In Heat [September 2010]

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

“Amazing, really. When you think about it, that is. Parasitism even exists not only among the highest of life forms, but also in a continuum ranging from the tiniest protozoan endoparasite like what causes malaria to the almost figurative example of brood parasitism like the koel bird laying its eggs in that of the crow. In today’s lesson we shall be talking about….” It might as well have been drone, drone, drone and buzz, buzz…..

Two off-white KDK ceiling fans churned the air with their dusty blades in their futile effort to induce evaporation off the human skin. If failure meant not achieving a purpose, then the very expensive power used to drive them was an absolute waste. So was the voice of the biology lecturer if his purpose at that point in time was to induce any further understanding of parasites on the part of his heat-dulled, glassy-eyed audience. At thirty-two Celcius in the shade, with near-saturation humidity, if the weatherman had said it felt like forty, the collective budding future of the country would have tied him to an anachronistic stake, whistled for the nearest non-existent vultures, and stoned him to an unsanctioned death for blatant under-representation of the absolute truth! But the wretched biology lecturer droned on and on, effectively undead and mostly unheard.

If hapless crows were indeed on the agenda, that did not matter much to the two young women seated side by side right at the back of the room in their regulation graphite-colored dresses, complete with matching gray head scarves. They were like towers of wisdom in a sea of lethargy, for their kohl-lined eyes were definitely more attentive than those of their more ordinary neighbors. Even though one was fair-skinned and the other dusky, they were sisters. Tiny stars in their eyes followed every movement of the jeans-clad, smart-looking lecturer, almost parasitizing on the visual feast set before them, for they were, at that point in time, guilty of one of the most ancient of classroom crimes — that of having a crush on Teach!

“What a gorgeous man! Looks just like Salman Khan. I can just imagine cuddling up to him on a rainy night..” Fair Skin, for that is the only name we have available here, was saying to herself. Even though she was not allowed to talk to real, down-to-earth boys for even the slightest length of measurable time, she could, and always did, spend considerable amounts of the latter commodity in front of her own personal DVD player. “If I could only have Teach’s phone number, I am sure I would throw all propriety to the devil and call him at night. I am sure he would come over for tea if I asked him. The only fly in the ointment would be Sis!”

“This man is a hunk! He looks just like Hrithik Roshan. And I would love to sing songs with him round and round the mango tree in our yard..” Dusky Sis, and that would be a pseudonym as well, was thinking. Just like her sister, Dusky had similar limitations on contact time with real-life heroes, choosing to devote her amorous fantasies to what happened on cable television every night. “I have seen how his eyes light up when he looks at me. I am sure he is interested in me. The only problem is……I hope my sister does not sink her claws into him. If she got his number, she would eat him alive!”

The two sisters looked at each other and smiled. If they could read each other’s minds, they did not show it. If Fair Skin and Dusky Sis had a problem between them, no one noticed. Not even the heroic KDK’s beating away at the unrelenting heat.

But then, Dusky Sis was dead right about Fair Skin. Any time Dusky had been approached by an attractive young man, Fair Skin had invariably intervened and seduced him away. This could not have been the result of Fair Skin’s hankering after the wealth she had never experienced as a child, for Dusky had once made friends with a very desirable man from a very poor family, only to have discovered his love letter in Fair Skin’s chemistry notebook. Similar episodes had convinced Dusky that the moving factor could not have been political influence, a good job or even plain old animal appeal.

Meanwhile, poor Teach carried on with his lecture on parasitism in all its manifestations. Some members of the collective future of the country took barely-disguised looks at the time on their cell phones, while the remainder sprawled around in what must be described as heat-induced apathy with no reference to bleak prospects later on in life as specialized biologists on small tropical islands. The thermometer refused to abandon the truth despite the dirty looks cast in its direction by anyone within sight. The KDK fans kept blasting the hot air downwards, not knowing that that would also be a futile action. Amazing that it was not aware of the laws of physics about hot air rising…..

Amazing, really. When you think about it, that is. Parasitism even existed not only among the lowliest of life forms, but in a continuum ranging from what causes malaria to that brood parasite koel bird, or like Fair Skin taking away Dusky Sis’s catch. And that would be, thought Dusky Sis, parasitism among the highest of life forms. It might as well have been drone, drone, drone and buzz, buzz, buzz….. But it wasn’t! Not really!

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  • Naseem  On September 24, 2010 at 8:17 am

    hmmm, one thing that comes to my mind when i read this, that Dusky Sis has a sure fire way to test her suiters commitment…

    • ldive  On September 26, 2010 at 3:49 am

      She sure, has. Doesn’t she? Way to go man! Thanks!

  • silentfingers  On September 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Another brilliantly written piece. And thought provoking too. I really like how masterfully, with a pint of humour, you’ve glued the concept of parasitism to the “Fair and Dusky” sisters’ “filmy” fantasies. 
    Then again, in today’s world we are often subjected to parasitism, aren’t we? Socially parasitized by power-thirsty politicians and drug lords dominating over the public. Psycologically parasitized by modern marketing strategies acquiring the minds of “target” groups. Theologically parasitized by ideologies such as extremism, atheism or agnosticism… The list goes on.

    Sometimes I wonder if the entire human kind is a form of a parasite, when we keep abusing the resources and destroying Mother Earth. Or could it be the other way around, with Mother Earth herself so very eager to devour our bodies and feed on our “clay”? 🙂

    • ldive  On September 26, 2010 at 3:48 am

      I am sometimes accused of being humorless. And here you go placing a pint of humor on my doorstep!
      And, as usual, your knack for sailing too close to my thoughts works here as well. Sometimes I am also left wondering where to draw my own fine line between parasitism and symbiosis!

  • shifa  On September 24, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    wonderful story so related to todays world ……………………

    • ldive  On September 26, 2010 at 3:45 am

      Of course, Shifa! Of course, try the next one as well…. It is called “Sunday Afternoon”!

  • kaiydha  On September 25, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Parasites everywhere. And some are impossible to get rid of.
    Nice story 🙂

    • ldive  On September 26, 2010 at 3:44 am

      …blood-suckers, aren’t they ?

  • fathima  On September 25, 2010 at 11:29 am

    wow.. this is amazing.. looking forward to read your stories

    • ldive  On September 26, 2010 at 3:44 am

      Thank you! Some more coming, dedicated to you and my fans and friends.

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