When I entered, I found myself in the midst of raised voices, eager ears, mocking eyes, knowing smiles. The discussion seemed so serious my colleagues appeared to be dignitaries in a crucial conference. They looked like politicians who suspected some hanky-panky behind recent election results. Like economists who were busy trying to patch up the country’s crumbling economy. Like members of self-appointed jury on whose verdict hung the life of the defendant. The matter appeared to be a very serious one. When I listened in, I learnt it was about a Mr H who had eloped with Mr P’s wife.
The time was almost eleven. Here were a bunch of clerks, who instead of attending to the day’s business were discussing how serious Mr H was about the elopement, how ugly Mrs P was, what on earth made Mr H and Mrs P elope, how Mr P was reacting. Some said Mr H was a lucky b… for Mrs P was a heiress and Mr H would drop her like a hot potato once he had divested her of her money. Some refuted this saying Mr H was head over heels in love with Mrs P and would not give her up for all the world. Some pitied Mrs P as they knew Mr H suffered from cancer. Some observed that Mrs P was a black beauty. Some appointed themselves as judges and with shocked looks derided the degenerating standards of morality and wished the guilty whipped naked in public as a lesson to the involved and to those who might be planning adultery.
Some others were curious to know the pertinent and other juicier details as though they were compiling data for further analysis. Some were eager to know how Mr P reacted. Some said he barked like a dog and vowed vengeance. Some said he was always docile and received the news as if he had been expecting it for sometime. Some said the elopement served him right since he had never respected his wife as a woman. Thus some sympathized with Mr P, some with Mrs P and others with Mr H as if the affected parties expected it of them and would have been disappointed if they hadn’t. They declared they couldn’t be inhuman enough not to sympathise. (In fact they were more than performing their duty!) Some criticized Mr H for his nauseating conduct, some Mrs P for her disgusting audacity and some accused Mr P of cowardice. As if all the three deserved the off-hand remarks.
The discussion took another turn. Of whims and fancies, weaknesses and strengths, promises and prejudices. Even the family trees were viewed with as objective an attitude as an empirical scientist would have. The discussion went on. Files had been requested for. Nobody bothered, live as they did in a world of their own so coloured with their fertile imagination that reality really faded away.