Plagued by this
Ron woke up to a lump in his throat. “Oh boy! What a night! What a dream! Would I have a bad day?” He frowned. He hesitated to rub his eyes and see the morning light. He got off his bed and dragged his body to the bathroom. He looked himself in the mirror and saw blurred flashes of the day he would live.
“I am coming over. I have to talk. Are you back from your nighter?” he asked Rob. “Yes. Come. I no sleep. Bad time. No problem, you come. We talk,” Rob said.
Rob has been one of Ron’s closest pals. They hailed from the same town but grew up in different cities until 25 years later when they happened to bag jobs in the same city. Rob has had relationship troubles and spent time mulling over what went wrong. “Nothing. I perfect. Girl nice but don’t know,” he always told himself.
Ron knocked on Rob’s door. “Come in,” Rob said.
“Isn’t it funny, Rob? This was the exact same place where I tripped over and fell off my bicycle and crashed into your door the last time I was here. “
“Looks like that hurts still?”
“Yes. That’s why I got a Vespa,” Ron said with a straight face.
“Not understand. Anyway, what’s up?”
Ron walked into the kitchen and made a cup of tea for himself. “Black’s better.” He explained to Rob why tea without milk is perfect to face a longish day especially when anxiety preempts well-made plans.
“I not understand. Anyway what’s up?” Rob asked again.
“I woke up with a lump in my throat,” began Ron.
“Oh, need medical attention?” Rob asked.
“You really don’t understand, do you? It means I’m bothered by something.”
“I don’t know!” Ron was troubled , again, by Rob’s simple ask. He fell silent and continued to trouble himself. Rob continued to have his tea with skimmed milk.
“I leave you alone.” Rob walked into his bedroom and began searching for his favorite book The Plague by Albert Camus.
“It is here.” Ron came in later with the book in his hand. He didn’t mind showing his moist-eyed face to Rob. “I picked it up from her.”
“I gave her?”
“Yes.” Ron said. “’I know that man is capable of great deeds. But if he isn't capable of great emotion, well, he leaves me cold.’”
"'For who would dare to assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment's human suffering.'" They exchanged quotes. “Great book, no?” Rob said. Ron agreed.
“But you two talk?” Rob was desperate to know about Ron’s equation with her.
“No. Just yesterday she asked me to hand this over to you. I didn’t talk to her about you.”
“Why?” Rob was mad at Ron. “I miserable. She must know.”
“Rob! When you have no clue why you two aren’t together, she doesn’t have to know.”
“Exactly no. I mean no reason, that is why I sick feeling like this.”
Ron’s phone buzzed. He checked his phone. He stepped out of Rob’s bedroom and came back in after exactly one minute.
“I lost my job,” Ron told Rob.
“Oh my god! You OK? Why?”
“I finally cleared my throat,” smiled Ron.
“I not understand.” Rob was confused.
Ron began. “I’ve had a few altercations with a few colleagues at work. I tried thrusting my beliefs and ethics on to those who didn’t believe they existed.
“And every time I tried hard to make them believe, I was convinced that I was being morally right and that they were in the wrong place, doing those wrong things that will eventually ruin their own lives.” Ron poured himself a glass of water. “I preached. To an extent that I worked less and invested time in teaching this set of unfits a lesson.”
“Sorry, Ron. I not understand. You preached what like?” Rob asked.
“I fell in love with a colleague. I never talked to her. Never went close to her. But there’s a set of people, her friends, who take advantage of friendship and make moves, you know what I mean? And they are my friends, too!”
“I get it. But what we got investing emotion in telling them a lesson? What prompts this? Your feeling for the girl alone or strong belief in ethics?”
“It’s both. I wanted her … wanted to strike something with her … but I didn't want them to create a situation where the inevitable is only embarrassment for them. And what’s wrong with both my feeling and the urge to prove someone wrong when what they practice is actually wrong?”
“Wrong according to you, not them, no? And this situation wrong enough for office people to fire you, not them!” Rob said. Ron fell silent again.
The next day, Ron woke up, troubled, again. He telephoned Rob, “When I met her to take your book, I didn't want to tell her about you because she looked sad, too. I can’t say for what, but she was.”
“Thank you. What you do for the office colleague? Need number of her?” Rob asked Ron.