she is another’s. In this way I affect mirth over my troubles; and, if I had time, I could compose a whole litany of antitheses.”
  • “Is he only happy before he has acquired his reason, or after he has lost it”
  • “How willingly could I abandon my existence to ride the whirlwind, or to embrace the torrent!”
  • “Tomorrow the traveller shall come, he shall come, who beheld me in beauty: his eye shall seek me in the field around, but he shall not find me.”
  • “Death! the grave! I understand not the words. — Forgive, oh, forgive me! Yesterday — ah, that day should have been the last of my life! Thou angel! for the first time in my existence, I felt rapture glow within my inmost soul. She loves, she loves me! Still burns upon my lips the sacred fire they received from thine. New torrents of delight overwhelm my soul. Forgive me, oh, forgive!”

Werther’s suicide – his final surrender to passion

 

Two Equals

Task: Write a story revolving around a Lawyer, a Library, a Lighter and Survival.

The End

Before I begin on my self-aggrandizing tirade, let’s get one thing clear – I am a pest, a vermin groveling on the earth, stealing that which is mine, scampering about on soil searching for food and taking it by hook or by crook. By crook, in most cases. Phew! Glad I got that off my chest.

Anyways, I’m fifty-five as of yesterday, and regarding personal information, that is all I’m willing to give up for age is but a number. You might be wondering as to why I won’t disclose my name? So that you can use my personal testimony against me? Oh no no no, I’m far too clever for you. A thought that has just entered your mind, had manifested itself in mine ages ago, I made a case out of it, deliberated on its pros and cons and various consequences and settled on how to go about it. So you see, I’m always a few steps ahead of you. You may refer to me as Unidentified. That word has a peculiar ring about it, don’t you think?

So yes, where was I? Aha! I’ve to justify my unscrupulous life before you. Though there is no need for it, because I’ve already lived my life and to charge me or judge me for what is in the past is something I don’t give two hoots about. Have you guessed by now what field of work I belong to? No? Okay then, I’ll give you some more time. Even though I have no sympathy for dumb witted personages such as yourself, and especially no sympathy for those who have been given ample time to think yet ask more of it. I confess that I’ve already established a slight liking for you. Why, you ask. Is it because I pity your innocence? On the contrary, I loathe it. I despise it. You will never be of any benefit to me. And that puts you at the bottom of the food chain. My food chain. Rather, I like you because you decided to lend me an ear. You chose to listen to what I’ve to say. And that, my friend, can I call you a friend even if I don’t mean it? Where was I? Yes, that my friend, is an admirable trait in a human being – to listen. Not just listen, but to mull over, to consider, and then perfect your reaction appropriately. I see your facial expressions are beginning to twinge because you see me as a worthless being yet you continue listening to what I have to say. What does that tell about you? Aren’t you a hypocrite much like myself? I quite fancy that word. Hypocrite. Hypocrisy. The word itself reeks of its meaning. Language is odd.

You are beginning to realize that I’m not very articulate, and that might flare up your concern for me – for what can a clumsy man be at fault for? You give too much importance to your own preconceived notions. What if my awkward talk is nothing but a guise to gain your pity? Aha! I’ve put you in a conundrum now. You are beginning to think who the real me is. Am I what I am projecting to be? Or am I the exact opposite to what I’m leading you to believe in? I cannot help you with the answer, I’m profusely sorry, because I myself don’t know who I am. Not that I am seeking the answer to that because I don’t care either ways. For some I could be the rogue hero, the savior, for others I could be the insect that courts dung, a groveling non-entity what do they call it? Ah yes, a dung beetle.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been likened to a dung beetle – a reference that provides me with ample amusement whenever I begin to scrutinize my life choices. In fact, I quite admire the title given to me by my esteemed colleagues. They are not much different from me except for the fact that I have already made peace with the idea that I’m a garbage of an excuse of a human being and they all yet have to reach this unanimous conclusion. Oh well! To each his own.

I once helped a murderer get off the hook. He roamed free on earth till, three years after his acquittal, he was killed in a brutal accident. They say they found his eyes squeezed to a mulch under the car tires, it was a Ford Lincoln I think. His brains were splattered on the ground and his genitals lay exposed for all eyes and cameras to see. What a way to go, eh? The driver of the vehicle was a good, old lady in her early forties who had lost her only daughter to the predator she had just run over with her car. Of course she was sentenced to life in jail where she committed suicide after four months. Life does come full circle.

You must be wondering why I recounted this particular story. The thing is, I knew the guy had killed a beautiful nineteen year old blonde girl who had refused to go out with him following a night of drunkenness in which he had assaulted her repeatedly. He was a vicious human being with no sense of virtue or remorse over his actions. In that aspect we were very similar. Not only did I want his money, but I also had a sense of protecting my own kind. We, the scum of the earth, look after each other even if it is only to satisfy our own means. The court proceedings were unfair on the victim’s family but justified for me because with all the money I had accumulated from that one case I was able to rent out a large condo on the fourth floor of a very, very expensive building on Le Paine Street. But I will not divulge further in my material possessions. I’m assuming that you are least interested in my personal acquirement.

Anyhow, a few months after the killer was cleared of all charges, my subconscious began to prick me. I would often lay awake at nights in my $20,000-per-month condo bedroom – fully furnished with cutting-edge interior furniture, 47″ inch plasma TV, a $5000 custom-made king size bed with a view overlooking the expensive properties on Paine Park. I couldn’t get the mother’s face out of my head. For some reason her last look had always haunted me, and it still does. My client had just been exonerated, and I was over the moon, my ego burst with pride and in my head I was thinking of how to celebrate my win. I was planning of treating myself with an expensive dinner followed by gratifying the carnal appetite with a gorgeous escort who would often visit me, I fail to recall her name. I think it was either Lucy or Lucia or Louisa, oh to hell with the whore’s name. So where was I? Yes, as I was planning all this in my head and as I was walking down the stairs, I happened to see the victim’s mother who was accompanied by some of her relatives. They were consoling her and as a man, I’m guessing the victim’s uncle, embraced her, her eyes fell upon me. I was at a considerable distance so her family hadn’t noticed me yet but I was close enough to be in her line of sight. Her white hair were disheveled, and her eyes, whilst soggy, had a bewildered look about them. I had never seen such hatred pour out of a set of eyes. Her facial expressions were that of a deeply grievous woman yet showed no signs of abhorrence but her eyes. Oh those eyes still trouble me. As if it had a mind of its own. They vented out the animosity that her face had failed to register. But all this lasted for a moment, and when I blinked again, she had looked away. I made haste out of the court and drove to Glutain Restaurant where I treated myself with an over-priced albeit tasteless dinner. For some reason, I have always associated that look with her when she had crushed her daughter’s murderer under the screeching tires and when she had electrocuted herself in the prison cell.

After a year or so my subconscious began to ease on me and as time passed, and as I won more and more cases, I gradually began to forget all about her. I began to sleep peacefully despite all the criminals and scandalous felons I was helping set free. Until of course, three years later, Adam, my secretary, happened to tell me that the good old woman was sentenced to life for a hit and run. I followed up on her case via the news and I even had once made up my mind to attend one court session but at the very last minute I decided to cancel and meet with another client instead. This particular client was being sued for corruption and he was a steel magnate which meant only one thing to me – big bucks were hurried my way. Soon after I won his case, I became the most sought after lawyer in the tri-state area, charging up to thousands of dollars for just an hour. I had assumed an air of self-importance and my already inflated ego was reaching out for the stars. Then one day, whilst watching a documentary on dung-beetles I received a text message to turn on channel 24, the local news channel which was infamous for its mediocre news coverage, and that’s when I got to know the convicted mother, the good old lady had committed suicide.

Suicide, in my opinion, is a coward’s act. And one thing I hate more than innocence is a weakling. Up till now, I have had the lady in my good graces. If she had ever come to me for any assistance, this is of course just conjecture for she would have never approached me even if her life lay on the line and I was the only person who could save her from the devil, I would have most happily helped her perhaps even free of cost. And that, my friend, coming from me, means a lot. But soon after I found out about her disgraceful act, she fell out of my pity. From there on, I did not regret the murderer’s discharge nor did I feel sorry for her unfortunate life which was bound to cruel fate. She avenged her daughter’s murder, and nature avenged her cowardice. Like I said, life comes full circle. So does justice.


 The Justification

You laugh, my friend. Why? Are you amused by my usage of the word “justice”? Like I said before, language is odd. Meanings are tangible only in dictionaries my friend. Each word has a different connotation, depending on the context it is used in and also depending on the perception of fellow beings. For me justice is that which is done right by me, for me and to me. I see, you withdraw in disgust. It’s quite apparent in your facial expressions. I’m pretty good at reading them. I didn’t get where I stand today just by hard work though that’s another term whose definition must vary between the two of us. I know how to manipulate and that’s why I am good at what I do or should I say was good at what I did. Tense is relative too. Anyhow, as I was saying, connotations vary greatly. So far, I’ve referred to you as a friend, but do you really think you are my friend as defined by your dictionary? Perhaps in your mind, yes, but for me you are but a temporary companion, a quiet listener of my tales and our kinship exists for a certain passage of time and as soon as the moment is gone, I shall fling you away like a stranger for then you’ll be of no use to me. For me a friend is whoever has to provide any benefit to me even if it’s fleeting. I bet no dictionary states this. See for yourself. Look around. We are sitting in a library surrounded by enormous amounts of knowledge yet not one book can state my personal, my very own definition of the word friend. Some books might allude to it, but nowhere can you find it specified in accordance to my perception. Think over this.

What I’m saying is that we make our own life, we shape our own destiny. And to be able to do that successfully, you have to manipulate life as it comes to you. This is why the legal institution allured me the most. Why must I be bound by formulas and concepts when I can pave my way as I please? Two plus two will always be four. What if for me two plus two is five? I shall mold my life according to my own adage, my own principles, bend moral ethics to suit myself alone. And I did. Let me warn you, my friend, that I’m not a philosopher. Philosophy collapsed when it failed to assert that two plus two could be five. Could be, that’s the key word, my friend. I’m a realist. A practical man who lives for the self alone. You may call that selfish but that doesn’t do any good since our definitions of selfishness differs too. I don’t see it in a negative light as you do. I call it Survival.

I remember when in grade four we were assigned the task of reading the first three chapters of the science book during our summer vacations. We then had to summarize each chapter in five to six lines each, highlighting the most important concepts in each unit. Chapter one began with the usual definition of science, its kinds, its types, examples in daily life around us, its uses and misuses and other claptrap each book vows to begin with in order to get the child’s attention. It failed to get mine. I wasn’t interested in the cheap colorful illustrations of the human anatomy or the labeled diagram of an atom. Second chapter was appropriately titled “Living Beings” and I had decided to skim through it. A page or two later, my eyes fell on a lone phrase that was typed in bold and set off from the rest of the paragraphs. It indeed looked like a complete message of its own, with no relation to the text. It simply said: “Survival of the Fittest”

Now that had caught my attention. I wondered what survival meant and what fittest meant and I ventured on to look for a description. The text that followed, very loosely stated meaning of the phrase, aided with some simple diagrams of the food chain, and the food pyramid and the food cycle. I wasn’t satisfied with the gist of the word “fittest”. However, to summarize I just wrote that lone phrase in my notebook. Of course the teacher wasn’t very happy. In grade ten, I did a six-page report on the phrase for English class and by age nineteen it had become my personal motto. The only problem was that I was still struggling to find the true meaning of the word “fittest” – a meaning that most satisfied me. The maxim was there but inundated with external meanings under the light of science, and evolution, and biology, and sociology – all rubbish. I was seeking a practical meaning and not until I did my Masters in Law, did I manage to get the gist of the dictum that my entire life had revolved around.

I have a twelfth edition of the same science book in my hand. Now you know why I asked you to visit this library. They are the only ones that have an academia section dedicated to scholastic books. Which comes as a surprise because no other library keeps academic books taught in classes and lecture rooms. That just means knowledge passed on to one over years has no need to be revised later in the age. Make whatever you will out of that. Knowledge itself is duplicitous. What does that tell you of the human condition? That you are no better than I am. I will get a chance to expound on this later. Anyways, here take the book. Don’t be alarmed, I’m just passing you the book. Turn to the contents page…What do you notice? Imbecile. Turn to chapter two, page 15. Now tell me what do you notice? Ah see, your eyes are wide open. So you do see. The chapter is titled “Survival of the Fittest” and not “Living Beings” as it once was. Poetic, isn’t it? What do you make of that? Don’t bother me with your insight.

Here let me show you something. It’s in my pocket. So don’t be alarmed when my hands reach out for it. You are timid, I noticed that by the way you jumped when I was about to hand you the book. But that doesn’t make me like you any less for you are still listening to me. You are cordial in your undivided attention and that is worth my time. Here, see this lighter here. I carry it in my pocket at all times. But, I don’t smoke. I loathe smoking. Another thing I hate besides innocence and helplessness is bad odor. All my colleagues smoke and they leave a trail of whiff behind them which is perhaps the most unpleasant odor known to me. They reek of pretension, of their paltry desires and insignificance and trivial dependence on artifacts such as a cigarette. The smell of a fag is the stench of failure. I once dismissed my client for contaminating my office with that horrible stench. I was running late and the miserable idiot had made himself comfortable in my office room and despite a clear sign, typewritten in bold and red that said “No Smoking”, he had gone ahead anyways. Of course I had to decontaminate the room after firing him.


 The Means

Is this funny to you? Do I amuse you with my silliness? You wonder how a cretin like me can feel so strongly against an abhorrent habit. You are a fool then. For let me tell you about how I acquired this lighter which I now carry with myself at all times. I don’t consider it a good luck charm for I fell to disgrace when it was in my pocket. I first lost my reputation and then my wealth over a period of twenty-five years. I shall not indulge in the particulars because I know that you are aware of them already – why else would you have agreed to listen to me all this time if my failure hadn’t tickled your curiosity in the first place? Don’t be cheeky, you cannot coerce me to immerse in the details of my ruin. You may threaten to leave but that still won’t make me budge. Anyhow back to the lighter. I was reduced to being a mole in one of the shabbiest legal offices known to mankind. I was living in a dilapidated apartment consisting of two rooms four blocks down my office and working part-time for a legal advisory company whose name I shall not reveal because of professional integrity and responsibility. Like I said, all filthy creatures tend to watch over each other. So this company I was working for had a client, let’s call him Mr. Brown. He was a smug bastard with quite a bit of money which of course I had my eyes on. I wanted to get a warm water heater installed in my bathroom anyways. So he was chucked my ways…

I sense an impatience in your eyes. Your thoughts are no longer following what I’m saying. Are you still hinged on my fall? Classic display of humanity’s fascination with tragedy. You really want to hear about the events that led to my fall from my own mouth. Why? Tell me why? You are no longer interested in how I came to procure this lighter which I assure you makes much more of an interesting story than to narrate the particulars of my failure. Oh I know what this is. You see me as a villain, a scoundrel and because I am the scum of the earth you take pleasure in the assurance that I failed. Yes, I did fail. I admit to that and I forever shall. But if you think I can gratify your senses by submitting to your will, then you have another thing coming, my friend. Never, shall I yield myself to assure you that all evil leads to ever-crippling consequences. I shall not be put in a position where I am to verify your claims that wickedness is punished. Because that just heightens your own sense of righteousness. I knew that from the very start. Why else would you agree to hear me out if it was not to appear more goodly, more virtuous, more moral in your own mind’s eye – to gratify yourself that yes you indeed are honorable and just and, in comparison to me, deserve more than I ever did. I can see your eyes glimmering, you have indeed put yourself on a higher pedestal than me. Aha! My friend, we are chalk and cheese. I know what you are thinking. Conceit. One of the finer transgressions of life. Pride – a mortal sin. You are no better than me. Didn’t I tell you I already knew you? That I will always be one step ahead of you…