As I raised my cup over the shining moonlight, a light breeze moved over the cliffside. Waves were washing over the shore, perhaps consoling the sand of the incident dawn. With me were the Last Men, the final evolution of humankind. I felt the bushes in the dark, making sure the large bottle of gin still remained there. Maybe it would have preferred rolling down to the beach, allowing sand to have a little taste. The Last Men were smiling, but were they happy? I know not. I must talk about the Last Men, however, for the story begins there
1. The Last Man
Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
‘What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?’ thus asks the last man, and blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.
‘We have invented happiness,’say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one’s neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth…
The Last Man is the consequence of centuries of nihilism that pervades human society. For we know no ought, we know no why. Primitive thoughts must such an individual pervade, pleasure and suffering are its senses. And here I was, sitting alongside two different individuals of the same creed. He had devoted life for sculpting the physique, fixing each and every imperfections, sharpening the arsenals of his body but never will it fix what’s inside. You might see a man, but I see a boy. Even the laughs echoed the craving of acceptance, to be affirmed for what he is: will it arrive however?
The other pulled out the phone, swiping through screens to show us something. As the bright yellow light made its way into my drunk eyes, I confirmed the other Last Man. It was the messages he received on a dating app. The need to be recognized flows effervescently through all of them. Maybe the pain remains too much, life too little. After the grueling week, killing oneself seems easy enough. For a minute, they are nowhere to be found; maybe the abyss gazes back at them? Drunk yet conscious, I wondered what I was doing there. Was it mere fascination with the Last Man or was I becoming on itself? That’s when Chekhov ran across my mind.
2. Chekhov’s Letter
In 1886, before impacting global literature and theatre, Anton Chekhov penned a letter to his older brother Nikolai. The Letter named 8 Qualities of Cultured People illustrates Chekhov’s idea of a cultured individual. With each cup of gin, as it rolled out to my stomach, I could remember this one passage from the letter.
7. If they have talent, they respect it. They sacrifice comfort, women, wine and vanity to it. They are proud of their talent, and so they do not go out carousing with trade-school employees or Skvortsov’s guests, realizing that their calling lies in exerting an uplifting influence on them, not in living with them. What is more, they are fastidious.8 Qualities of Cultured People, Anton Chekhov
Why had I come to the Pearl of the Orient, the Land of beaches, to Goa? Perhaps it was an act of desperately trying to hold on to life, hoping that something may cling on, just so that I could live. The hedonism in the eyes of these men craved for belonging in mine, yet I couldn’t take it in. I still felt as empty, nay, more empty than I had felt. Maybe Chekhov was right: I was living a lie at that moment. For one is lucky enough to have a talent, it must be honored throughout. Otherwise, it remains nothing but a disgrace. Cultivating it through thick and thin, exposing and moulding the malleable essence, until it is maximized by its own virtue. Complete, in every way possible. Reaching there is near impossible, but we strive on. For the value resides in striving, not reaching anywhere.
Humanity yet doesn’t know how to love. Almost all the time, we are in love with the idea of being in love but not the other person itself. But rarely, people come in to your lives, in the most unexpected circumstances – it dawns in. The Modern Man laughs at unconditional love, for to him it holds no rationale. While I could, and I know I can, give a rigorous philosophical argument for unconditional love, I don’t want to. For I’ve felt it, perhaps experiencing it at this very moment with each touch of the keypad, remembering them in all their beauty. Oscillations between euphoria and dysphoria, boredom and excitement remain non-existent. Serene, perhaps the most accurate word to describe it. To be at home, to remain cozy in their presence, doesn’t feel real. I’m a child again, for child is characterized by neither happiness or sadness, but joy that courses through them. To feel joyous, even in sorrow, is the rarest of privileges.
Sometimes when I watch them transform into a ferocious force of nature to protect me, not suspecting any weakness from me instead in terms of their own desire, I melt. I make sure I try to protect them as ferociously as they did, not to reciprocate but because of my deepest desires to do that. Some people are worth melting for. I realize that what we hold is obscurity even amongst the most open minded of liberals, but that’s what makes it unique. As a society, we have held on to the romantic sexual monogamous paradigm for too long. Love can be defined however we want, that’s the beauty of it. Sometimes I wish humans could reproduce asexually, maybe the obscurity would’ve faded away.
I know I love you as much as I can, but it’s still not enough. I know I appreciate you as much as I can, but it’s still not enough. You’re perfect as you are, and I’ll love you without chains of condition: as long as we both breath. Sometimes you may get scared, fearing the stinging pains of hurt that haunts you from getting close, but don’t. I promise that I’ll stay as long as I’m alive. For if I don’t stay, I’m not being true to myself anymore. I never knew I was capable of love like this, never in my wildest dreams. And I couldn’t bottle it up any further, for love isn’t meant to be bottled up. For you, a thousand times over.