It drives us, feeds us. Dwells inside us. Hunger. What do we hunger for? Homer Hudson chocolate. Home-made chicken soup. Shelter, Love, Good Grades or an Amazing Job. We Hunger for Respect. Even, some of us, for Marble benchtops and Ralph Lauren gowns.
This gnawing desire makes us ache with pain or cry until our eyes bulge red, but it causes a Domino Effect. Hunger is our greatest motivator. Our saviour. Our fuel for life.
Without the instinct for food or shelter, we may not have the energy to move, nor be surrounded by walls when winter chills blow. Without our hunger for creation and achievement, we could still be unevolved homo sapiens, crouched around a campfire, watching impossible dreams burn away amidst rising smoke.
We would be nothing. Just creatures, still dominated by Desire, but the Hunger hadn’t drawn us far enough.
For Shahkara, her biological instincts are what should keep her Taloner self alive. Her never-ending, ever-driving heart-lust is both her doing and undoing. It should compel her to feed on humans and live a strong and superior physical life, but she knows that to give in to the hunger would emotionally destroy her.
Because Shahkara is half-Taloner, half-Human. The Taloner inside her is programmed to feed on Humans so as to live, exist. But her human half sees Taloner feeding as cannibalistic, horrifying, cruel. She could never bring herself to feed on one of her own. She lives in darkness from one moment to the next, wondering if she’ll ever fail herself, if she’ll ever once more give in to that temptation – like that one horrifying moment before Everything Changed. And he Died.
Life and Death. It surrounds us. Our human hearts bleed when our precious cat slinks into our bedroom with a half-dead sparrow crushed between her teeth. Cat is yearning for praise at the conquest she claimed for her tribe. Her fellow tribe members (mere mortals, Shane and I) try to remain calm as we bury the still-warm handful of feathers and flesh. Cat mews at being locked inside at night. She does not understand. Only if a cat were part-bird or part-human would she understand.
And that’s why Shahkara will always feel torn. She will spend a lifetime fighting that ever-permeating hunger, the heart-lust. Even if it means she will die decades before her time.
At least, then, she will pass from this world with a contented human conscience. After all, it’s only after we’ve slipped and stumbled and smiled through life that we realise our conscience is the most precious gift of all… Far more valuable than the hunger and desire that often drives and shapes our lives.
But, bound together, they are a formidable ally. Or burden. Whichever you choose.