Chapter Five: Emotions

November 9th, 2004 by Mabel
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131st Day of the year 3031 (7nd April, 3031)

The sunlight broke through the chamber screen, shining brightly onto the figure burrowed beneath the lumpy pillows. The digi-clock buzzed irritatingly, signalling the beginning of another day. A groan escaped the burrowed figure. Aglaia stirred, using her hand to shield her from the rays of the sun. Looking at the digi-clock, she groaned out loud again. This is way too early for me. Aglaia had problems sleeping the night before. Exhaustion and worries of bumping into Giles had made her skittish and even fearful of sleep. The weekend – today – was an opportunity for her to rest and catch up with snoozing.

Fumbling with the gadgets on her bedside table, she clicked on the button, causing the screen to turn black. Sighing with relief, she burrowed herself back under the sheets, slowly drifted back to deep slumber again. The buzzer at the door rang out sharply. Who the hell is at the bloody door???? It is definitely too early for work. For crying out loud, this is a weekend and it’s too early to come bother me with insults. GO AWAY! Covering her ears with one of the pillows, she ignored the annoying buzz and tried to sleep. It rang out. Goddamnit, don’t you people have any sense of time OR consideration???? Angrily, she flipped back the sheets and marched towards the door, kicking it open.

“WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?” barked Aglaia.

“Urm…breakfast, grumpy-pot?” offered Giles brightly as he held up a plate of freshly cooked blueberry pancakes. Aglaia buzzed the door close, walked back to the bed, and proceeded to burrow herself under the sheets. The buzzer sounded again. This time, she ignored it, covering her ears with a pillow. It went quiet for a moment and Aglaia sighed with relief. Closing her eyes, she yawned sleepily and drifted back to sleep again.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Aglaia woke up with a shock, emitting a soft cry. Giles chuckled, tossing an electronic gadget up in the air and holding onto the plate of blueberry pancakes. “It’s delicious,” persuaded Giles as he waved the plate in front of Aglaia who looked completely annoyed and bed-raggled. Sighing, she pushed her tousled hair back and sluggishly sat up, propping herself on the lumpy pillows.

“How did you get in? You know, this can be considered as an invasion of pri-what the hell are you doing?” asked Aglaia as Giles stood up, placing the plate on her lap and proceeded to cutting up the pancake into bite-sizes.

“Since you’re adamant on just talking and not eating, I thought I might do all the work and perhaps…feed you?” Gasping, Aglaia snatched the fork from Giles and stuffed her mouth full of pancakes, nearly choking in the process. “Careful!” He began to pat her back, smiling at the rather humorous sight of Aglaia stuffing her face with pancakes just so he would leave her alone. I wished he’d just go away. Why is he being so nice?

“Finished!” she declared proudly, tossing the fork onto the empty plate. Beaming towards Giles, she sat staring at him. Well, I’m done now. Will you leave? He returned her stare and began twiddling his thumbs. “Well? Aren’t you going to leave now that I’m done?”

Giles grinned for a moment and in a spontaneous move, dropped a kiss on her lips before rushing out of the chamber with the plate. She stared after the door, dumbfounded.

People have this strange tendency to play games with one another. I used to wonder if it was part of the human nature; to be flamboyant, and playful. On the other hand, such spirit could be seen as a form of manipulation and exploitation. Yet, we love to play games. We inject the basics of game-playing into our everyday lives without realization. We toy with our speech, with our food, with our relationships, with our bodies…with just about anything we could get our hands on.Was the human species one that had a playful spirit? Or did game playing served a more sinister deeper purpose in life? Was everything just like a game or was it something else?

In the beginning, it would seem as if such game playing served an important purpose in society.

The tremulous relationship between parent and child could be seen as a game of power, authority and hierarchy. Struggles and conflicts abound as both parent and child clash together in an attempt to put each other into place. That place may not be an appropriate one but we are never concerned with the specifics or the consequences. We just want to play with them. We just want to prove a point – our point. Our words and behavioural patterns are all part of this constant struggle of authority. We hurt, we manipulate, we ignore…all just to prove a point. That in itself was a purpose, even though it was a purpose made in negativity.

But then how could we explain the existence of the several few who venture into game playing because it was an alternate path to pleasure and fun?

For some, such bouts are entertaining and serve as a tool in assisting closer family ties. The popular expression used by Earthlings towards the end of the first millennium – ‘argument is a sign of affection’ – was a clear indication of the dual nature of game playing itself. For others, it is a form of self-gratification, an outlet for emotional overload.

I never found game-playing amusing. In actuality, I found it cruel and utterly demeaning. How could anyone find amusement and satisfaction at the expense of another human being? Perhaps this is linked to my own experience. Perhaps such ‘cruelty’ is linked to the past and even insecurities. I can still remember the incident at the Hall during The Festival vividly. The jibes, the amusement the women sought by clashing with me. At first I had to struggle to understand them, to understand it all but I now see the many possibilities injected into that one clash. To them, that one clash was never about me; it was about them, about the power they thought they had over me, about the pleasure they obtained from it and to a certain extent, about the incompleteness of their own lives.

It is said that people project their insecurities onto each other through game playing. The harsh words that they sputter out of contempt or even fun can be seen as jibes that they direct to themselves subconsciously. The negative feelings they have about others can be seen as a form of unhappiness about their own lives. It can be argued that people are sometimes cruel to others because they cannot stand to see anyone be better than them, look better than them or have a better life than them. Even the mere thought of them walking away with the last card in hand is enough of an excuse for revenge.

How then do we attempt to put this into emotions? Are words simply enough to describe one person’s ego, insecurities, personality, and feelings?

Pain. Anguish. Suffering. Joy. Happiness. Hollow. Adoration. Love. Admiration. Sadness. Depressed. Empty. High. Exuberant. Excitement. Moody. Bored. Respect. Awe. Shock. Disgust. Pride. Conflict. Fear. Completeness.

The list could go on and on.

Yet I wonder.

How can someone not feel?

This is too short a weekend for me. I need more time. Aglaia stared at her still blistered raw hands. They were beginning to heal but come tomorrow, she knew that they would be raw and stinging from work in the fields. Picking up a piece of damp cloth, she gently dabbed the bits that were red and raw. Grimacing, she cursed, gritting her teeth. I wish I was back on Caelestis. Then I don’t have to hide away from the people here. I wouldn’t have to worry about watching my every move. I wouldn’t have to think twice of relaxing on my own.

The past five days since the dance had been horrendous. The women-folk had grown bolder in light of events during The Festival and at every turn she went, Aglaia was greeted with insults and name-calling. No one wanted to work with her in the fields, and so she ended up doing everything on her own, often working long into the night. If she wanted a break, get a drink or even stand in the shade, Aglaia was treated with a cold stare that said ‘no’. It tired her; keeping up pretences, telling herself that what they think did not matter, running away to her hut the moment the shift buzzer rang out. She was beginning to wonder if this was General Priam’s punishment for that trial ten years ago. She just wanted to leave.

The buzzer rang, startling her for a brief moment. Walking towards the door almost hesitantly, she asked out loud.

“Who is it?”

No answer. She grew wary.

Two days, someone left a basket of rotting dead mice with maggots crawling all over it on her doorstep, causing her to puke for hours on end at even the mildest of recollection of the vision. She showed up in the fields that afternoon, her stomach still in knots but her head held up proudly. The other women merely glared at her and continued working. Aglaia never found out who was behind the basket fiasco and she never told anyone about it. She merely pretended as if nothing had happened. Nevertheless, it made her more cautious of her surroundings.

Picking up a graphite stick, she kicked the door open, prepare to beat her would-be assailant to death should there be one at the door. Instead a basket of fruits and some sandwiches greeted her. Aglaia looked around. There was no one about, and she exhaled, flooded with relief. Kneeling down, she poked on the basket, just to be on the safe side. Never know what these people might do just to prove a point. Satisfied with her overall inspection, she picked up the basket and shut the door behind her, resting the stick on one shoulder.

From his place amongst the bushes, Giles smiled to himself. This is going good. Now let’s hope she falls for the rest. Stepping out, he strolled down the path, whistling chirpily and feeling rather pleased with himself.

The people on Ancile were nothing like I had experienced before. They were so vibrant, so alive, and so vicious. It scares me at times simply because I have no idea what to expect from these people. On Caelestis, people were predictable. They often acted in one many without much variation or diversion. It made communication with them easy. I knew how General Priam would always puff up in disgust whenever he crossed paths with me; Lady Evania a gentle guider and disciplinarian…I knew how they think, behave and react. I always knew what to say, what not to say and for amusement, what buttons to push.People here are so…varied.

Whenever I leave my hut, I am faced with the possibilities of stepping on people’s toes unknowingly. Worse of all, I am never too sure of the reasons behind their irritation with me.

Throughout the first few months, I have heard and observed the people of the colony. In the beginning, I was told that emotions were a good thing to have. That it made the day easier to pass, that it soothe the broken spirit, that it offered an alternative perspective on the world. Yet as every day continued to past, I wondered to myself.

Were emotions really a good thing?

Just the other day, I saw a woman lash out against another over a petty matter of an incorrect count of the day’s harvest. I watched as one woman lashed out in anger, the other fighting back in an almost angry, embarrassed manner. Looking at them reminded me of the classes I took in History of Emotion. For a brief moment, as I rested against my hoe, observing them, they seemed like a pair of squabbling birds fighting over a meal, brutally animalistic. It was a strange sight. Then I asked myself what was the real purpose of anger?

If emotions were good, why did anger seem to hurt more than soothe? Why did anger seem to create rifts rather than bring people closer together? Why did anger almost often led to violence? Even then, why do people get angry? Was it because they could not get what they desired? Or was it because they were too embarrassed to admit wrong? Could stubbornness play a key factor in the existence of anger itself?

When the two turned towards me, finally realizing that I was staring at them, my heart raced and I nearly tripped over my hoe in an attempt to pretend as if I was not looking at all; that I had not seen anything. Not that it was easy. The two were loud and their voices echoed throughout the fields. Nevertheless, it did not stop me from breaking out into cold sweat and from thinking of the same thing over and over again.

That I was going to die some awful death because I was spying on two angry people.

Fear.

If we had dogs – they died out during the Exodus and no one saw it important to bring what was once known as man’s best friend back to life – they would probably be catch me out, shivering in fear. It is said that dogs can smell fear and I do digress. It had some partial truth to it. Changes in the body, composition of hormones in the sweat emitted, hiked up blood pressure and adrenaline rush were all part of the physical changes that the human body undergoes during a fright.

Yet we never seem to see fear from a physical perspective.

Why is it so?

The days continued to pass lazily despite Aglaia’s hopes that it would fly as quick as the wind. Her daily trips to the fields were beginning to seem tiresome, a tedious task. And then, on one fine day after a long day of labour, as she grumpily made her way to the duty station, she was politely informed that they no longer needed her to tend to the fields. She was required to report to the Tech Lab. Aglaia smiled, and in what seemed like a spontaneous mood, proceeded to dump the hoe, with mud and all, onto the duty station table and cheekily told the officer to shove it up his flabby ass. As he stood shell-shocked, she ran off, laughing at the top of her voice.

That night, dinner was a pleasant affair despite the whispers and jibes aimed at her as she ate another grubby meal. The vegetables were in its usual overcooked, brown, insect infested state and the meat was minced into what looked like a hastily put together meatloaf. She felt light-headed, and was up to the mischievous mood that she had always been in at Caelestis. The cook bore the brunt of her jibes when she appeared before him to personally return her half-eaten meatloaf and vegetables. The cook turned red but said nothing.

Aglaia slept well that night.

Once, I saw a man and a woman snuggling under the towering branches of an oak tree. Yes, we still have oak trees even though they were long gone from the Earth by the beginning of the second millennium. All because someone decided to archive all the animals and plants on Earth before we wiped them all out. It was good because many things happen under an oak tree here on Ancile. Couples love to congregate under its shady branches, cuddle and talk long into the evening. They loved to watch the moonlight of Tres, the sunset of the Great Star; it was the site for many love matches.As I watched this couple sharing a fruit today, his arms around hers, I wondered to myself. Were their actions a determining factor of love? Did all people who acted like this were individuals in love? Would it have been safe to deduce it as such based on the actions of several couples or where there other forms of love? Why do people fall in love? What are the benefits of falling in love?

First of all, what is love? Is love just another word we smack a label on a bunch of hormonal surges and physical symptoms such as shivers and flushing? Or did it have a more intrinsic value?

Before I knew it, there was this strange emotion in me that began to bubble up as I pondered on these questions while spying on the couple. I began wishing. I began to desire more than what I had. I wanted what they had – the intimacy, the love in their eyes, comfort, warmth – I wanted to be part of someone else.

It was jealousy speaking as I walked away from the very thing I had wanted then.

I felt incomplete.

I felt lonely.

I want it.

Love.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 9th, 2004 at 10:39 am and is filed under NaNoWriMo 2004. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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