WKND Musings: The comedy of death

Suresh Pattali

Last updated on May 6, 2021 at 2.28 pm

Circa 2025. Somewhere on the earth that is still smarting from the scourge of the Covid pandemic. The planet is minus millions of its inhabitants — the good and the bad; the ugly and the beautiful; the prince and the pauper; the teacher and the student, the doctor and the patient; the jailer and the prisoner. Everyone lost someone: a parent, a partner, a sibling, a friend, a colleague, an acquaintance, a soulmate.

Humans died like fireflies in such apocalyptic manner that death has become the new normal. Reading obits is as insouciant as leafing through Chandamama. Covid has made me so insensitive, I feel like a gravedigger. So numb. So incongruous. Tears have dried up. It’s time for my sixth booster since I don’t have the sixth sense to foresee if I would become yet another digit in the ever-growing number of fatalities. Let me dial the vaccine delivery guys.

“Hello, is that Kaalabaat?”

“Roger. How may I help you?”

“Wondering if you could deliver a Sinopharm dose.”

“No, sir, your last dose was Covaxin.”

“How do you know?”

“Sir, I have pulled out your health file linked to your telephone number.”

“OK, how fast can you deliver?”

“You need to wait, sir, because your BP was high this morning.”

“What! How do you know that?”

“From your Aadhaar card, sir. Your Health App is feeding the data bank.”

“So when can you deliver?”

“Wait another day, sir, because your sugar level could also be high.”

“Are you mad? Don’t play a Big Brother.”

“No, sir, you ordered a coffee cake with Espresso Glaze and Azélia Chocolate Chunks an hour ago. That’s 600 calories and 18 teaspoons of sugar.”

“Listen, chum, are you running a delivery business or data centre?”

“Sir, you can pre-order your dose for tomorrow. You like it spicy or normal?”

“Are you nuts? I am not ordering chicken wings. It’s Covid vaccine.”

“Understand, sir. You get a plate of wedges free with every dose.”

“Spicy, please.”

“Oops, can’t serve you spicy, sir. Your endoscopy result is due.”

“Damn it. Why the devil did you ask then?”

“Sir, you want upsize?”

“Upsize of what? The vaccine?”

“No, sir. The free pomegranate drink. You aren’t supposed to consume alcohol.”

“What the heck, man! How did you know I drink?”

“From your last bill at Reddy’s Sports Bar, sir. Your credit card statement shows. It’s linked to your Aadhaar file… Sir, you just want the vaccine, or you want someone to administer it? That’s an extra 50 bucks.”

“I’ll go for it.”

“Sir, you want a male or female nurse?”

“Shucks. Man, I ain’t asking for a massaging service.”

“Do not get angry, sir. It’s our duty to brief the customer.”

“Any add-ons left out?”

“Sir, you are so lucky; there’s a promotion just for today. Buy one vial of Covaxin, get one free for your partner. Let me check. Oops, you aren’t eligible, sir.”

“What do you mean?”

“Someone else gifted your wife a vial in the morning. Doesn’t matter, sir, mention another name. Give me her number; I need her consent.”

“You bloody cheat. Oh sorry, take this girl.”

“Let me check. Oh, I’m so sorry. She passed away last evening. Covid, it was. Cremation happened at Nigambodh Ghat. Condolences on behalf of Kaalabaat. But never mind, sir. We have another promotion. You can now pre-book your oxygen cylinders or concentrators. Works like life insurance.”

“Can I also place order for a carton of water? Spicy and upsize.”

“You are truly funny, sir. By the way, you can also pre-order the lifesaving drug Remdesivir today. You may or may not need it, but you never know. Why take a chance, sir?”

“Anything else you want to offer?”

“You can also purchase a cremation package, sir. Take two and get 50 per cent off on the second.”

“Sure. I’ll go for it.”

“Who’s the second person, sir?

“You, son of a gun.”