I recently unearthed an old diary of mine that, to my surprise, contained a few short stories I had written a really long while ago. I found one that I thought will make a good digestive pill after the Mile Sur post, a post that, despite the 400+ comments, I am not a big fan of. I don’t really like scathing humour, and I usually end up with a bad after taste the moment I hit submit.
This is a short story that I have split into 3 parts, and here is part 1
Chapter 1: Wake up
I woke up coughing, and with a neck ache from my roommate’s pillow, which incidentally was a solid block of iron and frequently found its way to my bed as part of an un-negotiated exchange offer with my roomie who was probably sleeping on my soft pillow at this very moment. I was still coughing when I attempted to extinguish the fumes of a dying mosquito coil before my eyes started burning. My hands reflexively rubbed my blistering eyes, which was when I realized that I had forgotten to remove my contact lenses before I slept. With one lens taking temporary residence on the bridge of my rather stately nose, I staggered out of bed and hit my leg painfully against the edge of a small table that was most certainly not where civilized folk would put it, resting at that casually vicious position where groggy gents climbing out of bed would most certainly make skin-breaching contact.
With an alacrity unusual for the time of day, my brain, like the Holy Inquisition, worked feverishly to assign blame for the misplaced snack table but concluded its investigation rather quickly as newly woken up neurons deposed to the effect that it was I who had snacked on Haldiram’s Cornflakes mixture last night, normally equal parts crunchy goodness and cloggy cholesterolness, but thanks to my roommate’s general dislike for lids, was completely lacking in the former quality.
I enlisted a few more reluctant brain parts and put them to work on orienting myself towards the bathroom, and while still wincing in pain, pseudo-limped towards to the wash basin and went about that crucial task of picking out my toothbrush from the bunch that contained, among other brushes of various vintage, the one must-be-avoided old toothbrush that was now used to clean combs and occasionally apply hair dye.
I picked mine out, a dull yellow medium hard brush with frayed tips, looked around for the toothpaste, and with 50% vision thanks to one contact lens on a nose vacation, went straight for something that looked red and tubey, which of course was not willing to dispense paste on account of there not being any left in it. So in the rich Indian tradition of making something out of nothing, I uttered a guttural growl, mustered the required Newtons per square cm, and birthed a tiny bit of paste that, as soon as I directed the brush towards my molars, carefully skirting around a nagging cavity, turned out to be Old Spice shaving cream. I immediately rinsed my mouth only to find, to my horror, a blackish, foaming mix of water, saliva and cream staining the wash basin. So I had, after all, picked up the hair dye brush.
I turned the tap on full to purge my mouth of dentally inappropriate products just find the water turn slowly into a trickle and finally come to a stop. I mentally devised the most ingenious torture devices for the Electricity Board bureaucrats who, in their good wisdom (teeth, I am assuming, and probably nagging) decided to shed load between 7.30 am and 8.30 am. I continued insulting their lineage as I filled a mug with water from a nearby bucket to complete my ablutions. The water tasted slightly um..elasticky, and against all the advice from several parts of my brain, I looked inside the bucket a little more carefully, only to find my roommate’s undergarments, soaking at the bottom.
I re-calibrated my daily hygiene requirements in the face of this sudden lack of usable water, and examined my face in the mirror to find out if I could convince myself that I did not need a shave (and a wash) right now. Against some internal protest, I constructed this illusion that I was actually pretty fresh looking and walked out of the bathroom after settling my hair with a comb that turned out to have an illegal immigration problem involving my roommate’s lice infested hair strands.
I purposefully strode towards the refrigerator, hoping to find some non-alcoholic liquid that could purge those final bits of hair dye and shaving cream from my taste buds. I gulped down from a bottle that read “Lychee flavored mineral water” and spat it out immediately when I realized it was vinegar. With a mental vow to run for office, get elected and pass a law against reuse of old bottles without corresponding removal of old labels, I staggered back into my bedroom, opened my half of the closet and conducted an olfactory inspection of all my shirts to determine suitability for office wear. I settled on the dirty grey checks with the coffee stain, but I could tuck the stained part in so I wasn’t too worried. Unlike the rest of the shirts, the odour of sweat on this one was matched reasonably by the Baygon-spray like scent of Brut cologne. As long as I kept some distance from the ladies today, I should be able to get through, I thought, as I searched around for some matching pants, found none with working zippers and decided to get even on my sleeping roomie by borrowing one of his.
After leaving no stone unturned in a house where most stones were in a state of being turned most of the time, I found my belt which, it turns out, had not kept up with my late night snacking. Using the last hole on my belt required me to constrict my abdomen in ways that my diaphragm and lungs strongly disapproved of. I looked around for a screw driver and hammer, found none, and attempted to use a small pair of scissors to eke out one more hole. The scissors bent out of shape, but managed a workable hole that for now resembled a really small plate of leather kotthu parotta.
I then sprayed the only pair of socks I could find (crumpled inside a really old pair of shoes of mine) with more Brut and put on my shoes after issuing eviction notices to a pair of cockroaches that were being shown around the insides of my shoe by some sort of a roach real estate agent. I looked at my watch, realized that I was late for some unimportant, yet crucial meeting, and ran to the elevator which had a board that read “Out of service. Please use Stares”.
I glared at it for a few seconds, and ran down 4 flights of stairs and breathed a sigh of relief as I found my colleagues still waiting for the office bus. But I had forgotten my ID card, which in an IT company usually results in several years of hard labour in Siberia. It also struck me that I had left my keys inside my apartment and locked myself out, with a sleeping roommate who generally required something in the 8.5 range on on the Richter scale to wake up.
I also felt a bit of air circulation in areas inside my pants that were not normal and with a great amount of casual caution, I explored the nether regions of my trousers to find, instead of comforting stitch, a gaping hole.
To be continued…
ps: If you survived this point, you will have realized that I had a major fascination for endless sentences 7 years ago. Also, I might add, like Dan Brown, that each of the individual mishaps did occur, just not all in a single day.