[Rena looks intently at Sham, clears her throat and starts reading aloud a book]
Rena: To train elephants not to run away, the Indians would capture baby elephants and tie one of its hind legs with a strong rope to a stake fixed firmly in the ground.
[She pauses for a while, looks again at Sham and continues]
Rena: For the first few days the baby elephant would struggle to break free, but without success. When the elephant was fully grown and was able to uproot the stake, its memory would keep telling: ‘You cannot break.’ So the elephant was no longer bound by the rope and the peg, but by its memory.
[Sham puts out his cigarette, blinks at Rena.]
Sham: Why, Rena? Why do you read me a fairy tale from Manu’s [daughter] text book?
Rena: It’s not a fairy tale, but a real one… happening everywhere.
Sham: What the hell you’re talking about?
Rena: Come on; tell me Sham, why can’t you stop smoking?
Sham: That’s habit. I have grown with it helluva time.
Rena: Yes, that’s it. Your habit is like the stake. You’re the elephant tied to it. You always think you can’t break coz: you lack desire, decision and determination.
Sham: Uh, what is wrong with you today? Think the day is not dawned well for me.
Rena: Nothing wrong with me. I’m as clear as the day. Now, tell me how many packs of cigarettes are you smoking daily?
Sham: May be three. [He sulks; looks away from her]
Rena: Three packs [she screeches] and that means 30 cigarettes
Sham: Yea, you’re right. I never saw a pack with more than 10 cigarettes.
Rena: Be serious Sham. Do you know that the odds are every cigarette you smoke shortens your life by five and a half minutes? By this time you must have been dead.
Sham: Stop preaching, Rena. Every one knows the hazardous of smoking.
Rena: Then why don’t you kick it. It’s a habit, an acquired one at that. You can undo it if you have the will-power. Why don’t you see the elephant in the room?
Sham: I can’t do that Rena. I smoke not to flaunt my machismo. Nor I smoke for the heck of it. Rather, the white sticks are my shock-absorbers… god’s gifts like Noah’s ark. I have had so many tragedies in my life… so many skies had fallen on my head. But still, the white sticks carry me well through the debris of my life. They help me blow away my pains and accentuate my pleasures. They relieve unpleasant, overwhelming feelings. They provide me with the power of creative imaginations. I was wedded to the stick long before I have married you.
Rena: You trickster, stop waxing eloquent about a bad habit.
[She now starts yelling at him. What starts as a war of words ends in Sham getting a potpourri of things thrown at him-vessels, TV remote, newspapers, and combs et al. Peace returns after a prolonged pell-mell? Sham becomes apologetic and yields.]
Sham: Stop Rena. Enough is enough. You want me quit smoking. Yes, I would do it from 1st Jan. Now, as you say, I have the desire and decision, will implement it with determination.
Dec. 30, 2012
Rena: Why, what’s it Sham? Now, you’re smoking four-packs-a-day.
Sham: Yes, Rena. I do it with a purpose. You know that things you consume too much will make you fed up with them. I’m smoking now four packs-a-day because that will make me contemptuous of smoking and ultimately I will hate smoking. I’m always ingenious, have my own scheme of things to tackle new critical situations.
Rena: I don’t think so. Quite oft your ingenuity brings only chaos. Anyway, good luck, Sham.
Rena: Sham, you’re still smoking. You smell of nicotine. Why don’t you keep your promises? Why you lack determination? You have a chicken for heart.
Sham: Don’t get alarmed, dear. Sit down, perk up your ears and hear what I say.
[She sits down reluctantly on the sofa, a bit agitated. Sham takes out a paper from his pocket and starts reading]
Sham: True, the bull elephant find it hard to break free from the stake, since its memory says: ‘You cannot break free.’ But, a cow elephant calls on him soon and tells him: ‘you darkie moron, you can just-like-that uproot the stake if you shut down your memories. The world outside your stake reckons you. Once you free yourself from the chains, you can feel free air; roam about as you like. Try your luck, dear.
The bull elephant now breaks the chain that bound him to the stake. It starts roaming about the town and eats whatever it wants. The delight of having broken its bond and thereby having freedom wanes as time moves on. It feels a sort of loneliness, hates its new-find freedom. It’s craving for the stake and that makes it desolate and depressive. Now that it has gone too far from its stake, it cannot reach to its chains. It struggles, trumpets in dismay and finally dies of cardiac arrest.
[Sham smiles at Rena sheepishly, but has no guts to look into her eyes]
Rena: So what you’re up to. Why do you manufacture such cow and bull story? What you mean telling such a story?
Sham: Hmmm… I mean to say… [He fumbles for a moment, looks at the ceiling and continues.]Okay Rena, now you decide: do you want a smoking elephant at home or wants him die of heart attack because of HWS?
Sham: Habit Withdrawal Syndrome.
Rena: My Holy Christ! All said and done, don’t you know smoking is injurious to god?
Rena: Every human body is a temple and god lives in every soul.
Sham: Honey, don’t speak ill of god’s powers. He is almighty. He won’t get injured by a few bellows of smoke I’m blowing in and out.
Rena: You’re a cheat … hopeless argumentative Indian. [She races to the bed room and plops on the bed, stupefied]
PS [This is what I call my ‘wild writing’, letting my pencil to roam about the white sheets. I would also, virtually, give him a clump of clay and allow him to make out of it either a god or devil. However, my pencil fellow never fails me. Most of the times, he would come out with a god like this short play. But, I don’t know what your take is? Do you credit him with colors or send a knife to cut him into pieces. [Smile]
Image courtesy: Google