What is the first thing that a guy, who promises not ingest eatables desired by him every waking moment that could in the near/ distant future cause health deterioration/ grief to near and dear ones, think of?
How to get a last one, just a last one (cross his/her heart and hope to die) before giving it up altogether.
It is true, ask that blank faced loner you see at the mall, the public garden, the BEST voyeur seated on the bench marked ‘Ladies’ eyeing some bai’s derrier, though I wish you good luck in obtaining an answer at that very moment.
I was at home. Smothered by love, friendliness, food, air, warmth, relentless pampering. However, the perpetrators of all of the aforementioned niceties, or gross violations of privacy if you like those sort of words, also have some unrewarding jobs to take care of, and the little brat you call your brother has to go off to the college, but really just bunks it bitching about the uselessness of the Indian education system while bartering porn through his Android. What then will a severely malnutritioned bloke do?
He will look for nutrition; he will hunt for the Herb.
The Herb has existed for centuries now, used traditionally for relieving joint pains and the sore hairy asses of Indians after getting butt-raped by numerous Nadir Shahs and the teeming Timur-e-Langs of the bygone eras. It was after ingesting this plant that Buddha achieved enlightenment, it is said, after stripping a forest bare of vegetation while meditating. Never believe that horse crap about surviving on air, it is just a metaphor for the light-headedness that he experienced, and even then, as now, the people were too retarded; they took his words to their heart and made a generation of the Indian youth susceptible to sodomy.
I recognised that glaze on his face, the anti-oxidantal effects of the Herb showing in the form of varicose veins and prominent ribs, and made my way over to him. He was dishevelled, unkempt, and he looked like someone who had begged me for money a year ago in that same place. I wondered if he remembered me. I had ventured out on the hunt, and the distant call of the Herb has bought me to this Dargah whose Mullah blessed beggars in exchange for flaunting its doorsteps, presenting a picturesque image of piety.
“You want good one? Bad one? Which one?”
I was wary.
“I will bring some. Wait. Don’t go.” He apparently was of the view that I handed hundreds habitually over to beggars. He disappeared in one of the alleys opposite the Dargah. My eyes followed his frail body as it disappeared behind a stout woman pouring water in her pitcher from the tubewell. Even as I watched, she tucked her saree in the hem of her waist and buckled her hips. The destitute returned then, saving me from further visual assault. He held out a bundle. And then he held out an empty hand. I deposited a tenner, may God have mercy on his ravaged soul. A salutary gesture was given.
Back home, I ran into a problem. The microwave, it seemed, had fused, and nobody had bothered to tell me. However, the investment of the taxpayer’s money on my extremely essential education did not go waste. I fried a generous amount of Herb in oil, strained it, mixed it with the powders and eggs and the liquids, and fashioned a crude oven with a pressure cooker and my snot filled handkerchief. An hour later I was popping out the brown chocolate cake on a plate, and with the first mouthful in, I immediately went to the dustbin and spat it out. The snot had irrevocably affected the taste. The allure, however, remained, and I helplessly watched as my hands broke off pieces one by one and fed my emaciated entrails.
Reclining on my bed for the first half hour, I wished I had bought the Good one, and tossed and turned on my bed trying to peruse a book about Muslims. The little brat I have the misfortune of calling my brother entered theatrically, mumbling about heavens knows what when I felt it, the clear, distinct call of the Herb.
The Herb was angry, it said, it knew I was a cheating, lying, two-faced sonuvabitch who backstabbed those who thought the worst for him. I apologised in a half hearted way, for the Herb was not entirely wrong. The Herb asked if I wanted to eat anything, and I replied I already had, and I asked at what time his tuitions started.
“4 o clock, till 8.”
“That long! Wow! How the hell do you manage to sit still?”
“Don’t ask bro, don’t ask. Btw I have been having some problems with Physics. Care to explain?”
“The last time I tried to do that you said I was a disdainful rascal who thought too highly of himself.”
“Sorry naa yaar, you can’t do this for your bro?”
“Ok ok. We will have a look at it later. Go on and eat something now.”
“Ate, going, lock the door. Dad has arrived by the way; he bought Rui fresh from the river.”
“Excellent, excellent.” I nodded him out of the door. Dad made his appearance, looking more like the butcher from Delicatessen than a Doctor, with the Rui on display in his hand. He seemed sanguine as he usually did when procuring meat, or for that matter, food, these frequent atavistic fits (my grandfather, it is rumoured, never ate much, never during the last few years of his existence anyway, while my great-grandfather was a connoisseur) reinforcing the quintessential image of the Bong male. He informed me that a treat was in store at dinner, and I wondered not for the first time whether the gene code for stating the obvious somehow ran in our family. He disappeared in the kitchen, and I came back to my bedroom to resume the disrupted conversation, to find the Herb gone and a raft fashioned crudely out of bamboo and vines on the top of my bed. I lay down, and as if on cue, it started to float on the waters of my joblessness. It shuddered and bobbed, it swayed and popped around a sudden bend in the river, foisting into sharp relief the canopies of the Patagonia. I sat upright; in the melee I still scrutinised for a familiar face, but the Herb resolutely avoided me, instead it sent the affectionate anaconda Andy.