Clement sits by the beach watching the waves break into the cacophony of an untuned radio set. The tip of his fingers is soft and spongy from excessive nail-biting. He wishes to be as thoughtless as he was in middle school. When the biggest fears of life were- how to save the neighbourhood dog from the street-side bullies or how to spill just enough milk on the stove to make it seem like an innocent accident caused by over-boiling, in the opportune absence of his mother. Sometimes he just saunters in the bay in the hope of finding company, worthy of sharing a healthy debate about art and politics. On most occasions, he came with a compulsive urge to reclaim the voice in his head which has become a hostage to contemporary media and its menacing pilferage of his time.
Only yesterday, he had the misfortune of picking up the daily tabloid to see his 19 year old nephew’s class-mate acclaiming menacing success with his new book “Do you have an extra pen”. Preposterous! Literature died with J.D Saligner and lost its mental stability with the reported dementia of Marquez, he thought. We’re living in a collective harem of mediocrity, where one stupid pleases another, and contests for the post of chief of stupidity to ensure the minority of the population turns stupid and raise a poorly mentored generation of stupids. Till there is nobody left to complain. He crumbled the picture of a B-grade Bollywood actress in two-piece, pouting at him from the bottom corner of the tabloid and threw it on the couch. Fucking paparazzi. He forgot that his coffee required sugar, sitting next to the stirrer.
His visits to the beach do not have a discernible agenda. He likes watching the sky with the admiration of an art-critic. But today, was different. It’s been four months since he last spoke to Amelia. It’s been six months since he made sweet love to the female member of human species. He is too arrogant to admit that he yearns for a woman in his life. His past relationships sank with the sanctity of a temple-ritual. As cordial, as a man could become in hours of tumultuous confrontations.
It always ends the same way for him. Barely a few months into the relationship, he would be confounded with a deafening need to be alone, triggering monumental doubts on the choice of partner. Overnight, the person he’s dating would seem flawed to him. He would avoid her till he fails to any longer, resulting in long bouts of depression. Followed by the agony of losing his individuality in an attempt to salvage his relationship. This would have a defeating affect on his libidos and consequentially on the chemistry with his partner. Surmounting into a mental state which would instinctively distance him from the woman. He would have his voyage of excuses ready that sufficiently put across how over worked he has been or how he’s not getting enough time to enjoy his intellectual pursuits.
Completely drained of emotions, he would announce farewell to his partner and walk away from a relationship, as he would, after eating a sumptuous meal, at a fancy restaurant. But Amelia was different from all the other women he charmed. Even though she shared a lot in common with all the other girls he dated. Like, she always wanted to do things together, when Clement insisted on locking himself in the room to finish a new novel. She complained of not being introduced to all of Clement’s friends. She would bawl on the nights Clement refused to have sex with her because he was working late or days where he would not reciprocate her affectionate texts. Amelia, too like all other girls passively embraced the role of a puppy in Clement’s life. Summoned, cuddled, ignored and reprimanded at his whims. Clement knew she made more compromises, celebrated more occasions, bought more gifts in the relationship and it pained him to see the visible difference in their emotional compatibility. However, there was something in Amelia’s affection that made him try to work things out between them. Even it required him to pay more bills, and socialize with her friends against his nature. She was the girl, Clement would imagine playing scrabble with when old age would chase after their youth. Amelia with her puny hands baking sugar-less cup-cakes for him and his critters. With some twist of fate, he would finally be willing to spend his life with another person and die with having one person pay him a dutiful obituary.
Ofcourse, all of this seemed like a perfect plan for future. Unfazed by the anxieties of today.
“Let’s stop over analyzing our relationship. Isn’t there more to life than a periodical assessment of our relationship. Like career, or friends or one’s individual interests. Why can’t we take each day as it comes and try to be a little bit more detached” After a while Clement was repeating this like a chant every time he met Amelia. While Amelia, like a devout continued to act upon Clement’s suggestions. He could never really tell why would she or anyone for that matter, put up with an egomaniac like him. Sometimes he wondered, if the people he was attracted to were with him because they couldn’t be alone. Human beings have always befuddled with him. Amelia was clearly no exception. They met on a Sunday for their usual lunch at an underground café where they exchanged jokes about Indian boys going to laughable lengths to sleep with expats, to give them a slice of the exotic with their half-accented syntax and half-erect groins. They both smiled a lot that day. He felt his insides longing for her touch after a very long time. His hard crotch wouldn’t lie.
Later that evening, he got a call from her. He paused the B-grade T.V serial he was watching for cheap amusement.
You make me really unhappy. I am breaking up with you. What? He thought he missed a joke somewhere. I said you make me unhappy and that’s my explanation for breaking up with you. They haven’t spoken a word since then.
He watches the tides roar and rest, as he remembers her words with an overpowering sense of melancholy. He’s gone through these words a million times like an overused tape record. Trying to understand what caused him more hurt-the fact that he is now single and miserable or the realization of being dumped for the very first time in his life. Like somebody shoved his mouth with the bitter taste of his own medicine and it makes him throw up every single day. It’s not like, he refrained from laying his eyes on anyone since then but the wounds inside him ensured it didn’t turn into anything meaningful.
Perhaps he is too exhausted from the calamity of his past relationship to entertain anyone for over a night or two. Perhaps he invested way more than what he estimated in this relationship. Lost in these thoughts, he fails to notice the stray dog that has been fanning its tail at him, all this while. He gestures him with affection. Invitation successful. The dog bears the face of bliss now, sitting placidly next to Clement. Tears roll out his eyes. Unheld, like the time he was summoned to the principal’s room and his monitorship was questioned when a mob of school bullies lit up the classroom. Reason eluded him then, reason eludes him now.
The Warm, fuzzy tears of reminiscence dissolve his resolve. He’s no longer the stronger one. The brute, the prude, he’s been infamous for. The mongrel is scratching his head, it is infested with fleas and god knows how many other parasites. It doesn’t bother Clement who hasn’t felt this naked towards his primeval emotions since he lost his mother at the age of 15 to a freak accident. He thought he had used up all his emotions in one day which was eagerly replaced by cynicism.
He takes out his phone with blurry eyes and dials Amelia’s number. He looks at the sky as if begging for serenity
“The number you’re trying to reach does not exist, please check the number you have dialled”
With a throbbing pain in his heart he gets up and dusts off the dog hair from his coral-blue kurta. Just as he turns around he notices a huge film crew setting up a presumable calendar shoot. He sees about a dozen of dainty women in cheap tiger-print bikini’s packed together in the vanity van like a tin of sardines, unfit to be consumed.
“Fucking paparazzi”, he says and prances away towards the horizon.