The unlikely Casanova

He sat looking into his glass of amber liquid, a smile hovering on his lips. The lone ice cube in there was melting rapidly, quite unlike his latest conquest. The ice maiden. It had taken a while with her. And yet, her defeat, when it came, was sudden and unequivocal. Another one that had bitten the dust, grovelled at his feet, expecting a reciprocal love- aghast when it was not returned. He dipped a finger into his glass, swirling the cube, watching it disperse. She had been the latest in his long line of acquisitions. Women, he had always known and feared, were out of his league. Women, who would have barely given him a second glance, except that now, they did.

Words were his weapons. Weapons that wreaked destruction stealthily. This had never been open warfare. It had been a subtle seduction. A beguiling of the senses. A promise of pleasure, with a subtext of pain. He stalked them covertly at first, then brazenly. Showering them with images. Showing them what lacked in their lives. The lacunae that he could fill. That he would fill, if only they would give him a chance. They would laugh at him at first. Then be intrigued. Then flattered. Till finally, they could not move, without a thought of him filling every vacant moment of their vacant lives. Like moths, they would draw nearer and nearer to their own destruction, wilfully abandoning all thoughts of self preservation. He was the cauldron into which all their desires would subsume.

It was a matter of finding the chink. The Achilles heel that every single one of them possessed. With some, it was loneliness, with others it was the lack of love, of sex, of affection, and with others still, it was simply boredom and ennui. It took him very little time to figure out what their compulsions were. Then he worked on them, like a Master violinist working his strings, tautening the tension, till they could take no more, and shivering with delicious anticipation, they would yield to him. At that point, he would walk away. The thrill was in the chase, not in the victory. The game would be over for him.

She had been different, he thought. A challenge. One that could match him, word for word, sabre thrust for sabre thrust. It had been his turn to be intrigued. Even as he had spun his web of words around her, he had felt himself getting caught up in it too. Entangled in emotions that he had no business entertaining.For a brief time he had wondered if he had finally found love, found ‘the one’. In the end, however, she was much like the others. Promising to give it all up for him. For a chance to be held in his arms. His nose had puckered at the predictability of it all.

He had offered her advice. Sage, solemn advice. To seek counsel. To redress the wrongs in her relationship. He did not figure in her future, he calmly informed her. He had watched her distress with a disembodied disenchantment. And it had occurred to him, that he simply did not care.

With a quick glug, he downed his whiskey. The room around him blurred and swayed a little. With a groan, he heaved himself out of his chair, and walked unsteadily to his bed. Thoughts and words coalesced in his mind as he lowered himself onto the mattress. He drew the sheet up to his chin, shivering unaccountably in the heat. His hand reached over to the other side of the bed. No one. There never was. There probably never would be.

Game over.

 

 

 

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Who am I?

The most rudimentary of questions. Yet the answer escapes most of us. Try and define yourself. Not describe, define. Who are you? Stripped down to the most elemental level. Are you brave? Are you a coward? Are you brutish or sophisticated? Are you conservative or liberal? Are you religious or an atheist? Who are you?

The answer is a complex one. And I’ll wager, not one you are expecting. The answer is: I do not know. I do not know how brave I am, till I am in a situation that requires courage. At that point, will I choose to save my skin or save another’s? I think I am sophisticated, till you put me in an unfamiliar milieu, and the social shorthand fails me. Then I appear brutish, unrefined and uncouth. I think I am liberal till my daughter brings home a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks, and all at once, every bit of my socialism flies out of the window. I think I am religious, yet I laugh at the barbaric rituals and stone gods of the ostensibly primitive.

Any of this sound familiar?

We are all complex, multi layered, multi dimensional wonders of evolution. We are all a work in progress. What I am in this moment, I will not be in the next. Nor will you. Our experiences, our joys, our sorrows contribute to our own unique signatures.

Fundamentally though, we all believe that we are good people. From the terrorist who bombs a hundred people in a square, giving up his life for a cause, to the politician who bombs a country, in pursuit of a higher good. We believe we are good. But are we?

These moral complexities are the shifting sands that govern human nature.

Who am I? The song from Les Misérables where Jean Valjean questions his moral core is perhaps the best way to end this rambling, philosophical blog post. Who am I? I am me.