It’s only a story

Fazal M. Kamal

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She was drop-dead beautiful. He was more than cynical.

She had rose-petal lips. He had a profusion of blemishes.

She was blossoming. He was intensely hungry for the world.

The first time he saw her he couldn’t restrain himself from staring at her. The first time she saw him she couldn’t restrain herself from running away.

They were from different constellations. There just wasn’t any point of connect. There just wasn’t any hope in a projected relationship. There just wasn’t anything that could interest her in him. Because he offered nothing that she couldn’t get in a better form. Because she was the luminescent embodiment of Dido’s voice.

And yet he tried. He tried, oblivious to her apathy. He tried persistently. In simple terms, he pestered her. He was wont to having Ally McBeal moments because, as many had claimed before, in his desperate life he intermittently lived in a parallel galaxy. And the more he lived, the more desperate he became. His was a life lived in the constant knowledge of the finiteness of time.

Some called him Desperate Dan.

She lived in a universe peopled by beings who didn’t reside in his. She had an all-consuming career persona. Her profession offered her purpose and security. But she wanted some of her relationships to have a sharp edge. To impart a sense of excitement. To take away the mundaneness from the daily grind. To sprinkle, generously, the sparkling stardust of disquiet on her life. She was restless like a hummingbird.

He wanted to call her Babe.

Somehow over time they started being with each other often, enjoying each other’s company. They began laughing together. They began having long conversations. Of this and that and Michelangelo. Of life and loving in this unforgiving world. Of hopes and despair. She was generous with him. He was all too willing to give all she would want. If only she ever wanted. She was kind to him. He was anxious for her attention.

On weekends, when a bleakness pressed in from all sides, her phone calls were like raindrops on scorched earth. They talked with each other eagerly. There was a mutual hunger that was fulfilled, partially, by those calls and languorous conversations. For him they often seemed heaven sent. For her they were a form of respite.

While he hoped this relationship brought some comfort, if not a sliver of satisfaction, to her, in reality it brought frequent unpleasantness for her. It presented her with painfully awkward moments. But she was willing to brave them and overcame these onslaughts. And moved on in spite of this gratuitous burden. Despite her steely exterior she was gentle and soft. And he wanted to be with her even more.

They went out. They went to coffee shops. They went shopping. They laughed. They teased each other. They flirted, playfully. They complained to each other. He hadn’t seen her laugh like that before, and he told her so. She thought he was funny in very strange ways. It elated him immensely to hear her laughter. She felt he had a weird sense of humor. He was planning to put her on a pedestal.

She told him of a profound loss she had suffered some years back and how it continued to haunt her. There was evident regret and guilt in her voice. She broke down and wept. He wanted to comfort her. He wanted to hold her gently. He wanted to expel her painful memories. He wanted to do all of these. But he couldn’t do any of those. He mumbled a few inanities. She fled from his presence.

He told her of a recent betrayal which had left a napalm burn on his psyche. He felt perplexed and cheated. He was thrashing about to come to terms with this abandonment. He was on a rebound and thirsted for reassurance. The cruelty of time was against him. She offered to help. Again she was kind and understanding. He yearned to tell her how wonderful life is when he’s with her. She pitied him.

In a distant place a brand new year was upon them. Always the loner, he had no one close enough to welcome the New Year with. Always the angel, she invited him to spend the evening with her. He was overwhelmed. He couldn’t believe this humungous chunk of good luck. He kicked himself to see if it actually hurt. Was it another of his Ally McBeal moments or was it real?

That night, he may’ve even overstayed his welcome. But he didn’t care. That he could be with her at that moment was worth more than the censorious feelings he might have engendered. He had grown to be avaricious of her company. She was happy and enjoyed the evening which stretched way into the early hours of a mint-fresh year. It wasn’t, after all, an Ally McBeal moment. But he had those too while he was in her presence.

Soon along came his birthday. He was never great in celebrating his day. But this year he was excited. He trembled merely thinking of making it special. He wanted to be with her that evening. They went to dinner and she looked stunning. That evening, in that restaurant, he had to confess, he did have his Ally McBeal moments. He wanted to hold her in his arms so much it hurt.

She was pleasant, generous, happy. She was fun, fabulous, vulnerable. It was his birthday but it was her evening. Because he was soft clay in her hands and she could make anything of the evening she wanted. She had the power. He was, as ever, the fool. He has had the incredible fortune of enjoying the favors of some of the most beautiful women and yet he continued to be unsure of himself.

And she had an obsession. Everything else slunk into the shadows when her mind attached itself to the provocations of her adversary. Then there was no letting go of that thought: not only to get even but to obliterate her foe; to see her go down, literally. He let himself get embroiled in that rivalry. Because to him nothing else mattered but seeing her smiling and laughing.

Then suddenly someone from her past reappeared. There was that sharp edge in that relationship which she craved for. There was a distinct feeling of danger in that dalliance. That attracted her like the sea entices the lemming. Unruffled relationships left her cold. She needed to feel a naked serration to know she was living. Like the thrill and danger of the possibility of stubbing out a lighted cigarette in her palm. She felt she’d found the kind of relationship she wanted.

Like the song said: Sweet dreams are made of these. Some want to use you. Some want to be used by you. Some want to be abused by you. But sweet dreams are made of these and who is to disagree. And then there was the flock of all those eagerly waiting to be in her thrall.

The time had come for her to jettison the one who had gone loopy enough to lose his mind over her attentions, her company. She began to feel crowded by him. She began to feel embarrassed by him. She began to feel smothered by his attention. But there wasn’t anything he could do to alter the already-changing situation. After all it was she who had the control all along.

He felt like he was in an REM song. He was the one in the corner who felt he was losing his religion everytime she looked at him. He thought he heard her laughing and he wanted to be with her. He thought he heard her crying and he wanted to be with her. He thought he heard her talking on the phone and he wanted to be with her. But he knew he couldn’t offer her anything which she couldn’t have in finer quality.

He knew he had lost her.

It was really another of his Ally McBeal moments because he never truly ever had her. He had been inhabiting a parallel universe which existed only in his mind. It was there that he had taken her. It was there that he had worshipped her. It was there that he had loved her ways. It was there that he had taken their relationship. She was always elsewhere and she didn’t care to be the object of his fantasy.

To ensure he got the point she hollered him out of her presence. Told him to leave her alone. Told him to stay away from her. Told him to leap out the nearest window. Told him unequivocally she dared him to do whatever he wanted because she couldn’t be bothered any less. She’d had enough of his groveling. She wanted a man, not a clump of soft clay.

The sledgehammer had finally hit him between the eyes.

It was just a dream.

Only a dream.

And as the dream ended the pain began.

Because there is no comfort in the truth.

fazal.kamal@bdnews24.com

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