Dry November: Day 18

November 18, 2018

Our spiritual rapport pervaded the party, to support the commencement of a third, our host of honour. His citizenship was the culmination of years of obedience in a financial labour camp. Subservience to the whims of a waningly wise nation state, the concept in which he had never believed, had led him and me a few weeks ago to the same Town Hall where the same two men had bequeathed to me the selfsame ambivalent merit. Afterwards he had given thumbs-up to a picture of our ever-regal ageing regina, and the band played a song to save her, and not the Waltzing Matilda that may someday come again. But it was a hard day’s night he appreciated above all, which ended his decades’ slog of suspicion and paperwork, detainment at airports, and so on. He was not emotionally unmoved, as he feels at least some allegiance to London, if less than to Lahore.

On the night of his party she and I stayed united. If not in chemistry then in kind we became a strong rear guard. First the left flank then the right, joyousness til morning light. The atmosphere was one of optimism, endearment, and above all, embrace. Song and dance left many tired or voiceless by the end, but the attendance was impressive, an illustrious and energetic crowd, beautiful, talented, and vivacious, punctuated by the excitement at each new arrival, staggered as they were over the hours, staggering breathlessly at the top of countless stairs. As they gasped they were clasped to the bosom of the night, later to be encircled, entranced, and enveloped, in stillness and in dance.

The mood was unbridledly good, at times intemperately so, with no divisiveness or cliques to emerge. The spark of a first acquaintance or the blaze of a decade of decadence each conspired to burn the heady fuel of fondness. It was a conflagration of camaraderie, a starburst of affection, visible to the naked eye of new friends and old. “A rockstar,” a word the host often repeated in introductions, was what he himself was, and although it captures the ebullience of the crowd, it does little justice to his irreproachable character, his inerrant generosity, his steadfast loyalty or impressive virtue. “A paragon of life” would be closer, consoling in existence’s ebbs and revelling in its flows. He tried to describe the honesty of which he himself is an avatar, but in the end, could not, nor did he need to. He had honoured the past, commemorated its successes and laughed at its follies, and sown the seeds of friends to come, budding acquaintances amidst entwined stalwarts, in blossoming youth and full bloom of maturity. It was a group gleaming brighter than the sun that they by the dawn reflected, saturated with an irrepressible love for life. And he as a citizen is the envy of any nation state, whatever his beliefs about the necessity of their existence.

Twenty years hence, said the host, towards the end, he has no doubt that we will not be old familiar faces, but present, as we were tonight, for each other.

Bryan Kam

I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter, follow me on Mastodon, or see more here.