Moments ago I had sautéed unevenly chopped onions, tomatoes and capsicum to pour over my Sunday morning poached eggs. Sunny side up. Peeling and cutting up the garlic stubs was the troublesome rung in the rather modest recipe. I like most of my food with a hint of garlic, sometimes raw, sometimes slightly fried. And I wonder, very much why they haven’t invented a garlic peeler yet. Amongst the constellation of other kitchen appliances like hand blenders, air fryers, dough kneaders, why not a tiny garlic peeler at the corner of the kitchen counter. For people who love garlic in everything.
The eggs were to be ladled with above sautéed mixture and sprinkled sparingly with a pinch of oregano. And oh, I forgot, the whole ensemble was to be topped on top of two lightly toasted breads, such that the essence from the eggs, the oil, the salt and the spices, the soul of it, gradually trickled down into the bread, just enough to make it soft and yet somewhat crunchy at the same time. The semi raw yolk of the eggs would dangle from atop the breads and leak downward, if it felt like. It was to be eaten, with the one dainty fork from the kitchen cabinet. Generous lumps of it carved out and placed in the mouth, wide open. And chomped off in between sporadic sips of black coffee.
Eggs, had such, won’t make you hungry until late past the designated lunch time. Designated lunch time was thirty minutes past one o’clock. I wasn’t hoping to feel the need to eat before three o’clock in the afternoon. Egg yolks had plenty of cholesterol to keep the walls of my stomach from releasing their angry acids. Now that I would be at peace for a long time, I opened my laptop to write, something, just about anything.
John Lennon’s Stand by Me was playing full blast in my bedroom. The air of March was hotter than February’s. The whole entire world was gearing up for the summer, when the sun would beat down at not less than fifty degrees centigrade. I will have to line my windows with bamboo blinds to keep the sun out. Nevertheless, this transition between seasons was pleasant. The heat gave sweat patches under arms, but was not as bad as midsummer blisters from touching the window grille. Or watching your plants die if you skipped on watering them less than thrice a day. How I had lost all my zinnia to the epidemic of drought the previous year.
The previous year had been the exact opposite of the current year though. Yes, very much the antithesis. Now I am plump from being amongst no one whereas, last year I was shrunk tiny from the ignominy of being amongst the severely unwanted. Now I while away hours, days and weeks in cherubic inaction. Last year I was running errands like an insane woman. Jumping into auto rickshaws, buses and cabs, meeting strange vendors of all kinds, ticking off things off my to do list. Now I am pampering my tongue with of all kinds of delicacies, whereas, last year I was famished in the midst of plenitude. This year, I am writing prose after poetry after prose. Last year, this time, I was drained. My depression was just about too deep to fuel my writing. This year things have taken a lethargic turn towards normalcy, and I am learning to appreciate it.
My job was mundane as ever, but I have given up on tasking myself with it. I work my nine hour shift at the office. And after that and before that, I shut myself from it. Don’t answer calls or make any. I am very prudent about not spending a minute more at work than I had to. Yes, that is another secret of my newfound mental balance. I work without the hunger for any appreciation in return, in kind or in cash. Merely go about my job, write mails, read mails, forward memos, recommend approvals, rationalize rejections and quote the right clauses from the manuals when need be. Nobody guesses there is anything wrong with me and marks anything uncommon about me. They treat me like an average colleague.
I eat lunch alone at my desk, that being an excuse not to engage over obligatory formal conversation over a meal. Fill my bottle of water from the water cooler whenever I run out of it. Stand there for however long it takes for a one liter and half bottle to fill to the brim and look down so that I don’t have to exchange awkward glances and nods. Pee when I have to, four or five times a day, sit on the toilet browsing various updates on social media. I go about my day in a very documented manner. And this has resulted in a peaceable life, give or take, a couple of outbursts per week. Or month. Outbursts in which to calm down I told myself that unhappiness was not a disease. It’s not a disease. It was being specifically caused by a lot of external factors that are catalyzing my small joys into auto destruction. I should just keep distance from such factors. And not fall easy prey. That was all.
Tried to keep a diary for the first few weeks, but I minimized writing my daily entry in it day after day and ultimately stopped. After the first month I had to throw it away along with the rest of the trash because it reminded me of failure. I just had to do that. The peaceable life also ensued that there be negativity around. All paraphernalia of failure be thrown out immediately. So the diary had been thrown out along with clothes that didn’t fit anymore.
Along with the diary and the clothes, several other items are rolled in old newspaper and thrown out from time to time. Whenever waste disposal was needed, it was called upon, deliberately. Though this was a new apartment I had moved into, I had moved into it with a lot of old stuff that were not needed anymore. Because in moments of emotional vulnerability, we retain somethings hoping that we are preserving them only as a relic. However, those memorabilia, come back to life soon in our closets and help implode whatever good is left of life.
After the bountiful breakfast of eggs and bread, I checked my closet to find out if anything in there was redundant as yet. Upon a closer look, I surmised, nothing was. So I wrapped a scarf around my neck and went down to get two packets of milk. To meet my random cravings for coffee all day. Even minutes after I locked the door shut and put the key in the pockets of my trousers, John Lennon was still audible inside the elevator. Could that be grounds for eviction, I rumbled under my breath and walked into the street. The cement and dust from the construction sites nearby created a chimera of bright light and endless grey. Green and other colors were only scattered scantily on that canvas. I walked into my regular store and showed the store keeper a V shaped two finger insignia. He must by now understand I meant two milk packets. I screamed it aloud nevertheless.
After paying and collecting the change in my pockets I turned around to a slightly familiar figure. He was at a distance. Casually leaning with his back on the compound wall of the store, one leg folded and foot rested on the wall. Freely releasing clouds of smoke from his mouth. He wore an expression of relief, his eyes must have reflected freedom bordering on dementia, if I could get a closer look. Upon seeing, he recognized me but the surprise didn’t show up aptly on his face. He has always been the understated man, always will be.
Torn apart between living my peaceable life of not meeting strangers from the past life when I ran into them and being roughly courteous, I held two packets of milk, one in each of my hands and froze with confusion, our eyes still meeting. He gave up soon after, stamped out the stub of his cigarette after two last longish drags and after what looked like he was getting away, he was walking straight toward me. In that neat camouflage of grey cement and dust, the noise of construction machines and the hails and shouts of the dark and skinny workers, his blue shirt stood out, neatly. I transferred the packet in my right hand to my left to free it to shake his hand. He half smiled. I too half smiled, possibly. What else could I do.