The Utterly Unremarkable Sandwich
Devasis Laishram *
A wave of emotion hit me today as I opened the wrapping of a sandwich I'd forgot about and had apparently turned cold. A memory from not so long ago came back flashing and bringing incredible delight to me. Back then, I didn't realize the importance of such and unimportant event, but now, alone in my room listening to a number from Steve Vai, I suddenly realized how powerful a totally normal and dull afternoon can become; and apart from just being normal, I was rather angry with her that day. And it's amazing how something that vexed you dearly, can now put a smile on your face; how something which was filled with normality and trivia can make you nostalgic and blissful.
I remember being excited to meet her, and hungry, yes, I was awfully hungry, hungrier than excited, very hungry indeed, the sort of eat-anything-you-get sort of hungry. Anyway, after waiting for a long 20 minutes in my room for her to get ready, I locked it and rushed outside to buy sandwiches, for her and for myself. I've been wanting for quite some time to let her taste this particular sandwich. Of all the savourless food you get in campus, this sandwich has been a personal favourite. This mixture of mushrooms and cottage cheese and mayonnaise and onions, glued to two triangular pieces of bread has become a source of salvation for my vacant stomach, my miserable stomach tortured daily by the extra gastric juice forced out by the long and tedious hours of lectures and practical classes.
And so, I bought four sandwiches, one for her, three for me, and walked like an ostrich, scurrying desperately under the awfully hot sun and dreadfully sultry weather, the long half mile and when I reached her hostel gate, I dialed her number.
"Hey, I've reached. Aren't you ready yet? Hurry up, I'm so hungry I could eat a horse!"
"Okay, coming… Give me 2 minutes"
I hanged up and listened to 'Out of the Sunrise' by Joe Satriani, the brilliant composition somehow aiding me in neutralizing the overflowing acid in my tormented stomach. After 6 and a half minutes, the song ended and I dialed her number again.
"Hey! Where are you?" I enquired, half annoyed.
"Ugh! I'm coming, I was searching for something. I'll be down in a sec."
"But I thought u were ready…"
Beep Beep Beep. She had kept the phone.
So I opened my playlist and this time it was the one and only 'Dream Theater' to the rescue. And I played 'The spirit carries on', the soft, spiritual melody taking me to mystical places and I imagined, as I do every time I listen to this song, about life after death, wondering if our yogis are correct in claiming that the soul transcends the mere mundane and goes on to exist in a state of total bliss after death. And as much as I'm inclined to believe it to be true, being the skeptic little bastard that I am, I cannot really believe it a 100%; I never really believe anything a 100% for that matter. The vast mysterious desert between science and theology must always be questioned and no theory should ever be taken as definite knowledge.
The song changed to 'Drawn to Black' by Insomnium and I quickly changed it as it wasn't really helping me in my present condition. Metal core wasn't exactly the genre I needed to listen to right now; my stomach not appreciative of the surplus oomph that it gives you. I thought of calling her again but abandoned it as I've managed to become rather spiritual thanks to Mr. Petrucci. So, choosing a song of similar genre, I played 'Whispering a Prayer' by the Guitar God, Steve Vai. And with the soothing guitar solo, I drifted to a reverie and sat meditatively while my stomach growled and my body moistened in the boiling October afternoon, one of the many reasons why I abhor Punjab; summer out here seems to last till mid November. How I miss the cool breezy weather back home!
The song hadn't ended when my meditative state was interrupted by a growl from this poor, frantic stomach. And disregarding completely, the half grown yogi in me, I dialed her number again and howled, "Ugh! What the hell is wrong with you? I've been waiting for nearly 30 minutes now! Are you coming? The sandwich must be cold by now"
Cold! It struck me then, how insipid the sandwich becomes once it turns cold.
"Eat yours first. I've been searching for my key since the last time you called", she yelled at me with such brutality.
"Okay" and I kept the phone. But obstinacy being one my foremost characters, I decided to wait for her and to act mad and teach her to be more punctual.
Finally she came, the sun behind her, brightening her slightly claret hair, her cheeks all puffed up as a result of the big smile that she wore, an angel that has come to rescue me from this scorching sun, her divinity dissipating every joule of annoyance I had in me.
And we sat eating the cold, tasteless sandwich or at least a part of it and now that my stomach has become startlingly full, despite the fact that I hardly had a bite, we spent the rest of the afternoon roaming the campus.
And when it was time for her to go back, she turned towards me, with her charming eyes focused on mine and said, "Hey! Actually, I didn't come out at once earlier because we were taking photos" and managed a slight giggle. But I was too composed and cheerful now to be bothered even by such capriciousness.
And now, a year after, the anger, the blistering sun, the mugginess, the fact that she made me wait in such terrible circumstances because of her "photo-shoot" becomes entirely insignificant and all that matters are the joyful moments, the blissful unimportant normality that we never really pay much attention to, like the wonderful memory of me and my baby eating the horribly flavourless sandwich.
* Devasis Laishram wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer describes himself as
"I am from Pishumthong Ningom Leirak and i'm currently doing my B.Tech in Punjab. I would be totally delighted if someone called me a "volatile-Promethean"; volatile, mostly because I completely abhor invariability and stagnancy and I constantly seek new interests and hobbies and promethean because, well, who doesn't like to be called ingeneous! Even though I am a sad perfectionist, and a brutal skeptic, I do like to keep my mind open to new ideas and theories for I believe with the microscopic consciousness of the human brain, nothing is definite. I love writing, music(those by artists from a proper music college), reading novels, travelling, gym-ing and hope to add a lot more to the list. I hope to write fantasy novels mixed with a sort of philosophical non-fiction."
The writer can be contacted at dipu(dot)dvs(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on August 23, 2013
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