Why not is the answer to every single why.
It was cold, dark, somewhat secluded and odd too. And they chose to meet.
Yes, Why not?
She was seeking a voice. He was seeking some validation. Or vice versa. On the outside, she was an independent woman with a job, a home, kids and opinions. And he looked like a complete guy. A guy with everything that is needed to blow people’s minds. So, both of them decided to take a walk in a track of a cold, dark, somewhat secluded park.
She was not one for small talk. She asked him, “What is happiness?”
He was not easily surprised. “That question remained unanswered by Socrates. How can I know?” He asked back.
“But what is happiness to you?”
“Nothing. There is peace of mind, sometimes. But there is no happiness. An illusion perhaps. I don’t know. Although, I am happy now. Walking here randomly. Without a purpose. And answering without thinking. Don’t know!”
“Not worth thinking about, then?”
“Nothing is. I don’t know”, he responded again, stepping ahead of her, like they weren’t even walking together.
She began again, “I have seen happy people and happy couples in particular. I have seen them being truly happy.”
“Illusion, my friend. There is no happiness. Not here at least. You only see the happy Instagram life of those who pretend.”
“Why are you saying that? Happy people do exist,” she reiterated, leaping to catch up to him and reaching him, and staring right at him.
“The only happiness is not to be born.”
“That is so morbid. Do you think your life has no purpose? How do you wake up in the morning?”
“Like people in prison. Oh! Prisoners.”
“What about children? Children make you happy, even if you are not related to them. And your own blood, well, I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than that,” she tried to give an argument for happiness. To happiness.
“Agreed. But for how long?” he built his argument. “Some years. For your personal happiness, or a way to entertain yourself, you bring souls into this world. This miserable world where every single layer – up in the air and down in the earth – is being compromised for an unhealthy world ahead. Water, not safe. Air, not safe. Laws, not protective. And these same kids make you a coward. After happiness, you are always in panic mode. Fearing the evitable and the inevitable. Panic and fear are not happiness.”
“That’s a perspective and as it’s yours, I won’t tell you it’s misguided, which it is. But I will tell you that planting a seed, watching someone smile, hearing laughter, experiencing poetry, flowers, the moon and children are happiness. Have you seen the entire world shining on a single face? It is when a kid smiles while looking at you.”
“Yet you are stubborn not to believe.”
“Maybe. And afraid of the tears to fall, catastrophe to arrive and bad phase to come. Plants, laughter, poetry, flowers and children; they all die eventually.”
“Yes, everything dies and therein lies the beauty. Imagine a never-ending life; that would be torture for everyone. An actual tragedy.”
“It is a lost situation in any case. Misery with a deadline or without a deadline. Nothing to make you happy.”
“Your philosophy of life is not only one-dimensional but also depressing.”
“I agree,” the corners of his lips turning up into a rare smile.
“You are a pessimist.”
“Actually, a realist!” His smile lingered.
“Whatever,” she said, losing her train of thought. Damn his lazy smile.
They continued to walk in the dark and shady public garden. Old ones were jogging on the track. Young ones were sitting in couples on dark benches. The silhouettes were difficult to define. But not romantic at all.
Isn’t touch disturbing? The overall idea of two bodies coming close, closer, invading breathing space… how the hell have poets and writers sold this for centuries?
He picked up a leaf and absent-mindedly tore it in half, “Of all the relations in the world, we only make one by choice; marriage. And we fail at it. Even the pretending happiest couples curse their decision of marriage from time to time.”
“Darkespeare. Glad to be of service.”
The silhouettes on the benches continued to move. Couples spending their present with someone they know will not be part of their future. In the not so distant future – they will decide to part ways. And then, again, in another close encounter, they will remember the benches in the park. Yes. These same benches. They have been witnesses to a lot of warm history in a cold track.
Imagine living with someone and remembering someone else. Kissing someone and imagining someone else. Isn’t it the reason people close their eyes while kissing? She would call that morbid.
The walk continued amidst the moving silhouettes. He asked her if he could smoke.
“Sure”, she replied; while he wondered why he asked her.
She resumed the conversation, “So, tell me. How can we be happy? What do you think is the core of all our problems?”
“Existence is the core of all problems.”
“So… non-existence…is mass suicide the answer?”
“I didn’t say suicide. I said non-existence as in not to begin the existence. And I don’t know the depth.”
“Very convenient for a confused man to know one dimension only.”
“Knowing that you don’t know is not confusion. Besides, I have questions as well. I can try answering this one: loyalty lies at the crux of all social problems.”
“How can you blame loyalty which is the epitome of human values?”
“Loyalty demands injustice. It divides everything into two: The thing or things you are loyal to and everything else. Loyalty to your country means to hate enemy countries. Loyalty to your caste, creed, religion, ethnicity, and anything else demands violence; sooner or later. Loyalty to religion demands… you want me to commit blasphemy, don’t you?” he stopped abruptly.
“No! I don’t want anyone to be blasphemous because religion to me is the most important philosophy of life. And loyalty is one of the most important human values.”
“Well, religion is a philosophy and a beautiful one. But it is personal. At least, it should be personal. You can talk about it and persuade someone, but you cannot force and kill based on religion or any philosophy. And that is exactly why the state should be secular.”
“No, the state should not be secular if it was established solely on the basis of religion.”
“What if the basis is wrong?”
“How is the basis wrong?”
“Look around you and see the blood, hate, desecration, filth, devolution, illiteracy, hunger, anger…I could go on…” looking bemused and sad at the same time.
“Is it all because of religion?”
“No, it is because of the religious followers who always find a religious reason to do so.”
“Easy to blame them.”
“Who else should I blame then? Bees?”
She smiled and he was reminded of sunshine. “Okay, let’s put aside all our world views, but I completely disagree with you on the loyalty part.”
“Loyalty should have some sort of limit. Endpoint. For example, loyalty to religion is fine, but it should end before it reaches the threshold of justifying bloodshed. Loyalty to a political party is acceptable, but it should die when the realpolitik becomes corrupt. Loyalty to country is okay, but it should not be based on xenophobia.”
“And loyalty in marriage?”
“Ah! Marriage is unhappiness and one should not be loyal to unhappiness.” He smirked.
“You don’t mean that, right?”
“I do. I do. I do.”
“Now you’re just mocking me.”
“Albeit cryptically, I have answered your questions.”
“I feel that the entire society will collapse without loyalty.”
“Let me give you an example. Imagine a woman living in an abusive marriage for over a decade. She is violated both verbally and physically. There is no escape from the marriage as she will not be accepted back by her family and her husband or the society will kill her. Now, after a decade, she gets a chance at love.”
“It’s an extramarital affair.”
“This is all she’s got; an affair. And this affair, this relationship; gives her some peace and happiness. Shouldn’t she follow that path?”
“Why not? Doesn’t she deserve some respite? Isn’t she worthy of love?”
“It is not that she isn’t worthy, it is that she cannot trespass.”
“Her husband is trespassing already. Why can’t she?”
“Because it is wrong from all aspects; religious, social, moral and ethical.”
“You are talking about all the standards that are the reasons behind her suffering and unhappiness. And you are not allowing her a chance.”
“Because the chance is wrong.”
“By your standards. Or the society’s. The society that has given her nothing; that has left her to rot; that would rather see her die than step up and save her. She is not hurting anyone; she is just living some moments of peace. And I think, she should follow what brings her peace.”
“You are advocating an idea that may collapse the whole society.”
“Don’t you see? Society has already disintegrated for her if she is suffering.”
“Well, I will choose suffering over transgression.”
“And I will let people live their personal lives the way they want to live their personal lives.”
“And I won’t hold someone accountable for their personal lives, even if I disagree.”
“Finally. Agreement at disagreement.”
Both walked some more with to and fro questions, answers, and rebuttals until the time to say goodbye arrived.
“I was heartbroken before coming here. Now, I am going back carrying burdens off-loaded by a confused man.” she said.
“I was looking forward to breaking a heart before coming here. And I am still waiting.”
“Haha! Because you are mean. Well, I do not intend to go in the direction to get broken.”
“No one is, until tracks collide without a plan and without intentions.”
“Keep dreaming friend, not going to happen.”
“Not dreaming. Forecasting.”
“See you in another weather forecast. Ciao!”
And he saw her in the farewell moment – the only face to face exchange in some light – and he sighed in relief that at least he was not the reason behind her heartbreak. Sighed in relief. That’s the least dark he could become.
In another world. When we are both cats.