Saturday, October 4, 2008

Solitary Survival..

A chill had set in just as the sun had fallen beyond the horizon, promising a cold and long evening. The clink of his Zippo produces a flame that sputters abnormally in the stillness of the dusk air. He brings the flame to the edge of his cigarette and pulls hard, causing fiery embers to consume the edge. "It's a struggle", he says with sadness as smoke spirals from his mouth. "Every day I realise it's the same as the day before; the same problems and the same routine."

Vincent Arthur is currently in his first year at Rhodes after successfully completing matrik last year. He is a smoker form Jo'burg with little or no money and doesn't get along with a lot of people. His appearance suggests no reason for this as he seems at first glance just like any other first year, but his feet are bare with the markings of the day's adventures besmeared on them. They bear the resemblance of that which has suffered through thick and thin on an endless journey. His rustic feet seem out of place with his crew-cut brown hair and well-trimmed goatee. His golf shirt is clean and his shorts bear a remarkable resemblance to the hundreds of other shorts worn by male students.

Vincent walks alone. The daily adventures of varsity life are experiences he does not share with friends and fellow students. He is certain he would go out more often and so meet more people, but his budget is tight and restricts him to the chambers of his room. It is here that he reads and writes; for his own pleasure mostly. "Writing is like a conversation without the incessant need to assert your social accomplishments" he says while laboriously putting out his second cigarette. There is a calm about him as he sits in silence while the evening air stirs a restless chill, and the darkness is complete.

"Donne once wrote 'No man is an island entire in itself'". Vincent caringly utters these words as he lights another cigarette, then objects that while the life of a recluse is perhaps an agonising torment it is well worth it to prevail. To read and write is time-consuming and requires little if any social comitment. His sense of accomplishment through these is far greater than competing who can down a beer the fastest.

He stubs out his cigarette and says it's getting late. Indeed the chill is becoming an oppressive force. His hand is warm and his grip is firm. Under the feint light of a distant lamp his eyes seem dark and sinister under heavy brows. Are these the eyes of a sad social deviant or of a being who simply embraces his individuality?

He walks away with a slow steadiness and a gentle dip in his left shoulder, almost like a contra-postal pose in action. He walks alone with his hands in his pockets. He is neither a deviant nor a genius in the making, but rather, a student, surviving the tediousness of first-year life in his own unique way.

1 comment:

Wraith said...

Benissimo! Please excuse the Italian, but that was an impressive piece. It was vividly descriptive and quite captivating. The way time was portrayed by the amounts of cigarettes smoked was most ingenious. Your writing style is well developed and at a level most first years would want to be at. But I could go on about your descriptive writing style for ages. However, I cannot see how Vincent is a first year survivor or a hero. He must be surviving something such as academics, because, as you’ve pointed out, he clearly is not surviving socially (No offence Vincent). This one factor of you seeming to miss the point of the profile has completely smudged this beautiful piece of writing. I suppose, in a sense, Vincent could be a first year survivor or hero by simply remaining himself. Well now , this is something to be pondered… I guess all I have to say is well done to you!