“You realize I saved your sorry self back there, right?”He was always very condescending. It helped him overcome his anxiety and the feeling he had that he was always one step behind in life and everything happening around him.”Make sure you know that you owe me one.”He gave her one last look, making it last long enough to give her the impression that he was evaluating her the way one evaluates a horse. Only when they finally made eye-contact, he walked away.It was the first time she had been mugged. She always thought she was too strong for someone to perceive her as prey. She always thought it would never happen to her.It was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and it was one of those days where your soul takes a new dimension. It was one of those days where you imagine having taken another decision at some point way back in your past, and lose yourself in drawing the different path it would have been. Basically, it was one of those days where you do something that will either change your life, or drown you in regret. And knowing that, you still have no choice but to act upon it. She was almost there, in her thoughts, when someone shoved her and left her on the floor.She didn’t fret over the theft of her identity card, credit cards, cash, and other belongings she had managed to fit in her purse. She was just really annoyed that out of all the people she knows in that area, it had to be him who was near when the mugging took place, and that he had actually done something deliberately nice for her. In all fairness, he did not succeed in getting her things back, but he did try.And now, the equation was not balanced anymore. She owed him.That being said, he would – of course – never deign to take anything from her. It had to be clear that he did not think anything she could offer nearly worthy enough. On the other hand, it also had to be clear that she owed him something, which meant that he had the upper hand in a system, albeit created on his own. He was not immature. He just did not have the luxury to be himself freely. He did not have any particularly nasty habits to hide, but he had luggage, which pre-conditioned him in whatever activity he undertook, wherever he went. As a child, he had dreams of becoming a rock star, bleeding a guitar on stage in front of hysterical fans. He would have them go from mosh-pits to crying in two songs or less. He would say things that would be misunderstood by the masses and taken as marginal life mottos. He would write songs that would make people believe he knew exactly how they were feeling. He would denounce fake democracies and fight injustice. But he never made it past his eighth guitar lesson. He also never made it past ear-length hair because his school did not allow ‘males’ to have long hair, his parents did not eventually take a liking to it, and his schoolmates made fun of him. He often wondered how unfair it was for someone so eccentric as we wanted to be to have been born in such a conservative, traditional family. He failed to see the link.
Proper.Everything about him had to be proper. He was always expected to make the ‘right’ decision, which often left him with no choice at all, although he would never admit to that. He always had to be presentable and eloquent and bright because God forbid, if he should ever be disheveled or anxious or just a little selfish, the whole dynasty would crumble. But all that was buried deep down and beyond his own cognitive censorship now. His newly reinforced self-esteem had done good and covered that all up. His wife, of course, had no knowledge of all that made him who he was. When she met him, he was already a suited-up fountain-pen-carrying graduate. He had already perfected an unbreakable poker face, and could beat anyone in any of three sports, if one should ever corner him by asking about ‘leisure’. And that is exactly how he won over her brother, who was initially against their union. His wife seemed to have been taken out of a ‘Savoir Vivre’ book, but in terms of passion and efficiency she equated to a cardboard cut-out.
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