Loan me a loan without a moan said Arjun – my common man, not Laxman’s – to the Neta and he got it; Arjun was happy beyond much of his normal belief when he heard the announcement. He had cause to be! His whole family had suffered Covid attacks, he had lost two – his parents and gained two – twins, in the last one and a half year of the pandemic and sporadic lockdowns.
All brands of his wallets, including the leather one, were mostly empty (the emptiest word in the English lexicon – you remove all letters of the word, and it will be completely empty, and that’s exactly how he felt!) – half its contents gone to improve the health of the healthcare sector, and the other half to boost the line of credit that no one could follow to its source! More so after the end of the moratorium last year. Right now, he was in-sanatorium.
His small eatery just outside of his house – his own thankfully, was shut down half of that time and his income had dwindled to the extent that it now resembled a Vada with an extra-large hole! The one he couldn’t sell anymore. The one he couldn’t make also, because of that hole in his wallet.
Like his once-famous Vada, he fermented overnight, and seeing his cupboard bare, he kept repeating to himself (nobody else cared) “who moved my cheese?”. Only the invisible virus heard it and just grinned and mutated without a care in the world – for it had found new reasons to say “Cheese”! It didn’t really care that the newfound Cheese had grown a fungus too – one that resembled a rainbow!
And this time, he knew the Chinese were not responsible, nor would they take responsibility for having moved it around. But that was only to be expected. They didn’t last time too! And nobody else was willing to or could bell the bat!
But Arjun and his family suffered. Their cupboards were bare; indeed, they could barely move the hand to mouth, let alone sideways to other mouths. Their freezer was frozen in a time before Covid, the door kept open for it to air its grievances!
For Arjun the variables were becoming too many to handle – the twin tragedy and joy at home; and the frozen dessert of a locked-down eatery. By now the only thing that was not a variable was his stress. It climbed onto him like the mist does a mountain. And he tried to remain calm, following all the recommendations for safety from new variants – rubbing alcohol frequently first on his hands and then using it appropriately to sanitize his mind…. Soon he would run out of that safety outlet too!
For the virus, it was the variants! They even called themselves by Greek names – it seemed they were really scared of their origins coming to light or being highlighted! given that Alex Hailey’s novel “Roots” was fast becoming a novelty all over again.
And then came an announcement that warmed his heart, and threatened, pleasantly of course, to refreeze his freezer! Though previous announcements about such announcements terrified him because of their timing, this one he looked forward to… because of the timing. He was in dire straits, and he knew for certain, he would never in his lifetime reach the Palk straits, let alone take his family across them for a holiday.
He listened to the announcement with interest! lots of interest! and he was rewarded for his interest, as were the people who activated his interest when they gave him a guaranteed loan – all he had to do was pay the interest with lots of interest! He was delighted, for now, he could make an ass-et of himself too. There was already a queue for the rest of them – the assets without a hyphen!
Why didn’t they just give it to us he wondered! I have an account and a direct bank transfer is so easy in this digital age even with iffy connectivity – no paperwork, only work. But one must work for a living or live to work – if one can find it.
So, he stood in the queue – a lovely word that is defined by its spelling – All the letters that follow the alphabet q, have nothing to offer in terms of value! He had endured queues before everywhere – at the railway station, during demonetization and recently for vaccination – so he was vaccinated against that uniquely queue syndrome – frustration within a calm exterior! Much like the paint for exteriors hides the tears within! Guaranteed!
Never refuse a good offer, his friend would always say, and he was a grey-haired wise man. Lots of life experience. A man he always looked up to, though he was often looked down upon. His was also a pleasant dilemma that offered little choice, and so he took it and for a month or two he was happy.
His Vadas were again the talk of the town – the hole in them and become smaller and the Vada bigger. Customers were coming back; the twins were twinning well, and everything was on the upswing. He reduced the use of the sanitiser even, keeping it more for his customers! And he hid his joy behind his mask – one he washed and hung up to dry, every day,
And then one day that Geek, sorry the Greek maths teacher appeared at his door and put a tough question to him. Not one that many of us can answer…
Delta Plus = ?
He thought he knew the answer – Zero – but kept quiet and tried to close the door on him. Did he succeed?
Well, if you sustain the interest you showed this week, you may find out next week!
This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.
Image by Tanuj Handa