Tea served with the facts of life and the daughter of the one million hectare landowner
January 6, 2013
Perspective is everything! After all how we choose to see the world is wholly a matter of perspective, isn’t it? Just as people who wear only factory made shoes are apt to doubt the very existence of shoemakers – who work one shoe at a time. As a good thing can never be rushed. And probably like the vast majority of humans go through life having to suffer as best we can crappy factory made shoes – that day when I visited the daughter of the one million hectare landowner. I realized she saw the scandal between me and school teacher according to these terms, her terms. And no one elses.
She’s after all a rich woman who had always grown up wearing only handmade shoes – shoes that could always be counted to compliment her gait. Shoes that made love to her feet – shoes that even worshipped the way her second toe bent ever so slightly and made plenty of allowances for it by using one out of forty nine varieties of leather to create that texture and suppleness. The miracle of Italian shoemakers – they make winglets, the type you see on cherubins in Italian frescos. hence she could never regard the scandalous love triangle between Max, me and the school teacher that had swept the palm oil world alight as simply a run of mill factory made tragedy – enthralled though the vast majority of humans are to ready-made tragedies. She was conceited enough never to see my unfolding tragedy in just common terms – instead she sipped her orange juice and even carried herself as if she had some how managed to levitate herself above the fray – it’s just one of the those days when I would usually pop in to give her flowers, chaperone her to another charity gala whenever I am in Kuala Lumpur for business.
One reason for the uncanny ability of the daughter of the one million hectare landowner to suspend belief and reality had to do with her irrevocable and remarkable belief – only she possessed the power to tailor make every aspect of the tragedy that had befallen me – it was so clear in the calm and composed manner in which she had carried herself that day with me.
Hardly a hint of anger – yet beneath it all, deep down. I could sense a river of lava of molten anger.
Yes, she must have written it all – my tragic end – even arranged it all – my looming duel with Max – his refusal to even take my calls – the threat of being sent to Coventry by the entire planter’s community should I fail to conduct myself as a gentlemen and appear on the appointed hour just before dawn – all these realities were reflected in marvellous completion in her eyes from time to time – they sparkled with a confidence that reminded me of sea eagles glossing over their eyes just before their talons dig suddenly into their unsuspecting prey.
Yes…why didn’t I see it then. An ordinary woman would probably have felt betrayed by what I did – running off with the school teacher and forgetting her so irresponsibly and completely. But not her. My liaison with the school teacher was something that the daughter of the one million hectare landowner could only see as a minor aberration in her epic love life. And since she was the self appointed narrator of this tragedy. She felt it necessary to use her creative license to regard my love affair with the school teacher as merely a fling – a punctuation – a kink – a minor inconvenience – a thing that could never equal the sophistication and complications of her own heart. To the daughter of the one million hectare landowner the school teacher was a simply a slut. She did not even exist. Hence only a vulgar mentality was willing to acknowledge the possibility there could have been anything except lust between me and the school teacher.
The daughter of the one million hectare landowner had committed herself to obliterate the truth and to replace it with her unabridged version of what she believed to be true of me and the school teacher.
She even felt throughout my long draw affair with the school teacher (news must have reached her) going for extra long massages was much more beneficial than confronting me. No matter how precipitous my affair with the school teacher, she never even once felt the slightest swell of consternation. So it seems. Not even when I put my hands on her tight when we were in the car and searched her deeply with my eyes. Not even when I brushed the inside of her arms during dinner ever so lightly – and again. Not a trace. Not even the merest morsel of a hint of grief and anger.
Grief and rage along with other outbursts of passion, were after all only committed those peasants like the school teacher – a mind lacking in refinement. And the daughter of the one million hectare landowner was certainly not a woman who believed she lacked refinement.
That day as she wore her favorite lace white Laura Ashley dress – she never once even reproached me for my behavior. She never once asked, as I expected her too, “how could you do this to me?” “I am so disappointed that you have done this!” To her it was much better to accept the role that she would have to play from this point onwards – a role that she believed with all her heart that she was always meant to play.
A role where she would simply be the name and face who would have the pure unalloyed satisfaction, pleasure and sheer ecstasy to tell me in a whispering rush: that while she is prepared to help me, that would really only be possible if I undertake never see the school teacher again.
She had put it succinctly, when she leaned across the table in the jazz bar and kissed my earlobes –
“Darling, you have to choose between her and your precious trees.”
That was when she gave herself away. I could sense that mocking tone in her whispering rush. It had swelled like a bubble of air deep within her womanhood and surface just then in those words.
“You have to choose between her and your precious trees.”
Just before the night ended when I had slipped out to the balcony in the club to have a cigarette all by myself. This sliver of quietness where I can simply ooze out like a tube of black paint into the surrounding darkness. This moment where I can collect all the bits and pieces of myself that the world keeps on ravaging off me – I knew the daughter of the one million hectare landowner was looking at me.
When I turned around. She had put her arms around me and started to cry – that seamless mask of superiority, unattainability and imperialism that always hovered about her face suddenly shifted to grief. She held me so tight that she became me – tears began to stream down her eyes. She pleaded with me, “Don’t be silly. Max is a third. He will have his way with you in the morning walk! Give her up. Be a good boy and come back…come back…all will be forgiven…come back my love.”
– What she did sent a shudder through me. I knew then for sure, she was faking it. Truth is I’ve hurt the daughter of the one million hectare landowner profoundly. And she wants me dead.
To put it another way, when she put her arms around me and kissed me lovingly like a child and pleaded to me to come back – that was her way of saying, “I hate you! I will make you wish that you weren’t born” That is her way – as in the reverse universe of the daughter of the one million hectare landowner – life is art – la dolce vita.
I wasn’t sure before. Now I am – perhaps it was the momentary feeling which blazes higher and higher the more one’s pride is hurt. Yes, I felt it that evening when we were in the car and touched her fingers and how they drew…cringed…away from mine.
In the legal doctrine of the daughter of the one million hectare landowner, such misfortunes as my scandalous affair with the school teacher were merely divine confirmation that men such as myself would always need to be taught a lesson – As I sensed the depth of her grief and rage that night on the balcony of the Jazz bar. I even imagined vaguely as I wiped away her tears, that this whole business of the duel with Max must have been secretly arranged by her. To duel after all is not easy these days. As it requires an unanimous vote from the Planter’s Council. Something that only the daughter of the one million hectare landowner could have pulled off.
Now I know the depths of her anger and disappointment.
At that moment I wondered to myself whether perhaps she hated me so much that she was even prepared to see me dead in some plantation clearing at dawn.
When I sent her home. It was already very late. So late that it must have been close to aqua marine predawn. She stood there in the drive way in her magnificent baby blue silk dress looking at me – it was the look she gave me, when she took off one ear ring and threw her hair back – the exceptional glimmer in her eyes that seemed almost to stand out like sparkling diamonds in the twilight. Like the blinding truth. Surely those eyes could only belong to a woman who had already seen the decision I was yet to make – she had seen it all so clearly in a theater somewhere in her mind’s eye in full technicolor and surround sound – right down to the last detail even before I stepped through the door and gave her the tiger lilies that morning. As only the daughter of the one million hectare landowner knows a dark secret about me that no one knows – she knows deep down in her heart of hearts that I simply don’t own enough of myself yet to be my own man………I still need her.
I looked down. As no matter how hard I tried to fix the image of the school teacher in my mind’s eye. It had already began to slowly fade at the edges only to be replaced by the hard and implacable facts of life.