Thursday was a really difficult day. It was tough, chewy, and unpleasant – like a strip of uncooked meat. If my mom’s ill-health and travel woes were not enough, I received a horrid e-mail. It was full of such immaculate, glorious obnoxiousness that I should’ve taken a moment to marvel at that epistolary architecture of shit.
The sender of the e-mail was righteous, unfair, judgmental and thought he could get away with telling me what to do. And this martini of sanctimonious, unthinking release was topped up with an ultimatum…that I ‘…better listen good…’
Of course, I got angry. I responded to such worthless pitiful criticism with my own type of criticism (that is both lofty and purposeful, by the way.) Also, I do not like being told what to do. I detest it. My blood actually starts steaming when I hear the words, “You should…” I respond to people like this by telling them what to do – helpfully suggesting areas where they can shove their advice. As far as ultimatums go, well, there is only one way to tackle them, really. I issue several of my own.
But nearly breaking the keyboard typing out a reply didn’t feel any better. It could be because I am really fond of the person I was writing to. Sometimes, it’s just not worth liking anyone. Anyone under 6 feet, 4 inches, that is. Tall people are good people. The other middlings are the troublesome lot.
Anyway, the exchange of emails happened in the morning. But I had this tightness around my chest for a long while afterwards. I really wanted to shake loose that ugly feeling of unease…of anger so sharp that would make me forget to breathe. It’s awful. One shouldn’t get that rankled. But one does. The only thing that got me through that night of constant berating was the fact that I’d be doing yoga the next day. Something to help let off steam, get the mind centred, etc.
But I couldn’t sleep. The night seemed endless. I was so livid that I kept waking up, sipping hot water, listening to music, and going back to bed. And then doing the loop all over again.
Around 4 a.m. (with only 3 more hours before I got into inverted poses), I thought I should sit myself down and take stock of what was going on. Why was I feeling so rankled? One person’s opinion, no matter how important, can’t possibly cause my peace to unravel so quickly.
I didn’t resolve such weighty issues then. I did realize, though, that none of them mattered because I was hungry. Usually I just grab whatever’s there. But then, maybe because I was feeling so depleted inside, I wanted something special. And I didn’t know what. I was willing to endure the gnawing but I wasn’t going to eat something that didn’t feel right.
The next morning at class when I tried touching my head to my knee, it flashed. The idea of what I wanted for breakfast. It was an odd sensation. The idea didn’t so much click in my head as explode in my mouth. I got such a distinct taste that I actually smacked my lips, causing weird glances from all around. (That’s rich, you know, since the guy giving me the strangest looks was in a tube-top, for God’s sakes!)
I have a different cook now. She comes in early, all eager and bright as a squirrel. And she doesn’t like to dawdle. Even before she enters the house, she asks,” What would you like to have today?” And by the time I answer, the frying pan’s out, she’s already chopping up something, kept the milk to boil for coffee, etc. etc. Earlier, I had a cook who came later in the day (she had a key). So it was generally more relaxed. But now, it’s all ‘snap-brisk-quick-tell-eat’.
I had never appreciated a freshly cooked breakfast before, as much as that day though. After my yoga class, I practically bounded up home and waited anxiously for my cook to arrive.
I asked her to make rotis, butter them up good, melt some palm-jaggery to go with it, and whisk up a mug of steaming-hot coffee. As she went about preparing brekker, my home – my world – slowly started getting suffused with this warm wholesomeness. The dough-y, baked smell of wheat, the sticky sweetness of melting jiggery, and the strong fragrance of coffee…it was such a symphony wafting through the house.
And then it was time to eat. When I dipped a bit of my hot, soft roti into the melted jiggery, I practically had song-birds circling my head…and cherry blossoms in my living room. And when I sipped my frothy, creamy coffee, I could practically hear the gush of waterfall and feel the rolling clouds in some tea-garden.
Steadily, this dark granite of gloom I was trapped in, got chipped away.
And when I finished, it was like every pore of my body – sated entirely – exhaled.
Then said, “Good morning.”