Food For Thought
The Fall of the Gas Ass
The husband came home earlier than usual. The wife was concerned and asked, 'Is everything all right?' He just made a grunt.
'You feel okay?' More grunts.
She had to obviously become more probing. 'Don't you have any office?'
'Naiko!' This was the first time he spoke. He meant 'no'.
So she asked in Dhaka's local dialect, 'Kaiko?'
'Niko,' he said
'You mean that one crore Taka car that some foreign company gave to that perennial scapegoat as gas?' she asked
'For gas, dear,' he corrected her.
'I meant what I said, AS gas.'
'More a gas ass,' he was now finding his voice.
'But how were YOU involved in that shady deal? My name is not even Zeenat,' nagged on the wife.
All of a sudden it seemed there was someone else besides them in the room.
'Why was woman made so beautiful?' he asks in a dreamy state.
'So that man would love her,' she responds equal to the occasion.
He feels like being cheeky and says, 'But why were they made so dumb?'
She overtrumps: 'So she would love him.'
'Yeah, you are right. Who else would lose his job twice for the same reason?'
'About the corruption and kickbacks we have read in the papers, but you have not yet said why you are also naiko,' the wife raps on.
'I told you Niko.'
'It does not make any sense. We don't even own a bike-o.'
The husband realises that the wife deserves an explanation, 'You see, although I was a small-time employee in that same office, sir used to like me very much.'
'It's not unusual for a simpleton like him,' the wife interjects.
He pretends not to listen. 'In the Tengratilla fire we not only lost ten crore Taka but the local people were very badly affected, the environment went all awry. They were furious. Sir had told me to manage them. I did, until Niko. Everything has fallen apart.'
'What do you mean by manage?'
'I scared them by dropping names.'
'But were you not betraying your own country?' the wife insists.
'The gas that has gone will not come back. More gas will bring us prosperity. So let the foreigners keep on drilling, is how some of our sirs would explain'.
'All I can say is you are a psycho.'
'Kaiko? It's the business people who did not like sir's regimentation. They ganged up on him.'
'Did he or did he not take the car that Niko gave your Bhai-ko?'
'Look, you cannot be in such a big position without taking such things. With all his colleagues watching, how would it look if he took a ten lakh Taka Maruti?'
'That is also coming, just wait and see,' says the wife. 'Remember Ta-Ta does not mean bye-bye'.
'Listen, if you talk in riddles, I have to ask you one I heard in the office,' says he.
'Riddles? You can threaten our poor villagers and you don't understand Tata? But, o-go, you amaze me; you don't have a job and are still in a mood to share a joke.'
'It is this what Sir liked in me…'
'That man has a spell on you. Okay, okay! Go on with your riddle.' She cosies up to him, in an effort to comfort him in this state of distress.
'Why are married women heavier than single women?' he asks.
'You mean I am heavy?'
'Why do you take everything personally? You see, single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.'
'But I am always home, and we don't have a fridge,' says she beaming.
'I told you it was not about you,' he gives her a pat.
'So what are your plans?'
'Right now or long term?'
'Dushtu kotha-kar! I am serious,' she says.
'Do what any sacked government employee is trained to do. Lie low for a few weeks. Don't touch newspapers. The dust will settle down. Sympathy will rise. Protipokkho is bound to make a mistake. Invitation to rejoin will come. Move in at the opportune moment,' explains he.
'And what shall we eat till then?' she asks quizzically.
'What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?' he counters.
She cuts a chimti and says, 'Turn sideways and look in the mirror!'
The husband is having ideas but his thoughts are interrupted.
'What will happen to the one crore Taka car?'
'I suspect they shall smash it to bits and pieces as an example to people who have cars cheaper than that.'
'You mean there are more expensive cars?' the wife is astounded.
'The lesson is not for them.'
The wife raises her arms to fix her hair. The idea is already in his head and he asks, 'Shall we try swapping positions tonight?'
She says, 'That's a good idea you stand by the almirah while I sit on the sofa.'
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