Crystal Decanter

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

Crystal Decanter

I had always called it a glorious day! I was made that day, perfect in every way.

I owed my life, my very own existence, to my creator Grand Master Benini himself. To start with, it took him three full days sitting in his old cane chair to visualize me in the depths of his soul. Then, as I took shape in his mind, he held his vision of me at arm’s length and examined me from all possible angles. He also made delicate sketches of me in the air. And finally, in the delicate gossamer of a dark midnight, when he finally knew exactly what he wanted down to the last detail, he finally relaxed and curled up to sleep on his feather mattress, leaving a note for his assistant to fire up the old crystal maker’s furnace as soon as the sun rose the following morning.

The following morning saw the furnace lit as commanded. It burned empty all morning, but just before morning turned to noon, Master Benini held court in front of it. To start with, he brought out the purest silica brought to him from a land far away by the most trusted of merchants. To that he added subtle amounts other substances held as a family secret for generations. Then he placed the final mix in the red heart of the furnace, waited for the melt to glow past orange, and blew life into a glowing gob of the viscous liquid to create what was to become me. And well before I cooled into solid existence as a vessel for fine wines, long before the delicate cutting, grinding and facing at the Master’s hands, I began to feel the pride I was to enjoy for a long time as a prized crystal decanter fit only for discerning royalty.

And how proud I was! I spent a hundred glorious days and nights in the company of kings and queens. I became the purveyor of the choicest Beaujolais and Cabernets in the company of the merry and the carefree. Distinguished hands caressed me every night, stared into the liquid souls of whatever expensive wine I contained, and often sang sweet songs to all but the women they really wanted to woo or bed. Knowing this, I reveled in the ability to make fools of the wise, boors out of their lordships, and hussies out of sweet village maidens.

Then, as history would have it, a careless knave dropped me on the floor one fateful night. Woe that dark night!

Woe that day which dawned next when my owner held me up to the mid-day sun and declared he discerned a hairline crack in my belly. The offending flaw was not immediately visible to the casual eye but the declaration that it existed cut deeper than the sharpest saber. His Lordship asked his valet for a second opinion, and that pretentious snob, with his curled lip and a scoff more regal than any lord could ever muster, turned up his nose and pronounced me unfit for polite company to behold anymore. Thus, I was taken out of the boudoir and thrust into a dark, unnamed room where bits of furniture and other bric-a-brac which had outlived genteel use lived in dread of bonfires and other such calamities. But they were more than happy to welcome me as new company, even if for fresher tales of nights of glory or debauchery.

However, even though the broken souls of old furniture readily welcomed me into their darkened dwellings, I protested silently against my unwilling and undeserved incarceration. I did not yearn for times gone, for glory long lost, but for need of an absolute truth: The crack in my belly, after all, was an idea at best, a misperceived non-entity. Should there be an irrefutable divine law stating that all who fall must inevitably possess or acquire an offensive crack, then I was guilty as charged! Failing that, I was as whole as the conscience of that rare human being without sin!

Thirty days later, the tides of fate turned, as they sometimes do when least expected. It happened just after a particularly boisterous soiree, when His Lordship developed a severe case of colic. Physicians were called for and remedies prescribed. Many an expensive syrup was consumed, without much relief to the noble gut. Poultices were applied and vapors inhaled, more to the profit of those that made them and less to the lordly alimentation. And finally, a renowned healer, claimant to that term by dint of having traveled in exotic lands where ancient charms and chants did things magical, suggested the making of a certain potion which called for the use of a crystal decanter.

Glory to me, perhaps, yet again? For there I was, being raised alive that day!

However, the tides had also turned on how I saw the world. Days of darkness in darkened storage, and hours of solitude spent in shunning broken company, had given me a new sense of wisdom about the realities of life, shared with a cracked Venetian mirror and a couple of fake Faberge’ eggs which had dropped a paste diamond or two. I did not care to know, or even perhaps simply just care, who my savior was, what I was called upon to do, or why I should be of service to anyone arrogant enough to call himself my master. I had overgrown the vanity of reveling in the fancy names I had been called as an item of choice crystal: I had faced the reality that I, too, was once mostly silica sand and that from what comes of such dust shall one day return to dust. Even if His Lordship would have liked to delay that inevitable fate for himself!

Thus, when the charlatan healer poured his purportedly potent potion into me, pre-warmed over a charcoal fire to make vapors rise from its surface, I was not surprised that reality was as sordid as what one could expect from a cunning quack: The wonderful potion was nothing but the same Beaujolais his Lordship had sickened himself on, with a few foul-smelling herbs added to make the concoction present itself in the guise of an oriental cure. However, since no one cared enough to find out, the wily medicine man whose travels had never taken him to any of the lands he claimed to have acquired his skills at, wisely kept his formulas to himself.

But they had expected too much from me. Perhaps they had wrongly assumed that I, humble vessel reinstated, would glow clear in status regained. They had chosen to forget the contentious flaw which had apparently set in my side the day someone let me fall. Where they had chosen to forget what did not exist, I chose to bring forth the same. After all, perchance I had developed a crack in my heart during my days in their dark cellars. Perhaps sheer anger at having been abused, or perhaps the initial unceremonious, dismissal from the laughter and light of the ballroom had splintered my crystal composure. For whatever reason, known or unknown, stated or otherwise, as the snobbish varlet raised me to decant the supposedly healing liquid into a waiting goblet for his master to drink out of, the inevitable came to pass!

The inevitable and expected outcome of pouring heated liquids on flawed crystal was not late in coming. As everyone looked at me filling up with pungent potion, I suddenly shattered into a hundred pieces of expensive crystal, spilling all but a few drops of the very expensive and magically healing ambrosia on the expensive Persian carpet. And those few drops, despite valiant efforts to capture them, sank out of view into knotted wool.

I never found out, or ever cared to find out, what happened to His Lordship: He was never my real master. I never wanted to find out if Grand Master Benini made another like me: He was never really my creator. He was just another mortal man who had melted me down from nature’s purer state and adulterated my soul with other minerals, and had then called me a fancy name only for the glorification of the Benini name. On the day I ceased being someone else’s decanter, I had long since outgrown the hunger to hear the tinkle of half-tipsy ladies or fully drunk damsels in ballrooms, or rooms by any other genteel name.

Ah, the arrival of that glorious day made me cry out in joy! After all, on that joyous day I was conjoined with the ultimate greatness of reality. Forgive me the pun, but what should have been crystal clear from the beginning became clear to me as the shards which had been an exquisite Benini crystal decanter became a more real me: I had been formed in a dedicated fire into an artificial being, raised from the dust of a natural world into an artificial entity. I had been given the opportunity of witnessing the empty vanities of man, and I was eagerly awaiting my turn to return to the dust of nature once again, perhaps tainted for ever with the Grand Master’s secret doping of rare minerals.

No longer then was I a proud Benini crystal decanter, whose value was so dependent on its human maker’s whim, whose perfection and dignity was defined by his owner, whose function in society was dictated by others’ servants. Instead, I had been finally returned to the world of the original maker, owner and sustainer, the original State of Being. What glory could be more self-sustaining, self-perpetuating than that?

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