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Friday, April 17, 2020

An Elaborate Concoction!

The ecstasy threatened to spill over his mouth, lips, teeth and eyes. He considered it wise to suppress his feelings. ‘The time is just not right,’ he reasoned, ‘one should not look or sound too happy.’ Last few days he had been extremely irritable, depressed and angry. He felt deprived, poor and powerless—to the extent that his deprivation made him rather depraved. He couldn't find joy in anything: in the home prepared dishes presented to him, in making petty conversation with the members of the family all sitting at home for days, in the occasional errands for him, in watching the television news or surfing the smart phones and so on.

Every day he went out with his car—apart from the regular visits to the grocery stores, the vegetable and fruit shops he mostly roamed around the city looking for his valuable acquaintances in key trades, and trying to convince whomsoever he managed to catch up with of the hopeless situation. However, they too expressed their helplessness; nothing was possible as the rules were absolutely strict. Coming back home in a devastated state of mind, he often complained bitterly to his father, a former top bureaucrat who still exercised enough clout in the administration, about the mindless clampdown. He could also see his father’s state of increasing agitation and restlessness. He reassured himself; his father was trying his best, only not managing to convince the people in power so far.

‘Look at the two members of one family only, and examine what a mess they are being reduced to,’ he murmured contemptuously, ‘then you bring into the picture all other persons who must have fallen ill or are about to crash by now due to such unreasonable decisions! And they consider these non-essential items! Damn them all!’ He did not however give up all hope: he had great faith in his father who always showered him with all privileges and favours of high influencing society—that even now he is moving freely with the car despite the heavy restrictions and the numerous checkpoints.

And suddenly the relaxation was announced late one evening: the shops would reopen from tomorrow and all customers were asked to queue up observing social distancing strictly. He started making his plans immediately.

Early morning on the next day he parked his car quite at a distance from the shop: he never wanted himself to be seen languishing in the queue by his relatives and some friends whom he referred to as ‘goody-goody fools’. He made an elaborate plan: arranged ten errand-boys of various ages, asked them to join the queue at different times, observe discipline and social distancing and gave each of them the required money including tips. Drumming his fingers over the steering-wheel he waited—in ecstatic expectation.


One by one the ten delivery-boys started coming up to the car with plastic packets. As one comes he would open the door and ask him to keep the packet neatly on the rear seat. Presently all ten packets were delivered—kept safely behind him. The slight tinkling emanating from the packets sounded the sweetest and heavenly for him. Thanking his father silently as ever, he drove with gay abandon occasionally waving at the policemen managing a checkpoint and being waved back. ‘But no,’ he sermonized himself, ‘you must not get carried away. We must enforce a rational rationing, because the lockdown is being extended—not sure for how many days more.’ The upcoming seating with his father beckoned to him lovingly, rather intoxicating him already. 

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