Tuesday, December 8, 2015

WITHDRAWAL

I could sense Kirtana's withdrawal. And it was a discovery made through an accumulation of small defections she evinced , the gap between this distance and her claims on probity. I was baffled , bewildered. My initial impulse was to hold her accountable, impute a selfishness i had discerned early on in her and had admired her for. What started the process of this discovery were her laconic, desultory answers to my passionate conversations on people and ideas. I attributed her abstracted air to some inner preoccupation that she refused to talk about. But her manner to my other friends , and because we were a group i noticed therefore, remained studiedly unaffected , unshadowed by conscious misgivings.

Kirtana liked to be the center of attention , like a queen bee. She constantly manouevred conversations to tilt favourably towards  herself. She was not a listener but a solipsist. Her responses to tales of woe were a spontaneous empathy and a circumvention of the depths of the experience her interlocutor sought to articulate. She had an irrepressible optimism, a belief that a drink or a cup of coffee in a cafe or simply shopping would alleviate a distress which she felt was experienced by some with too much intensity. There was, in her own adroit mechanisms of avoiding deep conversation, a certain intensity , the intensity of a hedonist or pleasure seeker , enlivened by a short attention span . Somehow ,in her presence life , liveliness , animation were preponderant. I forgot with her any incipient disquiets and revelled in her uncomplicated self centrality. Her often artless but endearing efforts at self ascendancy were also humored .

She was tall, slim, and beautiful in an equine way. I doubt if she had a depth of interiority though she certainly was capable of strong feeling, specially her own. Her amalgam of practicality and ingenuousness was touching because it masked an inherent selfishness. She disregarded emotional excesses and conveyed an impression of closeness and friendliness that was very deceptive. I know that my own conscious suppression of her essential impersonality was what grated me the most. I was cognizant of it but felt its barbs keenly. And no reasoning could ever obviate that knot of bewilderment at her casual carelessness. Clearly i wanted her to deem me worthy , perceiving in the fitful light of her intermittent moments of approbation, a sense of self i profoundly lacked within myself.

Had i had a more robust disposition i could have met her indifference with disdain. Had i been nuanced in my knowledge of the games people play i would have  engineered my own counter attack of guile and calculation . But because the human condition was so incalculable i miscalculated. Taking a direct , self denigrating , propitiatory approach, making a plea for leniency with my hapless sincerity would only intensify contempt . As also reveal the vulnerability of my neediness. But i did not see this so then. I saw myself as being candid, transparent, authentic. I needed the illusion of  the romance of a self unmediated by dissimulation. Now i realize that in that process i did my own share of dissembling.

Kirtana's withdrawal affected me profoundly and i was conscious that others were witness to it, were perhaps meant to witness my growing embarrassment. Her short replies made me even more expostulatory and i regretted this desperation . I knew , in my heart , that the warm glow she roused in me was febrile, enfeebled by inadequacy but at that time , even that insufficient, indeed artificial warmth was preferable to complete solitude.

I called up Kirtana a week after her withdrawal became an immovable actuality in my inveterately escapist mind. I was completely timid, apologetic, conferring on her the superiority of righteous affront when it was she who had, instead of candor, opted for manipulation. She was willing enough to tell me that my observations on her to another female friend in the group, whom she saw as a rival, had upset her. She relished this account of my betrayal, with inflections alternating between a  searing hurt and incredulity. I could glean that rather than the nature of my criticism of her , on which fact she was notoriously uninformative, it was the fact that it was Preeti with whom she had a condescending rivalry , that hurt her. I apologized fulsomely, with humility. She told me that Preeti had said certain things about me to her which sounded , as she communicated them, harsh and malicious. That night Kirtana insisted on the veracity of her friendship to me and succeeded in inducing guilt which i now see as unmerited. There were layers of awareness and repression and among other things the human mind can be very inventive and ingenious in constructing a narrative that corresponds to how one wants to feel and shape reality. Unnerving facts can be conveniently sidestepped , one's own currents of ingratiation and complicity swept under .

All i knew was that the next day i meted out to Preeti, over the course of three days, the same treatment Kirtana had to me that week. 

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