Celebrating East African Writing!
By Abigail George
No man is an island – he is distorted in some places. Perhaps his vision of the world is not clear, threatens his existence, he finds no peace of mind in his environment, fantasy is revealing of the darker shades of his personality, his desires, his hunger and his thirst. Marlon Curtis’s hair is curly and I find this boyish, appealing but it does not make him less of a rogue. He needs a dictionary to look up some of the words I use in passing in conversation. This irritates me because I am tired.
Nobody seems to have the decency to call before they come over to someone’s house anymore. Etiquette is sorely lacking in society today, as is the use of that particular brand of word. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder can also be likened to a needle in a haystack, a needle with thread – hopelessly lost if it is not attached to something which has a greater significance like God’s handiwork (a platform, a lesson, a stitch). Without the attachment they are simply incomplete but not without an original purpose.
A man is sometimes hidden from view or is as slippery as sand or made of stone. Those that are secretive on the surface always remain hidden from view. Secretive airs and graces give way to malicious gossip, tittering and cruelty amongst older women and even younger women too. It is honesty in the workplace that people abhor. Men aren’t a different kettle of fish all together from women.
His air takes root as he sits opposite me, aided resolutely by his common sense. This con artist believes all his notions are grand. I foolishly say nothing, detached, believing that we are professionally mismatched. Later, feelings of tension became more apparent and caught me off guard.
He has propped his elbows on my desk. I find his manners sickening, his ignorance frightening but there is something alluring about the essence of a married man who has children, a clingy wife who finds your intellect desirable. He quizzes your worldly experience and it amuses him, I see, to scare me. I find this intolerable.
He is a voyeur, this student, unfulfilled because of a life filled with tragedy, fatal decisions, hairy, tight-lipped choices; I imagine he has a life filled with miserable women. I wonder what sustains him, what lies ahead and this momentarily delights me and casts aspersions on his character and a glimmer of a shadow on the proceedings as we work together. He is doing a course at the university. I am helping him with a school project that involves filming and editing. I begin to question my vanity. The disappearance of my fear was unassailable and with a perverted sense of justice I wanted to hurt him as much as he had unknowingly hurt me.
Savants would be lost without their creativity, artists by their muse, writers by their self-mastery but he would be lost without sex, the motivation to seduce an innocent, a young, beautiful, waif of a girl. There are human beings who are oversexed, inclined to exaggeration, over-exertion in the chase, the extreme joy of the pursuit of the sylph-like nymph. They are not opposed to lying to get their way, violence even, molesting the innocent, preying on her every move until she lets her guard down, when her eyes drop sensually, her mouth opens but emits no sound, she chews thoughtfully on her bottom lip and with an absentminded air she addresses their stares coolly but finds it hysterically amusing that she is now of human interest.
I can hardly believe I was that brave, that vain or that stupid, silly girl loafing about in offices. In meetings I would take everything seriously, sensitive only to my needs, my immediate fun and what education I could sate my appetite with. There was no blame just an error in judgement and then suddenly he – ‘the boss man’ – was no more like so many before him. Perhaps he is struggling to this day, formulating plans for a successful film and I am left scarred, deeply humiliated and ashamed.
Marlon Curtis is Humbert Humbert, Vladimir Nabokov’s protagonist in the explicit, morally reprehensible ‘Lolita’ of a man who lusts afters and falls in love with the flesh of a beautiful, precocious child. The book is rife with examples of fatally flawed characters, co-dependants living large and irresponsibly, selfishly in a sexually charged atmosphere. They actively seek to humiliate each other with a premeditated urgency and a humour that is as devilish as sin.
Youth, fragile cheekbones, tousled hair windswept, soft hands, nails bitten to the quick are impossible examples to look at of girlhood, the untouchable suddenly becomes within reach and you hold her gaze defiantly, hotly for too long until she looks away embarrassed at the thought of what he might be thinking.
The older man has a lot to answer for. The desirable and the undesirable have a strange, inviting power that seems to have an undeniable effect on a young lady. What is too much? Is it a look, a stare, an accidental brushing of the hand against her arm as you walk past her? He – ‘the man’ – wants a unique intimacy? I am still is a child though with my babyish demeanour, baby fat and still slowly piling myself with the junk food I consume I now have generous, snaking hips, when I giggle I cover my mouth with my hand, snorting with derision, I am friendly but toughened up; more resilient. I am not that little girl anymore. She has gone along with the bad clothes. I am not so tough after all I discovered. There are really bad days when I think they were all bad. All of the men I have ever come into contact with. They were rotten to the core. But I have finally created a life, a universe in which I have surrounded myself with beautiful things and it is no small feat to be proud of.
He stares too much at my eyes, my lips, my hair and my teeth. I do not find anything about myself desirable so it intrigues me – his candid interest, his pastimes, what makes him happy and sad.
I imagine swinging hips; men like him keenly appreciate a swaying pert bosom, shiny, sweet, perfumed hair and a body that is beautiful.
The short-lived relationship we had settled like the dust of an aftermath. Soon there will be no memory of it, lingering, torturing me that I should have had better judgement, threatening the self-protective and less demanding world that I co-created for myself within a narcissistic, hedonistic environment. He – all the men from my past I find myself asking were they all miserable men, unhappy with their lives, wholly dissatisfied, thinking themselves unlovable and inconvenienced.
They were all threats to my values, to what was wholesome, good and holy. I strained to make peace with my mind and my conscience.
When you fall in love you unleash a magnificent power to inspire frantic bursts of creative energy and be powered by the urgency that life is real, precious. You become a unique and an original in the eyes of your beloved.
I am not carried away by the delirious thought of their power, of being a substitute, their confessions spoiled everything and left me intensely dissatisfied and unfulfilled. My mood is much more patient now. In their domain I was not always cautious, praise, cross examination was not always healing, I wanted the world to love me, older than my years I wanted to delight in achieving all my dreams but it all came at a terrible price. Men were my rivals, not my lovers or my friends.
Now they are gone forever like my childhood and I do not wish to speak about what came before ever again.
These abusers of my trust and my loyalty have become a serial problem I have carried into my thirties. It is my own fault for believing in the human race, the kindness of strangers, for wanting to be treated like a cherished, obedient pet, cuddled, fed titbits from the master’s plate. I should be wary of them. I should not welcome them into my house, my life and my confidence with open arms and in return receive brutal honesty as only a man can spill from his throat.
He doesn’t believe in you really, in promoting you as his protégé, his quiet, serious intellectually minded friend but rather what you are capable of doing for him in return to make him look like the king of his domain, the king of his world. You are trapped between the journey and the destination once again thinking I have been down this road before.
New arrivals in the workplace think this behaviour flattering until it escalates dangerously into a glimpse of a seedy world to come and they lose their reputation. Being marked by the sisterhood as a disgrace is not completely lost on me. You are spoken about mercilessly, yet the daring, inconceivable crime goes unpunished. It is too soft; there are no incriminating marks except the crushing blows of emotional damage.
I love a man for his spirit, which lays in a woman’s imagination not an impulsive syndrome that attacks terrifyingly at will. Now, older, I am only hunted by nothing but the rising moon as I toss and turn looking for a cool place on the pillow to rest my head.
© Abigail George 2010
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