Monday, February 9, 2009

The Human Condition

The following piece was an experiment with second-person narrative and even to some extent, 'flash-fiction'.

The Human Condition

You were standing at the downtrodden bus station, paint chips, shriveling from the years past, falling to the once white but now graying tiles. You had an air of sadness—a man torn between his desires and obligations. That bus to Kansas represented the culmination of all the impositions of your Arabian world; honoring your parents; caring for your elders and eleven siblings; returning to a desert land where your hopes and dreams, but most importantly your heart’s yearnings, would be extinguished as the moon blots outs the sun in a lunar eclipse. Your bus was coming at 8:06 PM and the woman I had seen in your arms left, her faced streaked with an intertwining of tears and mascara.

I, on the other hand, was a man of meager means resting in this palace of sorrow, merely waiting for a penny or a meal, whichever came first. I had glimpsed the dramatic unraveling of your emotions: you were crimson eyed and lachrymose, the droplets rolling down your amaretto skin; your eyes painted of ebony clearly divulged your anguish and loss. I paid particular attention to all these minute details. I was always an avid observer of the human condition. I once was a writer, weaving lives with the tip of my pen the ink flowing like the Colorado River—carving out the crevices of man’s hearts. Alas now, having given up this art of the tongue propelled by manual labor, I sit in bus stations imploring men like yourself to give a piece of your wealth. I know you initially looked at me with contempt, not having known how life had manipulated the reins I had once so tightly grasped within the palms of my hands. You thought I simply needed to act, save myself and demand of my exiguous being a bit more: more courage, more will, more. But despite your doubts, you dropped 5 quarters into my steel bin, each making a click clack sound that still reverberate in my ears. The clinking notes of the money formed a quintet symphony, one that awakened me to the possibilities of my fading youth.

I asked you where bus number 777 was taking you, and you said ironically, “To the death of my soul.” That is where our conversation, as I am sure you can remember, began. You told me of your desert kingdom laden with explicit and implicit rules of conduct. You recounted your love for your Jewish princess you were leaving behind and the assiduous manner she strove to eradicate from her mind the fact—you, the all encompassing you, would never be; traditions and hatred had dictated such an outcome. As minutes turned into hours, we kept on talking, and even when the intercom announced the departure of your bus, you remained seated on that dreadfully dirty floor and disclosed all that had been locked in the prison of your soul.

You know, anyone else would have thought you a fool speaking to a transient stranger, but I understood your need for catharsis. After all, I was an observer of the human condition.

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