What I Submit to Those Before Me

A three-headed dog stands between myself and the crest. The roaring, clawing, awkward, awe and shock of battle awaits. The only weapon in my arsenal is a slew of words prewritten and rehearsed, to take to the fight. I sharpen them against memory and readiness while I listen in my seat.

All rise.

Honor and Tradition reign over silence as a single speaker announces the bestial trinity to the stand.

All may be seated.

And I do so, just as my opponent does, off to my left side, equidistant before the stand, where he similarly stews in his seat. The dog looms over all, its ambiguous pupils piercing the humbled silence. Six beady doctrines honed by decades of experience, of defending and attacking other mutts that could only bark. They made it here because they won. We, my foe and I, have but one treaty in common: we must feed the beast his wanted meal.

I’m tasked with speaking first. I ease my frigid chair back so my cathartic comfort might be lifted. I’ve gone numb with patience. My mind meanders gently as I approach the center stage, the podium before the hungry. Behind me are many haunting gazes, crawling on my back, as they watch what the heads of the dog might do when they see me, and what they might say. So far nothing. I take from my invisible pocket an invisible sequence of audible words, and prepare them for delivery. These words are my defense, my argument, and my coercion, to convince those before me to take and accept.

However, my words are not all I have, as I’ve learned, in my address to those before me. There are things inside my words, living things, which explain how powerful and sharp my words might be. My voice is where those living things are born, and in my conviction is how they thrive in the air in which they’re heard. Their prenatal stages in my mind, undisclosed to listeners, does not amount to any utterance in their projected lifespan, and rightly so; just as our lives in time on Earth are only actually measured once we’ve felt the air outside the womb.

If I put forth strength in my words, and not mitigate their purpose with the “um”’s, “like”’s and “uh”’s of discomfort and uncertainty, if I put forth will and forthrightness, then they might listen, they might be convinced to take from my hand the treat of reason I offer. But their gazes graze my determination to this effect, and shakes penetrate my voice, and stumble and shudder do my words, at least at first. But once they leave the bounds of silence, crawling on the sonic floor, they rise up to address and show worthy their purpose, walking and standing tall to the beast.

The dog listens quietly. “Dogs” feels like the better term. Despite the evidence proving that their dissimilar minds don’t bar them from the plain fact that they originate from the same body, for coherence’s sake I’ll identify them as the individual parts to a whole (as consciousness determines personality, character, and ego; not torso, limb, limb, limb, limb, and head(s)). But it is also the inflection of the word “dog” which feels wrong, which sounds as if they were below human, as if they lived to serve a purpose that better men wanted them to do, be that sit, speak or play dead.

But this is not what I mean. These are the dogs that command, that lead, that deliver orders and verdicts with their chomp, whose crisp, grizzled grunts mean more than I, this three-year old puppy (14 in lawyer years), could ever muster as I stand now with words. They speak and mean what they say with the knowledge of better men. In any case, animals are quite smarter than you and I. If intelligence were to be measured by what is read, and known, and spoken with wit and strategy, with the will to forge tools and skyscrapers, then sure, the animal is our lesser in thinking capacity. However, the most astute of the ascetics, of all denominations, collectively hold that intelligence in the grander sense is simply living life to the utmost of its fleeting, momentary capacity, regardless the magnanimous truth of death, and to this extent, no creature has greater difficulty in committing to this philosophy than the human person.

I should modify my earlier statement. Our task is not to feed the beast, but to convince him that the food that either of us have to offer is the better meal to consume. The irony is that the meats we dish to them are of identical substance; the only differences exist in the way they are flavored, with hints of insight or tactical precision, peppered on with shaky hand or stoutest judgement. I seasoned my opening statement with salt, pepper and garlic dust. I hoped, best I may, it would prove greater than sufficient.

My opponent in this game of feeding lay out his piecemeal flesh, of which I condemned internally with all my thought and might. No matter the savoriness of his argument, no matter the caliber of content nor tender the dish, his efforts were my nemesis, and I calculated the value of his preparation far before he gave them forward (not needing to ask for time for rebuttal). He fed the dogs, and the dogs were satisfied, though their indication of content was not dissimilar to their reaction to my own givings.

They began to speak. I whited out the world as I was entrapped by the vortex of their rhetoric. Words and determinations and self-imposed, self-answered questions all abounded as they steadily slowed their speech with greater pauses. Their voice urged the cadence of conclusion, as I deftly awaited judgement.*

*Author left the room before judgement was passed. He had to use the bathroom and didn’t care enough to not be rude and stay. The author does not apologize.

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