Saw, So, Sow

by Hareendran Kallinkeel

Rahul closed his bedroom’s door. In a two-room apartment in Delhi, his parents allowed him the privilege of privacy, while they slept in the living room.

He opened a box that just came in. Often, the extra care e-commerce vendors invested in packaging a product was a pain in the pecker. 

Oops! Didn’t that pain belong elsewhere, he thought. But that’s the way he was… he had a problem of placing the wrong nouns in right places, sometimes verbs or adjectives too. Pitfalls, he knew, that came with ESL learning. 

Unpacked, the device of his desire laid bare for scrutiny. An inch wider than a smart phone, the bargain a barter for Father’s Ford, sold at half the gadget’s price. To a cunning neighbor, who saw an opportunity. Alluring profit, in a man’s dire need.

While Rahul remained conscious of the seven km his father had to walk to office, he found solace in logic, logistics. Wonders to his father’s health, savings in fuel costs.

When Mother learned of a monthly payment of INR5000 for ten months, over and above the down payment, she saw a prospect of objection by Father. So, she chose to sow the seeds of rationale. “Cut on costs of fish and meat. Sardines cheap, more nutritious than pomfret. Avoid red meat, reduce cholesterol. Plus, the savings on fuel. We’re good.” 

Father listened. Logic apparent. 

Rahul nailed his deal, by igniting hope. “The device helps in learning English – to use it as if it were my mother tongue.”

Middle class fathers fell for the trick. Well-paid job in an English-speaking country. Riches galore, in their dreams. 

After consulting the user manual, printed on glossy pages, Rahul provided inputs. Carefully voiced the words, stressing each syllable where he thought stress was necessary. Now, the device would type for him. Put nouns and verbs, even adjectives, in right places where those trivialities belonged.

The time came to test the gadget’s integrity. Rahul read from a book: “I saw a fertile land, so I wanted to sow a seed…”

He received a response, quick, “Input inaccurate, I can’t make out which ‘soo’ belongs where…”

He tried several times. Frustrated, he thrust the device back into its box. Pushed it under his bed.

***

Despite his failed trials with the gadget, Rahul landed a job as a cab driver in an English-speaking nation. After five years of sharing a greater portion of earnings with cab owner, he realized a fact. Owning his own cab would make him fare better. So, he came home hunting for resources.

“In Delhi, apartments attract good money.” Rahul looked at his mother. “You can move to suburbs for a quarter of what you get. And, better air quality.”

“You good?” she asked.

He placed a gold-rimmed pen on the dining table where Father sat. “This flat will fetch at least twenty million. Prime location, you know.”

Mother shook her head.   

Father picked up the pen, with care he’d invest in shifting an infant from its cradle. “Good enough, to sign a will of exclusion.” No pain. Not in the pecker, not even in the ass. 

Rahul left. Empty-handed, rich with enlightenment.    

End