The sun had just appeared and the morning was young. I was up early and was getting ready to go to the church. As I stepped out of my house, I could see Eddie uncle, pacing frantically back and forth in his courtyard. I wished he would get back into his house, as I did not want to meet him this early in the morning. It was just a wish. My house was barely a stone’s throw away and our eyes met.
“Good morning uncle” I wished him, expecting a battery of verbal bullets towards me.
“What is so good about the morning, Anil”. I was right. There was something wrong.
“Well. It is such a pleasant morning. Birds are chirping, cool breeze is flowing, I am sure Cecilia aunty must have prepared some good breakfast too and look at you- you are burning some fat by taking a brisk walk. What is not to like about the morning uncle?”.
“You think I am taking a brisk walk?” Eddie uncle had a huge question mark on his temple. I had clearly misjudged the situation. The pleasant morning was soon turning into an unpleasant one.
“I believe so. Unless aunty has punished you for something”. I have this habit of talking out of my behind, once in a while, especially with Eddie uncle. I don’t know whether it is rooted from the fact that we have known each other for so long or from the fact that his sight makes my nerves tingle to give him back as much as I get.
The look on his face said it all. I did not dare say one more word. Neither of us spoke for the next couple of seconds.
” What now?” I broke the silence.
” Haven’t you watched Piku?”.
“Oh such a nice movie. Big B’s acting was amazing and Irrfan Kh………..” I stopped mid sentence. ” Oh… That is the problem.”
“Yes.System Error. This makes me uncomfortable for the whole day or at least until the moment, till it happens”. I clearly understood his situation.
“I agree Uncle. If it doesn’t happen in the morning, then the whole day is more or less a waste. It psychologically brings one down “
” You too. Thank god, someone is with me in this”. Eddie uncle heaved a sigh of relief, accompanied with some stale fragrance, polluting the crispy air.
Without any remorse Eddie uncle , continued ” What do you do Anil”.
“Look uncle. I have a system or rather a routine in place. As soon as I wake up, I wake up my system too with a big glass of lukewarm water. The system realizes that the water is flowing for a reason. By the time, I finish brushing, the system is ready for the job”. I explained to him my system of cleansing.
“Lucky basket. Why can’t I do that”.
“One has to train the system uncle. You are too old to do that now. Keep walking” I laughed aloud amidst some more noises from Eddie uncle.
“After I began talking to you, there is some improvement. I think laughing and talking to you works for my system. Come home everyday” Eddie uncle had a trademark mischievous smile under his moustache.
” Huh. Do you take me for a fool? I have better things to do in life”. I snapped back.
” Well, I too had a routine when I was young or say when I was in my early 40’s. Two cigarettes and my system lit up. Ahh. Good old days”
“What crap Uncle. Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. How on earth could it fire up your intestines”.
“Well, I had trained my system to wait for the cigarette smoke. You just said that one has to train the system. I had trained mine”.
I was standing there, without knowing what to say. A little bit of show off earlier had now come back to bite me.
He continued ” You know my wife doesn’t have any routine. She does it whenever the system is ready. I wish I could do it too. But in her case, there is always a scare of system being ready at unexpected times”. Eddie uncle was giving more information than I wanted to hear. ” You know this one time ….”
“Uncle stop!!. I don’t want to make this pleasant morning into a crappy one. Let us talk about something else”
“Ok”. Eddie uncle had slowed down his pace and also gulped down a big glass of water.” This water thing works Anil.” He was visibly happy, while I wasn’t.
He continued ” Well do you know some other routines which could help me”. He was exploring options.
Now that I had bragged about routines, I had to either say or make up a few innovative ones ” Well one of my friend drinks hot water until his intestines can no longer hold it inside any longer. One of cousin has a spoonful of gulkand every night. I think it is more in the mind uncle”.
“What non sense, In the mind my foot. If it was in the mind, do you think I had to walk a kilometer and drink water”.
The old man had a point.” Well uncle, you have a point. I think it is about building a routine. One of my uncles says as soon as first cup of hot tea goes into his tummy, the process begins”.
“I have had three so far without any luck” Eddie uncle was disappointed.
“Well for some, inhaling fresh air can work wonders”. Eddie uncle was in the meanwhile stretching and taking deep breaths.
” You better make or find a routine uncle” I advised him
“I think I should. But since you came along, I am feeling confident that the issue will be resolved soon. Shoot. I have been talking like my grandson lately. These software engineers, I tell you. For everything they say “No issues” , ” will look into it” etc ”
” Hopefully it will be resolved soon. Let me go now” I was about to leave. The entrance hymn must be already over by now.
“Wait, Wait. Where the hell do you have to go. Wait.” Eddie uncle stopped me.
” Uncle I am going to the church”
” No one is going to die, if you don’t go to the church one day. God will understand. Stay here until I am relieved from this pain”
I was frustrated now, talking about routines. ” Uncle shall we talk about something else. Do you know the JNU incident” I diverted his mind.
” Yes. I wonder how those students and police men stay without doing it for so many days”. He was still stuck there.
Just then, there was some noise coming out from inside, where one stupid good for nothing journalist was shouting on top of his voice ” The nation wants to know….”, while poor guests who had come were staring at each other, while he was talking to someone remotely.
“Anil. I think I got my routine. I need to watch or at least listen to this man’s voice every morning. Record it please. Wait here while I finish and come. Let s have breakfast together.”
I had just lost my appetite talking about the exact opposite topics, but I knew Cecilia aunty was a good cook and I was sure I could smell amazing green chutney she makes. I nodded and continued watching Arnab and his madness.