There's something about mornings. They have a way of jerking you out of your reverie, shattering your
heart dreams and leaving you to deal with withdrawal symptoms of a sleep unfinished. But the worst is when the morning rips off the curtain of uncertainty and forces you to face the horror of what transpired the previous night. And no amount of rethinking or telling yourself the memory was only a dream (nightmare) changes anything.
I fell prey to one such morning lurking behind the kitchen door when I was still groggy and with eyes that wouldn't completely open. Before I get into the gory details of how the morning led the attack, let me take you 9 hours back in time...
I was watching the telly with one of my friends (Friend-A) who lives in a rented flat and sifting simultaneously through scores of beautiful pictures of Japan that another friend had uploaded on her Facebook album. And this is when Friend-B padded into the bedroom, wearing an angelic smile and holding a giant metal pot, "Here. Have some. Sorry, we don't have anything else at home." The dry noodle-cakes looked like they were broken straight out of the packet, untouched by water or any cooking ingredient. "We're too lazy to cook. But it tastes even better this way!" Friend-C jumped into the bed, lifted a handful of dry-noodle-strands and crunched away.
I was touched. I knew they'd normally skip dinner (out of laziness) if they didn't manage to eat at office, but here they were, offering me the biggest piece of their humble pie! :) All four of us ate out of that big pot of uncooked, factory-packed noodles. And I must say, it was quite tasty! We joked, and laughed, and gaped at the clean streets of Kyoto (on the laptop, of course) and ended the night with rich, creamy, hazelnut and chocolate ice cream (courtesy: London Dairy). It was half past 1 when I could balance my head on my shoulders no more and lapsed into deep slumber.
Back to the morning... I sauntered into the brightly lit kitchen, looking for some water when my eyes fell on the empty packets of Wai Wai noodles. I have this crazy habit of reading the fine-print of every packet/brochure/manual that comes my way. I even read the bits in other languages (I can manage some amount of Cyrillic along with the regular Roman scripts) whether or not I understand a word of it.
So I thought of the previous night's dinner as I got closer to the noodle-packets on the granite counter, and recounted the community-eating experience. It is said that in the old days, tribes ate together, out of the same dish, and that fostered brotherhood and friendship. The raw-noodle-meal had certainly brought the four of us a lot closer, if only for a couple of hours. It was Monday today, and we'd all go back to work, to our own lives, to getting busy and never seeing each other's faces for many days to come. I picked up one of the packets and stared in disbelief!
"Chicken flavoured", it said in big, red letters. My heartbeat quickened. This couldn't be! All my friends knew I was vegetarian for over 13 years now. They always got eggless cakes and asked for veg pizzas when ordering for me. They would even tease me that I was a fake Bong as true-blue Bengalis never desert their fish. They could NOT forget that I was vegetarian! They would NOT deceive me so cruelly! It is one thing to make me eat a dessert containing egg, but quite another to feed me a potful of noodles smothered in dead-meat! I grabbed at the empty packets and turned them over to see if my eyes were tricking me. But I could clearly see the big brown dot that stood for 'non-veg'.
The rooms of Friend-B and Friend-C were locked, and screaming at Friend-A would be futile for the poor soul was vegetarian too and a victim in this case. I clutched at my stomach and felt like I too was a perpetrator of this crime. The minced, dead pieces of innocent chicken lay soaked in the digestive juices that my gall bladder had happily sprayed the night before. I took a deep breath. A strong fragrance wafted out of Friend-B's bedroom. So, the culprit was getting ready for work! I was about to barge into that room and demand an explanation, but I stopped just outside the door, and thought.
Would that argument bring the chicken back from the dead? Would Friend-B (or even Friend-C for that matter) be able to take me back in time so I could be sure to check the ingredients of what I was about to eat? Would it be right of me to create so much bitterness when they had been so sweet at night? Would one chicken-meal really make me non-vegetarian? Had anything really changed? I was still an animal-lover and would still fight for their right to live, against human-apathy and greed.
Does one single night really change much? So what if you got a little drunk, threw-up on somebody's new bedsheet, said a few things you shouldn't have, spilled some rum on the marble floor, spoiled somebody's game and somebody else's sleep and clung shamelessly to a person whose date looked you squarely in the eye with her arms folded!* Does that really change the person you are? The person you've always been? Can you not go back to being normal? Can you not bury the past and look ahead at your future?
That morning I learnt an important lesson in forgiveness. As I stood outside Friend-B's door, I forgave not only my friends but also myself. It wasn't my fault I ate a living being, and no matter how many times I went back to the memories of that night, I would not be able to change a thing. I'd just have to let go. And move on. Move on to being a better person this morning... tonight... and the morning after.
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* That wasn't me! :P The paragraph is for the purpose of illustration only and does not serve as a tool for finger-pointing.