An Act of Jealousy

Joseph Lanzon

Those who are conversant with the profondities of love will appreciate better the sorrow of the parting. ‘Love’, it is often said, ‘lies on the border of hate and is adjacent only to madness’.  I wonder sometimes why the noblest of virtues should be so frail and so mysterious. How often has it also been said that ‘he who loves as an adolescent, learns to hate as a grown up’. 

There are instances in life when man will ponder on bygone memories and learn to criticize his own folly from the logical point of view. And so, in this manner, he pondered.

……….Yesterday she was mine; my wife; vowed she loved me; promised to make me happy; we laughed, loved and made merry………

………..How many evenings did we spend with each other? She loved me then; but now she is gone, gone forever; an intruder had won her love; she forgot all about me now; why should she keep remembering me? What did I do, for her to disinherit me from her heart?…………

She appeared fresh in his mind; an enchanting queen; smiling as she used to pass from under his balcony. He looked; they smiled; they talked; he won her.  They met afterwards nearly every night, breaking the monotony of the village routine by varying their outings – now to the seaside, then to the theatre, sometimes to the disco and more often than not, to the cinema. 

Love had played its part between two feeble hearts and governed all their thoughts and deeds. It was responsible for their omissions to duty and to friends because, as they say, ‘love is blind’.

He would burst in anger, if at times, as she often did, she would not wait for him on his return from work. He loved her madly and that, he reasoned, was credit enough to own her, to patronize her, to feed his eyes on her beauty.  But he was now losing his love and, without his knowledge, he was beginning to transform his love to hate. Yes, hate her! The same woman he had so much adored a short while before!

For what is jealousy? Is it not mistrust? Is it not the doubt in the integrity of the second person? It is, in fact, more than that. It is egoism on the part of the doer and annoyance on the part of the receiver.  Jealousy is the destroyer of love and the stepping stone to madness. 

Involuntarily, our young lover was destroying the love he himself had pained to create. She felt annoyed; without freedom of action; he was enslaving her and that is, by far, more than a woman’s pride can bear.  He had lost her forever. He wept, was confused and, in this state, did not know what he was planning and doing. She was like a bird flying further away from him. He never recovered normality again. Once the passions of hate are aroused there is no remedy to sooth them. He had to do what had to be done. There was no alternative. 

For a full three years he had loved her. But could he say the same for her? Did she reciprocate his love? She had kept his company for three whole years. Or she kept him chained by the lure of love. Now, finding better company, she discarded him like a woman discards old clothes!

Weeks passed and his hate grew without bounds. He now hated her walk (when once he thought it was elegant); her looks (which once he so devotedly revered); her beauty (once so fresh, so noble, so charming, and so heavenly); hated himself for ever once loving her (once he thought himself fortunate in holding her hands).

He hated that tall, bony, painted, cheap, good-for-nothing skeleton who was once his lover. He hated her words, her face, her eyes, her perfume. Unnoticed, he often followed the steps of the merry couple as they made their romantic walk in the moonlight. He followed them to the theatre, to the cinema, everywhere. Yesterday he was in her arms; now he became a lurking dog. One moonlit night, he went to the abandoned cottage near the unused mill. He knew the place very well. He used to make love to her there every night, tenderly, lovingly, passionately. Now he was there spurned by hate and vengeance. 

He looked from the half-opened window of the cottage and saw the silhouette of the two lovers lost in each other’s arms, kissing and vowing their love for each other. He recognized the woman’s silhouette as that of the tall, bony, painted, cheap, good-for-nothing skeleton that once was his own lover. 

Cautiously he crawled near them and held his breath. She was speaking in a hushed voice but he heard her. “Let’s leave this town together ……I can bear him no longer ……… my love is only for you”. 

These words made him madder. He had to do something. He could bear this no longer. He wielded the rusty iron bar and hit them both on their heads. They fell to the ground instantly, lay motionless and no further sound was heard except for the hurried steps of the jilted madman. 

You have visitors” thundered the guardian as he unlocked cell 39 of the State Prison. At the visiting room, the solicitor defending his case made all sorts of enquiries, but the prisoner remained silent. 

Then came the day of the great trial. The court room was full with all kinds of people and journalists. The accused faced the men of the jury who held the balance of his life in their hands. He waited; only to hear one thing; either “guilty” or “not guilty”.  The jurymen retired. The accused conversed impatiently with his solicitor. Then the court was in its second session. 

….. “Have you reached your verdict?” asked the Judge.

….. “Yes, your Honour” stammered the chief juryman.

….. “Then let the court hear it” replied the Judge.

….. “GUILTY your Honour” pronounced the chief juryman. 

….. “Silence” hammered the Judge and, after going through a long speech which would have benefited more a funeral occasion, he concluded:-

“ …….and the Court sentences you to die by the electric chair!

What on earth can describe that brief moment between the death sentence and its execution? Who can describe the feelings of the accused? Hours, minutes, seconds ticking away one by one! Hopes fading like the mist; memories of his life that haunt the accused to his death; desperate hours of his last precious minutes taking him to his end. His doom! A beacon of light ready to be put off! A life that was once so precious and now so cruelly to be ended!

And then it came. He stood erect on the chair – cold, shocks, tremors, death. He had paid dearly for his crime. “Is there any one to claim the body?” shouted the officer in charge of the execution. No one spoke. The body lay there silent, covered with a white shroud with the number 39 stamp on it. Love had shadowed his life; hate had led him to the electric chair; death had carried him into oblivion.

Suddenly the alarm clock started ringing. It was eight o’ clock in the evening. He threw away the bed sheets and got out of bed. He was sweating profusely; and shivering. But he was alive! What a bad dream that was! He washed, dressed hurriedly and went out to meet his girl.