Of Filth and Wealth

I am going to need a handful of Oregano to digest the unexpected developments of last week. The young, carefree minds that work in the fields of my mother’s native saying they don’t know who Trump is would register as uncommonness. While the same minds travelling to the nearest town to exchange their invalid notes of ₹500 and ₹1000, the possession of the latter being extremely rare, is the most common sight today.

Billionaire Trump rising to the top of the most powerful country took many by surprise, and Mr Modi’s announcement of demonetization hours before a midnight recorded a tremor of 7.3 on the Richter scale in the Indian subcontinent. While the poor who live in houses not more than one-storey tall escaped the quake, the rich who touch clouds if bored fell down spectacularly, although a bit tragically in their own eyes.

There are many Indians – notable economists and some others who don’t drink their morning coffee without The Hindu – who welcome the PM’s move with predictions of long-term benefits for the nation. And then there are others – Trumpish minds – who remain silly and naïve and ignorant and characteristic of all such synonyms that Oxford could give you, and painfully talk of long queues outside ATMs and create memes to ridicule this move.

And about this Trump, what he could do, no one can say, because, well, he himself doesn’t know. But there is some vague, indecipherable sense of satisfaction smiling deep within me at the thought of this win. A fleeting feeling of schadenfreude. All those relatives who have a natural awe for even the American illiterates and soggy minds would pause a minute to reconsider their admiration. Wouldn’t that be awesome, to see a false sense of respect become nothing in so little a time?

Now then, if you still have not exchanged your notes, join me tomorrow outside ICICI, Adyar at 9 sharp. Let us joke over America’s decision while progressing in the queue.

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A Costly Mistake

Flash Fiction #08:

Sher Khan was a successful robber. How much wealth he and his 99 apprentices had amassed over the years is upto the imagination of greedy minds.

One night, while robbing the house of the Inspector General’s secret mistress, a serendipitous mistake committed landed him in prison.

But his pride and feeling of importance were unsurpassed by even plump tomatoes. While in prison, he made a call – not to a lawyer, though he could have hired the most expensive of black gowns.

Following this call, the Inspector General was handed divorce papers and dragged to court for a lofty alimony.

Pickle Man

FLASH FICTION #07:

The thick-bearded, smelly orphan this story is about had survived beside the same large dustbin for all his 52 years. Both belonged to a dark alley of a city that doesn’t need mention here as it is a fact that more or less all cities have poverty prospering in their dark wombs. The alley’s only visitor was a Constable from the local police station who made the regular midnight patrol.

Our man had a wagging tongue for a particular brand’s lemon pickle. He used a fingertip of the pickle from its glass bottle as a relish for his daily dinner. Since he didn’t like the idea of stealing the pickle bottle from the supermarket round the corner, he stole the required amount every month from his choice of unconscious people – one type bent over their smartphones in bus stops and the other type were engaged in finding deep meaning in the back seat of cars that came most nights and stopped at the end of the alleyway for an hour.

At the start of his dinner one night, he discovered that his pickle bottle was missing. To say the least, a volcanic madness gripped the simple mind. This was only just, as anyone sane would agree that the pickle shouldn’t have been stolen from an animal that breathed only to taste it night after night with no other wish or thought in the world.

After a violent bout spent kicking the dustbin and searching the nearby gutter from end to end, he noticed a veiled and wrinkled figure squatting somewhere in the same alley. He searched her belongings with high hopes, and upon their ruin, lifted a nearby block of stone and dropped it on the fragile head.

The next morning, the police carried him away to their quarters. The man, with his sticky face from hours of sobbing and mourning, was taken by walk and not as usual by the police jeep lest he contaminate it. Within the building of righteous officers, after he was booked for murder and locked in a cell, he saw the patrol Constable having breakfast with his pickle bottle for relish.

Basket of Fruits

Staring at Caravaggio’s Canestra di frutta prompted me to shake off the heaviness of mind and lightness of body to get to my writing desk with determination and zeal.

Oh! Who wouldn’t? Just look at the summer fruits so carefully plucked and jumbled in a wicker basket. Oh! How I fear the basket might tumble down from the edge of the ledge it has been so carelessly perched upon.

canestra_di_frutta_caravaggio

I can imagine the liquid essence of the fruits, crushed out by my molar, sticking onto the walls of my mouth with a tenacious and eye-closing sweetness. Though at first sight the painting is very attractive and tempting, a finer eye (that I lack) would discover the hidden imperfectness detailed in so brilliantly and intentionally – blighted leaves developing from the stems, the skin of the fruits mined by moth that I would have ground out of jealousy, the especial grapes ripe beyond what is natural and glistening with hyperbole, and the texture of peach that looks too hard to bite.

Maybe the master had such a basket with such fruits laid behind his canvas. Or maybe he wanted to convey the underlining mistakes ingrained in every creation of God – of either the mind or body – subtly hinting at what life is through this still-life.

Or maybe we just have to move on after our mind is satiated upon repeated viewings of this art. Too much thinking, though it brings perspective to the table, might well taint whatever was the original purpose.

If there is one thing I am granted to covet, it would be not a fruit from that basket, but the empty container itself. I would want to keep its fragrance intact for all my years, at the corner of the writing table I am now sitting at, so that it inspires me to keep writing through the thick and thin of so imperfect a life.