Pulp Fiction

It was a particularly sweltering day in the sophisticated land of Kailash Nagar. Its suave residents, now human barbecue, resorted to the shade of an ornate metal tree which stood where an ancient banyan once stood. They flinched whenever they accidentally touched the tree. They flinched harder when they realized that their flinching was out of place in the debonair neighbourhood. Things were different in the Shiva household. The family didn’t feel the necessity to live up to the culture of the area. They often engaged in barbaric activities such as hiring an auto-rickshaw instead of booking an Uber and not dining outside on weekends. They were also misers who spent only on things they needed.

However, an image of divinity was attached to their humble abode owing to some heavenly occurrences. During the summer, the house always received a refreshing breeze and minimal heat. And during the monsoon, there was no water seepage into the building. Shiva attributed it to efficient civil engineering, but the neighbours wouldn’t buy it. The house was considered sacred not only because of its architectural miracles, but also majorly because the eldest son of Shiva, Ganesh, had an elephantine head.

It was on this day that Narada decided to turn up at their residence, perhaps to find a cool place to tackle the heat. Now, Narada was an unwelcome man in most places. He was a nosey Svengali to others and a distant relative to Shiva which is why they accommodated him most of the time. After he had made himself comfortable on the wooden sofa, he dug into the depths of his jute bag. Out came a mango; a fruit so golden that the local pawnbrokers were ready to pay half its original price, so golden that its buyer would proudly deposit it in a safe locker of a bank. Parvati, the wife of Shiva, found it unusual as Narada usually brought cheaper fruits, but enough in number so that all of them could eat.

Before Parvati could pop the question, Narada explained, “Now, I know that all of you must be wondering why I have brought only one mango. Simple. Because it is a special fruit. Do you know what makes it special? It is one of the protagonist fruits in the Slice commercials, one of the fruits caressed by Katrina Kaif herself. And I could afford only one of these. Darned GST and my career as a sales rep.”

An awkward silence ensued with no one knowing what to say. Narada continued as if nothing had happened, “Since there is only one fruit and I was the one who paid for it, I get to choose who to give it to. This fruit goes to the person who first completes one round around the world or across it, however you see it”. With that being said, Narada raised the mango with two hands, like a prized jewel without realizing that both Ganesh and his younger brother Murugan were fast asleep. To avoid any further embarrassment, Parvati woke her children up and briefed them about what was ahead of them. The children, visibly irked, enquired – “Can’t we just cut them into two halves?”
Narada replied with a quote borrowed from Christopher Nolan’s Batman, “It’s not about the fruit, it’s about sending a message.”

Murugan’s zeal for winning competitions drove him out of the house. He hurriedly borrowed his neighbour’s classy Harley Davidson and set off on a journey around the world. Meanwhile, Ganesh, who was known for his lateral-thinking skills (which helped him obtain a grand 21/400 in his Level-1 FIITJEE AITS paper), brainstormed for about five minutes and came up with an out-of-the-world solution.

“The task was to go around the world and for me, my parents are my world,” he announced like a deranged fan to his demigod actor.
Saying this, he quickly walked around Parvati who smiled graciously at him. Then, he fervently searched for his father when Parvati reminded him that Shiva was working a double shift that day. Ganesh quickly hopped on the fastest ride for people who didn’t know to ride a motorbike – a Honda Dio. Hours passed by, as he navigated his ‘Firebolt’ through traffic in Sillycon Valley. On reaching his father’s office, he parked the scooter opposite to the building, effectively avoiding parking charges. He bolted into his father’s cabin and quickly ran around him providing no context. He raced back to his house, only to learn that Murugan had already returned. He wondered to himself, “Is this why they call him the ‘Quick Gun Murugan’?”

He entered the house with a well-practised unegoistic smile, characteristic of a proud elder brother, only to see a frowning and a sweaty Murugan. Narada was still smiling, clutching the fruit as if it were his heart.
As the sweaty brothers stood shoulder-to-shoulder, Narada broke into what seemed like a moral lecture, “My dear children, this mango, who should I give it to?”

Ganesh replied, “Well, he completed the task before me. Murugan won fair and square. You should give it to him.”
Narada’s smile grew wider, “But this was never about the mango. Was it? It wasn’t about who finishes first. Both of you had different approaches to the task. And both are equally commendable. While you were on the task, you faced a lot of obstacles, right? The traffic, the bad drivers in the traffic and most importantly the heat.”

The brothers nodded.

“So, both of you are tired and your heads ache a lot, right?”, he asked.
The brothers nodded again.
Narada grinning, reaching into his bag, exclaimed, “Which is why both of you should try the brand new mango-flavoured Tang, completely natural and completely rejuvenating. No fights for equal halves, no fights for who is better, now at a discount price of two bottles for the price of two.”
It takes two to Tang, oh?

Akaash Preetham

A soul trying to escape the maelstrom of engineering by writing and living life to its fullest.

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