He totters to the door, in search of the newspaper, the only possible excuse he can think of to leave the bed. But it’s the 27th day of January, and as if the world had stopped functioning at all the previous day, there is no news to be found at the bottom of the door.
He unlatches the thing, but there is no milk packet left outside either. Seemingly, the cows and the doodhwala too had ceased to function in deference to our secular, sovereign republic. There won’t be any newspaper or tea today, thinks Amir, and feels like falling on to the bed again.
He switches on the TV, but its morning time, and they have nothing to show but old, stale news of yesterday, old, stale repeat telecast of yesterday’s game show, and the old, stale highlights of yesterday’s match, where India lost by more runs than they actually scored.
Cigarettes!, thinks Amir. There has to be a cigarette somewhere. He jumps for his jeans, but is heartbroken to find no packet there. He remembers distinctly that there was a packet, and there were at least a couple of cigarettes remaining. He runs to the living room, looking on top of the desk, on the sofa, on the divan, on the TV. But there is nothing. He goes back to his bedroom, searches all over again, keen, desperate eyes dying to be sated. But there is nothing.
What a torrid start to the day, thinks Amir, and lies down on the bed again, looking at the ceiling. No tea, no newspaper, no TV, no cigarettes – nothing at all.
Then, in a sudden surge of inspiration, he gets up, runs to his jacket lying on the chair alongside his bed. After all, that’s where he had left the cigarettes last night. He pats on the under pocket, and is overjoyed to find the thing after his heart, relieved to find his saviour.
There is just one cigarette left, but one should be enough for now.
He slides open the matchbox.
There is just one match left, but one should be enough for now.
He strikes fire with that solitary promise of relief, and brings it closer to the cigarette held in his mouth.
The promise burns with promise at first, then starts to die out slowly. Like a dying man - half hopeful, half believing - desperately trying to hold on to life, Amir hurries the thing to the tip of his cigarette. But only a part of the tip catches fire. He sucks frantically at the other end, still hopeful, still believing. But the all-too-obvious happens.
The foul taste of half-burned tobacco in his mouth is the icing on the cake.
It’s Sunday morning. 11:20 A.M. Amir goes to bed, all fed up.