I woke up with this terrible need to pee. "oh gawd, I'm turning out to be a real middle aged fart," I thought, rubbing the stubble on my chin and comparing it favorably to the cactus needles that seem to have sprouted all over my tongue.
I peed long. Hands free. My eyes still half closed to the diffused light forcing its way through the bathroom window. I yawned. And then looked down to get a grip on my wilting John Thomas and almost sprayed the bathroom, horrified by what I saw.
There were fifteen goldfish in there, an unflushed offering to the porcelain god.
And I had just peed on them.
I rushed out to the living room, naked, to confirm that number. Yes, there were fifteen goldfish in the pee-bowl, because the aquarium had none.
What had happened here? My head felt as if it had been on ice for a while. And why was a small giggly voice inside my head telling me to jump around? Why was it calling me, "Mowgli"? I shook my head...dance naked? Undignified? Sure. But I shrugged my shoulders. What the hell, who was going to see me do anything? Roopa was away for a bloody Feng Shui course!
Feng Shui? Feng fucking Shui?! Flashbulbs exploded in my brain and I held on to the phone for support. Feng Shui? Vaafuckingstu? Yoga? Art of fucking living? Earth Mother Circle? Clan of the fucking Cave Bears?
Last night the bunch of us had formed the Fed Up With Fads group. And Roopa's goldfish were sacrificed for our protest. A few of my heavy bottomed caballitos were sacrificed too. And four of the five bottles of fermented blue cactus juice as well.
Slam one. Some sputtered. It had been a long time since we had done this.
"Every time I turn to speak with Carla, there she is -- twisted up in some weird posture on the floor!"
"Think of all the action in your bedroom, man!"
"I thought the same thing! But Yoga is getting her close to God, not the husband!"
Slam two. Perfect. Like the memory of one's first cigarette.
"Each time I come home, I see her lighting candles for peace or some such shit. The whole house smells of vanilla ice cream or lemonade...I was a spectacle at the meeting today when I walked in smelling of lavender!"
Three. The salt and lime put my tongue on fire.
"Remember how Sudha hated my poster of Frank Zappa in the computer room? She would complain about his goatee...now she's torn it down and there's a huge picture of Jesus and of the five Sikh Gurus and a couple of sadhus...they all have beards and it doesn't faze her and she's praying to them all! She's even taking Sanskrit lessons to bloody 'understand the deeper meaning' of the religious texts!"
Four down.We salute the Aztecs and Indira Gandhi.
"I used to complain of Preeti being so hyper...now she's wearing white all the time and smiles all the time and spends all her time with the Art of Living chaps...the whole house feels alien..."
The fifth kills a few more brain cells.
"Someone called my darling Lolo 'fat', and that threw the whole house in disarray. The freezer is empty. We're eating rabbit food or some bizarre combination of six grains and seven greeens or the other way around. The kids are hungry all the time... We've visited McDonalds on the sly, and I hate lying about it to her."
"Gawd, you mean she is not going to make Chicken Kiev any more?"
We need the sixth now. The stories have become scarier.
"Raji has turned vegan. Threw out all my shoes and belts one Sunday morning. Called me the butcher of Bombay!"
Could we go on? How did the stories compare with the rowdy tequila nights at bars talking of body slamming with Jennifer Lopez? The eighth, ninth, and tenth knocked us all out.
I think I heard about Niki's trips to the tarot reader, and Shalu's sudden fascination with the celestial alignment of the stars. I know Deepak was crying over Natasha wandering about the house in a state of silence because she was practising Vipassana. I knew that fourteen goldfish lay dead on the table, and the members of Fed Up With Fads were lying under it.
Now it was my turn. Like others before me, I fished out the last wriggling goldfish by its tail and looked it straight in the eye. With the other hand, downed my shot.
That took me some time, but who was watching the clocks? I dropped the goldfish on the wooden table. It danced about wildly. I raised my arm and brought it down hard on the table, hoping to put the damned fish out of its misery. That's what the others had hoped too with their fish. It wasn't easy. With each attempt I voiced my hate for the Feng Shui that had swallowed my Roopa whole.
Now Roopa tells me that the bandage on my forehead is the result of her discovering five guys asleep in the guest room (smiles plastered on their faces), me on the sofa ("What were you doing naked with those guys around?! Ugh!"), her goldfish in a very stinky bathroom, the next evening.
She had taken one hard look at everything, pronounced me guilty, and had meted out punishment she felt was eminently suited for the crime. She had taken the last bottle of tequila ("It was sitting on the table, laughing at me!" she claimed.), and had smashed it over my head.
This is not a fish story.
(december 14, 2000)