Mani once confessed to me during one of our drinking nights that he was afraid of his emotions. Mortally afraid. Although aside from the two of us, the pub was quite empty, he felt the need to lean over and almost whisper it to my ears. The reason he accorded to this strange trait was that he never had a single “pure” emotion.
His warm breath tickled my ears and I backed away, slightly uncomfortable. We were so close as friends, the occasional awkwardness was not entirely uncommon, but it wasn’t something I was willing to have at the back of my head, especially on one of these much awaited drinking nights. So I brushed the thought aside and turned to look at him putting on my best expression of confusion. A little stirred, he continued;
He said his emotions were always a cocktail. A cocktail he didn’t quite enjoy. He didn’t know whether to trust his gaiety, which, at any instance could just metamorphose to melancholy at the slightest of spurs. He didn’t know if the affection he felt for someone would the very next minute be replaced by irritation at the very sight of the person. It confused him.
“Bastardized”, sounded his drawling voice over the music. “Besmirched by the vagaries of life”, he said in a poetic flourish, throwing his hands up in the air for effect.
For Mani, anger was always ineluctably accompanied by guilt and love with fear; he would frequently get angry and sad and sad and angry with little sundry emotions scattered, ahead and behind in time. He never understood any of it.
Although he was known as one of the thicker guys in our group in college, he was well loved for his rather trollish affability. He was the quintessential gentle giant, at six foot three he was broad as a tree bark and quite intimidating to behold. But once you got to know him you couldn’t help but worry if the big baby would catch a cold while riding his rickety bicycle back home from college, or if he had been offended by something someone might have told him, or for that matter, if he had had his meals at all over the last few days.
Tonight our man was in a gin-inspired, philosophical state of mind and the last thing I wanted was to deny my buddy audience. I poured him another one.
He said; “I miss the days when being happy meant being happy, that’s it! You know, not happy and worried, that’s a qualified emotion, bloody adulteration…not being worried about Monday you know, love meant just plain, stupid love and lust meant lust, not love, friendship and…what’s the word to describe the emotion of friendship?”
“I don’t know…umm…attachment?” I said sheepishly.
“Dhut! That’s not it, Raj you’re drunk. Its bonhomie!”
“Nope, I don't think that’s an emotion either, Mani”
“Really?”, said Mani, scratching his massive head, “well, chalo, we need to get going, need to take the wife for her tennis classes and the son to the boutique…”, “nah, this ones on me", he said, shrugging off my hand extending a credit card, "...for attachment’s sake”
“You driving, Raj?”
“Of course, Mani, I am” said I.