“I’m afraid you are a prisoner in your own fort.” I could not get more candid than this and that too when he was the chief. He stared bewildered into my eyes and I knew that what I said sunk in and he was jolted more by, may be my audacity to make that statement without mincing many words. I saw, it was touché! I tried to lessen the impact of the hammer and hastened to add, “I regret having to be as blunt as I was, but the fact is that you are having in your domain two of the most fiendish persons there can be. They are like the Rasputin and the Russian queen and have grown uninhibited that now they see you as trivial, irritating and an expendable joke”.
After momentary reality of dismay, he soon began protesting in his usual overblown self that he still is the lord what he surveys. Often, his arguments were asinine and expressed defiantly, loaded with arrogance and misplaced pride. The fact as I could see was that his bêtise may see him fall and lay like Ozymandias pretty soon. I was not alone in concluding so. People in the organization even spoke of a re-enact of the horror of the Ides- of- March. They said in unanimity that, his conceit was sure to accompany him even into the grave. Alas, some men are destined to not foresee where their own self will eventually take themselves to!
I have not seen another who was a vacillator than he is. His vacillations were out of fear of the man who grew ominously influential and big under his tutelage. It was akin to a parasite growing larger than the host. His protégé- Anthrax Romin the Greek!
The intrigues, chicanery and maliciousness he condoned and saw as means to greater gains were orchestrated and conducted by Anthrax. Apparently in even time he grew into an albatross and an indispensable part and that if threatened in anyway can pull with him the whole fabric. He was privy to many shady matters and by the fact, held a total asphyxiating control over even his mentor’s life and business enterprise.
When it was about the hag, it has been an open speculation about her power over this fellow Anthrax. Though observations by people may be dismissed as sleazy gossips and innuendos, there was much substance to the probability that she was his concubine or mistress and they were in cahoots with bigger plans that would eclipse the psyche of Shylock. For a characterless harlot to travel with ease from the status of a kennel-keeper and a relegated house maid into a force that has to be reckoned in the hierarchy of the organization and feared would certainly have more than smooth transition that was natural. She exerted immense influence on the protégé. And he, true to his name after the scourge, he can be as villainous as the disease itself. And together they combined to be a force that was reprobate and grossly dangerous.
Once, the Big-man asserted that Anthrax is a “dirty bastard”. I did not respond to the statement as I have known often that he will pamper him and go all over the fellow like a child or a poodle when he sees him and he has not the courage to confront him with such statement. His position as the boss and the lord of the empire he runs, fails to aid him with character and grit to antagonize or ruffle him. He was easily pliable, Anthrax and his accomplice, the woman could do it with their little fingers. It was strange to us more because Anthrax’s shenanigans was more than often compromising the big man and putting in peril the survival of what perhaps his children should be left or bequeathed one day.
Some others have often approached the big- fellow and failed to prevail upon him to untangle himself from the snares of Anthrax. The big man saw him as his “Man Friday”! He refused to heed others when they told him, “He is the reason for the state of affairs. He always has and will continue to derail the organization. In fact he lights the fire and cries out hastening you to run and put it out, in the mean while he‘d have lit another fire. He survives by ensuring you do not at any moment feel that he is dispensable. Look back, what has he brought about since associating with you as a young fellow returned from overseas? Nothing but choking problems and trying situations!”
One day he began in a casual conversation with me to paean him. I listened withholding my annoyance and was later pilloried by others for letting him shower praise on his protégé and continue with his delusions.
The book of living, if written may highlight the importance of one’s ways, path and the people who we keep within our perimeter. For, both can leave indelible bearing upon us and our fate. And this man seemed to be weighed down by his conduct and the company he keeps.
He once told me to my utter disgust when I mentioned some matter thus, “it is a big problem to be left unattended…” He held me literally pulling my shoulder and stated, “There is nothing called big problem in life. Even if your kid dies in a motor crash or what ever, it is only a problem and nothing more.”
"You see”, he, at another time told me; “I work and keep this wealth for my satisfaction”.I did not want to let him be satisfied with his mean-spiritedness and arrogance. “But Sir, we earn and keep aside wealth or things for our dependents- our kids, our spouse and what we call our family. I would want to do that and so will many others”. “I’m not foolish to hitch my happiness to my kids and wife, or am I prepared to accept that I earn for them. You know something, if I die today, the only thing they would do is to grab my wealth.” It was quite nauseating and I said to myself, “you make me sick and utterly repelled. I harbour no pity for you, you pathetic fellow”.
I felt his eyes read me and was certain, almost certain that he read my thoughts. He dismissed me with the wave of his palm and his customary fussy and eccentric disposition.