The Masochist Men & Sycophantic Women (Chapter Two)
Through a common friend of Mr. Floyd, a chance meeting happened with a rather eccentric social circle who indulged themselves in discoursing and philosophising about the nature of their thoughts and nothing more. Mr. Floyd who himself had his idiosyncrasies and was somewhat considered a peculiar little fellow by his compatriots, divested himself from the natural, abhorrent social circle of men and now he was gleeful that he had found in this world what he thought were extinct, a congregation of enlightened men and women. This flock of capricious people appealed to his very soul. What more, they accepted Mr. Floyd as their own.
They met, ate, conversed and dispersed. They were ordinary people with extraordinary ambitions. It was apparent at the onset, to Mr. Floyd, that, they were never going to attain anything in life except what was ordinarily achieved. Mr. Floyd, who was a pseudo recluse, had met his perfect social circle. It consisted of masochistic men and sycophantic women. They went late to bed, woke up early in the morning for their office, spent a dull day at work and then met at Café Devkota, conversed fancifully and whimsically, engaged themselves in a vehement and rueful discussions at times, paid their bills and went home to watch the 8 PM news. This was too good to be true for Mr. Floyd.
There were about a dozen of them but most of them managed to squeeze past the rush to manage a meet with their fellow anomalous characters. Within short amount of time Mr. Floyd was already on the pulpit and his influence burgeoned with time. It was apparent that he had begun to be a no match for anyone which owed much of it to him being a recluse. He wasn’t a typical loner for; he liked the company of people very much. In fact, he was always among people of all sorts, loquacious men, quiet women, fervent grandfathers, wayward children. He gratified himself in company of people but ironically he was very much a recluse. It was so because he rarely conversed with anyone but himself. He observed it all and took such frivolous part of life to his heart. He’d read Blake by the age of fifteen and by adolescence, he had already completed Sartre. It is rare nowadays to find people who read, especially people who are autodidact and willing to go lengths to comprehend even a speck of knowledge. We are all mortals living together to act impishly in our own ways. Some read, some coy, some go distance to be normal while some are just born from Gogol’s bosom. Mr. Floyd was one of those, who knew the meaning of all this stupidity was merely to exist and procreate. Now, he was here, a prominent member of this social circle.
One day, Floyd had arrived much earlier to the café and sat there in his usual temperance. Reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, concentrated, yielding sweet delight, he sat cross-legged in a regular chair and while the table was recently furbished ebony dark. He knew he should have to wait for his comrades for more than an hour and he waited callously. He would wait without any restlessness and anxiety; such was his sober demeanour at such moments of time. He assumed an air, like, he owned the very place. His companions, time and again acknowledged such manifestations that exuded from him. Much more of this yielded in him being revered.
He had just finished the front page when he noticed a woman was also sitting beside, in another table. It was littered, cigarettes left at odds and in ends, it was a mess, cups of coffee left astray and in the edge of this small, ebony, round table was a Dostoevsky, closed and placed upside down. By chance, their glances met and both of them assumed a faint smile, Floyd nodded naively as he ensued.
After a couple of minutes, the woman enquired, “Are you also waiting for Mr. Joshi?” Floyd thought she spoke like a nightingale. He had never heard a nightingale but he assumed such must be its tone.
“Err……yes……yes…..Care to join in?” he drawled. She got up from her seat promptly, raised the book, nimbly came over, sat down and lit a cigarette. “I’ve seen you here before, I also came here early for, I had nothing much to do”. Mr. Floyd let a grin.
“So, what do you do?” inquired Floyd and lit a cheap cigarette of his own. The woman hastily drew a packet of cigarette from her sling bag and said, “Care to?”
“No, I like this, it’s hard”, he said, callously.
“Oh, I am sorry”, she giggled and added after a while, “Oh, I am a student of Psychology at the University of ____”.
He sighed, “Good…and what brings you here to this nook of Kathmandu”.
“Well, my rented apartment is just across the street, so one day, you know, I stumbled upon some of the guys here and ever since I manage a visit”, she smiled. She had a childlike air, her neck was going to and fro, she was fair looking and her dark long hair depicted her of a stereotypical non-conformist. Kathmandu is almost full of such apparitions.
The little waiter came over with an inquisitive glance. The woman said, “Bring me milk coffee, nanu”. The little nanu left nimbly as she had come. “She is sprightly, I tutor her sometimes”, said the woman. Mr. Floyd gave a slight nod and a faint smile; he was feeling despondent at this point. He had an idea of being alone. But what can one do when someone takes a fancy upon you, thought he. He was merely cloying along.
“What is your name?” he asked brusquely, just to be courteous, ironically.
She said, “I am Rita”, in her almost inaudible rejoinder.
Maybe she felt a little taken aback, felt a scrap of condensation. Who the devil cares, thought Mr. Floyd? As the moments ensued, he began his investigation with her.
“I often frequent this place, I am sorry but, this is the first time I have heard from you”, said Floyd apologetically. He was merely masquerading. He knew he was getting good at it.
“On the contrary, I have heard from you many times. I often wonder what brings you to your lofty conclusions. It’s almost paradoxical. I am very much beguiled”, said Rita, graciously. He almost blushed.
‘So, you are testing your academia upon me, I presume’
‘Let’s say you are not exactly inconspicuous’
‘Ought I to be?’
At that moment, the little nanu brought her coffee followed by a pup. Who knows what scent it follows, thought Floyd. But wagging its tail, it gently sat on his right foot and thus lounging, began licking and panting. On his part, Mr. Floyd indiscreetly kicked it. Rita noticed that he looked rather repelled at its presumed indolence. The pup lashed out immediately.
‘So, you don’t like dogs?’ she inquired rather slavishly so that he wouldn’t be offended.
‘Do you?’ he replied promptly and indifferently, reading his newspaper.
She replied sharply, ‘Who doesn’t like dogs? That too, a little puppy?’ She raised her brows and started, ‘Look, I am just saying, you know, I hope we are cool’, she concluded briskly. She thought Mr. Floyd was rather taken aback with his big pudgy eyes suddenly looking at her. He certainly was smirking.
‘Yes, we are cool. Why not, it’s not that I don’t like dogs but I am not in the mood to pamper one. Besides, there are number of things in my mind that make it detestable, right now’. He replied ardently.
After a while, addressing to the new acquaintance, he began, ‘What do you think about dogs?’ Now it was he, who had taken a little fancy upon her. He began frolicking with her and he began to ply his art.
‘I am kind of, an animal right activist….’. She beamed.
‘What are you, a vegan?’ he acrimoniously chimed in, still reading the paper.
‘As a matter of fact, I am. Why, don’t you think that we all are equal beneficiaries to this planet, that, we stand in equal footing with the animals, that they are like us and we are very much like them?’ she questioned timidly yet confidently. She tried hard not to show that she was even slightly intimidated at the moment.
‘Yes, I also think the same as you and we are all equal as we all are god’s own children. We share the same lofty ambition, that, we all have the inherent need to survive and compete. That, we all share the same indulgence, to love and be loved. That, we all share the same inhibitions, to evolve and continue to procreate’. Floyd let a grin as he looked at her and she also let a smile rather reluctantly.
He ensued, ‘Well, my new animal loving friend, I do have to add that like animals we also manifest our volitions in our behaviour but I ask you can we still argue that like humans, animals are also prone to conduct its behaviours out of fallacies and crossness. Do they also conduct themselves in the name of god and its numerous doctrines, do they even perceive god or are they even apt to recognize humanity. We, on our part, can identify with their vulnerabilities and act accordingly. But, these questions are mere manifestations of my main apprehension……….. Do we really stand on an equal terms when we as human beings are more indulged in loftiness, gluttony, lust and thousands of other habits pertaining to decadence. For we are intelligent than them, that you, my vegan friend, cannot take it away from me, and what do we do with our superior aptitude, we try purge each other as often as we fancy. We try to cleanse ourselves, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters and even their unborn children. We wallow in an unique filth of loftiness that even gods cannot match………My dear friend, how can we as humans be on equilibrium with gods other children when we outweigh them in terms of both love and hate. We stand superior to them in all regards’, he concluded callously.
There was a brief silence. However, feeling unable, to be lashed out like that poor little pup, Rita said, dejectedly, ‘So, you are implying that, since we human being are superior in the matter of love and most essentially, we are superior at indulging in hatred, that, they are inferior to us. I find it a little vague, Mr. Floyd. But more than that, I think it speaks volumes about you rather than about the eminence of human beings’.
At this, Mr. Floyd reddened and he had an astute look, that of a man who had been ridiculed sternly. He immediately lamented what he had commenced, that fancy, he now knew he shouldn’t have acted capriciously. It was a frivolous attempt to sham his intellectual eminence to this little, pesky Madame. Mr Floyd didn’t speak much. But when he spoke he would speak out of passion. He realized that he got ardent at the wrong time. She was a mere fancy he had taken to, but, it was the wrong time. There was no audience, he reflected.
‘Looks like you are quite the meticulous one’, he said calmly, looking directly at her eyes. ‘But, I can assure you that I am not quite as vain as you have assumed. However, at times one cannot help it’.
He didn’t feel that way but in order to avoid any fortuitous confrontation, he just spoke it. It was his reflex to subside any further altercation. Rita, for her part, was pleased at her opponent’s subjugation and at the same time she was confounded. She wanted to continue this tête-à-tête, but she resorted to feeling content. If only he could give it to me, she thought.
Mr. Floyd continued to read his paper. He already had finished reading the daily in the morning but he still read it nonetheless. People with a sharp tongue usually get updated once in a while to adhere to the existing trends. They know repetition is the guaranteed formula to success. The least they do is masquerade. Most of them just want to look sharp and intelligent to others, it may be an argument for the sake of the argument but nonetheless they lust approval and applause. They want to be revered to, as some sort of cult personality. With their vast previous failures they know how to manipulate the crowd and be the witty and dazzling master of ceremony. If they fail at it, they will think and rethink, will pander to their habitual series of monologue, listen to others meticulously and will again try, the next time. Such is their brutal vanity. Their nonchalance is just another masquerade but inside they will be burning for another opportune moment. And so was Mr. Floyd, at this time. How he wished he had an audience. How he wished to thrash this unwarranted visitor. He was piqued.
He sat there, silent as the sky, as it is said, “like a calm before the storm”. A portentous one was soon to thunder at her head, he could feel it. He was feeding on it, the sensation. It consumed him like a filthy pond, laden with man eating planktons and guileful creatures ready to devour a victim. If he wanted then he surely would have blasted her off at this moment but he was patient. Silence engulfed the place for more time than Rita wanted but she knew well that Mr. Floyd was somewhat disconcerted. However, she didn’t have a hint what laid in his heart. She only wanted to acquaint herself with such a prominent member of this circle. She was as innocent as they come. Mr. Floyd was ready to pound on her innocence and what great gratification would it ensure; only he knew.
Mr. Joshi came in with his long black umbrella. Everything about him was long or huge. He wore a long overcoat which was exquisitely sewed by the famous New Road Tailoring which evinced his broad shoulders, tactfully, almost magnificent, only if he didn’t have a small face. He wore a cravat which was black and one could assume it was a veritable silk and his moustache spoke of the times he had lived in. Men don’t don moustache today, it is uncannily considered despicable nowadays, to have a moustache and be clean shaven. Sometimes time changes so fast that one keeps on pondering, what it would take to reverse it back? Mr. Joshi was one of those nostalgic fellows who would forget about the present and tell tales from the days of yore. He could go on for hours until of course; he would lose unconsciousness from inebriation. He was a regular. There was no craving for him, he just gulped impetuously. Drinking, for him was also on a grand scale. Everyone would be merry when he got drunk. He had a way with drunkenness, almost suave and uncouth at the same time. Only Floyd, his comrade and dearest friend knew that he was always inebriated on ludicrous ideas and conjectures.
Mr. Joshi arrived quietly, sat down nonchalantly, and ordered an eggroll. He assumed a faint smile at them and started skimming through the papers which Floyd has just finished. There was a silence for some time again and Rita who was most affected with it started, “Looks like the strike has been concluded”. Both men simultaneously nodded their head as silence ensued for some time again.
Mr. Floyd gave a sigh, folded his hands and assumed a grim countenance merely looking at the tainted wall. Mr. Joshi began to read aloud, a poem from the Assorted Pickings section of the paper. It was poorly written one, but Floyd just knew he was bantering around.
I looked into my dish
And found a fried fish,
Poor little silver trout
Was no game for human bout.
I ate the little creature
The smell had me lure,
And filled my hungry need
Without a guilt`s creed.
There was a brisk laughter, Floyd sniggered the most. The little Nanu who had overhead the Joshi`s rhetoric oration shouted, with the puppy in her lap `wah-wah-wah` and chuckled. Rita also let out a giggle, looking at her. She asserted, “I don’t believe such literatures are even produced on the daily paper“. Mr. Floyd who had now read the paper two times, callously replied, “It can be produced, if the poem is written by a eight years old, I think we are going to read more from the little poet in the future“.
`Yes, the little poet is a genus, we need more of such literatures on our paper, otherwise its plain whining and consoling, what else have we been reading for the last twenty years, other than such nuisance“ added Joshi rather ardently.
`Look at the paper! It’s full of sadistic and morose news and ideas, it’s like we have no hope for the future. It’s blatantly appalling“ drawled Mr. Floyd, callously again. He furrowed his brows. He spoke like he had already uttered the phrase more than a couple of times in his life.
“It`s a shame! It`s a shame! “ said Joshi despondently as he continued throwing his glances at the newspaper. Rita kept her quiet. She was in her early twenties, yet full of hope. She knew it was hard to argue with these old hogs regarding the matter of progress. They had seen enough hypocrisy from society and the governments which were to deliver happiness to their fellow men. More than once, she had been harangued by such perturbed elderly citizens and she didn’t want to trail that path again with these men. She just wanted to have a good time and she constrained her impulse to exude optimism. One is always judged from the ability to keep silence rather than from words that come out.
`So, what do you think, Rita? Tell us your opinion on the matter of progress with your youthfulness. Don’t tell me you are also exasperated like us silver-haired bureaucrats! ` He exclaimed.
“I don’t know what to think! I am almost somewhere between hope and despair Mr. Joshi”, replied Rita subtly. It was almost true on her part. She just didn’t want to get harangued all over again by old folks. She was veteran when it came to silly, old, impulsive men. She was experienced when it came to diplomatic rejoinders. After all, she was a woman.
To be continued…