Posted by: thetavernthoughts | June 21, 2016

Don’t Be a Horcrux

I am a Responsible drinker, I have always been. Crossing your limits makes you embarrass yourself, and more often than not, you end up being a burden on your drinking companions. So I believe every man should mark his capacity. My boss Mr Shatanu Naidu was of exactly opposite opinion. He believed your capacity to hold liquor marked you. If you cannot guzzle down alcoholic beverages by the Litre, you are not man enough. I was not man enough according to my boss. He called me a peg man. This did not bode well with me. Not only was his condescension humiliating but also inconvenient to my short-term plans. I needed the job desperately due to certain financial difficulties and a word encouragement from Mr Naidu would have put me at ease and made me feel more secure.

All my efforts to impress him seemed to back fire. He berated even the smallest of things about me. He looked at me with disgust ever time I would chat up the receptionist, Gayatri, as if she was his daughter and he made it a point to mock my reading habit.Once he audibly sniggered as I discussed the latest book I was reading with Gayatri. Obviously, I began to hate that man. People used to tell me that I was the boss’s ‘punching bag’. I was terrified of the prospect of being fired. I needed the job and I needed the money. I became very edgy because of this situation, I began to doubt my abilities. Often at night I would go through the day before rigorously. One wrong step and I would be fired. I knew it.

I remember distinctly even now it had been raining heavily that day. I was stuck with Mr Naidu in office working overtime to meet a deadline. It was a Friday evening I was looking forward to having couple of stiff pegs that night. As our work drew to an end, Mr Naidu asked me “Will you join me for a few drinks, the weather seems fine.” Now I hated the man and last thing that I wanted was to spend the night listening to his insults. Yet, my fear of displeasing him got the better of me once again and I reluctantly agreed to accompany him.

In a typical dingy bar with the usual melancholy instrumental versions of old hindi songs playing in the background, we both sat drinking in awkward silence. I wondered why this man had invited me if he was going to sit there and drink like I did not exist. The waiter came and served us our second peg. I told the waiter I needed three cubes of ice in my rum. Mr Naidu observed that and said”I don’t have to tell them anything, they know exactly how I like my vodka.”

“Do you frequent this bar sir?”
“Do state the obvious that is a lot of fun!”

“I mean sir is your home near by, do you live with your family?”

“Yes, I live few blocks from here, when I am done the waiter always hails me a cab.”

“Do you live with your family?”

“Yes, I have one child, before you ask.”

“Ok”

I kept my silence for while after that comment. I wondered how to get through to the man. I sipped on my drink slowly, thinking about my next line of attack. The aim of the conversation was to find a way to build a connection with my boss.

“Did you complete your schooling here as well?”

He suppressed a smile “This area has developed recently don’t you know that. Stop insulting me!”

“WHAT?” I ask exasperated. “How am I insulting you?”

“You are asking wrong questions and wasting my time.”

“I am trying to make conversation sir, I probing to see what topic would get you talking.”

“How about books then?”Mr Naidu suggested

“Sure, but you mock me every time you see a book in my hand.”

“I mock because of your lack of understanding.”

“How do you know that I do not?” I asked, once again ignoring the insult. My self esteem seemed to have hit a new low.

“Remember when you were telling the receptionist about the way Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the galaxy begins. The part where Aurther Dent’s home is being torn down to build a road and at the same time his alien friend is trying to explain to him the Earth is being torn down to build a hyper galactic highway.”

“Yes” I said smiling, “I was amazed at how he draws a parallel between Earth our Home and the house we live in. The imagination involved in writing that part, all of it, is simply brilliant.”

“Is that the only way to relate to that?”

“I guess not sir”

“Guess not is it”

“I am sure there are more ways” I said getting a bit irritated. The waiter served us our next peg and my boss, I felt was getting high and aggressive. He was blatantly attacking me on every turn.

“Good, be sure and specific. Now, are you planning to fool around with Gayatri, our secretary?”

“Excuse me sir, no!”

“You are clearly inexperienced in these matters are you not? Not much of a player.”

“No sir!”

Mr Naidu suddenly leaned forward onto the table.

“It is a good thing that you are not.” he said in a soft tone suddenly.

“Why?”

“Long ago when I was your age I had the fortune of meeting quite a few. I went to study abroad you see.”

“You had fun.”

“Thank You for stating the obvious again.” This time there was a difference in his tone it seemed to lack its sharpness, almost like a friendly punch.

“So…” he continued” you need to get one thing. They always leave something inside you.”

I suppressed a smile on his choice of words. I understood what he meant. His beady eyes seem to glitter even more. I could see red veins popping up in the corners of his eyes and I realised that my boss was drunk. The man had been insulting me for months about my lack of drinking abilities and yet here he was, high in 3 pegs. Yet, in my spineless state I chose not to point that out, I instead started thinking of ways to get him to talk.I wondered if I could get him to share something private so as to forge the bond I had been seeking to make.

“Give me a memory sir. What do you mean? Give me an instance” I tried to probe.

“Instances, you want instances!You tell me instead, something existential, share an insight you have had through all your reading.”

I thought about it for a while. I could see he was making the conversation impersonal. I had to say something, I knew he would mock my perspective. Once again I swallowed my anger and I said.

“Sir, I believe that we the Human Race are at crossroads. One will lead to immortality and the other to extinction.” I did not like the turn of the conversation. I did not want it to become intellectual. Intellectual debates do not lead anywhere. I wanted an instance of his life, so as to get him vulnerable and forge a connection. I wanted him to think of me as a friend.

“Extinction and Immortality, very interesting, but you still the miss the point. Somewhere in that statement is the belief we humans can control our destiny. You are wrong there. You don’t know anything about life.”

“No, sir I don’t.”

Mr Naidu guzzles down another 60 ml peg. I could see now he was totally drunk.

“You read the words but to understand their depth you need to relate it to real life. Don’t interrupt me wait.” He had another stiff drink of vodka. “You talk so eloquently what do you know about the world ending, what do you know about women. You are just intellectualizing. You know?”

“Tell me sir your own experience sir, I will learn from it.”

“Fair enough” he said in a slurred tone. “Every woman will make a horcrux out of you, she will leave a bit of her life with you. Cruel in-laws, broken families, betrayals. Their insecurities, you will see them all, even if you are just banging them and they are banging you. At some point the woman will bear her heart to you and you will be condemned like I was to think and care about them forever. I know this because I see a lot of myself in you. You cannot “not give a fuck”. You will think that the life stories they share are somehow enriching your experiences, yet, in the end you will find yourself stuck in their stories and carrying their burdens. What for? So don’t fuck around, you will only end up being a horcrux.”

“Fine sir I will wait for the one.”

“The One! Huh”

“You do not believe in the “One”.”

“Love is a grand delusion which never leaves my boy. ‘Kavita’ the one for me.”

“I hope that is your wife sir”

“Kavita died when I was 18, Kavita is every woman I have known since. You see my boy Life’s like that. No one controls anything and you my friend have been lucky enough to not be confronted with harsh realities. Hence, the difference in perspective. You think the Hitch Hiker’s Guide talks about losing earth our home, and I know it means that within minutes your world could end.”

“Did it feel like that with Kavita’s Demise?” I asked shakily

“No it felt that way when the Surgeon told me to choose between my wife and my first-born. Do you get it? Sitting there and telling the surgeon ‘let the mother live’ and then looking in to the eyes of my still-born infant do you get it. Now do you understand you fool how deep literature can be. You philosophizing jackass. Don’t you get it we control nothing. Birth of life on Earth was an accident. Evolution of humanity was an accident. Its end can very well be just another accident. Not fate or co incidence mind you, an accident.”

The conversation tapered off after that moment. My boss had peg too many. Less than what he claimed he was capable of. I did not have the heart to judge him though. He was vulnerable. I asked the waiter to hail a cab for him. I supported him as he got inside the cab.

“Do not be afraid to speak your mind. Kiss asses do not last long in my office.” He said as a parting shot. I tried to pay the bill but the manager said that Mr Naidu would clear it the next time and refused to take money from me. So I made my way home thinking about the information my boss had just divulged. Horcruxes, what a thing to say. I tried to imagine the moment he stood there looking at his wife, knowing that he had just signed his son’s death warrant. I tried to fathom what he might have gone through. Suddenly the irony dawned upon me. I had become his horcrux. I carried a bit of his soul with me. The man I hated and tried to manipulate at every instant. I was not sure if my boss would feel a connection with me after this. I was sure I would not hate him as much. I did not agree with him though. Maybe, it is because of what he says, maybe I have had a sheltered life, so such conversation seem to stay with me. Maybe it is just the law of conversation. I wondered if all ‘real’ conversations were like these. Few moments of vulnerability when we reveal our souls and make horcruxes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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