Friday, February 5, 2021

Dog in the manger


Dog Ross by June Huff


Samson was irritated. There were too many missed calls on his mobile phone when he came back to the staff room during the break. Almost all the missed calls were from father-in-law. The son-of-a-bitch!

Samson had no choice but call back. After all, his wife was his last hope, the ultimate redeemer.

Samson worked as a teacher in a private school which paid him and all other teachers a salary that couldn’t meet even a week’s expenditure of a normal family with four or five members. Not that he didn’t try for other jobs. All good jobs were meant for people with some connections: wives of MLAs or nephews and nieces of Catholic priests and nuns or followers of people who claim to be political leaders… Finally Samson hit upon an idea for the sake of survival and possibly success in life. Marry a nurse and leave the country with her. Nurses get jobs abroad easily. Eventually their husbands can be transported too.

“You’ll be working at some petrol pump or supermarket,” Narendran told Samson, “if you go abroad. They’re not going to let you teach them English. Imagine you teaching English to the British!” He laughed. He was of the opinion that unemployed people in the country should make pakodas and sell tea on roadsides. “Didn’t our PM himself give us the example?” He asked.

When did the PM get the time for that? Samson wondered. He says he studied up to Masters in “entire political science” while also working as a fulltime Pracharak of the RSS before becoming a fulltime politician. He didn’t ask, however. Narendran was what they call a nationalist nowadays. It’s dangerous to ask questions to neo-nationalists; they’ll troll you if not lynch you.

Better to be pump attendant in London than a private school teacher in India. That’s how Samson decided to marry Daisy Leela Chacko who had already passed IELTS and OET and was just waiting for the England VISA. Daisy was the only daughter of Chacko. So Samson would inherit a house too in due course of time. Good arrangement any way you look at it.

“Sam,” Chacko answered the call as soon as the melodious voice of the woman who advised endlessly about Covid precautions ended. What a contrast was Chacko’s voice to that woman’s!

“Sam,” Chacko said. “I’m in hospital with Maria.” Maria was his wife. “She is under observation. On drips, you see. So we won’t be home for a while. Caesar will need lunch. During your lunch break you go to our house and give him a plate of biryani.”

“Biryani?” Sam said.

“Chicken biryani. Caesar doesn’t like mutton. You can buy it from one of the hotels near your school.”

Caesar was Chacko’s dog. A massive German shepherd who growled angrily most of the time.

There are no hotels near Samson’s school. Only a couple of small restaurants. But they serve chicken biryani every day for lunch. Malayalis can’t live without chicken biryanis. And every little chai shop is named Hotel so-and-so. Humility is not a virtue in Kerala’s hospitality industry at least.

Samson bought a chicken biryani as soon as he had finished his own lunch of rice, curd, and fried brinjal and rode his bike to Chacko’s house where Caesar was getting impatient like some of our politicians who are questioned bluntly by TV news anchors.

“Lucky fellow!” Samson said to the dog as he unpacked the chicken biryani. “I eat brinjal and you eat chicken.”

He shut the kennel having transferred the biryani into the dog’s plate.

“Hey.” Samson thought he heard a voice.

Caesar had called him, apparently. He went back to the kennel. “Yeah? Any problem?”

“What’s this stuff?” Caesar asked.

“Chicken biryani.” Samson said as innocently as a newcomer to neo-nationalist politics.

“Where did you get this from?”

“Hotel Lotus.”

The word ‘lotus’ pacified Caesar apparently. He calmed down. “It’s no good,” he said. “You should have bought some chicken from KFC or McDonalds.”

“I’ll bring you British mushroom chicken from London, sala.” Samson muttered as he turned the ignition of his bike.

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