“Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.”
– Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice-cream”
I was the most dejected human soul in my whole campus till about 12 o clock. After a class of post-colonial literature, being told off twice by the teacher for using a pink 2-feet pencil and for giggling, I felt life was a constructed reality, a simualcrum of meaningless laws that expected people above 23 to behave in a certain strait-jacketed fashion. After all, what is wrong with using a pink 2-feet pencil, if it served its purpose well?
After the class, my classmate, the mother of a four-year-old girl asked me, “What is that thing?”
I said, “A pencil?” and she raised her eyebrows and said, “Ohww!”
Then she said, “Why are you writing with that?” and I said, “Ermm..because I like it and I want to write with it?!”
Then she said, “Anjali(her daughter) gives me that answer and she is four years old!”
I said, “So?” and then I asked, “Is there any rule book that says only four-year-olds can write with pink 2-feet pencils”
She said, “Haha! You’ll keep arguing like this..”
“Thanks!” I said, ” and I am continuing to use the pencil. I think ma’am is jealous!”
She said, “You’re incorrigible!!” and walked out.
Well, well..this incident haunted me. I lie down sulking with my head on my desk, while the rest of my class screamed on with their antics. I lifted my head up twice to whine and shout about the amount of noise they were making and how it disturbed my ruminations on the human predicament, power structures, panopticism, laws, the concept of knowledge as being rationality, the secondary position given to imagination, the African colonies and denigration and so on. Nobody listened.
I, then, trudged out of class with a heavy bag weighing on my shoulder. I went back to retrieve my forgotten bottle of water. I slowly plodded down the stairs. My friend Kavitha was with me all the while. I was not listening to her chatter. We went and sat on a stone-bench. A fluorescent green worm dangled on a thin thread trying to reach for my lap. I squealed. I wanted to go elsewhere, somewhere where there were no fluorescent green worms, no jealous professors telling me off for pink pencils, no mothers of four-year-olds laughing at my pencil preferences, no screaming clowns to disturb my ruminations…
Then, an idea dawned. Ideas are life-savers. If not for ideas, I don’t know where I would be. In fact, I don’t know if I would be. This was my idea. I claim sole ownership to such a creative and original idea that dawned on me at 12 o clock noon when the sun was beating down arrogantly. While every normal human being’s creative juices evaporated in the heat, I, sole proprietor of the idea uttered it eloquently. I said, “Let us have an icecream!” Then the whole world changed. Our old faded sepia surroundings came to life in technicolor. Some distance away, like an oasis, shone the icecream guy’s shack. We had to make it. We cannot sit here like losers. We cannot give up at this point. We had to lift our bottoms from the oppressive slab of stone and carry our heavy (and Kavitha’s anything-but-heavy) constitutions towards Elysium. So we did.
When the butterscotch cones adorned our wilting fingers, we cried for joy. The first lick and aaaahhhhhh…And so we continued silently, ignoring worms, professors, mothers and noise-makers…slurp slurp slurp…now my dreamy eyes proclaimed dopamine effect..what a beautiful world! Look at the little elvish green worm dangling there like an acrobat from a silken thread. My professor should have meant it for my own good..what if I poked my neighbour’s unassuming eye with my pink 2-feet pencil. The mother of a four-year-old..she has her own troubles, the poor being..how many pink pencils had she bought for that stubborn child of hers. What a world! Beautiful trees, friendly stone benches, what a wonderful place to live in…and there are icecreams. “What more could one ask for! You silly complainer!” I told myself.