They call him Shane, though it isn’t his real name.
Shane for Shane Warne. Like the cricketer. But only for his appearance – fair-headed and irresistibly attractive with a spring in his step despite his lumbering large frame. It has nothing to do with his [the original Shane’s] propensity for making it to tabloid double spreads for his extra-curricular exploits.
This Shane is the most moral man that walked the earth.
This Shane hadn’t touched a girl till he was 28. This Shane hadn’t even been in love till he turned 33, to the exact day.
And till then, his thirty-third year, he concentrated all his passion on particular things.
Till he was 12, it was horses. He loved them with an intensity that frightened those who beheld his strange secret communion with them. He spoke in a tongue that no one but the horses understood. It was in his breath, the heavy snorting pounding pumping of air and life that tears through the earth under thundering hooves. It was in the sweat that poured out of him when he hugged her neck and cut through the wind. It was in his eyes that could in a moment become from a gentle grey to flashing green blue waves that thrashed about with an unfathomable rage. Then suddenly one day, they moved houses; far away from the race tracks and he never stepped upon a saddle again.
He was like that. Willful. One moment he could feel his being fused with the object of his affection, and the next, there would be a cold impenetrable sheath between him and it, never to be pierced again.
When he was 15 it was football. On the field he was invincible. Running through mud and grass skidding on pale knees, kicking with all his might, his thoughts and eyes and being all focused on one thing – to get the ball through wind, through people, past the goalkeeper in through the goal post; and at such times he would feel the stirring of an ancient rhythm thunder through his veins, like when he rode the horses. In moments like these, he was happiest. Despite his poor eyesight, Shane soon became the most powerful player on the school team.
One day, that too ended. He grew up and discovered cigarettes and chai.
He was 18 when he realised that he could sit for hours at a go, concentrating on nothing. Emptying his mind of everything. And he could be alone. Wherever. Whenever. Somewhere, something was beginning to fit and he experienced a sense of peace and calm he had never felt before.
This is how he met his Mother. She came to him one night naked and beautiful, in a dream, and put his aching head on Her lap. Shane had his first glimpse of the intensity of love. For the first time, it didn’t confuse him. And yet he couldn’t describe it. Was it soothing? Was it passionate? Was it deeper than his soul? Was it lighter than sunshine? What was it that he felt when he put his head down in Her lap?
Once he knew love like that, Shane was a changed man. He savoured moments that he could be alone and shut his eyes. He sought stillness in the winding roads of the Himalayan foothills. And that’s how he discovered his other passion. Bikes. Everywhere he went, even in his dreams, he rode his bike down to the last inch of his destination. His obsession grew so much that one day, when he was drunk and doped beyond coherence, Shane walked out of a party clinging to the handles of his bike, waving his arms every time he turned right or left, till he was finally home two hours later, still walking and waving.
For all the years in between, Shane has a few vivid memories. They aren’t painted with the colours he saw, the textures he touched and the smells he smelled. They are painted with the memories of different caresses. Caresses of people and experiences and thoughts and moments. And through all of these he felt alone, till each time he put his head down on Mama’s lap and forgot each one in an instant, never to recall it again.
And then one day he turned thirty three, and she walked into his life, with ‘exquisite cheekbones and intense black eyes’, or so he thought, till she showed him in the sunlight how truly, brightly brown they were.
For the first time in his life, Shane forgot everything. He forgot Mama, he forgot his work, he forgot his religion… all he saw was the erratic, confusing, confounded hypnosis of her brown eyes that seemed black but weren’t. For the first time in his life Shane felt completely absorbed in here and now. She took form in the distant lands of his dreams. She filled his life, all thirty three years, completing memories of things that had been half lived. And like a fly to a fire, she consumed him in her love. Bit by bit…
Till one day he woke up and realised how truly unhappy he was. With touch. With sight. With sound. With love.
That day, he bought an air ticket to a far off land. He shut his eyes and flew into the night. And when the pretty airhostess asked him if he’d like tea or coffee, he didn’t respond. He was far away, his head in his Mother’s lap, and everything was forgotten once more.
He seeks a passion that will carry him through lifetimes… beyond here and now.
And every time he moves on, exhausted and spent with the futility of his passion for an unworthy cause, he leaves them in Her lap, one square-eternity of love to tide them past his treachery. Mama’ll take care of his follies.
And She does.