Sentiment of Ruin

Continued from “Desire to Own”

“It was my wining and dining with the rich and the powerful that had hastened my moral fall,” he said wryly after a while. “Didn’t Rousseau observe that ruthlessness is the common characteristic of the successful; maybe I insensibly turned insensitive in their infectious company. Whatever may be the rationale for my twisted vision of love, the reality of my life was that I allowed myself to slide into the abyss of immorality. What with the materialistic veil shrouding our love life, I tried to fill my emotional void in an extramarital affair without knowing that I became incapable of inspiring love. How shameful, but I’m not going to hide my ugly side to let you have a true picture of me and of those who came into my life.”

“Vices are the price that one pays for his virtues.”

“But it was as if I had sacrificed my virtues to propitiate the goddess of vices,” he continued. “I used to know an upright officer and that amounts to much in today’s world; maybe honesty had never been the dominant character of man, didn’t Shakespeare aver that to be honest is to be counted among one in a thousand; but these days the odds seem to be one in a hundred thousand. The good fellow had always been helpful to me within the rules that is but without any favors to return; once I told him to count on me just in case and he said that he hoped it would never be the case. When I came to know that he was caught red-handed, I knew it could be the handiwork of those who were irked by his honesty, and yet I was glad that the one who replaced him was corrupt to the core.”

“Often, it’s the marginal operators and not the hardcore corrupt that get caught and the big fish, if ever trapped, find their way out as they would’ve made enough dough to feed the small fish who net them.”

“It’s ironical but real, and that’s sad,” he said. “To go back to the tale of that small fish, given his thin resume and modest means, he had a windfall of a wife, who came to me to picture her helplessness. Qualified though and talented as well, she opted to remain a housewife to take care of his home, where his mother too felt at home; as that earned her his gratitude, she remained a fulfilled spouse. I think it was Bernard Shaw who said that any good natured fool would make a better husband than a Caesar, Shakespeare and Napoleon for great men are ill-equipped for domestic purposes, and as for me, I fell between two stools ending up an intellectual fool. As they were gloating over the flowering of their toddler son, throwing them into dilemma, the old woman’s kidneys had failed. While common sense suggested it was as well to let her ripe-old life end its course in the crematorium, the son’s sense of filial duty was for keeping his mother on dialysis as long as he could afford. But his wife thought it was an absurd proposition as she believed that the idea of medical science was to cure the curable, and not to cater to a gone case; remember that my father too saw it that way.”

“Maybe those who love the spirit of life than life per se perceive it that way.”

‘Looks like that,” he continued after a pause. “She tried to impress upon him that it was wise to spare the meager monies for the survival of the survivors but just the same he put the old woman on a ruinous dialysis course, making his young wife bear the brunt of his sentimental treatment. When the inevitable end came that ended his moral predicament, seeing his wife’s plight in the debt trap, he was caught in the pangs of guilt; so to pull her out of the financial mess he had pushed her into, he took to bribe-taking; well, she was quick to caution him about the pitfalls on the road ahead, but he continued with the practice regardless that was till he was caught in the act and brought to book to account for a three-year jail term.”

“Maybe a course correction in sentimental ruin would have been in order for those who cannot afford to buy justice.”

“Hope it won’t make a case for contempt of court,” he said in jest. “Her life seemed to be a drama enacted in the theatre of the absurd wherein the plot of fate pushed her onto the stage of climactic tragedy. Her nine year son had to undergo an open-heart surgery but there was none in the family she could turn to for succor and support; she knew that though helpless as mother, being desirable, she could be resourceful as woman, but there was no way she would prostitute herself even to save her only child. She said that as she kept her fingers crossed, and prayed for a miracle, her husband suggested that she might seek my help for he thought I had a helping hand, and she was prepared to work for me for half of her take home pay till the loan amount was adjusted.”

“I’ve read in Benign Flame that the boasts of men about their conquests would sound hollow for it’s the vulnerability of women that fetches them their favors.”

“Oh, how true it is,” he said. “I had seen it as godsend and offered to take care of her son if she was prepared to be my mistress, but as she protested saying that she was a married woman, I reminded her that he was jailed and promised to let her go as and when he would come out of it. She said that’s not what her husband would’ve bargained for when he sent her to seek my help, and I told her that I couldn’t help as her charms corrupted my soul; when she retorted that she was not obliged to cater to my craving for her, I asked her, what if I helped her out only to woo her later? Won’t her sense of gratitude tend her emotionally towards me? As she would be my P.A anyway, she being sex-starved and I being lovelorn, won’t our physical proximity threaten her chastity; some catalyst can be expected to bring about our union, sooner than later that is. Calling me callous, she caved in nevertheless.”

“Why, it’s a refinement of the Casanova logic you had talked about; how sad it was given that you were such a sensitive lover.”

“I really don’t know if callousness was a streak of my character shrouded by my capacity to love,” he said remorsefully. “Whatever, I kept my word and let her join her man on his release, but in the meantime to my dismay, being physically close, yet she was emotionally distanced from me; but it was her parting words – ‘glad you’ve given up your reign on my body’ - that wounded my pride of being a ladies’ man. It was from then on that I took to one-night stands as a guarantee against emotional failures; what an end it was to the lover in me.”

“It’s the tragedy of my life so to say,” he continued pausing as if to mourn the death of the lover in him. “If in spite of my means, I failed to inspire her, then for the lack of youth, I lost a woman on the verge of conquest. I met Mallika on the train, and it was a case of mutual attraction with the momentum to fast track affection. When she was all eager for a date, it was either my naivety for being truthful or vanity of not looking my age, damn them both, that put paid to it; unasked, as I revealed my age, she exclaimed, ‘oh, you’re my dad’s age’, and that was that. A la Ghalib, ‘of what avail is my beckoning her / wish she gives up self-restraint’, I hoped for long that the force of attraction would prevail upon her forcing her to seek me; well, she took my phone number before the fiasco of that seduction. When hope tired me, her enchanting persona was blurred in my mind but the beauty of that brief encounter ever remains fresh in my memory; even now, as I ponder over her inexplicable behavior, I wonder whether it was her vanity to desist from an affair with an older man that blinded her attraction; would’ve my disclosure in the midst of our lovemaking made her recoil from my arms? What if she were to know about my age after we were true and thick into an affair, wouldn’t she have still carried on with me? I know that I would never know.”

“Maybe she would have carried on for it is said that any fool can get into an affair but it takes a wise head to get out of it.”

While he laughed heartily, I felt heartened for having lightened him, be it for a while.

Continued to “Enigma of Attraction”


More by :  BS Murthy

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