It’s a Sunday morning, not remarkably distinguishable from the other days. Sunlight floods in through that annoying little gap between the curtains and glares at me. The jobless old bastard does that every single day. I flinch and wave my arm frantically to tug at the curtains, but in vain. They are out of reach, teasing, undulating, mischievously throwing alternating waves of sun and shade in my face.
I turn away and look at the ceiling. It’s a Sunday morning not remarkably distinguishable from the other days. I hear mom making breakfast in the kitchen, reciting a prayer to go along with it. I hear the occasional sound of the laid-back morning traffic outside. I hear little kids singing an obscure song about birds and mountains. An old lady’s creaky voice commands them to keep the racket down. She gets unanimous laughter in response. A couple of sparrows sitting at my window sill are nosily debating something apparently very important. I strain hard to understand what they are saying, but I can’t. I want to get up from my bed and politely request them to take their discussion elsewhere, but I can’t do that either. Some wily prankster has pinned both my shoulders under a tonne of bricks made of air. I struggle hard to get up, but the massive weight keeps me down. Irritated and helpless, I lie in bed and look at the ceiling again. A fine crack is running along its face from one corner to the other. Ah, that’s something interesting to pass time with until help arrives. I trace the path of the crack, where it starts near one of the beams and forks out like a nerve, slowly and meticulously making its way to the other. I retrace its path all over again to make sure I haven’t missed out anything. I look at the wall clock to see how much time it took me to complete this activity – it’s approximately 2 hours and a few minutes. A lot of productive time is being wasted unnecessarily. Someone needs to get these air bricks off me already. Bah, nobody’s listening. I am going back to sleep.
When I wake up again, it’s late in the afternoon. No one’s at home. The roads are nearly empty. All the kids who were playing in the morning have gone home. The sparrows probably reached an agreement and left for lunch together. There’s absolute silence now, save the constant murmur of the fan. Outside though, there is an uneasy lull whirling around. For those unaware, a lull is greyish in colour and mostly invisible. It builds on, growing stronger every few seconds. Hello! It is seeping out of the crack in the ceiling and beginning to fill the entire room, covering everything under a thin layer of black soot. Damn it, my mom is going to kill me if she sees this mess. Have to get up somehow and clean it. But this damned load of bricks! What do I do?
Think. Think hard. When in doubt, refer the manual. The manual has all the answers they say. It is a nuisance going through a billion pages that have no page numbers, but what else can you do? Time to pull out the dusty, monstrous volume of instructions mouldering in the attic. Third shelf, bottom corner. The gigantic hardbound collector’s edition. Yes, that one. I’m allergic to it, but I have no other choice.
Index – skip. Introductory pages – skip. Starting pages – skip. Blah blah blah, skip skip skip. Where’s that godforsaken page about the black soot problem? I should bookmark this stuff from now on for easy reference. Skip skip skip, aha! Here it is! I puff the dust off and read the instructions for handling the black-soot-on-furniture situation:
(pulls a chair and clears throat)
“1. In the event a thick, black soot-like material covers your furniture, use the highly absorbent PowerSponge 5000 with an industrial strength cleansing agent like MagicInstaErase Plus (suggested).
2. Scrub in one direction, then again, then again and again till the black soot is completely gone.
3. Wipe with a soft cloth dipped in warm water. That should do it. Don’t forget to dispose of the sponge later.
4. Note 1: Occasional maintenance is a common, recommended and at times, mandatory activity. Do not panic as every household faces the exact same issue at some point of time, and has to deal with it in the exact same way. Well, the sponge and the solvent used might be different, but the cleaning procedure does not alter.
5. Note 2: You might want to get that crack in the ceiling looked at, you know, just to be on the safer side.
6. Note 3: Nights could be a slightly tricky affair, as it becomes very difficult to tell the darkness and the soot apart. Be advised that soot is often known to take up grotesque forms and haunt you in your sleep. The only way to counter this is by making a lot of “knock knock” jokes and keeping the soot amused until morning. “Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Men in black” “Men in black who?” “Men in black soots lol.”
7. Warning! DO NOT ignore this activity! It might take some effort, but is very important from a long-term perspective. Also, don’t let this experience leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Soot happens.
8. Cheer up now, go read a comic and drink some lemonade. You have a long day ahead.
9. Oh, and about the bricks? The prankster is a noob at brick placement. You just need to shrug your shoulders thrice and they will topple over.
10. Kindly close the manual firmly and restore in original position once done.”
Well, blimey! It is that simple?! What the hell am I still doing in bed then? Shrug, shrug, shrug. A shiver, a rumble and the towers of brick tumble! Success! Oh I love you, you knowledgeable manual!
Relieved of the heavy load, I get up with a renewed zest and vigour. I have wasted enough time. Now it’s time to man the decks armed with my PowerSponge and my MagicInstaErase Plus.
Forget the stupid sun and get to work, son! The score is now six-to-none! Keep that head down and don’t stop till it’s done! Scrub, scrub, scrub! Scrub scrubity scrub, from dusk till dawn, gotta finish up before mom catches on!
On a Sunday morning not remarkably distinguishable from the other days.