Oblivion

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You don’t want to be here, but you are, albeit one foot out of the door. It is a shindig for an old friends’ re-union, after months of planning, deliberation and contribution it is happening. You got home one day and found yourself part of a WhatsApp group christened Reunion with old acquaintances as members, some you hadn’t seen since high school but somehow the administrator managed to pull together twenty classmates. This isn’t new, you once woke up into a WhatsApp group with a local preacher and your mom as members when your wife walked out of your marriage. Your mom had the conviction someone had cast an evil spell on you. The thing is this wasn’t supposed to develop to a real party. This type of get-togethers are meant to go tits up only this aberration happened.

You are sweaty, reeking of smoke, slumped on a rustic palette couch downing cold beer at the backyard of this colossal town house. A light cloud of smoke hangs in the air from the grill. As a chef, your adeptness with barbeques had you assigned the grill and you acquiesced. It is Jones’s house, the host – the most well off guy in the cohort. He has an exquisite collection of snazzy sports cars and is into rich people things like collecting art from the depths of the world. His only worries could be getting a new golf stick and whatnot. He has an enchanting wife and two beautiful daughters. The epitome of success. Right there at the apex where people develop glutten intolerance and solely drink sparkling water. At a vantage point where you overlook plebeians struggle to cover their rent as they crouch and duck trying to avoid the landlord’s scorn.

If you look at it with a relatively jealous scope of view it could be condescending of him to be the host; the most affluent guy in the group forming a group and insisting on hosting it at his place. It could be him cryptically saying ‘I made it dude, aim higher’. If you’re more incisive it makes sense that the house affords more space for the throng thus its preference. Twenty folk couldn’t fit in your cramped one bedroom apartment situated on the outskirts of town anyway.

Everyone in the group has a wife, a kid and a job that doesn’t involve the infernal mien at the back of the kitchen. Your journey feels like a banal rigmarole that took a massive detour and is having a hard time getting back on track. Everyone seems to be moving forward yet you appear to be stagnating in this gut wrenching sea of adulthood, hell, you can’t even keep a wife and it’s sickening.

One man lurches to the yard from the house and falls on the green lawn. He props to sit up, his tie loosely hanging on his neck like a broken noose. Three burly men heave him up and carry him out the gate. Slurred words escaping from his mouth whilst being thrown out. He is Ken, an old classmate too. Anecdote has it that he’s had a problem with alcohol for the longest time and it’s clear he’s had one too many already. He breaks into a philosophical spiel outside the gate to be let back in. He is a smart dude but unfortunate, never quite got a grip of his life. Well, now there’s two – you and him.

“How dare you hit on my wife!” Jones exclaims lividly.

“Hey man, I didn’t know she was your wife,” Ken replies.

At this point the geezers are out huddled together like a pack of wolves, wearing disdain on their faces. Some eyes are set on you, trying to place this sweaty man with a sullied chef’s coat seated on the couch like there’s nothing to live for.

“Guys, this is Tony, remember him? The basketballer?” Jones introduces you with a superficial smile.

They nod their heads in acknowledgement but no one utters a word, zilch. Their silence reiteration you don’t belong.
“Good chef this one, he is the hand behind the juicy steaks you’ve been gushing on inside. Hire him for catering services sometime,” Jones continues.

At least you’re good at something – making killer steaks but it’s not respite for the hellish environment this is becoming. It is like being in a party with uncles who talk about nothing but politics in annoying drawls. You excuse yourself to make a call – not really – it was a ruse to get out of there. You amble to the side where a leashed dog snarls beside a kennel. You sit on the concrete curb, a few feet away – the choleric dog. It exerts to break but can’t, every attempt ends up with the chain restraining its prowl. It calmly resigns to its kennel having to content with your intrusive visit. A stark juxtaposition of your life. You feel shackled, stuck at one job with no leeway to seek other opportunities while opportunities flourish gracefully for others people around you.
You drape a towel over your shoulder and walk back to the backyard. It’s evening now and the sun is ceding to its mate, darkness creeps in stealthily. People are now driving out. You make a French exit to find more people outside the gate, waiting for their Ubers and personal chauffeurs.

To the right Ken sits against the concrete wall, face looking down. Despondent. You walk to him. He looks up, tears lingering in his eyes. You can see the poignance in his face, not because he was thrown out of the party but because alcohol has turned him into a helpless junkie. He’s lost a lot in the hands of inebriation, his face the signature of a defeated man.

“I have tried to kill myself twice,” he mutters.

“What?”

“I have been contemplating suicide, tried it for the second time today. Jone’s washroom. Pills.”

You rub his back not knowing what to say. Not knowing what to cover this man’s nakedness with. His vulnerability builds loudly. He abruptly stands and walks into the darkness, hands in his pockets, nonchalantly. Down the oblivion road with in his suit and corporate noose. You take the other road. Mulling over racing thoughts, thinking of where life might lead you to. Some are born for greatness. Some are born to fall. Some are born to drink and flounder. Some like you are born to find their path. The pursuit of happiness.

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