Bogus Arguments, a play for two

Cast
Bogus Argumenter
Naive Vaguely-smiling-face (Ilicchavaayan)

Prologue: The Trigger
Naive Vaguely-smiling-face: Do not waste food.

Act 1 (and only 1)
BA: Ah. I see. Let me ask you a question.

NVSF: Go ahead

BA: Let’s say that I overestimated the amount of rice I can tuck in without imploding. I then say – “Oh damn. What a waste. But wait! There’s always Nandini, the unfriendly neighbourhood milkman’s friendly cow”. I then take the rice I could not stuff into myself and let Nandini enjoy a snack. Now, would that be considered as “wasting food”?

NVSF: Ah. Um. Nandini, you say? No. After all, the rice served its purpose of satiating somebody’s hunger.

BA: Ah. Ok. Never mind that Oryza Sativa might disagree with your definition of its life goals, but that’s a different argument. Now, let’s consider a slight variation of the above situation. Let’s assume that Nandini was out grazing on the Chepauk cricket grounds. Hypothetically, of course. Perhaps the TNCA ran out of funds to repair their lawn mower and required the crude grass trimming services of Bos primigenius Indicus. But we digress. So, in the absence of Nandini, I find myself saying – “Oh damn. What a waste. But wait! There’s always Adiseshan and Trisanku, the friendly neighbourhood dogs who always seem to be hungry all the time. I then proceed to pull out my 22,000 Hz dog whistle to beckon Adi and Tri. I could have of course, used the latter end of the Sergeant Pepper’s album but my LP player’s 33 1/3 rpm setting plays at 66 2/3 and that tends to annoy the dogs a bit. But we digress again. So Adi and Tri happily finish off said remaining boiled Oryza. Now, would that be considered as “wasting food”

NVSF: Hmm. Dogs, you say. Oh well. It fed a hungry mouth. 2 in fact. So I’m thinking it’s probably ok

BA: Splendid. But let’s change things a little bit. Again. Koala with me, will you? Let’s now assume that Abhimanyu, the sleek black street cat with the white patch on its tail sauntered into our avenue after a hearty meal of fish leftovers from the house of Mr George M Kutty and Adi and Tri didn’t quite fancy the supercilious look on Abhi’s face. And dogs being dogs, they just had to go enquire politely what the canine equivalent of the four-letter word was a feline, that too a supercilious feline doing on this avenue. Long story short, No Nandini, Adi or Tri to finish off my leftover rice. What do I do? “Aw” I say,to which Karuppiah, the colony’s raven with the C# voice says “Caw?”, and I think – “But wait! Karuppiah and his gang could finish off the rice, and I proceed to place it on the window sill while Karups sends twitter, sms and pigeon-post messages to his friends. Now, would that be considered “wasting food”?

(Sounds of crows cawing to the tune of Moonlight Sonata as they eat rice)

NVSF: Aah. Crows. Well. I always feed the crows in the morning, so I suppose it’s not a waste if they partake of your leftovers.

BA: Smashing. Now things get a little more interesting. All hypothetically of course. Remember George M Kutty?

NVSF: Hm. The gentleman whose house provided the supply of fish leftovers that, after a chain of events involving cats and dogs, resulted in Karuppiah and his friends enjoying a spot of leftover rice?

BA: Correct. That very gentleman. But you must now know (hypothetically of course) that he and his family were celebrating the victory of a boy from his village near Idukki in Idea Star Singer. So there were quite a lot of the ossiferous remains of King Mackerels in their backyard.

NVSF: Aah I see. So I take it that there was more than enough for a cat and perhaps… a posse of crows?

BA: My man! You get my drift so well that we could practically be tectonic plates. However, one small detail. It is a “murder” of crows, not a posse. But as usual, we digress. Yes. Karuppiah and his friends were practically chewing betel leaves and Crane brand betel nuts by the time I had placed the leftover rice on the window sill. And I sat there, near the window, with a forlorn look, staring at the rice that was, for all practical purposes, “wasted”. But as a tear formed in my eye and just for a microsecond, formed a thin, watery, but magnifying layer on my eye, I noticed a black ant. You know, those harmless, non-biting Pillaiyaar ants. One of those. And she..and I say “she” not because I possess ant-gender identification skills, but simply to alleviate the monotony of all the males we’ve seen so far in our exciting trip into Hypothetica. So, she does what ants do. Leave behind a chemical trail for other ants to follow, and soon enough, we have an army of ants stocking up on rice for the winter. Not that Madras has much of a winter, but I speak metaphorically.

(sounds of ants dancing to Chemical brothers tracks)

NVSF: Ah. Small black ants. My favourite type. The always fascinate me. It’s always amazing how they manage to communicate the presence of food to just the right number of ants required to do the labour of dragging the stuff back to the ant colony. So yeah, black ants eating left over rice = healthier, more populous ant colony. I’m all for it.

BA: Capital. Now I’m afraid our hypothetical scenario will have to take a slightly tragic turn. Hypothetically of course. Assume that small black ants were extinct in Madras. Just like the sparrows. Perhaps conservationists figured out later that they went extinct because the background music from all the soap serials on Tamil TV happened to affect their reproductive systems. Hypothetically of course. So, no ants. The rice lays there. Ignored. But not for long. Ramakrishnan, the filamentous mold and Bhakthavatsalam, the rice-loving bacteria arrive at the scene once they sense a complete lack of cows, dogs, cats, crows and ants. For their size, this amount of rice is worth setting up a civilization for. They then proceed to that, and soon enough, the furry heights of fungal skyscrapers reach the towering heights of human visibility and I then say to myself – “Ah. So somebody did eventually eat my wasted rice”.

NVSF: Now hang on a minute. Ants I can understand, but Fungi and Bacteria. There’s got to be limit.

BA: By limit, I assume you are referring to an arbitrary, entirely illogical preference for species that are qualified to assuage homo sapiens’ guilt about overestimating appetite, and in which Kingdom Fungi and Bacteria are cruelly considered unqualified.

(Exeunt all)

Epilogue
NVSF (to cook): I think we will need only 1 and a 1/2 cups of rice today. BA tends to have this bad habit of wasting food.