The Vendor by Mayank Chhaya (Now a character in a short story)
Stoic indifference is the only way I can respond to the much discussed Mayan prophecy which says that the world as we know it will end on December 21, 2012.
That leaves us 13 days from today. Can we do anything? More importantly, should we do anything? I am the founder of ‘Do Nothing School of Philosophy’. So my answer is obvious.
However, keeping that date in view there is a short story brewing in my mind that involves an unnervingly beautiful woman who dwells in a world of eternal erotic pleasures. Her name is Humpeshwari Devi. This particular story unfolds on the morning of December 21, 2012, with a gnawing uncertainty in her mind about how to spend her last 24 hours.
Although the Mayan prophecy supposedly speaks of no specific time, place or event that would destroy us, let us say for the sake of convenience that something cataclysmic will happen at 3.12 p.m.
Humpeshwari Devi decides that between 3.12 p.m. on December 20 and 3.12 p.m. on December 21, she will fulfill all her unsated desires. And if she survives whatever catastrophe that is supposed to strike us all down, she will then tell us what those unsated desires were and how she fulfilled them and with whom.
This is a challenging story precisely because Humpeshwari Devi has led a life full of fully fulfilled desires and that makes her choice even more formidable. What can a woman whose life has been one unceasing cavalcade of sensuous pleasures possibly want in the last 24 hours of her life?
Every morning Humpeshwari goes to a roadside vendor who hawks an assortment of vegetables, fruits and herbs. It is a finely practiced routine between the two of them where she shows up at the vendor’s (See my illustration above) and he gives her a leafy bunch that the less imaginative call an aphrodisiac. In their years of interaction they have never said a word to each other.
I have a fair idea about how the story turns out but I would tell you only if I too survive to tell the tale. In case we don’t make it after 3.12 p.m. on December 21, then it would make no difference because Earth will be like a post apocalyptic carpet of burnt-out cinders or, alternatively, a vast bubbling ocean with no signs that it was ever inhabited.