No One’s Heroes — Part 4 of 8
No One’s Heroes is a series of articles that explores our heroes and villains, and how every hero is someone else’s villain. Each individual represents a deadly sin and the human behind them.
Have you ever thought about you want out of life? More specifically, have you ever considered what the pinnacle of your life would be? I mean, you probably wouldn’t mind becoming a millionaire, but how about things that are closer to you?
At which point would money be enough to live comfortable? How abundant does happiness need to be before you could rest peacefully? And how much strength would have to be coursing through your veins to last you your whole life, doing the things you’ve always wanted to do? Actually, I asked these questions to Gina as well.
At which point would money be enough to live comfortable? How abundant does happiness need to be before you could rest peacefully? And how much strength would have to be coursing through your veins to last you your whole life, doing the things you’ve always wanted to do?
Gina is the one busy chatting away in the middle of the table, absentmindedly spinning that pocket watch from its thread. She’s so jolly, so loud, and seems to be liked by most of the other protagonists around the table.
I can see your eyes narrowing and your forehead creasing as you weigh her up. What could be her thing? What is wrong with her? After all, I have given you enough reasons to start doubting the sanctity of everyone around this table. Don’t tell me what story your imagination has conjured yet. First, let me tell my story.
Gina is the kind of person whose life you picture to be perfect, laughing their way through challenges, surrounded with friends and a comfortable lifestyle. She is always splendid, and today is no exception.
Deep down, I believe that she does it on purpose — look better than she really is, to feel better than she really is. First impressions, right? And yet, in spite of her materialism, she was the one who came up to me as I slowly made my way downtown, on one eventful night, looking for a bar to drown my night away in.
Gina had seen me on several occasions, as I had. On that particular night, she was on her own, looking for adventure, I presume. I admit that seeing her alone was a strange sighting, and she must have felt it as well, or she would not have approached me.
We were only a couple of streets away from the usual bar, but I was not about to let such an occasion pass me by without exploiting it. It was like finding a window into a world you never truly explored. Curiosity on its own glues your eyes to the panes. Within minutes, we were sitting on high stools, sipping liqueur and chatting idly.
It turned out that Gina’s allure was more than just skin-deep. She was funny, charismatic and her very words made you feel special. And like you, I too was wondering what was wrong with her, because no one is so flawless.
Alcohol has this particular effect on some people. It loosens their tongues, opens them up. Or maybe it releases their real self into the wild. Now that I think about it, that is what probably happened to her.
I guess I should have figured it out on my own earlier. Everything about the way she moved, and the manner in which she forged her words just screamed it about her. She was a novice politician, making her way up the power’s food chain. Bingo.
The thing about politicians is that they don’t all go in looking for the same reward. I mean, there has to be a reason. Perhaps it’s the feel-good factor, or power, fame or money. Whatever it is, there’s always something that pushes people to come out, fists swinging and fighting for what they believe in. And that is when I popped the same questions that I asked you to Gina.
Perhaps it’s the feel-good factor, or power, fame or money. Whatever it is, there’s always something that pushes people to come out, fists swinging and fighting for what they believe in.
Gina was artful with words, but her answer was straightforward. Why does there have to be an endgoal? Why should anyone have to settle for less than they deserve? Putting a lid on her ambitions meant barring all the change she could bring about, and make it impossible to reach her full potential.
That was all there there was to it for Gina — putting a limit was akin to a ceiling blocking the sky above. And she, in all her glamour, wanted to be the graceful bird with powerful wings who could rise above the clouds to see the sky above.
For a few moments, we were both on the same page. I’m sure you would have been, as well. Sitting on that stool, you would have kept listening, allowing yourself to be captivated by the carefully-chosen words of a politician. For a few seconds, you too would have put aside your disdain for the popularity that she enjoys.
Lying on your back at night, how much time do you spend regretting the choices you never made, the words you never spoke? Isn’t that what the eternal night is all about? When all choices seem minimal compared to the impending doom, aren’t you going to desperately wish to go back in time and make that one choice that could have changed your whole life? The choice you never made.
When all choices seem minimal compared to the impending doom, aren’t you going to desperately wish to go back in time and make that one choice that could have changed your whole life?
I could see it in Gina’s eyes. She didn’t have that problem, and she would never have it.
I never got the chance to tell her all that, because right then, the door opened, and my gaze settled on the newcomer — Percy.
Gina was no stranger Percy. Over the years, he must have caught her eyes. Maybe my questions had derailed her, lost her in a train of thoughts she did not want to ponder on. Describing her look as she stared at Percy is no mean feat. Her eyes were glazed over, probably an effect of the spirits in her, but they were also clouded and bereft of emotion. Mesmerized would be an apt adjective.
As Gina was lost in her own world, I noticed her necklace; a simple metal chain with a coin attached at its end that looked like it had seen its fair share of time. Now, don’t get me wrong, Gina was not the richest, nor most powerful woman in the room, or she would have been sitting at Percy’s table instead of next to me. Nonetheless, it seemed strange that she would be wearing such an ordinary-looking trinket. I mulled asking her about it, but she never gave me the chance.
Without uttering a word, she stood up, her eyes still fixed on Percy and the table he had now joined. Before I knew what was happening, she was making strides, wordlessly abandoning me to fight through the crowd separating her from Percy’s table. You look smart — I’m sure you have already figured out what happened next.
I’ve never seen a vulture. Not up close, anyway. Nevertheless, that is the word that sprung to mind when Gina proposed the challenge to Percy — a coin toss to decide whether she joins the elite table, or if she returns back to her place. With a swift move that seemed to have been rehearsed over and over again, she removed the coin from around her neck and flicked it in the air.
When does it stop being determination and perseverance, and becomes something else, far worse? Where do you draw the line between getting what you need, and what you want? As I sat there, out of sight of almost everyone in the bar, and certainly out of every mind in there, I could not tell who was being prosecuted, whether it was Gina or Percy.
When does it stop being determination and perseverance, and becomes something else, far worse? Where do you draw the line between getting what you need, and what you want?
With a final thud, the coin came to rest on the table. Gina’s eyes lit up, a smirk telling the whole story. There was an indescribable fire in her eyes, the willpower to never bend a knee, but she had found her match in Percy, who promptly issued another challenge. It was all or nothing for Gina — she either kicks Percy out of the bar, retaining his golden pocket watch as a memoir, or she gets the boot instead.
The silence was surreal as the coin left her fingers, rising high above every head in the room. The defiance in Gina’s eyes reached out to everyone else, engulfed them and made them one body — one corpus seeking an excuse to believe that it was possible for greatness to be born from humble ashes.
Sometimes I wonder what it takes to climb above the masses. Toiling only gets you so far, or the separation in that bar would not have been so obvious. Perhaps the answer is the willingness to sacrifice everything you have, being ready to lose everything in order to win everything. In any case, that is what worked for Gina.
The coin came to a rest amid uproarious noise. Her mouth twisted into a smile of satisfaction, as if a burden had lifted from her shoulders. With her palm outstretched, she grasped the pocketwatch — the same pocketwatch she now spins from her fingers — a statement of victory, more than anything else. For how could a bird like her fly high if it is encumbered by material possessions?
I followed Percy out of the bar on that night, but not before passing by Gina, inviting her to drop by sometime. I’ll call it serendipity, or maybe it was fate, but on my way out, a subtle reflection caught my eye from the ground — the coin Gina had used.
It had been a night to remember, and I was sure there had to be something more to Gina than she had let on, so I picked it up to examine it. I know how it looks, and what you must be thinking. The truth is that it did not seem expensive, and the crowd had thickened. I had to choose between returning the trinket to Gina and following a disgraced Percy out of the bar. There was no turning back.
I played with it in my hand on my way out, and something about it seemed strange, wrong even. And then, I noticed — it was a trick coin, with two heads. I should have seen that coming. Gina had given herself wings to fly through the window she had opened.
Now, it’s your turn to answer me the same questions I asked Gina.
You hesitated — I felt the uncertainty in your voice. It’s not as easy as you think, is it? You can not simply quantify your utopic ideas. Because when would enough be enough? And even then, wouldn’t the lack of challenge bore you out?
There’s always that insatiable voice inside your head, challenging you to be better, push harder. Because deep down, you too want to be a hero — the person that everybody looks up to, because they know no bounds, with wisdom and power limitless. You want to be that person. And if anything ever tells you that you cannot, it only spurs you to fight harder.
And maybe that is why so many people end up relating with Gina so much.