He was born and began his life in a faraway land – land of his birth, a land that had history, myths, legends and culture, colourful, so vibrant that he and many of his generation were swept away in its audacity and imperiousness. In the high tide, what people boasted loudly – “rich heritage!” Like many of us who want to glow in the aura of our past. The past, that was of our forefathers! A past, of which we have not seen and should have no bearing upon what we now are! The illusion that we are what it was- “the glorious past”, of which we had no part and can claim nothing of.
It is true that culture, years of tradition and social living as civilization could make people refined; by far better creatures, without gauche. It is also true that what is born with you would refuse to wither away and like little ugly warts, like barnacles stick to you with wickedness.
He was one such. His grandfather was a person of nauseating wealth and hence, also what brings with such profusion – “influence and power”. Adding up to a potent concoction, “arrogance”! He had his fingers in pies, in places that really mattered. He had a long arm. That served well when he turned eighteen and brought him the passage across the seas to the land farther away. A land, where its people who like Rip Van Winkle believed that the world has not changed, cannot change and also that they still could lord over, the minnows as they see you and I. Where people believed and to great extent true until some years ago, that their folks would be devouring breakfast, lunch and dinner obscenely like rapacious philistines, all at the same time in different places on the globe; where it was twilight, dawn and noon all at same time, Where the sun never went into the sea. A bizarre matter to think about for ordinary people like you and I! It was not fantastic, in fact it was true.
So, that was where he spent the most fertile time of his life, his youth. The cold wind that blew from the North Sea and the Arctic did little to mellow his enthusiasm for all that was less modest and liberal. Ten years and nine months of fun, frolic and a side dose of university education.
The Irish girl saw him in the rain one day and they walked under the same umbrella to his apartment. It was a special feeling of nearness that accelerated banging of his heart against his ribs, he would later recall. “Falling in love in the rain and be soaked to the bones. I felt I would fade away in the rain and my bones would melt in the warmth of his clasp.” she would reminisce even many years after. “It was rain drops of love over us” she would add.
Eventually, she tagged to him as the co-passenger on the jet plane back to the land where he was born. She held his hand throughout the precarious air borne journey. She had an aversion for the skies and what hurls through the skies- up in the air with no moorings on the flat earth down below. She did not pray though, for a quick and safe deliverance from the long drawn jet haul through the clouds. It was not that she was an atheist .She was a catholic as most folks are from her country. And she disliked flying.
Back at home, he ventured into territories that were fancy and exotic, though he managed an Engineering degree in metallurgy from the university in “Old Blightly”. He chose to be a wine merchant. There was still a part of the substantial share of wealth his grandfather bequeathed to him and that was tempting enough to be flamboyant and freewheeling. His grandfather, the patriarch had passed away and the clout the family enjoyed receded gradually and purposefully like the ebbing of the tide.
Old habits that are in our chemistry, that reside in our veins and every sinews even while we were in the womb- our thinking, the way we feel about others, the intensity of our altruism or the lack of it, the good, the bad and the despicable in us may not be erased by factors and people that come about into our life at different times. They are only eclipsed. Perhaps it is the vile in us that plots our fall. That charts our destiny, different from the course we would want to.
He squandered his heirloom. If it is rude and cruel to say he squandered, one may rephrase it to mean he simply lost. She watched helpless and miserable for him. His overbearing and conceited personality was a burden to her too. Back to more mundane environment but refusing to let go the air and the pomp of the past he continued…. . He really believed of his invincibility, his superiority and cared less for what others valued in their life and what affected their life. In fact he deluded himself into fantasy and trampled upon others too. His immortality- he believed in that too? In the avaricious living he seldom reflected on the fantasy called immortality.
Now he is a depleted image from his past. Of the past, that was he. Emaciated and midway through the therapy. Toxic concoction pumped into his veins at regular intervals but the tumor in his lungs gorging into him further. It plays with him. It takes back seat, gives him a shimmer of hope and then harangues at him as it lords over his fate. Taunts him! Would he in moments of quiet reflect on the arrogant life he lived? The shenanigans, the instances of deceit to the woman who shared her umbrella in the cold rain long ago? She, who still spends time by his side, holding his hand as she did on the plane many years ago? Of the people who he spite? Would he realize that what he now is,is the sum total of his past? Or is he not?