As I completed my check-in formalities, depositing my overnighter containing some meagre paraphernalia into the belly of the luggage hold, my stomach reminded me once again that I’d overlooked my solemn duty to feed it its due lunch. With meetings stretching unendingly and then the rush for a flight to catch, it was well past time for high tea that my belly was grumbling for sustenance.
As I looked around, the airline lounge beckoned with reluctance. I winced involuntarily at the thought of the usual stern, dry, lacklustre sandwiches which awaited me up in the confines of the lounge. How often I dreamt of finding the idiot who had deviced those sandwiches – the petite triangles of white, crumbly bread, barely moist with a hint of butter, microtomed slices of dead cucumber and deader tomatoes, sprinkled liberally with tear-inducing pepper powder, which spent equal time sticking inside the gullet as in the stomach – and giving him one tight slap as a reward for his abominable invention. Though complimentary, they surely did not have my compliments!
My famished gaze settled upon the ubiquitous coffee kiosk and the goodies lining its glass case. Pulled magnetically, I glided over and began evaluating my options. The choice was obvious – Samosa! Not that I had an unrequited love for it, or I found the other candidates lacking in any way – it was the cost factor; the samosa was the cheapest. Spending on food at airport outlets, knowing that the very same food was available for half the price a mere few kilometers into town, always gave me a severe heartburn. Not willing to burn my money any more than strictly required, my choice was absolute.
Reluctantly I proffered a crisp 100 Rs. note and asked for one portion comprising two samosas, just about managing to hold on to my dignity and stopping short of enquiring if I could buy only one piece instead. Accepting the 20 bucks returned as if receiving an award, I looked on as my samosas did the customary microwave routine and were finally handed over to my custody on a tiny paper plate with a sachet of ketchup and a practically useless paper napkin.
Up close the two fellas looked smaller than they did in the display – never mind. I took my time attacking each one, one bite at a time, the crisp, flaky, golden cover out-lasting the warm crumbled potatoes inside. I even dared go back for one more sachet of ketchup, thus deriving more value for my bucks. Assured that I had done full justice to the money spent through my act of munching the duo in a most deliberate manner, I diligently polished off the remaining crumbs, disposed off the inedibles and moved towards the lounge to put my legs up before they were due to fight with the legroom of the airline seats.
My brain was still working on the balance sheet to convince my pocket of the benefit accrued out of spending on the samosas vis-a-vis the free sandwiches as I walked into the plush carpeted airline lounge.
Settling down into a plush cushioned settee, I caught the eye of the ever-eager attendant in a crisp, white uniform. He quickly approached me and had me plied with a glass of chilled water. Then, with a wave of a polished hand, he beckoned to a hovering steward, addressing me simultaneously with an uncustomarily warm smile, “Sir, starting this week we’ve revamped our menu and replaced the cold sandwiches with something warm and more filling. I hope you will find it up to your discerning taste. And…as always, they come with our compliments. As the attendant placed a quarter plate and a thick, white cloth napkin on the serving table, the steward arrived and stood before me, a large salver in hand. My vision slowly became blurry as my gaze settled on the salver which was stacked high with row upon row of neatly lined… Samosas!
– Narendra Nayak © 2018
“The Subversive Samosa” is my tenth short story as part of the series “Add Salt to Taste”.